Tuesday, November 29, 2011

D23 Members Save on Tickets to The Muppets at the El Capitan Theatre

See The Muppets at the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for $11 (an adult general admission ticket, $6.00 savings). 

Valid for any Monday through Thursday show date and time during the run of The Muppets (December 23, 2011 through January 8, 2012). Limited to four tickets per D23 Membership Card. Guest must show valid D23 Membership Card to receive the special-rate tickets.

“It’s funny, upbeat, and full of laughs for everyone… frogs, pigs, bears… even people,” says Kermit. “For new fans, it’s a chance to see the Muppets in action on the big screen. And for old fans it’s a chance to get together with old friends… and get a little crazy together.”

On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter—the world’s biggest Muppet fan—his brother Gary (Jason Segel), and Gary’s girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), from Smalltown, U.S.A., discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze Muppet Studios and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the studio, Walter, Mary, and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making of Magic Kingdom Park Tilt-Shift Video

posted at the official Disney Parks blog on October 8th, 2009 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

When we posted last week’s Magic Kingdom tilt-shift video, the hope was that a few of you would enjoy the experiment. But oh my…were we surprised. Response was overwhelming.

Some Disney Parks Blog commenters said they were moved to tears. Others cheered and described it as a mini vacation. And yes, we heard those of you who asked for more. So, we immediately found the creative “eye” and champion of the project — David Roark, manager of creative photography for Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group. David sat down with us and shared how he did it.

Tilt-Shift Still Frame

Thomas Smith: This type of project has never been attempted at Disney Parks. How’d you make it work?
David Roark: It was a lot of trial and error. My first two or three trips out of the box I was like, ‘This is not going to work.’ It’s a combination of your height on the scene and in the Magic Kingdom Park there’s just not a lot of fixed platforms where you can lock a camera off for five minutes without it moving. But there’s also lightning and consistency of exposure. We started this in the middle of summer and if you start a sequence and a little cloud comes by, you need to start it over again because the clouds darken the scene so much. So, it was very trial and error. This was on the job training for me.

TS: Was it difficult to find the perfect shots?
DR: In the case of this one, nobody really knew what we were doing. (I said) “just trust me and work with me here, this will all make sense.”

Making of Tilt-Shift

 TS: What lenses did you use?
DR: Nikon makes three tilt-shift lenses, they’re basically architectural lenses and we’re using them in a diametrically opposed application than what they’re built for. They’re built to actually allow you to increase the focal plane in a scene and make everything in focus. For tilt-shift, we turn them the opposite way and back tilt the focal plane so that hardly anything is in focus. And that creates that miniaturation effect.

TS: What was on your mind while putting this together?
DR: For me, it became as much a transportation story – the story of getting to the park and all the things that happen because that activity of parking your car and coming through the toll plaza. I had to think about what scenes have that kind of repetitive motion. It was a lot of fun and it’s different. For me it became a little bit of an escape.

TS: Did you notice Guests wanted to see Wishes Nighttime Spectacular?
DR: Everyone wants Wishes, but Wishes is so bright and because we shoot one frame a second, there were just too many flash frames in it. But, Epcot and Illuminations, I’ll make work. We’ll get the fireworks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How the ambient sound at Walt Disney World works

Noah sez, "An interview with the man who designed the ambient sound at Disney World, ensuring a constant experience rather than one that ends with the end of the ride. It was initially a little uneven, with sound changing volumes depending on where you stood, so they used algorithms to position 15,000 speakers around the park so that the levels would never change.

"I like the way there's often running water or waterfalls between different soundscapes to act as a white-noise buffer. It's subtle but incredibly effective. You almost never hear two contrasting soundscapes at once. In the mid 1990's, the park started researching the problem. It would eventually find no existing solution, so the engineers had to design and construct, on their own, one of the most complex and advanced audio systems ever built.

The work paid off: today, as you walk through Disney World, the volume of the ambient music does not change. Ever. More than 15,000 speakers have been positioned using complex algorithms to ensure that the sound plays within a range of just a couple decibels throughout the entire park. It is quite a technical feat acoustically, electrically, and mathematically. As we land, I ask Mr Q what he considers the highlight of his career. He describes how he wrote some software for "manufacturing emotion" with the thousands of new speakers in the park.

The system he built can slowly change the style of the music across a distance without the visitor noticing. As a person walks from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland, for example, each of the hundreds of speakers slowly fades in different melodies at different frequencies so that at any point you can stop and enjoy a fully accurate piece of music, but by the time you walk 400 feet, the entire song has changed and no one has noticed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mission: SPACE from the Disney Newsreel, October 17, 2003

04.02.11 - It took more than 650 Walt Disney Imagineers more than 350,000 hours (that equals about 40 years of time) to develop Mission: SPACE. And there were just as many decisions — some big, some bigger — to be made.

Imagineers mocked up nearly 100 shades of red before deciding on the color of the red planet that dominates the attraction's dramatic facade.
All systems are go. Mission: SPACE presented by HP officially blasted off October 9 at Epcot... and with the thundering roar of rockets and the gravity-defying exhilaration of liftoff, Walt Disney World guests are launching into an out-of-this-world adventure.

Decades "in the dreaming" and some five years "in the making," the new attraction, uses a first-of-its-kind, custom-designed ride system based on actual NASA astronaut training techniques to engage guests in a one-of-a-kind astronaut experience. So believable is the deep-space mission to Mars that some Epcot guests ponder whether they have left the building during the adventure. "Walt Disney Imagineers have combined our tradition of storytelling with the latest in technology to create an experience that our guests can get nowhere else in the world," says Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "As a technology company, HP is the perfect partner to present this attraction, and Epcot is the perfect setting, continuing the park's dedication to the explorer in all of us." The new attraction is, in fact, the most technologically advanced ever created by Disney. It also marks a continuation of the collaboration with HP that began with the sale of a specially modified version of Bill Hewlett's first invention to help fine tune theater acoustics for the motion picture Fantasia.

The International Space Training Center, several decades into the future, provides the setting for Mission: SPACE. As the crew selected for this ultimate space mission, guests head to the dispatch area and then move to the Ready Room, where they receive a history of astronaut training and are given the role they will assume during the mission. Invariably, post-mission guest chatter includes "wows" for the launch and the visual representations of space. Mission: SPACE taps existing principles of centrifuge technology to generate the true-to-life sensation of launching vertically. The integration of pitch and roll movement adds, by all accounts, an incredible realism. As for the visuals, the challenge of creating a believable "view out the window" resulted in Imagineers' development of a unique virtual imaging system that includes a state-of-the-art video flat screen using components not yet available in the marketplace.

"[It's] a good combination of reality and looking ahead to what things might be like," says former Shuttle astronaut Rhea Seddon. "I knew intellectually it was a centrifuge and that's how they were generating the feeling, but it doesn't feel like a centrifuge." And that's the point: It feels like the real thing. 

From the Disney Newsreel, October 17, 2003
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