UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The new "Transformers: The Ride — 3D" opened recently at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, but many park visitors in May got to ride the attraction early. The front of the massive building sports life-size images of Optimus Prime, who checks in at 28 feet, and Megatron, who stands 38 feet.
The ride, which takes you from city streets to the tops of buildings, was made with the help of creative consultant Michael Bay, the director who brought the "Transformers" to the big screen, plus the technical wizards at Industrial Light & Magic.
"We came up with a brand-new story for the attraction. It's not based on any of the films," said Chick Russell, show producer for Universal Creative, the team that designs everything connected to the Universal parks. It's a new story but features many of the Autobots and Decepticons from the animated and feature film offerings.
Twelve riders pile into Evac, an Autobot created just for the ride to help keep the much-prized All-Spark shard from the bad guys. The cars have flight-simulation technology that allows them to tip, twist and turn 360 degrees.
The ride is designed to envelop the audience and make them feel like they're in the middle of the battle between the giant robots. On the ride, no car ever sees the group ahead or behind them.
Each car moves along 2,000 feet of track at perceived speeds of 60 mph. Fourteen massive screens make the 3-D images reach from floor to ceiling. There's no image loss, despite the massive size, because the images are projected at four times the resolution of HD.
"The screens are bigger than anything we've ever projected on. Our goal is to make guests feel like they're in a Transformers movie," said Jeff White, the visual-effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic. "This is the most complex and technically challenging project we have ever worked on."
That's high praise for a company that has distinguished itself through special effects work from "Star Wars" to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
The scope of the ride becomes clear when the car speeds down a city street while massive Transformers battle. Every image on the ride is animated, but it looks real. To create the street, a high-resolution, sphere-shaped still camera shot 75 panoramic images every 50 feet within a square mile area of Chicago. Along the way, elements such as water, heat and wind are used to create the most realistic ride as possible.
The ride is at Universal Studios Hollywood, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, Calif. Details at universalstudioshollywood.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun