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Super 78 Creates 3D World for Busch Gardens DarKastle RideAttraction combines stereoscopic 3D with state-of-the-art motion technology
Super 78 supplies 3D magic for Busch Gardens' Curse of the DarKastle ride
Super 78 produced all of the stereoscopic 3D imagery featured in the ride as well as the cleverly executed pre-ride film that introduces patrons to the sinister King Ludwig. Attraction architect Cecil Magpuri of Florida-based Falcons Treehouse designed the ride. Oceaneering Entertainment Systems, also of Florida, was the project engineer.
Unlike many theme park attractions, Curse of the DarKastle is not based on any preexisting story or characters, but rather is wholly original. King Ludwig, the central figure in the tale, is a bloodthirsty ghost bent on recruiting others to join him in the hereafter. For the 3 minutes and 40 seconds of the rides duration he pursues patrons through the castles haunted chambers with cunning, ruthlessness and diabolical zeal. They escape?but barely.
The ride is replete with eye-popping 3D effects. Swords, knives and sundry other objects swoop toward riders heads. The sleighs are jostled by a boulder that rolls out of the screen. Riders are pelted with wind and snow. The ride also features one nerve-rattling drop, although a CG-induced illusion makes it seem as though the sleigh is plummeting farther and faster than it actually is.
?Busch Gardens wanted an experience that was world-class, that would blow people away, said Super 78 managing director Dina Benadon, ?with the best 3D anyone has ever seen.
In order to fulfill that request, Super 78 assembled a production team with A-list experience in location-based entertainment. Benadon and Super 78 creative director Brent Young had previously contributed to such ground-breaking attractions as Seafari for the MCA Universal theme park in Japan, Star Trek: The Experience for the Las Vegas Hilton and Race for Atlantis for Caesars Palace. Additionally, they tapped as animation director Mario Kamberg, whose previous credits include The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera and Jimmy Neutrons: Nicktoon Blast for Universal Studios in Orlando. 3D specialist Chuck Comisky (James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss, Terminator 2-3D) was brought into assist with the stereoscopic effects.
What separates Curse of the DarKastle from other rides is the way the 3D effects interact with and occur on all sides of the sleighs. When ghosts fire arrows at the patrons, they seem to whiz right by their heads. A tray of wine glasses that floats across a room seems to hover in mid-air just beyond reach.
?The sleighs have complete range of motion, explained Young. ?They can move forward and back, tilt side to side and spin 360-degrees. You may be looking at one screen, when something hits the vehicle. It turns you in the opposite direction and suddenly youre facing another screen. It all happens very fast. You dont have time to say, ?I get it. I know how theyre doing it.
Pulling off such heady illusions required especially tight collaboration between Super 78 animators, the rides design team and the vendors building the cars, the track and the ride environment. ?Before we began work on the animation, the engineers provided us with a ride profile that mapped out the physical environment down to the inch, as well as the precise timing and motion of the cars, explained Super 78 CG supervisor Aaron Powell. ?We knew the physical parameters of the room and how the cars were oriented at every moment. From there, we went to work designing and executing the animation and dreaming up all of the 3D gags.
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