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Home > Haunter's Lbrary > Haunt Scares, Designs & Effects > Animating and More in 3-D

Animating and More in 3-D
By Jim Confer


If you have seen swirls, stripes, dots, spatter, cartoons, and clowns, you have seen just about all the 3-D effects there are, right? Not likely. As scenic painters, we have just begun to scratch the surface of painting and illuminating effects for CromaDepth(R) 3-D.

Even if you do not have an artist at hand to render "drop dead" artwork, the tools that are available today (like overhead projectors, computers), can help anyone produce amazing effects with little effort. The first task is to choose the theme of your attraction. Clowns and Circus themes are the easiest, but ghosts and aliens can also be very effective. Next pick the optimal spots for placing your 3-D effects. Over the years of painting 3-D houses we have learned to not saturate the haunt with 3-D everywhere, use discretion in placement. The further away the art is from the viewer, the greater the 3D illusion, so try to place your best art at the end of hallways. Art that is on the walls of a narrow walkway seems to move as the viewer walks by, but the depth is lost do the close proximity.

Now choose your artwork carefully. Look through books, comics, for subjects that fit your theme. Line drawings are best, but even photos can be turned into beautiful paintings. Try to keep the same style of art throughout the attraction. You do not want cartoon figures next to those taken from real life photos. Once the outline of the subject is transferred onto the wall, it becomes a "paint by number" project. The back ground behind the object will be blue, the part of the subject closest to the viewer will be red, and each part that is further back fades into the next hue on the color wheel, red to orange to yellow to green and lastly to the blue back ground, with all the shades in between.

As a final step to pop out the different color plans, outline each separate color with a small black brush. NOTE: Do not put highlights on the finished artwork. White and yellow set at the same plane as the surface, and placing them on a red object confuses the eye and destroys the illusion.

Also try not to paint already 3 dimensional objects with the 3D paint treatment. Misting a prop with blue paint and dripping red paint for blood on the object makes the blood look like it is hovering in mid air over the prop and not attached. It is difficult to even tell what the prop is supposed to be.

At Busch Gardens in Williamsburg Virginia, we painted a demented circus 3-D haunt where the clowns, riggers and the animals had gone mad. We pushed the limits of the 3-D artwork to the realistic side in the animal effects staying away from the cartoon style of haunt. Using blacklight, strobing white light and alternating red and blue light we were able to animate the 3D illusion.

In one corner a crazy clown was juggling dynamite. We animated the clowns arm movements by painting his arms as a double image and using colors that will wash out with a Red - Blue color change. The finished image has a bazaar look under static white light, but alternating the colored light made the animation become visible. The dominate "Red - Blue" combination also gave a twisting appearance to the animation in addition to the 3-D effect.

At the end of a long hallway, we painted a realistic leaping lion using the 3-D spectrum. Rust colored PVC bars were then mounted approx. three inches in front of the image giving red layer to the depth illusion. The effect was lit by a patron-triggered egg strobe that started flashing when the viewer was about ten feet away, making sure that the strobe was not glaring into the patrons eyes.

The Clown and Lion's images were first created with a computer art program, then transferred to overhead film and projected onto canvas. With the Lion art, selections of the final renderings colors were altered using the 3-D spectrum and then layered onto a final copy. These colors were transferred to a clear cell and then projected and painted on canvas. The result was a very realistic 3-D image.

While swirls, stripes, dots, spatters, and cartoons are effective subjects for 3D artwork; today's ChromaDepth(R) designer can create motion and very realistic figures. Using computers and overheard projectors as tools, even the novice painter can create very effective 3D effects, and as time goes on, experimentation will uncover even more effects and techniques of painting and illuminating effects for ChromaDepth(R) 3-D.


Jim Confer owns Jim-N-I Studios

Jim Confer is a free lance Scenic Effects Artist and an owner of JimNI Studios in Orlando, Florida. He has been a scenic designer and effects artist with Haunted venues for over thirty years. He can be reached at 407-273-7220, via email at jim@jimnifx.com , or visit his web site at www.jimnifx.com.

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