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Entries in Pirates of the Caribbean (9)

Friday
Apr272012

Pirate Animatronic Behind-the-Scenes 

Today we go behind-the-scenes to look at the figure-finishing process of Pirates of the Caribbean animatronic figures.

Animatronic figures are maintained on the inside by Engineers in the Engineering Services department. On the outside they are maintained by Figure Finishers, Show Artists, members of the Artist Prep department, Creative Costumers, etc. Ultimately Walt Disney Imagineering is responsible for the show standards of all AA figures. Let’s look at the process.

A pirate is sent to the shop on a trailer, truck, palette, or golf cart to be stripped down. Less prominent figures can be removed from an attraction without being immediately replaced. In theory... the more important figures are not removed unless an identical spare takes its place. You’ll notice this isn’t always the case.

Grab the new headskin that you’ve already buttered up. Buttering is a technique where you trim and add detail to the rubber using metal tips of various shapes on the end of a torch. Notice the hand filled with a spray styrofoam.

Place the headskin in a mold so it keeps its form while working on the inside.

Snaps with rubber flaps are buttered to the inside.

Each snap corresponds to the snaps on the hard under shell.

Ask this guy for the eyes.

Add rubber eyelids and plastic eyelashes to the eye mechanism.

Paint layer upon layer to match the original head shown in documentation photos. Exaggerate the skin tones and other details in order to be more visible from a distance. Consider show lighting conditions.

Add facial hair and wig. Check out the Peter Pan crocodile head in the background!

Add the hat you got from the nice ladies at Creative Costuming.

Once he's back in the show, ride through to see your handy work and tell your friends, "I did that". This process is definitely what I miss most about by past creative career. There's just something about working with these materials then seeing them come to life, animated and speaking and such.

 

All above photos are from Disneyland Paris. Not all job titles and department names mentioned are consistent with all properties.

Watch this great little video called "Disneyland et ses secrets HD Reportage France 3" for more behind-the-action footage:

 

Related posts:

Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
Little Box of Treasures
ABANDONED DISNEY: Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts
Walt Disney Studios Post Production Behind-the-Scenes
EYE CANDY: National Geographic Aug '63
Recreating the Pirates Jail Scene in Miniature


Friday
Jan072011

Vintage-izing Your Park Pics

It seems that every time I take photos of the parks I have high expectations that the photos will look stunning the moment I see them on a large screen.  Inevitably I find myself disappointed at just how booooring the pics turn out. "Golly... these look outright crummy!", I shout. 

I’m no professional photographer and I always expect to need a bit of post-production magic to make the shots look half-decent. But lately I’ve realized something else. The kinds of park photos I can’t stop staring at all come from olden-ages when unassuming tourists used actual film and entirely non-digital cameras. No really, they did. Add to that a few decades of fading hues and we get beautiful and interesting imagery.  Since I don't have one of those cameras and I don't know if stores actually sell film anymore, I'm left with digital pictures and Photoshop.

So here are a few pics I shot (all within the last year) adjusted to look not only much older but much more interesting (assuming you and I share similar taste). To the photography purist, I disclaim: no specific film or process was meant to be replicated here. These are simply supposed to look older and better than the originals. And if they look like they belong on Daveland or Gorillas Don't Blog, then mission accomplished.

So it's really isn't that difficult to do. Old photos generally have less saturated colors.  Often the blacks are not solid black but more brown, reddish, or blue in color. 

How-To

 

Just one of many ways to pull off the effect. Note that there are a bunch of other "vintage" photo styles you can replicate, this being just one. (Video by Mitch).

Originals

 

 

Saturday
Dec042010

Little Box of Treasures

While working with animatronics and props I would find myself emptying the pockets of my work clothes at the end of the day to find scraps of that day's work.  I decided to keep some of this stuff in a box so years later I could remember the variety of materials I once used.


Humor me as I share what might look like a pile of garbage.  For me, this garbage represents a whole lot of theme park ingenuity and memories of getting my hands dirty early, early in the morning...

Pieces of Brer Frog's pipe stem made of surgical tubing, covered in fabric tape and painted to look like bamboo.  Good ol' Brer Frog had the habit of smacking himself in the face with his previous, unforgiving, rigid pipe.  Speaking of smacks... Doesn't Brer Frog look a lot like the Sugar Smacks frog??

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea plants.  We would find these in the dirt after they filled in the lagoon.  I imagine there are still colorful plastic plants like this out there today.  Thank goodness they tore out that "too-expensive-to-keep-alive" ride.  << I'll explain my theory one day on how this is NOT so accurate.  Sometimes at night after they closed 20K I'd walk the catwalks in the caves only to pee my pants (figuratively) ever time.  So dark and damp and drippy- not to mention all the sea creatures sticking out of the dirty, half-drained water.

A genuine real piece of Walt Disney's backyard Carolwood Pacific train tracks! Given to me by a man who worked on site at Walt's Holmby Hill home in Los Angeles.  I like it because Walt himself played around with this stuff-- unlike a lot of park props.

Butyrate, skin, etc. from Pirate animatronics.

Coins from the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade.  Some coins were thrown out during a rehab we worked on.  Why is the Genie from Aladdin on them??  Don't ask me.  Fortunately the character artwork on the coins is not visible to guests, right?  It's Frontierland after all. 

A piece of George Washington's Hall of Presidents hands.  We'd pull a rough hand skin from the mold, "butter" it up (trim and add detail with a flat metal tip on the end of a torch), paint, and install.  Always enjoyed that.

We would remove hair and beards from Haunted Mansion ballroom ghosts once they lost their bright white shine.  Darker hair is much harder to see from the Doom Buggies.  I'll leave it to you to figure that one out.

Skin-like rubbery old paint would come off in large pieces.  Head skins too needed to be bright in color for the illusion to work.  The green rubber came from the old attic bride, I believe.

Madame Leota and Little Leota share similar projected effects.  Old portions of film would be thrown out when worn.  Above you see film from both Leotas.

In the Carousel of Progress 8mm film runs footage of a boxing match- projected from the basement below.  Remember the grandma exclaiming “Give’m a left you big lug!”

How in the world did a Mad Hatter nose end up in the box?  Don't ask me.  I believe the smelly thing was given to me for some reason.  Still stinks all these years later.

Spectro Magic lights.  Remember when Main Street Electrical Parade retired "forever" the first time and they sold light bulbs for $35??  Well these ain't those.  Am I the only one who never loved Spectro but always loved the Main Street Electrical Parade?

 

Related posts:

Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It
The Haunted Mansion Like You've Never Seen It
Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
Surviving Pieces of Journey Into Imagination
Audio Animatronics 101
  
What Disney Characters Love