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How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the clockwork-people dept.

Robotics 97

An anonymous reader writes with this interesting look at how Disney created realistic animatronic figures in a time before programming languages and systems on a chip. Animatronics have powered some of sci-fi and fantasy cinema's most imposing creatures and characters: The alien queen in Aliens, the Terminator in The Terminator, and Jaws of Jaws (the key to getting top billing in Hollywood: be a robot). Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose. But although animatronics is a treasured component of some of culture's farthest-reaching movies, it originated in much more mundane circumstances. According to the Disney archives, it began with a bird.

Among the things Walt Disney was renowned for was bringing animatronics (or what he termed at the time Audio-Animatronics) to big stages at his company and elsewhere. But Disney didn't discover or invent animatronics for entertainment use; rather, he found it in a store. In a video on Disney's site, Disney archivist Dave Smith tells a story of how one day in the early 1950s, while out shopping in New Orleans antique shop, Disney took note of a tiny cage with a tinier mechanical bird, bobbing its tail and wings while tweeting tunelessly. He bought the trinket and brought it back to his studio, where his technicians took the bird apart to see how it worked.

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sigh (0)

magarity (164372) | about a month ago | (#47294855)

"How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President"

The jokes write themselves. So I won't bother.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294871)

The jokes write themselves. So I won't bother.

You're never gonna get any whuffie that way. Then you're gonna end up down and out.

Re:sigh (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 months ago | (#47295703)

The jokes write themselves. So I won't bother.

You're never gonna get any whuffie that way. Then you're gonna end up down and out.

Apparently the mods don't have the same reading list that you do . . . even on Slashdot . . . where you'd expect some familiarity [slashdot.org] .

Re:sigh (-1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 months ago | (#47296727)

Well I've never heard of him or his novel either. Nor do I give a damn about Disney one way or the other. Its a company run to make money from kids. Who cares?

Re:sigh (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 months ago | (#47297149)

In order to make money from kids they solve a whole bunch of interesting engineering and logistical challenges.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47298441)

Its a company run to make money from kids. Who cares?

What the fuck is that even supposed to mean? Are you under the impression that is a bad thing?

Should we revile all amusement parks? Ice cream shops? Miniature golf courses? Breakfast cereal manufacturers? Lego's?

Douchebag.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294921)

What joke?

Now we know why Senator Disney lasted so long and the last several presidents have been made into remote controlled bird brains. What could possibly be funny about that?

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295219)

The first time I saw one of this robot presidents was when my family went to Disney World not long after it opened. (See what you're able to do when you grow up in Florida?) We went to see the Hall of the Presidents. A couple of minutes into it Abraham Lincoln got up to speak--and then fell back down into his seat. It all stopped, and someone came out to apologize and say the show was broken and that we should go now. I don't remember what letter of ticket we needed to get in or if we got our tickets back.

Re:sigh YOU BROKE THE PRESIDENT (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 2 months ago | (#47296825)

Question.
Evaluate.
Why does the porridge bird lay his egg in the air?
Obligatory Firesign Theater reference. [youtube.com]

Listen to an ananamatroiniclly correct president!
Listen as the president is hacked!
Listen as the president is placed in diagnostic mode!
Listen as the artificial intelligence is crashed!
Listen as the president is broken!
Listen!

This was done in 1971 Either these folks were waay ahead of their time,or things haven't changed much. Rewind and listen to the whole thing. It's a life changing experience. As my parents would attest.

Prepare ...for a period of simulated exhilaration! (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 2 months ago | (#47296891)

Firesign Theatre was definitely excellent stuff. "I'm Arty Choke, and we're just a joke. So it's back to the shadows again..."

Re:Prepare ...for a period of simulated exhilarati (1)

doccus (2020662) | about 2 months ago | (#47299021)

I doubt Firesign Theatre's inthelligent brand of humor would gain much traction in this flouride addled, grammatically crippled graduates, of the modern educational system of today.. Shame. Maybe that's why their LPs have not been reissued, at least AFAIK.. Or have they?

Re:Prepare ...for a period of simulated exhilarati (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 2 months ago | (#47313617)

Rhino Records has reissued several on CDs. Also, Firesign Theatre [firesigntheatre.com] has put out a few new albums in the last ~15 years, including Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death [firesigntheatre.com] , Boom Dot Bust [firesigntheatre.com] , and The Bride of Firesign. [firesigntheatre.com]

Re:Prepare ...for a period of simulated exhilarati (1)

doccus (2020662) | about 2 months ago | (#47316071)

Ah yes.. Rhino..the ultimate reissuer.. Man I remember buying Rhino releases on cassette, when they were ultra cool.. Wild Man Fischer's second album, and a few others I think were rockabilly or perhaps blues, with numbers like RN003, RN004, etc..

Let me be the first to say it. (1, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month ago | (#47294867)

Patent infringement! Sue Disney for all they're worth! For the Progress of Science and useful Arts!

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (1, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a month ago | (#47294957)

You beat me to it. Damn! You have to love the irony of the founder of one of the biggest proponents of onerous patent laws ripping off a small inventor. But really, isn't that what it's all about? Disney and their like ripping off everyone else. Their pet congress critters using our tax money to fuck us over at Disney's behest.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47299953)

Blaming Walt Disney (the man) for patent trolling is a little like blaming George Washington for the Iraq war, isn't it? Besides, those little signing birds had been around for over 100 years. If there was an "inventor" who was ripped off, he probably worked in the palace of Louis XIIII.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (0)

Doctor Ruff (1324429) | about a month ago | (#47295075)

Mod this up and insightful. A bunch of hypocrites just like Jobs and the Apple crew.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 months ago | (#47295599)

So... was it patented? Was there, in fact, any legal protection to prohibit Disney from using the technology, or was it left unpatented by an inventor who didn't care? If the latter, would the state of robotics be as advanced today without Disney making the control systems from that little bird widely known? Even if it were patented, did the patent broadly cover all use of such technology, or merely the specific implementation as used in the bird?

I know that's a lot of questions to have to research before inciting an angry mob to go after the big-business bogeyman, but those are important questions to have answered. Go ahead; your pitchfork will wait here until you get back. You might want to extinguish the torch for now, though.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295823)

while we may have not investigated the patent situation in this case the important question is did Mr. Disney do so or did he just take?

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (3, Interesting)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#47296969)

while we may have not investigated the patent situation in this case the important question is did Mr. Disney do so or did he just take?

Wind-up automatons are older than the American Revolution. There was quite the fad for them, to the point where people were scamming by creating fake automatons such as Maelzel's Chess Player, which hid a chess-playing dwarf. Incidentally, Maelzel and Beethoven designed one of the first "Moog Synthesizers" and Beethoven wrote "Wellington's Victory" to showcase it. This unit was truly automated. The drawing automaton in the movie "Hugo" is an example of another popular model.

I believe that when Disney first started loading up on complex automata, they were "programmed" by tall stacks of cams. More recent models replaced some of the mechanics with compressed-air tubing, which allowed more flexibility than simple linkages. I haven't seen one lately, Presumably there are better options now.

I did see one of the air-based systems in the programming room of a company that manufactures such things. They had it hooked up to a piano keyboard. I think it used MIDI to talk to the actual solenoid valves.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47297175)

while we may have not investigated the patent situation in this case the important question is did Mr. Disney do so or did he just take?

Wind-up automatons are older than the American Revolution.

So are a lot of the stories made into Disney animations.

Romans had steam-powered robotic toys (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 months ago | (#47297561)

Play out scenes in mythology or props in plays. Perhaps they learned steam technology from building hot baths in every city. They never industrialized this technology however. I was quicker and cheaper to use slaves.

Re:Let me be the first to say it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47303079)

...back to the original political subject; who is responsible for this current automaton president?

According to the Disney archives (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a month ago | (#47294883)

everybody's heard about the bird.

Re:According to the Disney archives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294943)

everybody's heard about the bird.

It doesn't sing, so it isn't a Nightingale, thus I've never heard of it.

It is more of a trivia piece that should be an article on Cracked, but it is good to know for those that don't.

Re:According to the Disney archives (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about a month ago | (#47294993)

everybody's heard about the bird.

It doesn't sing, so it isn't a Nightingale, thus I've never heard of it.

Well, you've heard of it now [youtube.com] .

Re:According to the Disney archives (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 months ago | (#47295927)

It was, until the 1970s, when Grease became the word.

Re:According to the Disney archives (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | about 2 months ago | (#47298169)

That would be great in the Tiki Room [youtube.com] !
Done with a Raspberry Pi and a hacked Hasbro toy bird...

Re:According to the Disney archives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295035)

the bird is word..motherfucker.

Re: According to the Disney archives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47298399)

What's the word?

Re:According to the Disney archives (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | about 2 months ago | (#47300021)

I'm surprised they didn't mention the bird in Mary Poppins - the one that sings sitting on Mary's fingers. I always thought that was the first use of Anamatronics. That and the Parrot Head on Mary's umbrella.

Must... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294895)

Resist... Temptation...

GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294909)

I know I'll get modded down into oblivion, but animatronics is so 80s. CGI is king nowadays.

Child's Play was one of my favorite movies at the time, and the pupeteering and animatronics was top notch, but this technology simply didn't age too well.

I challenge you to watch any of the movies in TFS again and tell me with a straight face the special effects are convincing and/or scary.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47294929)

I challenge you to watch any of the movies in TFS again and tell me with a straight face the special effects are convincing and/or scary.

Movies do not need special effects to be scary.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a month ago | (#47294963)

Often the effects detract from the terror.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295023)

They were in Jaws because the shots with the Shark were fleeting, and were much like watching shark fottage of the time. By Jaws 3D it was so obvious... the jaws ride at Universal Studios was scarier than Jaws 3D.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47297049)

What role does resolution have in this?
Poor quality might have been noticed less in the days when screens were smaller.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a month ago | (#47295079)

Indeed. Alfred Hitchcock [wikipedia.org] was a master of this technique.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (2)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about a month ago | (#47295153)

Indeed they don't. I think that movies that show less are more scary because you need to imagine more in order to fill in the gaps. For the same reason, books are often even scarier than movies.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295319)

It's scary how stupid you are, asshole.

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47296719)

Movies do not need special effects to be scary.

There's a difference between "no special effects" and "unconvincing, bad, campy special effects".

Walking bad, facial expressions good (2)

phorm (591458) | about 2 months ago | (#47297387)

Animatronics seemed to do really well at facial expressions and general body movement. What they sucked at was walking or things that involved moving across a room. I believe this was mainly because the walking was done "on stilts"

For example, see movies like the original "Alien" (/Aliens) Was Alien pretty scary, you bet. While the Gremlins were not so scary (more of a kids movie than Alien), the animatronic creatures with real oozing fluids etc were quite realistic. Better yet, you didn't have to do "computer generated" light effects (realism is hard even nowadays!), since you got to use real light.

What sucked was movement. The chest-burster running across the table: decent but still missing on the realism. Gremlins toddling across the snowy streets... stilty and not so believable. But facial expressions? That Alien with its inner mouth sliding out inches from Ripley's face, with slimy drool and everything. Awesome, and more believable than any CG I've seen.

Re:Walking bad, facial expressions good (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47297549)

. What they sucked at was walking or things that involved moving across a room. I believe this was mainly because the walking was done "on stilts"

Walking on two legs is unnatural and requires a shit-ton of processing power. Try to stand a GI Joe up. It's why you don't often find two-legged chairs.

I wonder how much of the relative size of our brains is because some dim ancestor decided to get up on two legs and didn't realize what he was getting us into.

Four legs good...

Speaking of dolls (rotflmao) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47301015)

How many dates can a midget like you get that are shorter than you? It's hilarious seeing a runt midget like you with taller women (they're even embarassed inside, even when you paid them to be your escort whimp). The girls look like they're playing with a doll!

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47303235)

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47303305)

Re:GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a month ago | (#47294983)

I'd say Jurassic Park has held up quite well. And, actually, the most dated effects in the film are computer generated, not practical animatronics.

Re: GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295043)

That's false. I'm willing to bet you don't even know which are which.

Re: GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 months ago | (#47295323)

Wrong

Re: GCI is where it's at now... hello?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295561)

Yeah, you're wrong. The only thing dated is that shit UI the bratty kids use to save them from being eaten by non-accurate raptors.

Well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294917)

This seems to explain the issues with Obama's birth certificate.

Re:Well... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a month ago | (#47294965)

I have to ask. I know it's going to be some stupid shit but I have to know. What has this to do with the birth certificate?

Re:Well... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about a month ago | (#47294997)

I have to ask. I know it's going to be some stupid shit but I have to know. What has this to do with the birth certificate?

Would an Animatronic President have a birth certificate?

Re:Well... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 months ago | (#47295193)

He would have a "First boot!" system log entry.

Re:Well... (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#47296953)

I have to ask. I know it's going to be some stupid shit but I have to know. What has this to do with the birth certificate?

Would an Animatronic President have a birth certificate?

Well, Dell was sending out "birth certificates" for their servers.

I've seen one, Had a baby footprint on it and everything.

'Course I never saw the Long Form...

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47296049)

I'd say it would explain Bush easier than Obama

FTFY (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 2 months ago | (#47299309)

I'd say it would explain Al Gore.

Copyrights (2, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | about a month ago | (#47294927)

After this (*) I really don't care about Disney anymore :(

(*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Copyrights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47296001)

Since they've suspended public domain, i feel like they've reneged on their side of the bargain. So i have no obligation to uphold my side of the bargain, which means go ahead & pirate away.

Now if only they'd make something worth pirating.

Firesign Theater did a parody of this in the 70s (1)

TarPitt (217247) | about a month ago | (#47294945)

The album, "I Think We're All Bozos on this Bus" was a computerized theme park parody.

It featured an episode with an animatronic President Nixon:

[youtube.com] https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

The computerized replica president failed when presented with a logical paradox presented as a question.

Do you remember the future? Forget it! (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 2 months ago | (#47296917)

"Hey Paolo! He broke the President!"

I remember many years ago reading an article (probably in Wired; these days, it'd be a blog post) where someone described walking around EPCOT Center while listening to this exact album. Sounds like quite a trip, really.

And then there's this article from several years ago [slashdot.org] that's also fitting. Apparently Disney was working on their version of the Holy-Grams too..

Bribes^H^H^H^H^H^HCampaign contributions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47294949)

Geez, that was hard.

Prior Art (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47294959)

We've already had the first animatronic president:

http://youtu.be/LFAXnCFk5IE?t=... [youtu.be]

Since then, they've all been robots.

Re:Prior Art (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a month ago | (#47295039)

That was my first thought when I read the headline as well.

Re:Prior Art (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a month ago | (#47295077)

Yeah, there was always that clicking sound when Reagan blinked, and that whirring when he turned his head.

Re:Prior Art (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295313)

STFU asshole.

Re:Prior Art (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47295489)

APK, you are a trip. You have to get out once in a while. I know it's scary at first, but once the bandages come off, people will stop staring at you and you won't have to wear that baseball batter's helmet all the time.

And the drooling isn't as noticeable as you think. You can't even see it unless you're looking right at your chin.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47296955)

It must be embarassing to be a midget like you, shorter than the women you dated!

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47303295)

Re: Prior Art (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 months ago | (#47297569)

Ob. Robin Williams [youtu.be] link.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47303301)

Animated devices goes back to the ancient Greeks. (2)

original bit basher (1394013) | about a month ago | (#47294979)

The ancient Greeks had mechanical devices, such as animated birds, water works, temple Gods, and more, as far back as the 350's BC. By year 1 it was going strong.

greekautomata [ancient-wisdom.co.uk] is just one listing I found.

Re:Animated devices goes back to the ancient Greek (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 months ago | (#47295659)

Yes, but have they been patented yet. That's all that counts forget prior art, forget obviousness, all that counts to US patents lawyers is has it been patented yet in the US and can they force people to spend millions of dollars in US courts fighting over patent no matter how bullshit that patent is.

Re:Animated devices goes back to the ancient Greek (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 months ago | (#47296177)

One can wind twine around wooden pegs in a way to "program" the movements. For example, reversing the winding direction on a spool can make a doll head turn the other way, and by controlling the wind counts per peg "lane", it can syncopate to a tune. It's speculated this kind of technology is how ancient Greeks did it. It takes more work to "re-set" than gears, but good enough for a show to the big wigs.

the poor bird (1, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47295041)

From the Disney diaries:

>south
Forest
This is a dimly lit forest, with large trees all around. One particularly
large tree with some low branches stands here.

>climb large tree
Up a Tree
You are about 10 feet above the ground nestled among some large branches.
The nearest branch above you is above your reach.
On the branch is a small birds nest.
In the bird's nest is a large egg encrusted with precious jewels, apparently
scavenged somewhere by a childless songbird. The egg is covered with fine
gold inlay, and ornamented in lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl. Unlike most
eggs, this one is hinged and has a delicate looking clasp holding it closed.
The egg appears extremely fragile.

>take egg
Taken.

>drop egg
Dropped.
The egg falls to the ground, and is seriously damaged.

>down
Forest
There is a somewhat ruined egg here.
There is a golden clockwork canary nestled in the egg. It seems to have
recently had a bad experience. The mountings for its jewel-like eyes are
empty, and its silver beak is crumpled. Through a cracked crystal window
below its left wing you can see the remains of intricate machinery. It is
not clear what result winding it would have, as the mainspring seems sprung.

>jump
Have you tried hopping around the dungeon, too?

>jump
Do you expect me to applaud?

>jump
Are you enjoying yourself?

>jump
Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!!

>profit!
That's not a verb I recognise.

So Jobs was just like Disney: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47295047)

Jobs was just like Disney: "Good Artists copy, great artists steal!" Followed immediately by "Its mine! Mine! All mine, I got me a patent! Mine mine all mine, it came 'Out of my mind'(tm)".

What a completely vacuous story. (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a month ago | (#47295071)

Did samzenpus even follow the link?

ArsTechnica has a better article... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a month ago | (#47295111)

arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2014/06/how-disney-built-and-programmed-an-animatronic-president/

Re:ArsTechnica has a better article... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47295183)

Crap, that is the 1st link. I saw Lincoln stand up and speak at Walt Disney World back in 1973, and it was amazing to see, for the time. People in the audience thought it was a human actor. To learn from the Ars article how all his movements were synced up on a master audio tape was interesting. Amazing tech for the time.

Re:ArsTechnica has a better article... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 months ago | (#47295743)

To learn from the Ars article how all his movements were synced up on a master audio tape was interesting. Amazing tech for the time.

Disney's animatronics were the central attraction of five pavilions at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Ford's Magic Skyway, a time travel trippy mix of Mustangs and Dinosaurs, GE's Carousel of Progress, which ended in a real-life demonstration of atomic fusion, Illinois's Meet Mr Lincoln and Pepsi's It's A Small World.

Lincoln at '64 World's Fair (1)

jddj (1085169) | about 2 months ago | (#47295969)

I saw Lincoln at the Fair, and my 5-year-old self was amazed. I knew it was a machine, as I had been told, but...how on earth could it move and stand just like a person? It was breathtaking!

Over the years, I've wondered at roboticists having trouble mimicking human motion, or Asimo falling over. My first thought was always "Really? How hard can it be if they could do it in '64?"

Of course, with the passage of time, I've learned about the difference between a recorded demonstration and the ability to do arbitrary kinds of work, begun to realize the power management needs and controlled environment constraints that let them pull it off, but 50 years later, it remains a high-water mark for me in the simulation of human motion onstage.

I recently visited Kennedy Space Center, and enjoyed the (sorta) animatronic presentation on the moon landings, but the astronaut is a stationary stuffed suit. They spent their budget on putting a model LM down onstage, not the figure's motion. The seams show.

BTW, my 5-year-old self also straightened out a docent at the Fair. Seems this clown was telling people the X-15 launched like a rocket and landed like a plane. I'd just built the Revell B-52 with the X-15 under the wing, and knew better. Indignantly straightened his ass out. Hmmph!

Re:ArsTechnica has a better article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295799)

I saw Lincoln stand up and speak at Walt Disney World back in 1973, and it was amazing to see, for the time.

When do you think they'll tell us how they do President Obama? It's eerily human-like.

Queue to GW Bush jokes (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a month ago | (#47295159)

Go!

Re:Queue to GW Bush jokes (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 2 months ago | (#47295549)

What does this have to do with Global Warming and groundcover?

Re:Queue to GW Bush jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295585)

Bush is nothing like animatronics. More like a ventroloquist's dummy [onionstatic.com]

Re:Queue to GW Bush jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295649)

The word is "cue" in this situation, not "queue".

Re:Queue to GW Bush jokes (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 months ago | (#47295719)

Normally, yes, but I wanted them in a line.

Wall Street & Democrat party (2)

david999 (941503) | about 2 months ago | (#47295429)

Wall Street and the Democrat party have created one called obama.
Turn on teleprompter and he speaks.

Never mind the animatronic president (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47295611)

Wasn't the original president more into cryogenics than animatronics?

Well, herer's the perfect opportunity for Disney to really build and program an animatronic president.

Just get Uncle Walt's corpse out of the liquid nitrogen capsule and retrofit it with appropriate rods, wires and servos, and get some coders in to program some sassy moves and tacky speech for the thing, then install it at the entrance to one of their theme parks and let the crowds watch it jive about and listen to the dreadful words it's been programmed to say as they queue up to have their wallets emptied.

Check out Rolly Crump's It's Kind of a Cute Story (1)

Flexagon (740643) | about 2 months ago | (#47295637)

Rolly Crump, one of the original Imagineers, mentions some of this in his "It's Kind of a Cute Story" book and "More Cute Stories" audio CDs that have come out fairly recently. Plus a lot more Disney history from around that era. (I have no direct interest, other than enjoying these a lot.)

Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts! (1)

robbiedo (553308) | about 2 months ago | (#47296123)

Never truer words spoken. That was such a make-out ride in my teens.

So you're saying Disney built a Mechanized Patriot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47296665)

'Twas yellow skin and slanted eyes that did betray us with their lies. Until they crossed the righteous path of our Prophet's holy wrath.

Sadly, Disney makes for a poor Comstock impersonation.

A puppet president? (1)

angularbanjo (1521611) | about 2 months ago | (#47297001)

I knew they were big in the lobbying industry for copyright extensions, but surely this is a step too far?

I worked on the 2nd generation of these (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47297763)

Long ago in a different time - at the ripe old age of 15, I was in my very first summer job working as a subcontractor to Boeing at NASA.

I'm not sure why, but probably because everyone else had more interesting things to do, I was tasked with designing the 3D model of the replacement for the old Hall of Presidents system. I was told that the old system "ran on a looping tape" and they wanted to make it digital because it kept breaking down. I had to model Abe Lincoln's robotic skeleton in 3D (joints, pistons, etc.) for connection to the real thing.

It was a heck of a learning experience. I did all the modeling on in-house software on the old Silicon Graphics workstations. I had a blast. After hours I got to play some badass flight combat simulator.

A printout of the model of the robotic infrastructure I created in 3D is still sitting on the wall of my old room at my parents house. Crazy memories.

Tiki Room is my hands-down favorite! (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | about 2 months ago | (#47298151)

The Tiki Room was Walt's favorite (and mine too). You can see him beam as he demonstrates it in many videos.
My sons and I built a tribute to the Tiki Room using a Raspberry Pi and a Hasbro toy bird. It never ceases to get a laugh out of visitors. Here's a link. [youtube.com]

E.T.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47299291)

"Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose."
Sorry, but E.T. was a "little person" in a suit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Bilon

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