Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Possibility 8: Neural Befixery

Welcome back to another article of Possibilities. So far, we have looked back on the little things and thoughts that might improve the attractions to the next generation - from modular add-ons through to peeks at the latest technologies, and even thoughts on botanical monuments. In this article, we decide to go straight to the head of another interesting issue, which, for some apparent reason before the Wonders of Life became ingrained into Future World, has been used liberally in early EPCOT Center attractions. Because ironically, Wonders is said to have the chronologically last one...

For those who have been in the pavilion growing up, you may remember Buzzy, one of Epcot's 'last' Audio-Animatronic figures to have been added as part of an attraction (I only say last with regards to chronological reference, as Cranium Command is not an Audio-Animatronic ride-through, but a theatrical show somehow falling into this category). I'm sure you may have bumped into the article to do with what Cranium Command would have been earlier during development. Of course, there are very few who have caught a glimpse of what had happened to Buzzy since closure, at least according to witnesses affording such a peek backstage (not condoned though!)

I'm sure the last time I wrote anything to do with Buzzy's Audio-Animatronic self, it was in response to a legend - yes, the times when *cough* he'd end up in condition 101 (as you may recall in article titled "Epic Brain Fart (or stroke of bad luck)?" and includes an anecdote from a past CM at the time, credit mentioned). Of course, because this is Possibilities, it's important to note that the technology for Audio-Animatronics have actually taken a leap forward, since the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland, 1963, and especially through the golden eras of the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center throughout the respective 1970s and 1980s onwards. A Wikipedia article exists if anyone is interested in learning a little about the well-known technology in park presentations today.

Of course, a few years back prior to the inception of the WOL4EVA blog, some major developments in the technological framework have happened; in this case, there was a presentation on Autonomatronics (trouble pronouncing? Think of the word 'Autonomy'), and it was shown over at the D23 convention over in Anaheim, with the entire show as provided:

Related information is found over at their Autonomatronics tag on the Disney Parks' official blog.

Demonstrations aside, near the end of that same year, Mr. Lincolin of the Hall of Presidents was the first to forgo hydraulic technology in favor of a more electronic-based framework model, as mentioned in the Theme Park Insider news article for reference. Furthermore, another take on vast improvements on audio-animatronic figures involves even the tweaking of how they construct and test the figures to achieve a sense of realism (allowing for better portrayal of facial expressions), but judging by the test videos, it feels a little like the uncanny valley, revisited but conquered yet again.

On behalf of these technologies, it's interestingly apparently that the advancement has gone so far that I guess it's currently saddeningly okay to confirm that Buzzy (and his ally, the Hypothalamus) right now would as well be a museum piece (of course, after the control rooms and other salvageable components will have been taken out during the pavilion's repurposement era), and there's less likely he'd be repurposed in his current state. If this were his fate, I guess it'll take a lot of work restoring his previous Audio-Animatronic form to be museum-display ready (such as the checking of the hydraulic lines and other components to ensure he stays intact on display)

Of course, if Buzzy and crew would have been given affirmative permission to return home, I might as well estimate that to fully recreate him partially from scratch (not powered by hydraulics, but probably on an electronic scale), and probably give some opportunity to install a few more features, as demonstrated in a didactic written diagram:

The diagram, bearing some sketches, and in English.
  • A little more movement and positioning in his body (change posture and ability to lean to the left and right in response to a swerve , ability to shrug and move shoulders, and even a little more movement in the left and right arms)
  • Autonomatronic features (in this case, camera components installed in eye lens, to help him 'keep an eye on the audience' and measure/react to audience capacity)
Also, there are those who probably approve of a female pilot as a 'secondary' main character behind the neural controls, 'she' could be in the same way (note identification differences in the sketches noted as an example only) as Buzzy might be constructed to the latest, but if theater technical specifications serve correct, it is currently hard to devise a system to automate a 'pilot rotate' if gender separate shows are needed. For some reason, to have both characters work together as a team might be a possible idea, but logistical and engineering conflicts might remain if the theater was retrofitted in this way. So this means that if a duet system were to be possible, either the theater would have to be gutted and given a reconstruct (if it ever happens), or we seriously need a better location.

Anywho, my two cents on how Buzzy would have gotten a second chance at life. If you have any thoughts or just anything else pertaining to Buzzy being retrofitted, feel free to leave a comment.

Until next time!

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