The Virginia Cinema Animation

Of the videos I have created, the one I am asked about the most is the animated recreation of Somerset’s Virginia Cinema. The Virginia opened in the early 1920s. It closed in the early 1990s and fell into disrepair. Thankfully the city of Somerset purchased the building, repaired the roof and windows and stabilized the building. The city is now in the process of demolishing the interior as they work to make the Virginia usable again.

In May 2012 I came up with an idea to attempt to digitally recreate the interior of the Virginia. Don Elmore and myself went in and photographed the interior as it was then. We took notes on the numbers of seats in each isle, the colors used, the type of lighting it had and so forth. that information gave me a starting point to build a 3D model of the interior. I soon realized that the software and computers I was using would not be up to the task.

In the Fall of 2012 I built two much more powerful computers and settled on Cinema 4D software to build the model. By January of 2013 I had the model looking good enough to produce videos and stills. Looking back I see numerous problems with the 3D model I made back then. First I was learning how to use the software at the same I building the model. I failed to see how to reduce the huge amount of polygons in the model and made rendering of pictures and video much slower than it could have been. To speed up rendering I used a very low setting for anti-aliasing and I rendered the video in 720p instead of the preferred 1080.

Another problem was that I used “area lights” inside the model. That setting combined with low shadow resolution settings, created awkward banding in softly lit areas. Since a theater is one giant softly lit area, the banding shows up a lot in the original video.

By Late January 2013 the video was complete. There are very few pictures circulation of how the Virginia looked back in the 1970s and 1980s. This video, even with all its flaws, was at least a way for people to see it again and remember a piece of their past and the city’s history.

Fast forward to 2018 and I am in the process of remaking the model and the video. This version of the video will eliminate most of the flaws in the original video and it will be in 1080p.

The video you see here is the one from 2013.


As mentioned above, a much improved video is in the works. I have a few stills of the current model that shows the level of detail I working on.

You can click on these pictures to open them full size. Use your back button to return here.

The back wall between the lobby doors.


The snack counter.


There will be more updates in the coming days and weeks. I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by.


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