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  • Alternatives to Animatronics

    Disney is looking for more cost-effective ways to visualize characters in the attractions without having to employ complex electronically-controlled mechanical animation. And, frankly, none of these alternative techniques are quite effective.

    The Buzz Lightyear figures with the facial projections are not convincing.
    And, the two-dimensional Pepper's Ghost video projections don't do much for me, either.

    I would not mind seeing Disney invest in researching and developing stereoscopic displays that do not require guests to wear special lenses. Certain newer video displays use lenticular arrays to orient the light they emit to different eyes, but the users still have to be fairly close to the devices.

    I also don't mind the effect used on the Califia statues at Golden Dreams.

    Perhaps, Disney could project animated, photorealistic imagery onto moving heads from outside the figures instead of from inside, as is the case with Buzz, currently. In that way, complex and smaller facial expressions could be visualized while the larger movements would remain mechanical.

    It also might be more cost-effective to use live performers, more often, also, especially during the expositions and resolutions of stories when the plot is not as important and when interactivity and improvisation is suitable.

    Does anyone have opinions regarding the alternatives toward which Disney has been gravitating in recent years?

  • #2
    Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

    Disney Imagineering was actually the first to purchase the first autostereoscopic monitors that were available. Don't remember which company -- either Toshiba or Sharp.

    They have autostereoscopic displays, but I've yet to see them put them into use. The don't need to waste time researching and developing technology that's already available.

    Users do not have to be fairly close. In fact, one zoo has filmed some gorrillas using about 16 different cameras. They're using a VERY large autostereoscopic display with creative decor to give the appearance that these gorrillas are actually there. 16 cameras rather than just two means that you can walk pretty far back and pretty far in, plus see a LOT of different angles to the objects on screen.

    But, WDI has already invested in autostereoscopic displays. We just need to wait for them to implement them.

    BTW: Buzz Lightyear's Astoblasters Online looks best when played on an autostereoscopic display. That's the only way I'll play it.

    Yes, I do have an autosterescopic laptop.
    -Tim

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    • #3
      Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

      Oh, found it...

      DDD sold their first autostereoscopic display to WDI back in 2001. (Link)

      DDD is closely linked to Sharp.
      -Tim

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      • #4
        Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

        How do you like your autostereoscopic laptop? Does it hurt your eyes after prolonged use?

        I have heard varying reports about whether or not the technology requires additional adjustments before it will be able to gain widespread adoption, but I am interested in making my next laptop autostereoscopic.

        The Monsters, Inc. attraction uses a common two-dimensional plasma display to visualize the Abominable Snowman, and I think the effect looks a little out of place. I'm still not entirely sure what kind of display technology will be used at the Submarine Voyage, but I hope the characters are convincing.

        The zoo with the gorillas sounds interesting. Perhaps, we might see something similar at Star Tours.

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        • #5
          Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

          Well.... I have VERY good abilities to view stereo, so while I may say no, I'm not the common person.

          I've had a few people pass by and say "That hurts my eyes just by looking at it!" (Ok, stupid statement, really...)

          But I have not problem. I also have the ability to view it one the most advanced settings.

          My ability to freeview many types of stereo imagery helps a lot.
          -Tim

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          • #6
            Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

            I'd like to see an occassional "live" actor in the middle of the action.

            Can you imagine...In the middle of the Pirates ride, have a live pirate jump out at the passing boat full of guests!

            Or a real axe wielding Groom in the HM going after the passing doom buggy's. LOL.

            OK, I'll calm down now...

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            • #7
              Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

              Yes. There seems to be an advance in remote puppetry using voice
              modulation which seems to be getting play. For example, although
              very rudimentary, both Innoventions Stich and Crush meets (although
              they are videos) allow the "puppeteers" to control some of the movements
              and simulatneously "talk" in the character's actual voices.

              Roz in MI is the combination of that w/ AA technology.

              This doesn't obviate the manpower issue (maybe make it worse), but
              definitely makes for more interactive (and unique) experiences.

              Imagine how neat it would be if the Pirate Captain/Barbossa doesn't like your
              jacket and tells the crew to blast you out of the water?

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              • #8
                Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                Don't you think Animatronics are a specialty that Disney has? Nobody comes close. Look at the classic and most poplular rides like POC and HM. Those just wouldn't be the same without the Animatronics. Why not spend the money on modernizing and using new technology for new Animatronics and start making classic rides again.

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                • #9
                  Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                  Hey, better than the E.T. thing.... that rarely worked properly.

                  "Goodbye... Tim, ......, Poofyhead"
                  "Goodbye.... Joe-han-azz, Klaws, Nancy."
                  -Tim

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                  • #10
                    Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                    Originally posted by cal4iri
                    Don't you think Animatronics are a specialty that Disney has? Nobody comes close. Look at the classic and most poplular rides like POC and HM. Those just wouldn't be the same without the Animatronics. Why not spend the money on modernizing and using new technology for new Animatronics and start making classic rides again.
                    I agree. The animatronic puppets are a competitive advantage because they realize Disney's proprietary characters in believable and fanciful ways. Just think of the wonderfully-designed Country Bear Playhouse characters or those from Splash Mountain. And, what would Star Tours be without the R2-D2 and C-3PO.

                    Animatronics should definitely comprise the bulk of the techniques used to visualize characters.

                    One of the major reasons for D.C.A.'s commercial failure is the lack of attractions that use animatronics.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                      Originally posted by FrumiousBoojum
                      Hey, better than the E.T. thing.... that rarely worked properly.

                      "Goodbye... Tim, ......, Poofyhead"
                      "Goodbye.... Joe-han-azz, Klaws, Nancy."
                      Personal interactivity can be gimmicky and obtrusive if it is not done properly.

                      One of the great things about the conceptualization of Star Tours was that the story fictionalized the audience and involved them in the physical conflict by participating passively for the most part.

                      Interactivity can be a bad thing.

                      Guests should never feel as if they are expected to do something unless they, themselves, initiate the interaction.

                      I'm looking forward, though, to seeing more animation in the heads of some of the traditionally interactive characters, like Mickey. And, I have a feeling that Disney will be employing face and/or voice recognition, or, possibly R.F.I.D. transponders, to automatically identify guests and better personalize the interactions the characters and other cast members have with said guests.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                        Originally posted by PirateMickey
                        I'd like to see an occassional "live" actor in the middle of the action.

                        Can you imagine...In the middle of the Pirates ride, have a live pirate jump out at the passing boat full of guests!

                        Or a real axe wielding Groom in the HM going after the passing doom buggy's. LOL.

                        OK, I'll calm down now...
                        Oh, that wouldn't work at all because it would immediately draw attention to the fact that the actual AA figures were just that: AA figures. By doing so it would also pull the guests out of the "show". It might work in theater-type shows, but not in dark rides where the emphasis would be on the novelty of a live actor amidst the AAs. Roz works so splendidly well because she IS an AA.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                          Originally posted by PirateMickey
                          I'd like to see an occassional "live" actor in the middle of the action.
                          They do this on the Great Movie Ride. I think it's a fun change.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                            Ever seen that creepy Einstien robot? It's on YouTube somewhere and the facial animation is very impressive.
                            M-I-C-K-E-Y P-R-I-M-E
                            sigpic
                            Flickr

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                            • #15
                              Re: Alternatives to Animatronics

                              Although, the head animatronics are VERY shaky... nowhere near an A-100. If they keep up with advancements on Lucky (which in many ways is FAR ahead of the Einstein), it'll become the perfect animatronic.
                              -Tim

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