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Heart of Jeddah

Posted on Nov 9th 2020, 12:22

In 2006, the Saudi Arabian Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company (JDURC) was formed in an effort to help revitalize and re-shape the city of Jeddah. Aside from being strategically placed along the western shores of the Red Sea, Jeddah is also considered to be the gateway to the holy cities of Makkah, Madinah and Mecca.

The economic, social and spiritual importance of this city is unprecedented. As the second largest city in all of Saudi Arabia, we have a responsibility to make this a world class location.” - Prince Khalid Al Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud - governor of Makkah

Jeddah, in recent years has fallen victim to poverty and slum conditions throughout the region. Urban sprawl, lack of affordable housing and poor transit systems have all contributed to the current state of the city. So in 2009, JDURC unveiled one of Saudi’s largest development projects to date. At the center of the city’s master plan is what is being called the crown jewel of the region, “The Heart of Jeddah” development will encompass more than 1.8 million cubic meters of gross floor area. To support this level of development, JDURC has proposed over 1.2 billion dollars just for infrastructure alone.

The numbers are staggering. We have a demand for potable water in the range of 15,000 cubic meters per day. Sewer requirements will bypass 13,000 cubic meters per day. We will need to provide networks for district cooling, telecommunications, irrigation, and massive electrical systems.” – Dr. Abdulgader Amir- VP for strategic planning and management of land and property for JDURC

The core components of the project will include a seven star hotel and resort, a convention center and supporting forty story hotel, a world class business district with a dedicated five star hotel, retail and Arab “souq” markets, massive affordable housing, and a residential district suited for families. There is an emphasis on family life and luxury in this city with amenities catering to every aspect of life. All of these structures will be infused with the concept of “flora” and poetry. As part of the project plan, a multi-million dollar, computerized water feature will accent the visitor’s experience along the river edges.
Centrally located within the master plan will also be the “Muntalaq” train station, designed after a palm frond. This depot will serve as a major hub for both tourists as well as business commuters. Road infrastructure will also be augmented by increasing traffic load support by four times its current capacity.
To complete the planning vision for JDURC, production company FIlmmaster, MEA (Milan, Dubai) was hired to create a multi-use short film in conjunction with project architects. Through Octopus Talent Management (NYC), Jason Strougo, of Hangman Digital (New York) was selected to direct and assemble the finished film. The team to create the five minute computer graphic film included project architects in the Middle East, editors from within Filmmaster MEA, as well as a unit of fifty animation artists at Ninever Graphics (Shenzhen).

This was a massive undertaking just to digest and understand the magnitude of the plan. There were three collaborating architectural firms and developers based throughout The Arab Emirates, all working in conjunction with local government and municipalities. Plans were constantly changing and being re-designed from the smallest of details to the broadest of strokes.” – Jason Strougo

For example, a plan for a new tower would emerge almost overnight. This structure needed to be inserted within the pipeline without disrupting production flow. The normal processes of CGI production were constantly being challenged due to the moving parts of the job. In a perfect world designs would be locked, modeling and refined data sets would follow, and then complete environment lighting would commence the final phase. But with the Jeddah plan, nothing was ever locked. In reaction to this haphazard flow of information, the pipeline that Jason Strougo structured allowed for fast turnaround while maintaining highest production standards. Jason worked hands-on with the large data sets in New York, to direct camera paths, timing and compositions in an effort to visualize the flow of the film. He fed shots through his local editors in New York and refined the film while simultaneously; artists in Shenzhen attacked the many material and lighting assignments. They did this in segments which allowed for swapping of buildings, complexes as well as animated crowds.

We probably touched every 3D application out there on this job. Sketchup, Softimage, Maya, and 3D Max (using Vray) were the main packages used in production. Getting all those software packages to talk to each other was not easy either, but proprietary scripting helped simplify the process. As the project grew more and more complex, we ended up with model sets ranging in upwards of two million polygons. Average render times ranged between six and eight hours per frame. Total render time for the project was more than 40,000 hours. But the result was well worth the effort. Aside from completing a mammoth project, I feel I was also contributing to a humanitarian effort. I’ll remember my travels to the Arab Emirates for years.”- Strougo

When the project was completed and presented to JDURC, Prince Khalid was said to have been brought to tears, as his vision for an improved Jeddah could be seen for the first time. Completion time for the project has not yet been finalized, but it is said that this Jeddah re-development will employ thousands of people in the region for the next twenty years.

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