Disney takes a new approach with Audio Animatronics on its Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Walt Disney Imagineering released a new video today, detailing the new-look Audio Animatronics that it is installing on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
It's a "new look" because the Dwarfs on the Mine Train won't be the purely practical animatronics we've seen until now on so many Disney theme park attractions, with sculpted features driven by mechanical processes. On the Mine Train, the Dwarf animatronics will blend mechanical features with 3D computer animation, apparently projected upon the mechanical animatronics themselves.
A Disney Imagineer works with one of the new computer animation Audio Animatronics on the Mine Train. Photo courtesy Disney.
From what some insiders have said privately, it's getting these animatronics timed just right that's been keeping the park from getting the attraction ready to open to the public, rather than an issue with the ride system itself. But as the movie industry long ago moved to CGI (computer generated imagery) to get the widest range of detailed effects in film, perhaps it's appropriate that Disney's now turning to CGI-style elements to make its signature animatronics appear even more lifelike.
Insiders also report that once Disney nails down these effects on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it will might begin adding these "CGI animatronics" on other attractions, starting with the Fantasyland dark rides.
Looks great. Interesting to see that final bit of footage contrasting yesterday's animatronics with today's. An impressive step forward for an attraction that may end up being the sleeper hit of the summer.
I think the end result looks very convincing but with Disney's shoddy track record in maintaining complex AA's I'm afraid it's another great accomplishment that will stop working between 3 month and a year after opening.
As readers on Twitter have mentioned, Disney's done projection faces on animatronics before, on Buzz Lightyear in his shooter attractions, and on Lightning McQueen and Mater in Radiators Springs Racers. But these animatronics appear more advanced than those, with not just faces animated, but also ears, arms and hands. Disney's also projecting here onto multiple moving elements at once, which, if it works, could create an even more convincing lifelike effect.
I think it looks super cool! The combination of traditional animatronics and CGI animation hits the sweet spot for both three dimensional reality and cartoon realism. I'm also concerned about how long these figures will hold up under 12 hour a day conditions, as I don't get to the parks as often as most readers here. I never got to experience the working Yeti. I also hope that this isn't just one room that lasts 10 seconds in a ride that barely lasts over a minute.
I think the end result looks very convincing! And with Disney's extraordinary track record in maintaining complex AA's I've no doubt that it's another great accomplishment that will entertain Magic Kingdom guests for years and years to come.
A projection faced animatronic seems like something Universal would do. I hate screen based robots
"And with Disney's extraordinary track record in maintaining complex AA's"
Guys, it didn't take that long to build. We all know that it was a last minute change to drop the princess cottages to the mine train. Think about it, Mermaid and Belle could start long before anything else because they had to move the Pooh tree and finish the design of the mine train that probably wasn't done because it wasn't supposed to be built. On top of that, the mine train is close to the tunnels underground which made construction hard and building something with landscaping of the kind 360 on top of a building takes longer than the boxes Universal tends to build.
That is pretty amazing... hats off to Disney Imagineers.
To be fair, Ringmaster, you should watch the video of how all of the 3D film on Universal's rides had to be done. Spidey, Transformers and FJ all use this motion perspective that had to be invented (in the late 90's).
@Ringmaster - They started foundational work and site prep for this in the fall of 2010. That's an incredibly long time to build a single attraction. They started laying steel in spring 2012, so even by that measure, it's taken over 2 years to go from vertical construction to opening. Universal built an entire land (including an indoor roller coaster) in less time that it took Disney to build one mini coaster/dark ride.
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