Disney D23, the official fan club of fans of The Walt Disney Company, has announced that in honor of the 60th anniversary of Walt Disney Imagineering and the origins of Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Imagineering will be hosting an ‘open house’ at its pavilion at the D23 Expo, taking place August 9 – 11. The pavilion will be opening the doors of WDI’s unique facilities and offering an unprecedented look at its creative processes — all on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center. In addition, Imagineers past and present will host an entire day of panel discussions on Sunday, August 11, celebrating their 60 magical years of ‘dreaming and doing.’
Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development will soon launch phase one of its new ‘Living Worlds’ program in which it seeks to engage ‘innovative storytellers willing to push the limits to create fully immersive worlds where guests can explore, play and discover deep narratives.’
Beginning October 22, WDI R&D will begin accepting high level proposals for potential transmedia stories supported under the program. Proposals received by December 1, 2012, will be considered for round two in which chosen proposals will be engaged to further develop their concepts and submit a more detailed and developed proposal. From this second round of proposals, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development hopes to select one or more teams to collaborate with to create and build the proposed experiences.
Ever since its refurbishment was announced back in May, speculations have run rampant about changes being made to ‘Country Bear Jamboree,’ located in Frontierland of the Magic Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World. Initial rumors had the show being cut in length and have since grown to include cutting out peripheral characters out completely to the return of the holiday overlay and more. The only certain element regarding the rumors was that for every rumor proposed, there was at least another that contradicted it and proposed something else.
‘You must get great reception with those,’ said Mickey Mouse to a Mouse Ears-sporting attendee at the 2011 D23 Expo which took place last weekend. Gradually he stepped further away from the guest, asking the inevitable ‘can you hear me now?’ question over and over.
This is just one of the many interactions that took place at the D23 Expo in which guests got their first public, announced opportunity to speak with Mickey Mouse for the first time since Disneyland introduced the meet and greet character, decades ago.
Disney Parks has released this video from Walt Disney Imagineering which takes a look at how Imagineers are employing current and newly-developed technology to help realize the fruition of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
In essence, it’s a slightly more dumbed down version of what was presented last year at the NASA Summit by WDI Florida Vice-President and General Manager Jack Blitch, giving an overview of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) and pre-visualization (pre-viz) processes and how it even averted a real-world problem at the construction at the attraction for The Little Mermaid which could have cost the company considerably more money had it not been spotted beforehand.
Fans attending Disney’s D23 Expo August 19-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center will have the chance to experience “a great big beautiful tomorrow” as they immerse themselves in the future of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which is currently in the biggest period of global expansion in its history.
Drawing inspiration from a classic attraction that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and has made stops at Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts invites attendees to hop aboard the “Carousel of Projects” for a sneak peek at concepts, designs, models, storytelling tools, and technologies currently being developed at Walt Disney Imagineering for Disney parks around the world.
Walt Disney Imagineering has released this new video which goes behind the scenes at the most recent additions to Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion attraction: the hitchhiking ghosts.
The video goes into quite a bit of detail and goes behind-the-scenes at the changes which include new audio animatronic figures and the attraction finale which now offers digitally projected animations featuring the beloved Gus, Ezra and Phineas which dynamically detects and interacts with the guest.
Stitch Kingdom first identified and reported on the patent behind this technology over a year ago and on March 12 of this year, nearly one month prior to the unveiling of the new additions, correctly identified that the tech was being applied to the Haunted Mansion.
This past weekend, tens of thousands of families partook in the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, DC as well as satellite events throughout the country. The two-day free festival was created in order to inspire the nation’s youth to pursue careers in maths and sciences by offering various hands-on activities. One of many participants, The Walt Disney Company presented a booth and multiple presentations in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering featuring TRON: Legacy as well as Walt Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot.
The concept behind the booth was ’14 Grand Challenges,’ created by the NAE, which is essentially a list of tasks that the NAE believes will need to be addressed in this and future generations. Inside the booth were a few exhibits that demonstrated some of the challenges in practice as well as items from the Disney film. On display from TRON: Legacy was the life-size demonstration model of the lightcycle as well as the SHIVA laser invented by Kevin Flynn which was actually used during the movie’s production.
Relating to the sci-fi SHIVA laser scanner (which the original TRON featured back in 1982) was an exhibit on 3D scanning which helps scientists understand objects better. By using a scanning in a physical object, the computer can generate a point cloud which then translates into a mesh model and finally a digital representation of the object, which can then be explored further in digital space, modified and even re-printed as a physical object.
The next demonstration made every one into a virtual brain surgeon, even if — especially in my case — they aren’t one. Using the the NeuroTouch VR brain surgery simulator developed by the National Research Council in Canada. The NeuroTouch takes MRI data and generates a virtual copy of the patients’ brain and allows the surgeon to visualize and even practice operating on the brain, even providing physical feedback in the virtual 3D space. The exhibit offered visitors the opportunity to remove a brain tumor while controlling any bleeding that was occurring as a result and scored the visitor’s performance. As I mentioned earlier, I’m no brain surgeon, so we’ll just leave it at that.
The final demonstration in the booth was created by Walt Disney Imagineering specifically as an offering for the festival as well as the film’s premiere and uses a new innovention called ‘light painting.’ A two-step process, the visitor first finds him/herself alone in a room with what essentially amounts to a sawhorse. Reclining on the sawhorse as if one were riding a lightcycle, the system uses stereoscopic imagery to take a 3D photo of the visitor. Following the photo, the visitor is handed a wand whose tip is tracked by the cameras placed all around. This allows the visitor to virtually paint their missing lightcycle in the virtual 3D space. Imagineer Lanny Smoot, who talked about the exhibit during his presentation which I’ll cover next, compared it to using a digital camera at home and leaving the shutter open so that the camera constantly captures every movement, but here it’s in a literal 3D space, not just the 2D space a single camera could capture.
Let’s face it, audio animatronic figures are just a passing fad. Sure they look and move in realistic fashions, even so much as being able to appear to walk steps or be able to twirl a lasso, but it all comes at a high cost — literally and figuratively. They’re expensive to design and create, require expensive maintenance and heavy and large platforms and have extremely limited mobility. And that’s coming from one of the leaders in robotic development at Disney Research, Lanny Smoot. Smoot, Imagineer Gary Schnuckle and Timothy Caldwell are the driving forces behind a new patent application which seeks out the next generation of reliable, consistent, automated performances and they just might have found the answer for 2010 in technology whose origins have been traced as far back as 2000 B.C. — marionettes.
On August 19, the International Board of the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) selected 40-year attractions industry veteran Rick Rothschild, founder and chief creative officer of FAR OUT! Creative Direction and creative director at Global Immersion, as its next President. Rothschild, best known for his three decades as creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering, will formally commence his term in November.