“That would be pretty cool,” he said.
As I was born several years after the New York World’s Fair, I never had the chance to see the Tower. I’ve seen photographs, postcards and film segments, all of them two-dimensional. I never had a chance to walk around it, and wrap my head around the artistry of this massive metal sculpture: the curves, pinwheels and animals.
I had the idea that I could recreate Rolly Crump’s Tower inside of a 3D digital environment–though I wasn’t yet entirely sure how to do that. Let me say this: from the start I was apprehensive to take on this project, as the Tower itself no longer existed (it had been cut up after the Fair) and I needed substantial reference material to recreate the Tower as a working digital model.
Another problem: the Tower was huge–utterly enormous. When a person photographed the structure, they had to stand way back– so much of the detail was lost. Close-up images (with better detail) only included small sections of the Tower.
Now factor in this: the Tower was also a round, three dimensional object, meant to be admired from all angles. Wheels within wheels. Layers of movement. So that the Tower was constantly recreating its image.
At the end of November–when I had a little free time from work–I turned my attention to the Tower. I was not a 3D artist, and I had no formal training in app development. So I decided to put aside those problems and start with the research. There were a few items in the DHI archive’s, and Paul recommended several sites rich with images.
This lead to several days gathering as many pictures from sites such as, gorillasdontblog.blogspot.com, billcotter.com, and of course, Paul Anderson’s great article on the Tower’s history at disneyhistoryinstitute.com. I started with 34 images, and maybe a minutes worth of film. Most images were grainy and small. A few better resolution images allowed me to zoom in without losing to much detail. Over the weeks that I worked on the model, I slowly unraveled the structural wonders of the Tower. More than once, I had moments of artistic revelation: “Seriously,” I would say to myself, “where did that come from, and how did I miss it until now?”
Work progressed slowly. Perhaps the best way I can demonstrate the process is through these image captures that demonstrated architectural progress of my work.
|This image was at the end of the first day trying to get an idea of how the base looked–an image I pretty much tossed when I noticed I had the the wrong idea of the floor above the base.|
|The base was coming together, and finally curved the outside supports.|
|This shows coloring and details being added to the Tower.|
|This is the Tower in a prototype, which was used to show the motion of the different rotating parts.|
|The Towers that you see in this image were static objects: nothing in them was yet programmed to move. But it did show me how the shadows would display.|
|One of the final images of the Tower before the video was made.|