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Philips + Viridis = Zelda

>> Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Once in a while the nostalgia of CD-i brings back lots of memories, especially when you read stories about the famous Nintendo link with Philips. Enjoy some words of Jim, who was responsible for the video blue screen, motion capture, and model animation, as well as the audio recording, mixing, and sound design for Zelda's Adventure. He also worked on other titles, for both Viridis and Philips. "I originally worked in the film industry back in the 80's but also knew my way around computers and digital technology. I also used to teach animation production at a local university. As a teenager I used to write my own computer games on the ancient TRS-80. My first CD-i title I worked on was Caesar's World of Gambling where I was hired to direct all the voice over for that title. You see at the time (early days of CD-i) most of the people I met at Philips were good at the technology part of the equation, but absolutely clueless when it came to other tasks like dealing with actors, scheduling productions, doing creative direction in a way that got the best out of people, etc.

Anyway, much later, I was hired at Viridis by the owners (Christopher and Lee) to help them with this title called "Zelda" that had just gotten green light for production at Philips. (In fact, the name "Viridis" was a play on the Latin word for "green" ) So after going through the production design, and realizing that they had absolutely no budget at all, we had to get pretty creative. This first big problem was the top-down motion capture of all the human characters to turn them into game sprites. Viridis had no money to rent a studio to shoot this properly; all they had was a 12x15 foot office with an 8 foot ceiling that I tried to turn into a studio. It was basically impossible to shoot anything from the perspective needed for top-down sprites, so I had to get creative to make it work.

What I did was mount a large mirror on the 8 foot ceiling and place the camera on the floor shooting up into the mirror and back down to human actor. For the walk cycles I put the actors on a black motorized treadmill with registration marks and shot video of them as they attempted not to fall off the treadmill and break their heads. (We took the hand rails off The background was extracted by our artists and sprites were created. If we didn't like the way a sprite looked or was animated, we would shoot it again. I painted one wall of the studio Ultimatte Blue so I could shoot all the blue screen FMV sequences. This was a total pain because we basically had no room, and for the longest time Chris and Lee were too cheap to install extra power lines for the lights. (One day I tripped all the breakers for the office lighting a scene, and it crashed all the development stations and servers. I got my extra power lines soon after that. Once the bluescreen video was shot, then we had to laboriously digitize every frame (no realtime capture at that point). I would let the capture run over night. The next day I would start the background (bluescreen) removal. This would sometimes take 4 or 5 workstations several days to complete a sequence. Very primitive, but we were working with Mac Quadra 700s.

One of the good things about working on Zelda was that I worked with Randy Casey, who was the lead engineer. This was one of Randy's first projects, and we got along well together. Randy eventually went on to Novalgic and was lead on a whole bunch of successful flight sim games from them. Viridis always seemed to have budget problems; eventually when the Zelda was pretty much done, they laid me off. (I also worked on other game titles for them at the time, most of them never released.) Anyway, I went on to Philips as a game producer where I managed their top selling CD-ROM game Fighter Duel, plus other less successful titles such as Voyeur II and a bunch more. Viridis, like a white dwarf that swells to a red giant, eventually had scores of people working there after I left (when I was there it was maybe 15- 20 people). Eventually Viridis couldn't make payroll, and many of their employees quit. The end came not long after that for Viridis.

6 reacties:

bayou,  February 7, 2007 at 11:41 AM  

zelda's adventure is a highly underrated game, and it suffers from Nintendo fanatics who say it's not on par with LTTP. A really impossible comparison, and I think Zelda's Adventure for CD-i is an excellent adventure game!

tim,  February 11, 2007 at 9:32 PM  

Surprisingly Nintendo approved the CD-i Zelda game! Who would have thought that!

Briana Dawson September 3, 2011 at 7:44 PM  

Chris and Lee were total mess-ups. They ran Viridis into the ground. I was there. I remember Randy very well, so damn hard headed. I remember Janet the office manager, Leticia, wow everyone. I remember the nights we spent in the rooms playing Doom beta on the network. But Chris and Lee, lol they spent so much time eating lunches at nice places and blind as to what they really could have been doing with Viridis, instead of thinking employees were embezzling because of a silly budget printout for a game for a Major studio Producer, non CDi, viridis related. Ya..and i never was thanked for being the first to the office at 3am after a Major Quake to secure the place. Those guys were awful and too concerned about their hair and polo sweaters.

Anonymous,  September 3, 2011 at 7:45 PM  

Chris and Lee were total mess-ups. They ran Viridis into the ground. I was there. I remember Randy very well, so damn hard headed. I remember Janet the office manager, Leticia, wow everyone. I remember the nights we spent in the rooms playing Doom beta on the network. But Chris and Lee, lol they spent so much time eating lunches at nice places and blind as to what they really could have been doing with Viridis, instead of thinking employees were embezzling because of a silly budget printout for a game for a Major studio Producer, non CDi, viridis related. Ya..and i never was thanked for being the first to the office at 3am after a Major Quake to secure the place. Those guys were awful and too concerned about their hair and polo sweaters.

Mark July 18, 2014 at 5:48 AM  

I can't believe I stumbled upon this. I worked on Zelda's Adventure. I worked with Jim on it. He was great! Knew his stuff. Everything he said in this article is so true. I was actually casted as Gaspra and composed the music on this game. OMG what a nightmare that was. 11k ( might've been less don't remember ) audio and I only could do 7 or 8 second loops that had to "seamlessly" connect to other loops at unknown random times. Worked closely with Randy to figure that out. Randy and Gavin were a HUGE influence on me. I miss those guys.

OMG and Jason Bakutis. He's a beast! The amazing sculptures and castings be can make! I still have a cast of my face for the makeup that I wore in the FMV shoots. He's amazing.

Bas July 18, 2014 at 8:08 AM  

Hi Mark, thanks for commenting! It's almost 20 years ago, right? It's hard these days for us to find developers who worked on CD-i, if you can share more details with us, please do!

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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