Saturday, March 6, 2010

D&M Innoventions : Pranav Mistry brings us the Future

D&M Innoventions series are each week-end on Disney and more and the goal is to introduce some amazing technologies. If you like Epcot, Tomorrowland and the spirit of the Future, then this article is for you!

I've always thought that a lot of geniuses will come from India and the video embedded today brings a perfect proof. Don't go away as not only you will discover the future and a amazing technology but also a real genius: Pranav Mistry.

Pranav Mistry is born in 1981 in Palanpur, India. He is a young research assistant and a PhD candidate at Massachusets Institute of Technology Media Lab and most of all the inventor of "SixthSense". A lot of modern inventions came from the MIT, and this one is fantastic. Pranav Mistry is passionate about integrating the world of information with our real world interactions. Among some of his previous work, Pranav has made intelligent sticky notes that can be searched, located and can send reminders and messages; a pen that can draw in 3D; and a public map that can act as Google of physical world. His latest invention, Sixth Sense, has been awarded 2009 Invention Award by Popular Science. Pranav Mistry also won Young Innovator Award TR35 by Technology Review and has been called "one of the two or three, best inventors in the world right now".

So, what did he invented? Pranav will explain it to you better than i can do on the video below but, basically, here it is: Right now, you're reading this article on my site, i.e you are on internet. Which means that YOU are coming to the virtual world. Well, Pranav Mistry invented a way to have the "virtual world" coming into our "physical world", i.e exactly the contrary. And, as he did it using things which are already existing we won't have to wait twenty years before it arrives in our reality, it can be done right NOW! And here is the best: all what you will see on this video from a TED conference - if you take the time to look at it, which i hope - can be done for a cost amazingly cheap, not more than $500, i think.

It's not every day that we discover a true genius, and Pranav Mistry is one of them. And the beauty of it is that everything looks so simple...

Below, the 13 min TED video and good news for my non-english readers as you can choose to watch it with subtitles and have the choice of 14 different languages!

And it seems that Pranav opened the way for others researchers as you will see with the next video showing the Skinput system created by Chris Harrison of Carnegie Mellon University and Dan Morris and Desney Tan of the Microsoft's research lab in Redmond. The system is a marriage of two technologies: the ability to detect the ultralow-frequency sound produced by tapping the skin with a finger, and the microchip-sized "pico" projectors now found in some cellphones.

And all this for doing what, you ask? Well, to put it simply, in a near future instead to dial a phone number on your mobile phone you'll be able to do it directly on your hand - and, yes, without holding any mobile phone! Even better, the system will allow to choose options just by tapping your forearm as this one could become part of a skin-based interface that effectively turns your body into a touchscreen!

Have a look below at this other video to be amazed once again!

Video: copyright TED, Skinput

You have a very important appointment this week-end...

Alice's White Rabbit reminds you that you have a very important appointment this week-end! If you live in a country where Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is now released don't forget to go see it - and in 3D! You'll find my review of the film below, and thanks to let us know in the comments if you've liked it or not!

You have also another appointment tomorrow with the D&M Innovations series and don't miss the upcoming article as it will show you nothing less than the future!

And if you live in Singapore or South East Asia your important "appointment" is on March 18 at 8.28 am as it's now official: Universal Studios Singapore will open on that date! Tickets will be on sale from March 10 and of course this time the rides will be fully operationals, except probably the Madagascar flume ride.

Picture: copyright Disney

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Review - with Hi-Res Pictures

I was invited last Tuesday to the press screening of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and i loved it! The movie is released today in the U.S as well as in the UK and Ireland, is already released in Germany and will be released in France March 24.

One of the most important thing when you go to watch a movie is probably to have the right mental image, i.e to don't await of it something that doesn't exist. As all of you are Disney fans who probably have seen the Disney animated there is a danger to compare this new live version to the 1951 version, which obviously would be a big mistake. Also, if you've read Lewis Caroll's books - "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" - you have to know that more than a strict adaptation of Caroll's books the movie was done from an original script written by Linda Woolverton.

So, let's put it this way: no, Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland is not a "candy" adaptation of Lewis Caroll's famous tale. However, Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland is a world where Imagination "have the power" and it's totally the case in Burton's movie. The "spirit" of Alice in Wonderland is there and it's all what matters. And yes, you will find back all Alice's famous characters whether it is the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Blue Caterpillar, the Cheschire cat, the Red Queen, etc... and all of them are just as odd, crazy, lunatic as they were in the Disney animated or, more simply, in the original tale.

BUT, as it is a Tim Burton's movie, Alice's "Wonderland" is also a place that can be uncertain, dangerous, although not nightmarish. Which on a certain point of view is logical as there is no reason why a world with such mad characters would be reassuring, right? However, the movie is not too "dark" and have a lot of funny scenes so if you have young children who are at least seven years old you can bring them to watch Alice in Wonderland, they will probably love it.

The other important thing to know, and it's not really a spoiler, is that it's more a "Return to Wonderland" as Alice, now almost 20 years old and on the point to get married with a young British lord - that's the opening sequence - went previously to Wonderland when she was seven. Although she don't remember it really, since her first trip she regularly had nightmares, and it's fair to say that her subconscious is still impregnate of all the strange characters she met when she was a child... Until this fateful day on which Alice, once again, will fall inside the tree hole and will be back to Wonderland.

I don't want to tell you more about the story line itself to don't spoil anything but what i can say is that technically and artistically speaking the movie is gorgeous. Wonderland looks really like a place out-of-this-world with giant mushrooms and flowers which can talk but also amazing creatures - all CGI animation is perfect, special award for the white rabbit, although all of them whether it is the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Blue Caterpillar, The Dodo Bird or the Jabberwocky are really great.

The casting, too, is perfect. Johnny Depp is playing the Mad Hatter with all his genius and probably nobody else could have played it so well. The young Mia Wasikowska who plays Alice have the right ingenuousness and Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway respectively playing the red and white queen are very good too. Interesting to note also the "voices" of talented actors like Alan Rickman - the voice of the Blue Caterpillar - or the great Christopher Lee - the voice of the frightening Jabberwocky.

The movie is released in 3D and what a great 3D! Generally in live action movies they use the 3D to give more dephts or an immersive feeling - this was the case with James Cameron's Avatar - but they try to avoid "pop-up" effects. One of the reason is that directors try to avoid that the movie looks like a theme park attraction. But here, in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland it's not the case: the 3D is used to give more depths but you will also enjoy some great pop-up effects all done elegantly and with a perfect timing.

I, personally, think that "Alice" should be very successful at the box-office - not as Avatar, of course, but Avatar is the "exception that confirms the rule" - and i'm pretty sure that children of all ages will love it. So, if you live in the U.S, in the U.K, in Ireland or Germany go to see Alice this week-end - and in 3D! - as for all the reasons explained above Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is an extremely enjoyable movie. And to tell the truth, i loved it so much that when the end credits appeared i already wanted to see it again!

Let us know in the comments if you've liked it or not!

All pictures: copyright Disney

D&M Exclusive : Universal Studios Singapore Lagoon Fireworks Test Video

Two hours ago tonight Universal Studios Singapore did a fireworks test. This is the fireworks that guests will see at night over the USS Lagoon. Of course, tonight the park is not open yet but it's now official: Universal Studios Singapore will open March 18 at 8.30 am! For now, the fireworks test was for USS cast members only but Disney and more already have the video showing a part of the fireworks!

From what i've been told the fireworks is very good, just as good as Epcot's Reflections of Earth. It looks pretty spectacular, the music sounds great, and the fireworks last 7 minutes. On the video below, 1 min and 40 seconds of it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Tangled "Rapunzel" Teaser

Disney released two days ago a first Tangled "Rapunzel" teaser, and the least we can say is that it's really a "teaser", i.e it don't shows a lot of the movie and you won't see any characters. I remind you that Disney changed recently the movie title, now called Tangled, instead of Rapunzel.

But if we want to watch a few seconds of animation of the Rapunzel character we have to go on the WorstPreviews web site which have this very short clip which may have been done quite a while ago.

Always on the WorstPreviews web site but much more interesting this work in progress of the trailer - and don't ask me how they've got it...

Tangled is supposed to be released in the U.S in November 2010.

Picture and videos: copyright Walt Disney Animations.

Great WDI Imagineer Tim Delaney Interviews

The Season Pass web site posted last monday a fantastic podcast interview of Imagineer Tim Delaney. As a matter of fact this is part two of Tim's interview and Tim who was show producer of Disneyland Paris Discoveryland have great stories about its making. This great podcast interview last 1h30min and i strongly recommand it to you.

In the part one HERE, just as great, Tim talks about his work on EPCOT & Living Seas!

To tell the truth, i've discovered today The Season Pass web site - thanks to one of my reader's comment - and they have a LOT of great podcast interviews of WDI Imagineers. Recently they've interviewed Imagineers Rick Rothschild, Chris Brown, Darrin Hughes, Barry Braverman, Jerry Rees or Composer and Disney Legend Alan Menken. The podcast page is HERE and you can even subscribe and download all interviews for free on ITunes HERE.

Don't miss these definitely great interviews!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Captain EO in 3D, right now, on your computer screen !

I usually post an artwork article on wednesday, and it's the case today. But for the first time on Disney and more this one is in 3D! Back in August 1987, almost 23 years ago, Eclipse Comics published an amazing Captain EO 3D comic book souvenir edition. As a matter of fact the comic book was published in two sizes, the normal comic book size and a big A3 size which is of course the most collectible one. In both cases the cover was Captain EO's famous artwork from Imagineer Tim Delaney.

The story line is not only exactly the same than the attraction, but all text, dialogs, are the same one that lucky Californians can hear again inside Disneyland's Tomorrowland theater. All the 30 pages of drawings were done by comic book artist Tom Yeates and of course reproduce all the scenes of the 3D movie.

I have to thanks my friend Daniel who is not only the owner of a perfect copy of the 1987 comic book but also of Tom Yeates original art, the page 21. Right now Daniel put this rare one-of-a-kind original art on sale on ebay and it's a unique chance to own this rare Captain EO collectible art. If you're interested, the auction page on ebay is HERE and here below is a picture of the 24" x 17.52" original art, a pretty big size. The buyer will also get this rare Captain EO souvenir edition - the A3 size - which include two pairs of 3D glasses.

But, as it's really a one-of-a-kind which means that only one of you will get the original art, here is for everyone the 30 pages of the Captain EO souvenir edition and yes, they are in 3D. All what you need is a red and blue 3D glasses like the one below, whether the one you have are in cardboard or plastic. If you have some at your home, it's time to find them to enjoy the 3D article on your computer screen. And believe me, the 3D effect is great!

If you want to make the reading even more enjoyable here is how to do: open a new window of your internet browser and go on Youtube to find a video of the movie. You have some good one, in two parts, HERE and HERE. Just launch part one, put the sound, and then come back to this window so when you will read the 3D comic book pages you will have the sound too! The two Youtube links are for the 3D video version but unfortunately, even with glasses, the 3D effect is not as good as in the attraction.

Okay, there we go, and below are all the 30 pages exactly as you can read them in the comic book. As usual, click on each image to see it in big size and once on the picture page click again on it to have it even bigger. It's time to put on your 3D glasses, and enjoy!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

Pictures: copyright Eclipse Comics, Walt Disney Company 1987.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Will the great short-animated Logorama win the Academy Award next Sunday ?

The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony will be next Sunday, March 7th, and just like you i hope that the Best Animated Movie award will go to UP! But there is another category for "short animated films", and in this one there is a little jewel called "logorama".

Edited: Logorama won the Best Animation Short Film Award on March 7th, 2010!

Directed by François Alaux, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain, Logorama is a world made up entirely of trademarks and 2500 brand names (logos) in which two Michelin Men cops pursue a criminal Ronald McDonald!.

Not only it's amazingly well done, graphically speaking, but it's also fun, impudent, totally corporately incorrect, in two words: a pure delight.

I could not embed the whole movie but below you will find the first one and a half minute and if you liked it you can see the full short animated in two parts HERE and HERE.

I strongly recommand you to watch it as it is a short animated like no other you've seen before! Enjoy, and let me know if you liked it!

Picture and Youtube Video: copyright Autour de Minuit Productions

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland " The Tea Party " Clip

Here is a new clip from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and this one shows the famous sequence of "The Tea Party". Although it's typically Burton's atmosphere, it looks great, so don't miss it!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

After Singapore, where will be built the next Universal Studios ?

When Universal Studios Singapore will finally open - and so far they're talking about March 10 for a soft-opening of the park - what will be the next destination for a future Universal Studios theme park? Well, as we've seen in a previous article they do have a project in South Korea (concept-art above). But recently i was told that although some of the people who worked on Universal Singapore are contracted to do one more Universal Theme Park in Asia, the one announced for South Korea might not be the one...

Ho-Ho, i thought, what could that mean? I couldn't have more details but i started to think if there was a good reason that the South Korea project might not be Universal Studios future destination. Now, before i go further, please note that next paragraphs are pure personal thoughts, nothing that is written below must be taken as official or even the truth because it's not - or may be it will be, time will tell.

The first thing which is interesting to note is that Universal Studios Korea opening date was scheduled for 2014. And so, you ask? Well, 2014 is also the scheduled opening date for Shanghaî Disneyland! And, considering that South Korea is so close to China AND Shanghaî AND that Universal know that Shanghaî Disneyland opening will be one of 2014 major events they might think it won't be a good idea to open a new theme park that same year, especially one that will be at only two hours flight from Shanghaî. In two words, knowing the Disney marketing machine - and that Shanghai Disneyland will include many elements to please a Chinese/Asian audience - the timing might not be the best to open a Universal Studios in South Korea. If this info that next Universal Studios in Asia will not be in South Korea is right, then this could be a good reason. Another good reason could be the two others theme parks projects that Paramount and MGM are planning to build in South Korea...

But if South Korea is not Universal next destination in Asia, then where will it be? We know that Universal have parks in Japan and now in Singapore. Singapore being close to other south-east Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodgia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines we can't expect a park in these countries. Dubaî and Beîjîng projects have been cancelled, and with Disney having two parks in China's other major cities i won't bet that next Universal Studios will be in China. Although we must not forget that Universal is not afraid to compete with Disney at the same location. Whether it's in California or in Florida Universal Studios are only a few miles away from Disney we can't totally exclude that Universal might build a park in Shanghaî. But i have to admit it's hard to believe that it will happen.

If we consider that Shanghaî won't be the next location, where else in Asia could Universal build a new theme park? And why not in India! I remind you one of my previous articles revealing that Disney is looking over India for a future Magic Kingdom. Sure, it's not for now, but with a population of more than one billion it's understandable that any major company look in direction of India. And i must say that if Universal's strategy was to open their next theme park in India it could be pretty smart. Why? Because Disney is stuck in China at least for the next eight to ten years. They must fix HKDL attendance problem - which hopefully they will do thanks to the new attractions - they have this big park coming in Shanghaî, and dealing with Chinese administration is not that easy. While Disney is stuck in China they won't go in another major project, especially in India. So, it might be the right time for Universal to look over the Indian market. For sure there is a lot of poor people in India who might not afford a trip to a Universal Studios but the middle class is growing quickly and in four-five years from now India will be an even more powerful country, economically speaking.

And where would you build a theme park in India if you had the power to do so? Well, Mumbaî (Bombay) could be the right place. Why? First, Mumbai is India's largest city, is considered the financial capital of the country and serves as the economic hub of India. I don't know (unfortunately) India and i might be wrong but i have the feeling that Mumbai is, of all Indian cities, probably the closest to some occidental cities. AND, important point, Mumbai is the home of the famous Bollywood movies studios, the largest film producer in India and one of the largest in the world if not the largest. What place could be better for a theme park movie studio? Young Indians are aware of all major American blockbusters and it will be probably easier to deal with India's administration than with China's officials. They already have six amusement parks in Mumbai - including one called "Fantasy Land" ! - but nothing as sophisticated as a Universal Studios. Not to forget that Mumbai is at three hours flight from the Emirates rich customers. Frankly, if i was Universal, i will build a Universal studios in Mumbai, the perfect city to enter the Indian market while Disney can't do it. New Delhi could be another possibility but i have a better feeling with Mumbai as the right place for a theme park themed on movies.

If India was not "the" choice, where could they open a new Universal Studios? In Asia, there is only one other place and it's not even really in Asia: Australia. I could see a Universal Studios in Sydney. It's not too close to China or Japan which will help to avoid Disney competition, but the 20M Australian might not be enough, economically speaking, even if we include New Zealanders.

Talking about other countries Disneyland Paris has been incredibly lucky that Universal executives finally changed their plans and never built in the 1990's a Universal Studios in Melun, a town located at 30 miles from DLP. From what i've been told it was DLP financial difficulties which made them change their plans, but what they've never understood is that DLP Magic Kingdom has been successful from day one. It's DLP hotels which were the problem, back in the 1990's - but not anymore. Thanks to Universal misunderstanding Disneyland Paris never had a dangerous competitor a few miles away from the resort - but never say never as it's still time for Universal to change their minds once again and build a park in France if they want to do so.

Anyway, to come back to Asia, remember that all this was pure personal thoughts and as Universal have a full-time Staff, certainly not as big as Walt Disney Imagineering but with guys who knows how to build a good theme park, there is still a good chance that they will use them for the Korean Project. Time will tell if my vision was right or not, which, by the way, is not really the problem.

Artwork: copyright Universal Studios

Looking for a great Disney book ? Then, the Disneyland Paris book is the perfect gift for any Disney fan !

If you're looking for a great gift to offer to anyone you love - including you! - my "Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality" book with its 320 pages and 750 pictures - including 250 renderings from Walt Disney Imagineering - would be a GREAT gift for any Disney fan!

I still have copies of the book, and, as i am one of the two authors of the book, each copy will be sign specially for you or anyone you wish. Of course, don't forget to tell me the name to whom you wish i dedicate the book.

An important note before i go further: If you're not in a rush to get the book, choose the flat shipping option (also indicated below) which usually takes between 3 to 6 weeks delivery (depending if you're living in Europe or in the U.S) and is also much less expensive.

And now, here is a description of the book and everything you need to know to order one of the last signed copy of this beautiful book. Please note that NO re-printing of the book is scheduled, and these last available copies may be the REAL last one!


Price for one copy of the english updated edition is 87 Euros

About the shipping:

IF YOU'RE NOT IN A HURRY TO GET THE BOOK: Flat shipping (4-5 weeks delivery) is 15 euros.

IF YOU'RE IN A HURRY TO GET THE BOOK: Air-mail shipping (3 weeks delivery) is 25 Euros.

If you have a Paypal account you can proceed to the payment by paypal - paypal payment including your choice of shipping must be sent to the email adress:

Important: Note that the price is in Euros, not in U.S $, so you have to choose the "euro" currency when you do the paypal payment.

If you don't have a Paypal account, a bank wire transfert is possible, just let me know.

And, of course, thanks to confirm me your order and payment AND the shipping adress by email at the email adress:


As i am the one who designed the book, i'm not really at the good place to send compliments about it, but if you are a reader who already own the book, please leave a comment at the end of the article to let other readers know what you think about it.
Previous comments can be read at the bottom of this page where the article below was previously posted.

So, here is a little description of the book, now - See below some pictures of the book pages - click on each of them to see the photo-montage pictures in big size.

The book is a gorgeous "coffee table book" with 320 pages and 750 pictures - of which 500 are park and attractions photos and 250 are Walt Disney Imagineering renderings!

The size is 9 x 12 inches, all pages are in color and it's hardbound with a glossy dust jacket. The text (by Disney historian Didier Ghez), was written after more than 75 interviews he conducted with all the Imagineers who created the park. He goes into just about everything you wanted to know about this unique place that many describe as the best "Magic Kingdom" ever created by WDI.

It took five years to create the book, but it was worth all the time we spent on it, and the book looks just as good as we had hoped for at the beginning - in fact Imagineer Bruce Gordon told us that it was "probably the best book ever done on a Disney theme park". Coming from Bruce who did with David Mumford the great "Disneyland, The Nickel Tour" book, it was more than a compliment.

The first chapter about Main Street has 52 pages and introduces the reader to the "legend" of Main Street, USA. You'll learn all about the Disneyland Paris Railroad, the unique "Discovery" and "Liberty" Arcades; find out about the architecture, the restaurants (like "Walt's," a tribute to Walt Disney, but also inspired by Club 33 in Anaheim) and the shops; with dozens of photos, renderings, models, and reproduced for the first time here, all the "cities of the future" posters located in "Discovery Arcade."

The second chapter on Frontierland discusses the park's western side with extensive sections about its major attractions, "Big Thunder Mountain" and "Phantom Manor." In fact the book has the longest sections ever put together in a book on all the major attractions. The Pirates of Caribbean section in the Adventureland chapter is 26 pages, Phantom Manor has 16 pages devoted to it, as does Space Mountain, it's a small world, etc. The photo material was so great that we kept adding more pages to the book, which was supposed to have only 240 pages when we started... we ended up with 320 upon completion!

The Frontierland chapter also covers the Mark Twain, the River Rogue Keelboats, Fort Comstock, all the restaurants, the shops and Cottonwood Creek Ranch.and featuring stunning photos of Disneyland Paris from the air by Yann Arthus Bertrand, author of The Earth from Above that make spectacular "double-pages," and allow the reader to discover the park from a whole different angle.

The Adventureland chapter is even more interesting, as many elements of the land exist only in Paris - such as the Bazaar and Aladdin to Africa and the ex-"Explorer's Club." Plus there's a long section about "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril," "Adventure Isle" and "The Swiss Robinson Treehouse" and, of course, "Pirates of Caribbean" the land's major attraction and featuring its amazing Audio-Animatronics! All in all there are 56 full pages about Adventureland, and as in the previous chapters, there are dozens of photos, lots of concept art, and many shots of Imagineers at work. There's even a great bonus here, with the Marc Davis artwork for "Pirates" also included.

56 full pages are also dedicated to Fantasyland. There's an extensive look at Sleeping Beauty Castle, sections on all the dark rides (Snow White, Peter Pan and Pinocchio), as well as a look at "Alice's Curious Labyrinth," the "Mad Hatter's Tea Cups," "Storybookland," and "Casey Jr." There are even 14 pages about "it's a small world" with stunning photos of nearly all the scenes in it. Here the reader can discover a new attraction that exists only at Disneyland Paris, with a great view from above of Alice's Labyrinth.

Discoveryland also gets 52 pages of special treatment, with sections on the Visionarium, the Nautilus, Star Tours, Space Mountain, and everything you wanted to know about the other attractions in this land – Autopia and Orbitron. In fact the Nautilus chapter takes you on a visit with photos of every room of this detailed walk-through and two double page photo spreads, one which makes you feel you're inside Captain Nemo's grand salon, and the other showing you a unique view of Discoveyland featuring the Nautilus and Space Mountain in a kind of "CinemaScope" view.

When the book was released in early 2002, the Walt Disney Studios didn't exist, so you won't see them in the book. But there's still one last chapter about the hotels of the park, and Disney Village too, with the great Buffalo Bill Wild West show that entertains hundreds each evening.

And because every day in a Magic Kingdom should end with a parade and fireworks, we have the Main Street Electrical Parade that close the book, with an Herb Ryman gorgeous painting!

Pictures: copyright Disney