Cinderella City Project Video Preview: New Effects, Music by Dead Mall

A screen capture from the latest video preview of the Cinderella City Project.
A screen capture from the latest video preview of the Cinderella City Project. Cinderella City Project via YouTube
Denver designer Josh Goldstein has been keeping us up to date on a passion project: what he has described as a "fully-detailed digital recreation of Cinderella City Mall for a Virtual Reality experience" he began putting together to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the late, lamented Englewood shopping complex, which opened in March 1968 and was demolished in the late 1990s.

The latest step in the process is a new video, on view here, that enhances the growing complexity of the images with music contributed by musician B Dalton and a band appropriately named Dead Mall, whose members learned about his efforts online.

Goldstein is getting more and more attention for his massive undertaking, including a recent piece in Very Famous Magazine for which he assembled the clip. Here he explains the developments it captures, with references to color-coded sections of Cinderella City whose names helped shoppers navigate the enormous commercial edifice.

"The video demonstrates some of the latest 3D modeling progress inside the mall during its post-renovation 1980s/1990s era, including Rose Mall, and portions of basement-level Shamrock Mall and Cinder Alley closest to the Food Court," notes Goldstein, corresponding via email. "These basement areas are interesting because they represent some of mall management's most expensive and strategic efforts in the 1980s renovation: converting the former parking garage area below Blue Mall to a new Food Court, and building new extensions for Shamrock Mall and Cinder Alley. These extensions connected the basement wings and their anchor stores directly to the new Food Court, which allowed patrons to traverse the entire basement level without going upstairs or out into the parking garage for the first time in the mall's history."

Here's the video:

As Goldstein points out, "the video also includes some new effects like improved lighting and subtle floor reflections, as well as ambient mall sounds and music from artists that reached out on Instagram after reading about the project. B Dalton provided the amazing, ethereal ambient sounds for the common mall areas, and Dead Mall provided the hard-hitting 1980s-esque tracks that can be heard when passing by select stores."

Going forward, he continues, "I've got enough of the mall modeled that I can start swapping out the two-dimensional placeholder people seen in the video with 3D animated characters that will walk around the mall on their own. I plan to record real memories from real people who remember Cinderella City, then attach those voice recordings to the 3D characters, so the mall will be populated with walking, talking people. The aggregated chatter will add to the mall's ambiance, and as the player approaches one of these characters, they can effectively 'tune in' to the memory that character represents. If the character is moving, they'll stop when the player approaches them, so the memory can be easily heard. These characters will be placed strategically, and their walking area limited to places in the mall that are related or meaningful to the memory."

In terms of future 3D modeling work, Goldstein adds, "I need to wrap up efforts for the 1980s/1990s era, like finishing Shamrock Mall's main corridor and the Food Court (not shown in the video), and start on the east end of the property, like Cinder Alley's main corridor and Gold Mall. I'll also be filling in missing details in existing areas, like the iconic trees in Shamrock Mall and Food Court, as well as building out more store signage that's accurate to the time period."

Eventually, he allows, "I'll get far enough with the 1980s/90s era that I can copy the model and start working on the 1960s/1970s era, without starting from scratch. That's when the idea of swapping between eras in the simulation will begin to take shape, and the project will take on a new, exciting dimension."

The excitement is definitely building. Get updates about Goldstein's work at the Cinderella City Project Instagram page.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts