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Scale models

How we think about physical models. Copyright The Walt Disney Company.

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Video transcript

Many Imagineers from different disciplines come together to design an attraction. So we often create models when we're working on a ride. Once a model is built, its used to analyze aspects of the ride long before we pour any cement. Models allow everyone to get a visual and tactile sense of how a ride will look when built at a full scale. Some of the models are physical and some are digital. Digital models are a great way to simulate the dynamic notions of a ride experience. They allow us to make quick changes on the fly without having to worry about construction concerns just yet. It's important to keep in mind that the goal of model building isn't to make something beautiful and absolutely perfect. Instead, models are meant to communicate your creative vision, as well as the spatial layout of the attraction. Modeling is a key component to our design process because it's cheaper to modify a model built out of foam, than it is to change steel and concrete in the real world. It also allows us to make decisions much earlier in the design process than we otherwise would be able to. Because you can see it in physical space and get a better understanding for what this attraction is going to be and how it's gonna look from different angles. It's sort of the the way that everybody can stand around the table and look at the same thing, at the same time. We have an idea in your head, it's only in your head nobody else can see it. You may be able to sketch something out, but even sketching it out only gives you sort of one view in one perspective of one part of it. When you actually build a model, that brings something into three dimensions. It'll let you get down into it, and look really low, and sort of walk around what's behind that thing. You can tell those things when you're looking at a physical model. Different disciplines would come down, meet together, negotiate on where things would sit. They come out and say, "Oh, I understand what you're doing now." Sometimes you may need to literally lay on the floor and put your head your eye the same level that a person would be, if they were in your model, because I'd really need to look at it from from that point of view. Other times you may lift a model up and put it up on a table and get right down, so you're looking at the level of the model. To get, to get into the model. As you can see what the the guests are gonna see. Is it coming around a corner? When's the first person making it around that corner, What can they see? Can they see the other boat? Can they see the sets? And maybe you need to make an adjustment to make that work. So we build both physical and digital models, and digital models, they work hand in hand because digital models can a type of information that we may not be able to get from physical models. We're looking at more real world information now, we're using real scale, we're using real buildings, so what we get from a digital model is the ability to in virtual reality actually ride the attraction through a headset so that we're actually getting the attraction experience before it's built. We build lots of different types of models that Imagineering. And they all serve a different purpose. You may do a quick and dirty model, where it's just a massing study and it's just made of white blocks and that's it. You just sorta want to see how big is this relative to something next to it? And sort of, how much space is a take up? Well, we're literally just taking cardboard and paper and we're putting something together so that we can understand spatially what the early concept or idea is. And then we will go to more sophisticated models as the design develops even more where we'll go in and we'll sculpt foam. And we'll go in and make something that's a little bit more sturdy and hardy and more detailed. So this is, this is one of the early models of the Radiator Springs Racers track. And we were laying out a lot of the outdoor track section of how the vehicles would would move through the outdoor rock work and environment, as they went on the racing sequence. This gave us a great representation for what we were gonna have to build eventually as far as track and road systems to support the the racing sequence. You may go all the way to what we call a show model, which is a highly detailed, perfectly painted beautiful, you know, full-color designed of a model. That literally will look exactly like the full thing will look like when you're finished. That serves a different purpose. That may be used by the team to do a color study, or a lighting study, or understand the context of something real if there's something nearby, and everything in between. We do lots of different sizes, lots of different scales. A scale model, so if you have a 1 to 50, let's say, that means that one inch on in the model scale means 50 inches in real life. So we try and make something rough, and small first and we refine it, iterate it, scale it up until we have something that's that's relatively big scale and highly detailed. So much so that it can actually be taken to the site, where we're building the attraction and used as a physical reference for what rock work and scenic elements should look like in the real world. It's important to remember that a model is a tool, it's not, you're not making a model to show off your model making skills. You're making a model because it helps, design, influence your design and and problem-solve parts of your design. So when you're making a model, it's a, it's a thing that changes constantly. Because as you're making it you realize something doesn't work and then you change the model. Build a lot of models. Don't be afraid, don't be married to an idea, be willing to trash that model and start over when you need to. You sort of have to play to your strengths. Some people may be really good at constructing the physical walls they make it out of paper, they make it out of cardboard, there's different materials you can use. Others love to paint on it and do the detailed work. Don't spend too much time on one particular area of your model. I would say it's best practice to roughen ideas work really quick, and then start to go in and refine those ideas. The easiest is to start by placing the entire thing on the ground as a nice big outline and then building up your scenes. And don't worry about building it from beginning to end. Start with the parts that's easiest first, so that you can get comfortable building a model, but the goal will be to get all the parts finished before you start your filming. It really makes your attraction design come to life if you can build a model and take maybe your phone and go through it and see what exactly that's going to look like. Just the drawing on the paper is fine and seeing in the computer is fine, but when it's really dimensional, and you actually see that video, that's real. In the next exercise, you'll have a chance to build a scale model of your attraction. I'd suggest that you start pretty rough, and once you have the entire model first put together. Go back and gradually add detail to it. When you're done with creating your model, use a small camera, such as the camera on a cell phone, and run it along the vehicle track to create a video preview of your ride that you can share with others. We hope that you've enjoyed learning about how we design our attractions. Keep it up!