Both locals and tourists should enjoy the high-tech 3D time travel through Hungarian history that’s taking place at the 700-year-old St. Michael’s Chapel in the Castle District. It is a location that gives the cinema
experience a special flair, but the building had to wake from its long sleep first.
You can see two historic films at St. Michael’s Chapel: “Hungarian History” and “1490”, the latter presenting how the Buda Castle looked in the year when King Matthias died. Both films are presented each 15 minutes between 10am and 5pm each day, one after the other.
For the small visitors the children’s corner presents a 3D film about dinosaurs. Discoveries in Hungary proved that their ancestors once roamed the ancient forests here as well. The films are available in eight languages, which can be chosen individually at each seat.
Originally St. Michael’s Chapel was part of an underground cemetery belonging to the Matthias Church. The chapel was buried for a long time, then was integrated in the Fisherman’s Bastion when it was discovered during a renovation about 30 years ago.
The Fisherman’s Bastion, or Halaszbastya, itself was built from 1895 to 1902 on the occasion of celebrating the millennium of the Hungarian state’s foundation. It was raised on the top of the Castle District’s old walls, the present section of which used to be called the Fisherman’s Bastion.
When Buda was recaptured from the Turks these walls were mostly destroyed, which probably explains why St. Michael’s Chapel became buried. The bastion with its panoramic terraces and towers is one of the most popular attractions in Budapest, with its beautiful view of the city. Since last August it has been possible to get an impressive view about the past too at the chapel.
Roland Varga, the founder of the company 3DPast, explains that the idea of producing a 3D film with historic content came to him during his holidays. The specific inspiration came from Rome, where there was already such an attraction offered to tourists.
Varga made his first film from 2010 to 2012: the reconstruction of the Buda Castle in the year 1490. The choice of subject came from the idea of showing in its prime a historic object that today – similarly to Rome in Roman Empire times – can only be wondered at from its few remains.
He was a student in informatics at the Technical University of Budapest back then, and he and a group of aspiring informatics and architects began to reconstruct and model the Castle using historic sources. Later the group invited a historian to join the team.
The positive feedback on their first work encouraged them to start a clearly more substantial project: “Hungarian History”. While the first project was completed by 15 students, the second film was worked on by as many as 50 colleagues.
Varga’s target audience is primarily tourists, since this sort of brief presentation of Hungarian history corresponds with their usually tight timeframe. However, according to him, Hungarians of all ages are equally enthusiastic. They would even like to see a longer version, and so Varga is planning to film a full version for cinemas.
Until that is completed, they are able to present the current films all around the country on request. The 3DPast company owns a bus for presentations with 20 seats and mobile screens. Varga is happy that his films have become popular attractions at festivals, such as the latest March 15 celebration in Győr. Restaurants, conference organisers and hosts of foreign delegations are also interested in the presentations.
Varga says it will be at least four years until the new film is in cinemas. The time is needed for the complex modelling process of the scenes, which the producers want to be historically accurate up to the last detail, plus they need a huge computer capacity.
One second of film is composed out of two times 30 frames due to the 3D perspective presentation. The calculation of the colours for each frame using only one high-performance computer would have taken as long as 14 years to produce “1490”.
This is why the colour calculation is performed with the help of so-called rendering farms. Some of the scenes in “Hungarian History” were created at rendering farms made up of as many as 1400 computers. Such capacity is currently only available in the United States.
More information: www.3Dpast.com