Sunday, August 28, 2011

Animated Concept Art from Western River Expedition: The Last Roundup

Here we go folks with the last of the Western River Expedition concept art animations. I took last week off because I needed to attend to other things which took priority, but it also gave me extra time to think about how to present this final animation.

What we have this time is a collection of Marc Davis's art arranged in a sequence that's basically in order of how they could have been presented if they were in the actual attraction. Let me make it clear, they would not have appeared back-to-back like this. This is simply a progression of selected show scenes.

Since I always like to present Marc's unadulterated art, here's what I've animated...

The "singing" cactus would have appeared early on in the ride...

... and so would the singing cowboy and longhorns.

The drunken Indian and jail escape above would appear somewhere in the middle of the ride in the town of Dry Gulch.

And lastly the masked "banditos" are the final show scene before attraction drops you down a waterfall.

Now let's watch the animation...

The D23 Expo 2011 (a convention hosted by Disney for fans) was last week (August 19 to 21 ), and coincidentally featured a short presentation on Western River Expedition by long time Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter. Tony had just started working at Imagineering when the WRE was being designed, and he is the man responsible for the Big Thunder Mountain Railway. So who better than Tony to give a kind of virtual ride- thru...

Final Comments

Until I saw the Tony Baxter video a couple of days ago I was planing to use this for the primary music...

Do singing cactus sound like chipmunks? I thought it's possible. Although now I don't know if the cactus would have been animated. In the model which Tony showed there's an awful lot of cactus, and that makes me wonder if the cactus were planed to be static figures. There were cactus that looked like humans on Disneyland's Rainbow Caverns Mine Train (later called Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland), and they didn't move. Then again, WRE was supposed to have a animatronic cartoon talking owl named Hoot Gibson (which Tony didn't mention) who was going to be a sorta host/guide - so maybe moving singing cactus would be a part of the ride. Does anyone out there have a solid answer on this?

The big thing that sunk Western River Expedition was it's huge cost, but some un-PC elements didn't help things either. The dunk Indian "talking" to the wooden Indian is a funny gag, but I don't think it would ever had made the cut into the final ride. Although one could make the argument that most of the pirates in POTC are drunk, and certainly many of the cowboys in WRE are drunk too - so the Indian isn't being singled out. Also it looks like some of the art in the D23 had been changed to remove the sombreros from the "banditos" and thus making them simply "bandits" which avoids any more potential un-PC elements.

While Marc Davis is a master of staging, I don't know how the jail escape would work. It's a funny gag on paper or for an animated cartoon, but I don't know if it would "read" in the actual attraction. From the drawing it looks like dirt is flying into the air, and I don't think that would be possible to do. Never the less, I still animated it as I thought it was intended - although the burrowing looks like the way Bugs Bunny sometimes travels. If I was working on WRE I'd suggest the way to stage this gag is to have the mound of dirt already created, and just have the escaping criminal pop his head out of the ground at the end of the burrow. He'd quickly look around, and then go back down.

I got a little artsy/cheesy at the end to illustrate the intended waterfall finale of WRE. I hope you liked it, and I didn't embarrass myself too much.


Jeremy said...

Cool animation. I love the waterfall at the end! It really had the feel of being on an amusement park ride. The sound was a great mix as well.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm still loving these! And yeah, the waterfall was a nice touch!

Anonymous said...

David I think you're right about the jail escape scene. They would probably just have the head pop out of a hole.

If I was creating the ride, I'd have the passenger vehicle come to a stop at the EXT of the jail. Then see a pile of dirt rise towards the vehicle. The escapee would hit the vehicle, shaking and launching it onto the next part of the ride.

Maybe in the next scene, we see a mirror that reflects the vehicle, and it appears the escapee is inside the vehicle. This gag would be similar to the Haunted Mansion attraction with the ghosts.

To construct the dirt moving jail break, I'd like to see real dirt. Under the dirt would be a flexible material with animatronics that bend it upwards. After the passenger vehicle moves onto the next scene, the material flattens back down, and a raking system levels the dirt.

Frank Zweegers said...

Interesting works! Looks great!


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