Early last year, we shared with you news of a patent from Disney Enterprises which, in part, calls for being able to use cameras combined with software to detect a guest and identify certain features while also being able to combine dynamically generated images with projected or reflected images of the guests themselves.
Then, we were led to believe that this technology would first be seen as part of a new meet and greet experience at Pixie Hollow in the New Fantasyland. With those plans seemingly out the window, we now focus our attention to the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom which has very openly been making some unknown changes to the hitchhiking ghosts scene at the end.
With the patent applied to what we know of what’s already been done, which first included implementing digital projectors (and temporary projections) and now cameras and infrared lighting (as per Paul Chadkin), it now seems more likely than ever that the patent will finally find a spot amongst the 999 happy haunts.
The original effect of a hitchhiking ghost joining guests in the omnimover doom buggy was achieved through a centuries-old theatrical technique known as peppers ghost (also being used in the ballroom) in which solid models of the ghosts are rotated in perfect sync with the omnimovers. By shining light on the side of the ghosts on the opposite side of the two-way mirror, the images are combined while offering a ghostly effect for the additional companion.
Although an effective trick, there is the inherent physical limitation that the ghost is always appears in the same spot on the vehicle, which would typically be on top of a single rider. Now the technology which is already patented, will allow cameras and software to detect exact heights and locations of guests within the vehicle and generate a dynamic image of the ghosts allowing them to appear to interact with the guests.
Specifically, there’s this paragraph from the patent that’s worth noting:
“In one example, a dynamic image generated by display device 10 may comprise animated characters appearing in a combined image to interact with observer 14 or other individuals. In particular embodiments, such characters may be generated to appear as interacting with individuals by, for example, making eye contact with an individual, touching an individual, putting a hat on an individual and then taking the hat off, talking to the individual, just to name a few example. Again, such characters may be generated based, at least in part, on real-time information such as attributes of one or more individuals as identified above. In one embodiment, the type of character generated may be based, at least in part, on an apparent height, age and/or gender of one or more individuals co-located with observer 14 , for example.”
For your benefit, we now include the patent for viewing here.
(please note this article is based on pure speculation given a basic amount of supplied knowledge)