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Amigas At Disney
By: Jason Compton
On our (Amiga Report Assistant Editor Katherine Nelson and I) recent
vacation to Orlando, Florida and the Disney World theme parks, about the
LAST thing I expected to see was an Amiga. I always HOPE to see one, but
honestly, I wasn't hoping too hard. After all, it's not every day someone
will leave one sitting out as obviously as the 1084S at the Ontario Science
Center (last winter) or in the recent movie Brain Candy (also a 1084S)...
But I was wrong. We were watching the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, roughly in
the center of the audience area seating, when Katie leaned over to me,
pointed at the show control area in the front aisles of the seating and
said, "Hey, is that a 1084?" Intrigued, I looked down there. I spotted a
14-inchish monitor, beige in color, but with a blue screen and some sort of
white text on it. We couldn't make anything out from the distance, and
while at first I thought it might indeed have been a 1084, I decided it was
probably just a VGA monitor on a PC. It sorta looked like they were just
running a DOS application in a white-on-blue text mode.
But after the show was over, we had to know for sure. So we made our way
down close enough...and sure enough, there was a 1084. Under it was a
dirty, beat-up, but still functional Amiga 2000 (with a keyboard whose
spill-guard skin was so old it was brown). In the center of the equipment
(lots of switches and knobs, of course) was another 2000. There was a tech
still at the first 2000's chair.
"Do you mind me asking what you're using your Amigas for?" I asked him,
hoping that our amazing recognizance of the machines would put a smile on
Well, it didn't. It turns out that our new friend wasn't exactly an Amiga
person himself, just one of the guys who runs the show. But he was at
least familiar with what he was working on. The first machine we spotted,
the one with the blue and white display, was running a
microphone-monitoring program. Basically, it kept track of the activity
and level of all of the cast and crew microphones for the show. The
software, so we learned, was designed by Sennheiser. While I didn't press
him to let me play with the machine, it looked rather 1.3ish.
The other system, he explained, was using a setup designed by Richmond
Sound and was in effect the control center for the entire show, accepting
relay triggers from the various cues and touchplates on the stunt show
stage and handling them in the proper manner with the rest of the
equipment. Quite a job, if you ask me.
We never quite figured out if there was a third system up and running.
Our friend told us that the systems had been in place for a good 7 or 8
years and that the original crew who had them installed were all long
gone--which might explain why I had a really tough time getting him to give
me the name of a person I could talk to discuss the quite impressive fact
that Disney/MGM Studios puts one of their biggest draws in the hands of a
computer that far too few people own.
By one of the most interesting coincidences I've seen in quite some time,
Richmond Sound of Canada just put a Web site online. In an interesting
move, Richmond has chosen the URL http://www.show-control.com/ as their
own. (Pretty clever, if you ask me.) The site profiles their three major
product lines for show and effect control--all of which are Amiga based, a
fact RSD states quite proudly.
The site also lists some of Richmond's clients--quite an impressive resume,
for both Richmond and the Amiga. If you need a reason to feel a bit better
about the impact Amigas have made on technology in real life, pop by and
take a look.
I've gotta tell you, sometimes when I see or hear of an old A2000 at a
company, I wonder if it's really in use, if it might be able to find a
better home. But the folks at Disney/MGM, courtesy of Richmond Sound, seem
to be putting theirs to pretty good use. If you're at Disney/MGM in the
future, do me a favor and do as I did, pop down and just mention to the
techs there that you noticed their Amigas. Who knows? They just might
figure it out. :)