Monday, February 24, 2014

Next huge project - Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine!

So I've got another big project lined with the Redwood Symphony Orchestra.  Concert date is fast approaching on Saturday, April 19th.  I'm working with John Adams piece, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine."  It's a truly awesome orchestral piece.

Most of my recent visualizations have focused on traveling through a 3D world.  As the music develops, visuals ignite and propel the viewer through a vast, but typically empty space.  The only real indication of movement comes from the visuals that hold their place in the world, and slowly retreat in size as we move onward.  I've had some ideas floating around to take a more 2D approach and bring back the nostalgia of side scrolling video games I enjoyed as a kid.  Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine looks to be a perfect opportunity for me to explore this 2D concept.  Imagine an old school Super Mario Bros. game where the world would be procedurally generated based on the music and the audience would simply enjoy the view as the world travels on by.

To fit with the music, I wanted to keep some of the light-hearted cartoon style of the Mario games:  Bright, bold colors, fun, and inviting environment.  Given the title of the music, I also wanted to marry this concept with a bit of an industrial flair so I began to research a lot of Steam-punk imagery.  I've been to the Dicken's Faire here in the Bay Area a couple of times and I love the silhouettes and shapes of gears.  The old, dusty, industrial revolution and it's endless technological possibilities at the turn of the 19th century seemed like an excellent subject to explore and unite with my visualizations.  Some great references for this work include movies like Hugo and Steamboy.

For the first time ever in my animations, I've also decided to feature a character and in this piece that character happens to be an airship.  As we progress through the piece of music, this airship will react to the music, build, and develop.  I started out with some really rough sketches and immediately disliked them all.  After countless hours of searching for "Steam-punk airship" images on Google, I couldn't seem to narrow down my concept.  Next I tried modeling something which also didn't seem to look great, so I pushed this element aside and began working in earnest on the backgrounds instead.  After a couple months, I recently returned to the airship design and started fresh with simpler shapes and a more concise design overall. Finally, I built something that would fit with the overall project!

I've got a lot more to talk about on this project but I'll be spacing out the updates over the next few days and weeks so check back often for more updates.  Mark your calendars for April 19th so you can see this performed live with a complete orchestra and projected on a huge screen.  For now, I'll leave you with this short intro video.  Enjoy!

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