Tuesday, November 23, 2010

pink elephant?!

minor break from the roller coaster thing (I'm still working on it but I felt like drawing something else)

I've had an idea for a father/son story set in a crime noir that stars a pink elephant as a private eye (ear?) for a while now and I'm writing the script out for that (feature length film? One can dream). Here's a really quick/crappy sketch (mostly because I can't sleep)

Monday, November 22, 2010

THEM! (script)

Do you write scripts for roller coasters? Here's a list of the design elements I hope to hit. It's pretty much like how I make shot lists for cartoon projects:

[act 1: This is bad]
1. Pull out of station
2. Ride by viewing area (photo op for families)
3. Tunnel/onramp (lift hill), false end
---3a. Ant lights up (pictures taken on ride)
---3b. Launch (small boost over the top of the hill)
---3c. Fall through hole in the tunnel
4. Dark tunnel

5. Emerge outside
6. Descend into the ground, pass by 2nd guest viewing area
7. Dark tunnel (still falling)

8. Emerge in underground hive
---scenery: worker ants, glowing grubs, queen (last thing the riders
9. Escape through sewer hole

[act 2: This is worse]

10. Emerge outside in city (via concrete canals) ß Terminator 2 reference goes here, MAC truck with top half cut off
11. Ride through scenes of ants attacking the city

[act 3: the US Army saves the day!]
12. As riders go on, they see more and more of the army
13. Ride past scenes of the army destroying the ants (start with seeing the fronts of tanks behind the ants, end up behind the tanks)s
14. Scenes of the army victorious (dead ants)

15. Return to station (animatronic flying queen on side of the building right before riders enter station for unloading)

Naturally I'm going with a 3 act structure because they're easy to follow and 3's a satisfying number.

Of course, now comes the design phase. I started sketching a route of the track and I'm wondering if it's actually possible to pull off everything in that script, especially the part where I want to have the trains pass by a viewing area where riders can wave goodbye to loved ones before heading off on an adventure. Working in a first drop that's visible to people riding by the ride is also proving to be a bit tricky

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THEM! Jeep cart

This is pretty close to the feel that I want it to have

For a more intimate experience, each train will only hold 12 people, with 3 carts of 2 by 2 seats. Each cart is separated by a jeep nose, which opens up more space for passengers to see stuff (as opposed to the back of other people's heads). Hopefully it'll also help push the idea that they're in a convoy of people getting evacuated from the city of LA.

Naturally, I hit another design decision: How long should the nose of each jeep be? Should they all be the same size? Full sized jeep noses between the carts would make the cart too long, so I shortened it a bit for the ones behind.

But now the noses aren't the same size, which kind of looks funny from the side (see the above 2 pics). I want the space in front of the riders to be more open so that they can see more, but it can't be too long or it'll just be a waste of space. For now I'm going with snub noses in the middle, and a full nose in the front (I think it just looks better that way)

Another design consideration I need to look into is if the wheels for the coaster (not modeled) that glide along the track are spaced out far enough or if they're too close. How do you figure that out anyways? :P

And an action shot!

As far as the feel that I want this coaster to have, this is what I'm hoping to avoid:

The ride's called "Terminator Salvation" and the ride itself has little to nothing to do with the namesake. I think they play music there, but for the most part, if I were to mute it, it'd be generic coaster #402 (Not saying it's bad, but how else can you describe this besides "wooden coaster"?)

These are kind of close to what I'm hoping for (though THEM! will be longer)

So it'll be more about zipping through enclosed spaces than speed and height. The thrill will be from flying through an environment rather than "Oh crap I am 300 feet up"


The first dream job I ever had was to be a roller coaster designer. I'm not that great at math and I have no idea how I would ever get a job as a roller coaster designer (really, how many coaster firms are there beside Intamin and Bolliger & Mabillard and Disney Imagineering?).

Of course, that hasn't diminished my love of roller coasters. The end flying sequence of my thesis film D was pretty much just me designing a roller coaster (putting the hours I poured into Roller Coaster Tychoon to good use!)

I've been particularly tickled with the idea of using rides as narrative devices (see: just about every ride at Disney World), and I've been itching to make my own roller coaster the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to design a roller coaster based off of my favorite 1950s sci fi thriller, THEM!

I'm not completely done with the cart design yet, but the first big design consideration I hit was what kind of harness I would use.

At first I modeled some shoulder harnesses, which allow for riders to safely experience some insane acrobatic tricks (pretzel rolls, corkscrews, and my favorite, the snake roll)

(coolest coaster ever: get launched out at 40+mph, immediately descend into a snake roll)

And inversions are always fun, so the first obvious choice was to use shoulder harnesses.


As I started modelling the shoulder harness, I quickly realized that riders would have a hard time seeing left and right. Being that I'm trying to work a sort of narrative aspect into this ride, being able to see your environment is going to be essential to the storytelling, so the shoulder harnesses went out and lap bars went in. Of course, this means that I won't be able to pull off my more favorite coaster acrobatics, but that makes designing this coaster more of a challenge: How do you make a roller coaster thrilling without the use of inversions?