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PLACEText: Alistair Beattie

In February 2001 Me Company was approached by Park Avenue Productions to work on an exciting new project for their client General Motors. It was an ideal first project for the newly created division of Me Company, called Chromasoma. Chromasoma is a dedicated character design and animation studio. The brief was extensive, to create an animated ride for their “DreamChaser” technology which would be installed in the EPCOT® themepark in Walt Disney World®. The “DreamChaser” is a force-feedback chair where the audience experiences the film on a personal audio-visual headset while the chair is in motion.

The film was to feature 2 characters, Gena and Mo, and a number of different environments extolling the virtues of GM’s innovation driven research and development process. Park Avenue were attracted to Chromasoma by the visual strength of their character design and the modern look and feel of other character driven projects for previous clients such as Sony Playstation®.

‘We chose Me Co because of their mix of contemporary design style and old fashioned storytelling. We knew we had given them a very tough task, but they delivered with a brilliant team, great passion and creativity. It was an inspiring experience to work with such a talented group of people.’ Quote from Henry Peplow, Creative Director, Park Avenue Productions.

They also appreciated the budget-conscious and flexible boutique-orientated service that they felt we would be able to offer. The project was an enormous organisational undertaking with many external subcontractors working independently on various aspects of the technology and implementation of the DreamChaser ride. It was imperative that the development path was dynamic and able to respond to changes and client ideas throughout the lengthy production period.

The full extent of the brief included site specific graphic design, signage and the creation of a brand identity for the “DreamChasers” technology.

The design process needed to be started somewhere. It was decided that the characters would be developed first and by doing this we would establish a visual vernacular for the whole project. As usual this was one of the best, most fun, parts of the job. Working closely with Paul Garner, Chromasoma went through many, many iterations of character ideas.

Presenting ideas weekly to Park Avenue, and of course, the GM clients. In a couple of weeks the drawings were settling down and everyone was feeling comfortable with the direction we were following. Once these were signed-off we moved to Softimage and built the characters from scratch as digital models. They were rigged for animation in XSI and given their textures and surface properties. More presentations followed and finally the digital characters were approved and ready to work with.

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