It had been a few visits since we were last able to see Turtle Talk with Crush and I thought it was time to once again enjoy this product of the Disney Living Character Initiative. I love when technology is able to bring things to life, interact with the audience, and truly make you feel a personal connection to the experience… Dude!
One of my favorite Disney-Pixar movies is Finding Nemo, even though it is not a musical (usually my criteria for repeat viewings). The story brings many aspects of life to the table, and it moves along pretty well which makes it most interesting in every scene since there is something worth watching going on. I knew right away, during the scenes with Crush, that more would be made of this encounter than the movie itself, which has come true. And Turtle Talk with Crush is not only located in Epcot, but in also Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Hong Kong Disneyland. It is located in The Seas with Nemo and Friends. (Be sure to wait outside a few moments waiting for the Gulls to speak.)
For the uninitiated (if there are any left), Turtle Talk with Crush is a live show, although scripted for every presentation. Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has truly brought us the best in innovative and creative attractions here. The target audience is young children, as they sit on a carpeted floor in the front, and everyone else fills the gallery-type stands. It is not a large theatre, but the sound fills the room and it fits at least a couple hundred people. There is a huge glass wall through which you see the ocean, plant life and other fish swimming back and forth. It is here that Crush will swim up to talk with the children (and sometimes a parent), answering questions and chatter with the audience for about 15 minutes.
If you have been there more than once, the dialogue will sound familiar, but that’s OK. Each show has some measure of improvisation, although I’m sure even that is rehearsed. The science behind Crush is truly state-of-the art. It is a 3D view of computer animation, and the voice is operated by a person in a room behind the screen, who can see and hear all that is going on in front. This is cutting edge. The window is not an aquarium, although it looks like it, but actually a large rear-projection screen. The interactivity is instantaneous, just like you are conversing with Crush real-time, and you are!
So in effect, the digital image of Crush and other characters are puppets, moving at what I’m told is 60 frames/second and allowing his mouth to move in sync with the operator’s spoken words. The movement is seamless, and it does look really good since Crush can react differently for each person he speaks with. And since there are hidden cameras facing the audience, the cast member operating Crush can react to what he sees out there, including how a child is dressed and behaving.
At Epcot, the attraction opened in November 2004, and there is similarity with the technology used at Monsters Inc. Laugh floor with cast members controlling how the characters move, talk and sound, and using essentially video game controllers for movement. Of course, there is a synthesizer changing the operator’s voice to one that sounds just like the character Crush from the movie. This allows for the interactivity and spontaneity, since the synthesizer does the work for the speaker in live-action animation.
There is an assistant who helps with the show, such as moving the microphone from one person to the next as well as prepping the audience for what is to come. As children are selected there is a certain level of repartee between child and Crush that is entertaining. It is something like watching “Kids Say the Darndest Thing” of Art Linkletter fame, another reminder of the author’s age. And there is even a guest appearance, which I’ll keep a secret so at least something is a surprise.
A WORLD VIEW - Enjoying Walt Disney World
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