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  1. For anyone interested in Vampire and Bubble Works in their old days, I'm currently attempting to recreate the interiors in 3D for a book on Sparks, the studio that created them. Also the Alton Towers Haunted House (see the Duel topic). This after sadly most the photo archives on the two classic rides (when they were first built) were destroyed by a fire some years ago. To raise funds to recreate the missing scenes to a photo-realistic standard, from all the original production records and plans, I'm doing a Kickstarter campaign this month. It would be brilliant if anybody wanted to contribute, if we beat the target the recreation will be able to go ahead. For more information on the book see the Kickstarter video on the link!
  2. Hi all, if you're interested in the original Haunted House: I'm doing a Kickstarter campaign to realistically recreate lost scenes from the Haunted House (and two Chessington rides), as part of an upcoming book about attraction designer Keith Sparks and the Sparks studios. More about the book in the video on the Kickstarter page. After exhausting every lead, I traced most the finished Haunted House ride photos to a fire that destroyed most the Sparks archive some years ago. However hundreds of production records, flash photos, workshop pictures and videotapes did surface, meaning we now have reference for almost every detail in the original ride. This is special because the Haunted House was changed a lot within just 2-3 weeks of opening in 1992 (not many know about this because it was changed so fast). We even found outtakes from when the ride was photographed but not the full lighting pictures. Matching the material with technical layouts, it's now possible to recreate the missing scenes with 3D modelling and digital lighting. The renders will appear alongside any surviving real photos and be checked by the original lighting designers. If you've seen something like Virtual Towers Online you'll see how realistic this can look. So why let a fire keep a piece of British theme park history lost forever?! By funding this Kickstarter we can record these classic attractions to complete the book on Sparks. Any further volunteers will also be extremely welcome! We need to beat the target to get the funds, otherwise no donations will go ahead and the recreation project will have to be called off. The book should be ready summer next year but the plan is you wont have to buy the book to see the recreations. Thanks for reading! I can answer any questions.
  3. Thorpe Park has just turned 40! Thought I'd share this picture on here too
  4. I don't think it will go online, the reason I put the version I had at the time on there was to encourage Chessington to restore the audio and now that they have started that process I've taken it down. It belongs in the ride really, it doesn't sound best there at the moment but hopefully will be fixed in the near future (along with the rest the ride's audio like the corridor, and the lighting etc).
  5. Of course what matters at the end of the day is the entertainment factor, and I think without the music having much real presence in the station and the feeling of emptiness, it just doesn't have that anymore. What gave it that in the past was the picturesque detail and feeling of animation, and the gradual build up with the queue going into the dark with the sounds and scenes behind the windows.
  6. Hi, we posted that on Soundcloud a few years ago, that was just the backing track with the faint organ parts turned up a lot. We were missing the discrete organ part at the time, but recently found both tracks for Chessington. What Chessington are playing now is the ride's original sound store that we sent them, mixed to mono (because the current system is no longer zoned that way). We since removed our Soundcloud track now that you can hear the original mix in the ride again. It doesn't sound as good as it did before in the station, but the track itself is fine now and doesnt have the bass missing. Should the park want to restore the organ 'zone' we'd sent that too!
  7. Interestingly the current hair is near identical to how the same organist character looked in the Black Forest Chateau. Personally I don't think he looks any less effective, it was always a Phantom of the Opera style vibe the room was going for. Although the theatrical humour in it doesn't come across at all now, it's in such a bad way. What really lets him down is the fact he moves so little on the rare occasion he does work. The park are wanting to get him moving, but will it be a proper refurbishment to get back to its original lifelike standard? If they did do it, that would look brilliant.
  8. It's always been the same organist, just fallen into a bad state by almost never being maintained properly. He has a lot more animation that hasn't worked for years and would move much more lifelike if he was fully serviced.
  9. Apologies for the long pedantic post, but to save misunderstanding, here's the full story behind Vampire's audio over the years! Obviously all the following is more technical info, no guests are gonna go in Vampire thinking 'hang on this is the wrong mix' – but the point is for the music to sound good and have good effect, and clearly this is not happening today. The ride currently sounds awful. Here is where it gets pretty complicated and you need to consider how technology has changed massively over time to get your head around it. Let's break it down to: Production tapes (pre dubbing, pre downsampling) 1990 Ride 'dual zoned' mix 1990 stereo cassette mix 2016 Smart mix The original music would have been produced from tapes as a high quality production master by the composer in 1990. A standard mix for listening would have been in stereo obviously, but for use in the ride it was mixed differently. Theme park audio is usually always in mono mix, or 'multi mono' if its a score for a whole ride that changes as you move through it. This is because a stereo image requires a left and a right speaker, but in an attraction you're constantly moving around space with usually multiple speakers playing the same track, so it makes more sense to have it in mono. Vampire actually had a 'dual' zoned effect where the same music played throughout the station, where the organ stage played the organ instrument, and the backing track played through the rest the station (guitar in both). This opened up the sound a bit more and gave the effect of the organ playing the actual organ part. To do this effect, a mix with split organ and backing was sent to Sparks (who produced the Vampire station), with one on the L channel and other on R. This wasn't a traditional stereo mix, it was more of an installation mix, so would sound great standing in the station, but would sound bizarre played on a home stereo. Sparks also dubbed it with the familiar screams and thunder sounds. This mix was unique to any other mixes, which is why all other versions sound slightly different. However, because of the technical limitations of the time, the ride track needed to be downsampled to play on solid state EPROM chips, which could only hold a certain amount of memory. The downsampling means it's lacking bass, but otherwise is good and wouldnt have been noticeable on the big station sound system – as anyone who went in Vampire in the 90s would remember it still sounded great! However, in mono, it wouldnt sound so good in isolation on a home stereo. This zoned effect was lost in Vampire around 2000 when the sound system was changed. From then on it played as one zone throughout the station, but was the same 'mix'. Then there was a souvenir cassette that was sold in the Chessington shop in the 90s, this was a very different mix to the ride version – and was in stereo (for listening). This is the one more commonly heard online. Although a more polished mix, the sound quality has always been dire, because the same warbly digital transfer has been passed around since forever (the original cassettes are hard to come by). Somehow this was the track that Chessington replaced the original with in 2014 when the sound system was changed to mp3 playback. What! It sounds awful due to the poor quality of the transfer from cassette and is not edited to loop correctly. Then a few years back the composer put up his own version (the Smart mix), from his own tapes, pre-downsampling... BUT it was actually yet another mix, half the 'cassette' version and half the 'original' version. This is the best quality version of the track available, but doesnt have the zoned effect or the 'rawer' guitar. After years of trying to find the original track, I first found just the backing part on its own, which only had the guitar and organ on it faintly. This is what's on Soundcloud, edited to sound less 'mono' and with the organ part turned up a bit. More recently I finally found the organ track to go with it, so will update the Soundcloud track soon. Have sent this to Chessington. These are the downsampled, dubbed tracks that played in the ride from 1990 to around 2000. So, not full listening quality and would sound weird played on a stereo, but would sound good restored in the dual zones in the station. Much better than the current dodgy mp3 being played. Ideally, a brand new mix should be struck from the original master tapes (if they still exist with the composer) to recreate the dual zoning and the more 'raw' original mix – but without the downsampling, since this is no longer necessary with today's playback technology. Combine this with a repaired sound system and it would sound amazing. However, the original composer seems to be completely uncontactable. So, there's the saga of Vampire's audio! Once sounded classic, now sounding very lame with the poor recording they're using at the moment. But, simply putting back the orginal mix on a broken, mono system probably wouldnt make much difference. What it needs is a new, overhauled sound system and a full quality zoned mix.
  10. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CYDZLYN Hi all, I am completing a survey about Duel at Alton Towers, it would be extremely useful if you could complete it! The survey is entirely unofficial and the results won't be made public, but it all for a good purpose. No personal details are collected. Thank you!
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