Orlando Business Journal – Friday, July 16, 1999
ORLANDO — It sounds like something straight out of H.G. Wells’ classic novel The Time Machine — zipping through time and space. But when visitors of Madame Tussauds New York, a new $20 million attraction located in Times Square, are transported on a historical journey of New York City — including a flight under the Brooklyn Bridge — it will be via virtual travel courtesy of Orlando-basedat Universal Studios.
The local film and post-production house has landed a multimillion-dollar contract to design a 12-minute 3-D video for Tussauds’ 360-degree domed theater set to open in fall 2000. The Tussauds Group is owner and operator of London’s famed Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum, in existence since 1835.
Century III has partnered with simulation and defense contractor Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp., general contractor for the project, to produce the attraction’s high-definition digital show. Evans & Sutherland’s digital theater division has created several location-based 3-D digital entertainment complexes throughout the United States. However, the Tussauds project is the largest undertaking of digital theater for the Salt Lake City-based simulation giant.
Ross Cibella, president of Century III, says his contract with Evans & Sutherland precludes him from releasing the exact budget for the film, but he admits it is at least a seven-figure contract.
Cibella says his company has purchased more than $500,000 of equipment specifically for the project including five new Hewlett-Packard Kayak XU work stations, the latest in computer graphic technology.
About 90 percent of the film will be produced by Century III using computer-generated imagery, or CGI. The other 10 percent will be from stock footage and live-action images shot with Century III’s new motion control camera, a new piece of equipment that the company boasts as having a travel range of 50 feet and a vertical range of 18 feet.
“Since the show is in a domed theater we have to be concerned with not only what is going on in front of the viewer, but on the side, in the back and above them as well,” says Cibella. “We will be producing the video using the same kind of technology seen in the movie Forrest Gump, only we are producing our film in HDTV digital format,” he adds.
Cibella says 11 of his graphic artists will be working consistently on the project for about a year.
Vince Pedulla, director of animation, says each frame of the film is constructed one at a time and then seamlessly pieced together.
Cibella says he is casting two principal roles and about 400 extras for the live-action filming that takes place on a green screen stage. Filmed footage is then blended with the CGI world created by Century III’s graphic artists.
“It’s a building process,” says Pedulla.
Cibella says the attraction is much different than attending an I-Max film.
“With an I-Max you are only experiencing a quarter of the orange as related to reality. With our film you get more like half the orange,” he says.
See IMAGES below.