High tech meets high waters

by Creation Museum on March 9, 2007

Using the latest technology, the Creation Museum will take guests on a journey through time like no other they have experienced. The realistic scenery and props will immerse guests in the experience, and the educational videos (over 60 of them) will blow away many pre-conceived notions about Bible “stories.”

For example, computer-generated visual effects about the Flood paint a very realistic picture of very real events. In the Flood Initiation video, guests will witness a vessel of biblical proportions (literally) that actually looks capable of saving Noah, his family, and the animals when the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of heaven open. In contrast to the “bathtub” arks—as the biblical ark is often portrayed—this three-dimensional rendering, along with a global view of the floodwaters provided by more high-tech graphics, bring real history to life.

The first step to creating these videos involves conceptualizing and storyboarding. This can go as far as cutting together a rough video of rough comps, or as simple as pencil sketches on napkins.

Next is the modeling, either in clay and scanned into the computer, or creating meshes by hand on the computer. This includes preproduction designing of the objects to be created—in the case of the ark, Tim engineered the entire ship on paper first! After the modeling is done, a wire frame image is created. But the complicated work isn’t finished yet! Here are the remaining steps in the production:

· Texturing (painted textures, photographic textures, or procedurally generated textures, which define the surface properties and how it reacts to lighting, reflections, and the like) · Rigging/Setup (this is part of character development more than environments, but for the ark it involved setting up animation morphs to curve some of the wooden pieces, much like actual wooden ship construction) · Lighting (setting up lights much like a giant photo shoot. The ark was designed to work with simplified lighting setups, allowing much of the shadowing to be controlled inherently in the surface texturing) · Effects (this can be as simple as light beams, or as complex as particle based flocks of birds. If possible, effects are developed separately and composited in after the renderings have been completed) · Rendering (the computer "takes a picture" of the model from a specific vantage point, calculating lighting, surfaces, interactions, and effects for each frame of the animation. It can take grievously long render times to complete a 12 second animation) · Compositing (where the various renders, matte paintings, and post- render effects are brought together into a complete image) · Editing (taking the finished animation and placing it in with the rest of the video) Here are some photos to help illustrate some of the steps:

Ark Wire Frame—creating state-of-the-art computer generated visual effects; after storyboarding the desired effect and modeling either in clay, on the computer, or on paper, a wire frame image is generated.

Ark Rendered—this is an early rendering of the above wire frame after much painstaking work; texturing and adding lighting and effects. It still needs lighting and compositing of various elements before it is ready to be added to the video.

This is just one aspect of all the work that is going into building the Creation Museum. It is this attention to detail and quality which will give our guests an experience they will never forget.