Monday, September 20, 2010

Design a Week #6 - FerriX Wheel

According to my self-imposed schedule, I turned in last week's Design-a-Week project late. So this week's is early.

This one is a simple concept with complicated geometry. I wanted to make the classic Ferris Wheel into something more 3-dimensional.

At IAAPA, I saw a company using a fixed wheel with a tank track-like belt moving the cars around it. I figured with something similar, the wheel could make turns around a more complicated shape (a sphere instead of a wheel, in this case). In my model, the 56 ball-shaped cars will swing but they stay upright by gravity and 2 axes of passive swivel.

I've mocked up 4 versions of this: basic structure, simple colors, "Atomic Sphere" and "Planet X". You can see some still shots of all 4 models HERE. And there are some short animations of each there too.

Ferrix Wheel (Basic Version) Ferrix Wheel (Color Version) Ferrix Wheel ("Atomic" Version) Ferrix Wheel ("Planet X" Version)

My favorite piece is the fly-around video of "Planet X" (the same one embedded above). It has some interesting color-changing properties depending on your angle. Also, if you find the track layout confusing, you can follow it in this short video.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Design a Week #5 - Scream: The Ride

Here is my latest entry in my Design-a-Week project. It is several weeks late but there has been a lot of (good) things going on lately to keep me off track.

Scream: A Gravity-Defying Musical Experience
Starring Michael and Janet Jackson

“Board a Robotic Exploration Pod and launch to Spaceship J with Michael and Janet Jackson. Take a twisting and turning tour of the ship and enjoy its anti-gravity accommodations. Feel the heart-pounding pulse of the rhythm and the bounce of your Pod as it dances to the music. Experience the thrill of life in space and the energy of the Jacksons. It’ll make you want to Scream.”

The ride-through video is on YouTube and the music starts about 23 seconds in. Hopefully, the audio won't get stripped off. Still shots and maps are on Flickr and the scene descriptions are at the bottom of this post (behind the cut).

This time, I decided I wanted to do something based on someone else’s content. After considering and rejecting various stories, I decided it might be fun to base it on a music video. I chose “Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson. While I am a fan, let me say that this is not intended to be some sort of fan tribute but a legitimate attempt to interpret this content as a physical experience.

As a result of this choice, I am faced with some unusual design elements. Firstly, like the video, the entire attraction is in black and white. Also, I really wanted to highlight the dance and “anti-gravity” elements. I had a different vehicle in mind originally but I found that the Kuka Arm on a Track system could best emulate the dancing and camera crane-like POV. The ride-through video attempts to simulate that as well as Google Sketchup’s simple animation can do. Please note that places where you see other vehicles is meant to show you where riders would actually see other moving vehicles.

That brings me to this week’s technical challenge. The ride vehicle is completely exposed and visible to other riders in certain scenes. In the Meditation and Gallery scenes, 2 to 4 vehicles are in the room “dancing” together in sync. This is tricky because each vehicle is dispatched separately and are playing the song at staggered points. To make this work, all song starts are evenly spaced and synchronized to a master beat throughout the building. When a vehicle enters one of the 2 “Dance Room” scenes it switches from its own on board movement choreography to the group choreography in the room. As the vehicle leaves the room, it switches back to its own movement. The group choreography is on an endless loop that is set to the master beat for the entire building.

I know this sort of thing would never get built... but I think it would be big in Japan.

Scream: The Ride - Scenes

Scene and Technical Descriptions:
Scene 1 - LoadFour seat vehicles called Robotic Exploration Pods slowly move around the room as passengers board from a turntable that moves at the same speed. The music begins as the Pod backs out of the room.

Scene 2 - Launch
The Pod turns skyward to witness Spaceship J flying across the moon.

Scene 3 - Into the Ship
The Pod flies down and into a large portal on the side of Spaceship J.

Scene 4 - Meet Janet and Michael
In the first corridor, passengers see Janet and Michael behind large glass windows.

Scene 5 - GravityPods float freely down a corridor towards Michael as he spins and bounces off the walls in a room without gravity.

Scene 6 - Janet Sings
Janet sings from a video screen as Pods pass into the Meditation Room.

Scene 7 - Meditation (Dancing Vehicle Room)Multiple Pods slowly rotate around the Meditation Room. Passengers can see the other Pods and the robotic arms they are mounted on as all of them perform graceful synchronized choreography to the music.

Scene 8 - HabitationPods rotate and glide past three large round rooms. It is impossible to tell which way is up as passengers watch Janet and Michael dance on the walls and ceilings.

Scene 9 - MediaJanet sings from a large video monitor as Michael dances in front.

Scene 10 - Gallery (Dancing Vehicle Room)Multiple Pods rotate around the gallery room while performing synchronized choreography. The movements in this room are more thrilling than the Meditation Room and are in rhythm with images of Michael and Janet dancing on the walls.

Scene 11 - Game Room
Passengers pass an overhead view of Michael smashing vases with a futuristic racquetball game.

Scene 12 - Recreation (Film Domes)The Pod moves into a wrap-around video screen that travels with it. The video shows a view from behind Michael as he smashes the vases. As the ball bounces back, the Pod twists and turns to avoid getting hit.

Scene 13 - Scream
The journey ends with the same blurred image of Michael screaming as the music video.

Scene 14 - Unload
Passengers disembark their Pods in the same room they originally loaded in.