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Google Chrome And Disney Find A Stormy Path to Oz

The Google Chrome experiment "Find Your Way to Oz" takes users on an interactive journey, thanks to some counterintuitive tech. We’ve already seen the circus; now comes the storm.

Google Chrome is taking Hollywood by storm--the same sort of storm, in fact, that once transported Dorothy to Oz. The browser’s new interactive experience, The Road to Oz, takes place in two sections: the circus and the storm. While we already mentioned some intel about the circus aspect last week, details have now emerged about the more tumultuous of the two--the storm--as well as its fascinating creation process.

The second part of the HTML5-powered tie-in to the forthcoming Oz the Great and Powerful from Google, Disney, and digital production company Unit9, puts users on a collision course with the frighteningly realistic center of a twister. As an interesting, tech-heavy case study discusses, the experience was created in part with Unit9's tool 3D Librarian, which gave the artists working on it as much expressive freedom in their 3-D modeling and animation software as possible, while the techies visualized it on screen with coding. The result is an immersive world that blends visual effects and interactive elements, as users navigate their way through the storm en route to Oz, and even make their own short movies using the browser.

A major breakthrough in creating the uber-theatrical final storm sequence came from Unit9 partner and technical director Yates Buckley. It turned out that Buckley’s current sabbatical work on his PhD in Neuroscience, mapping the brain of a mouse for the Max Planck Institute, lead to finding just the right geometric whirlpools one might see in a tornado.

The morale of the story is that when clicking your heels together three times won’t help you find a solution, exploring the brains of mice might be a sufficient workaround.

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