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Although Disney is known for its ‘magical’themed films and amusement parks, they have also recently announced that they will be opening two laboratories for... Disney Opens Research Facilities

Although Disney is known for its ‘magical’themed films and amusement parks, they have also recently announced that they will be opening two laboratories for research.  The first one will be in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh while the other will be located in ETH Zurich.


President, Ed Catmull, of Disney and Pixar states: ”creating the next generation of sophisticated technologies requires long-term vision and collaboration with world-class innovators.”  What will they be researching?  Areas include image generation, AI, computer animation and robotics.

Disney has announced quite a few exciting projects.  The first will be an automatic editing tool for footage from several social cameras.  When you film an event, you usually end up with loads of footage from all of your friends.  What do you do with it?  Usually nothing!  Disney has created an algorithm that ‘understands’some of the rules of cinematography.  It identifies important aspects of the scene and puts together the video from different viewpoints.

Ariel Shamir, member of the Disney Research team at Carnegie Mellon says, ”the resulting videos might not have the same narrative or technical complexity that a human editor could achieve, but they capture the essential action and, in our experiments, were often similar in spirit to those produced by professionals.”

Haptic technology is also something Disney is developing.  One thing that is missing is a vocabulary that describes the ‘feel effects’so storytelling is more effective.  Disney is trying to solve this problem by working with human participants and psychologists to make feel effects that can be categorised and described properly.  Ali Israr, senior research engineer, says, ”currently there are no guidelines to design haptic experience, so we formulated a procedure that associates haptic patterns to events in the story the same way as we describe these events with words and phrases.”

Another aspect of Disney research has been to design a tool that helps amateurs create inflatable structures.  Disney has created a tool that can make patterns for flat panels from a 3D representation.  When the panels are fit together, they can be filled with air to take on the desired shape.

Now non-experts, in the inflatable structures department, can use the programme to add, edit, and replace seams to see how changes affect the final product.  It can take between 8-30 minutes to create a foil balloon depending on how complex you make it.

These are just three projects Disney has in mind for the future.  What do you think?  Have you ever wanted to create a giant balloon of yourself?

[Image via:wikimedia]