Gangsta Granny: The Ride – Alton Towers

During 2019/ 2020, just heading into the Covid pandemic as I recall, I worked with Seeper, Harper Collins and Merlin Making Magic to help create the dark-light ride for David Walliam’s Gangsta Granny at Alton Towers, UK.

See a video of the ride here;

Past the gold toilet and into the royal sewers…

My role, within seeper, was to establish the content that would the AV part of the experience (screens and projections), and lead a small creative team in order to produce and implement everything.

This started with story boarding the experience from the script provided

David Walliams with Merlin’s John Burton clearly enjoying some of my artwork

Concurrently I created some initial animation tests of the characters.

Early version test animation for Harper Collins

Although Tony Ross was not an available option, Harper Collins were naturally concerned to protect the integrity of the product and the artwork attached, so I was was elated when, after some wrangling, it was decided that I would be allowed to be personally responsible for creating any and all hand-drawn artwork used in the installed animations. It had to be as close to Tony Ross’s style and approach as humanly possible, of course!

The background art was all 3D in order to not be further constrained by Tony Ross artwork, and in order to create a bridge between the themic and AV elements. I concpted all and made some of these, the rest were ably tackled by Pete Smith

Of course, we had to also design the space it all went into and the systems used.

Finally, videos were made. I provided the parts, and Jim Cascarina did the bulk of the character animation. I handled compositing and some effects, and any necessary 3D animations and camera work. I also handled special spacial effects, such as tracking the POV of the camera to the position of the ride car.

Here’s an unedited video of some project work in progress

Work and tools

An exception was the final, throne room scene which was revised after the team had disbanded. I redid all elements of this scene including animation, 3D and even some sound effects. The physical model that the queen is projected onto I created in Z-Brush to be created by CNC machine for the ride.

Queen animation
Ben, Granny and a Corgi