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Zorbing : an impulse to filmmakers

Hundreds of bright-coloured strings in a giant, transparent ball and you can roll down a hill in it protected by thick air cushion. No wonder that the Zorbing globe has inspired numerous film makers and creative minds.

The ball first appeared in a movie in 1983. Apocalypse Snow is a series of short films by Didier Lafond. The Zorbing ball scene starts at 5.30 – the sphere used for the filming is bigger than standard balls, its diameter is at least 4 metres. It is hard to tell if there is a stunt or a dummy inside the globe when it runs down very fast on a steep and rocky winter Alpine mountain. If it was a flesh and blood person, it must have hurt . . .

A very similar ball appears in Jackie Chan’s Armour of God – Operation Condor filmed in 1991. Funny when the movie star pulls out the deflated ball from his backpack – a ball of that size weighs around 150 kilos and it is more than 1,5 cubic metres in volume, even before inflation. The ball scene is really extreme – after hitting a number of native tribesmen, Jackie Chan (or supposedly a dummy) rides down an almost vertical decline and arrives feeling quite dizzy.

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Around 2010 Zorbing showed up again in commercials and music videos. A ball features in “Halfway Gone” by Lifehouse. Nivea chose to promote their new deo series by giant balls rolling in urban environment.

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The same theme appears in Lipton Ice Tea’s commercial, while US cereal manufacturer, Bear Naked introduced winter Zorbing bowling in their recent viral promotional video.

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The Amazing Corn Mazes

In 2010 we set up the first metal – wooden Zorbing ramp in the United States. The ramp Zorbing site has been operated by Jason Martinez ever since then and it is located next to the world’s largest corn maze, at the Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois.

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It was early summer when works started and after completion we had a chance to look around from the top of the ramp and get amazed by the size of the corn maze. It is huge : 33 acres of live corn. Every year the owners come up with a new design – in 2013 it was “50 years since the Beatles’ first album” and corn maze fanatics cannot wait to see what the theme for 2014 will be.

But how are corn mazes made? Agnes Farside explains:

“I have often wondered how someone could use a tractor to carve a path through a field or fields of corn stalks to resemble a specific picture or design so accurately. After a little research, I found out that it is not as difficult as one might think, especially when human talent, modern technology and old-fashioned farming are combined to get the job done.

When planning a corn maze, the first thing that is needed is the plan. How many acres do you want to use? What type of corn? Will you have other structures inside the maze, such as towers? Do you want your corn maze to be based on a theme, notable place or memorable person?

The next step is the corn mazes’ design. Many places that have a corn maze tend to go with a theme, such as pirates, western, or superheroes. Some may choose a more natural theme such as a vase of flowers, grove of trees, or mountain range. The bust of a well-known person is also a favourite design. This is where the human aspect and technology start to interact. Once a picture is decided on, a person, who designs corn mazes, will input the design into a computer, which will lay out the paths.

While the design is being taken care of, the farmer is busy tilling the ground and planting the corn. He will plant the corn in two directions to create a denser crop of corn stalks. When the corn reaches about a foot high, the corn maze designer will use a special tractor equipped with a GPS tracking system to cut the design though the corn field using a plow. The tractor and GPS allows the maze designer to cut an accurate path through the field according to the design layout.263166_10150211935957331_7410244_n

Once the paths have been plowed, there only needs to be basic upkeep of weed removal and widening of paths as the summer progresses and the corn grows tall. This is also the time for placement of path markers and tower installation.

Once the corn reaches approximately 10 feet tall, you can open the fields to the maze wanderers.”

The Richardson Corn Maze will open traditionally on Labor Day (August 30th) this year and there will even be a 5-km corn maze run on October 19th.

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