Sunday, October 04, 2009

After reading his initial post on the forum at, I contacted the author of the blog The Zeitgeistarium about using his design concept for a Haunted Mansion-themed theatrical stage set in a 3D modeling and animation exercise.

He graciously gave his permission and here is the final visualization.

The first big obstacle was the spiral staircase, which is always a little tricky whether you're working in SketchUp or 3DS Max.

The next challenge came in the animation stage with reproducing the ghostly footprints effect as seen in the recent enhancement to the attraction. I'm sure there are multiple solutions, but mine was essentially a series of keyframed planes with instances of an image sequence and alpha channel sequence.

Then came Constance, the ghostly bride. Using an edited video sequence from an excellent fan video (, the video loop was applied to a couple of bent planes with an alpha channel and many tweaks to self-illumination and RGB output to make her visible. And since the source video was shot only from her waist up, I had to figure out a way to "fudge" the lower portion of her gown as she walks to the balcony railing (just don't look too closely, please).

I'm still not happy with the lightning effect at the end, but it will do for the purposes of the exercise. Keyframing a light to simulate lightning is--quite literally--a nightmare. I had to go to the Graph Editor in Max and use a waveform, but even with that there is a problem with variance because of the uniform wavelengths.

Laying the audio tracks was probably the most enjoyable part of the video compositing.

Special thanks to Kenneth Macleod for the use of his concept and design. See more of his projects at The Zeitgeistarium

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