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Imagineering Discuss How DO they do that?! in the Miscellaneous Disney forums; Can someone please tell me how those Imagineers do this? If you don't know where/what it is, it's the fiber optics in the pavement outside Innoventions in Epcot....
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    WDW4Ever's Avatar
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    How DO they do that?!

    Can someone please tell me how those Imagineers do this?
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    If you don't know where/what it is, it's the fiber optics in the pavement outside Innoventions in Epcot.
    "If you can dream it you can do it."
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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    I love to watch the expression on peoples faces when they look down and see these designs in the walkway.

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    No idea, but they certainly are interesting.

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    Actually, it's not really that complicated. If I am correct, the thin fiber optic fibers are set in the pavement as it is being formed. I would imagine that it is not done on site, but prepared in advance. The tails of the fibers run out of the bottom side of the pavement slab, almost like a root system of a plant. Those tails then connect with, essentially, the light source and control unit that sends a signal to the light to get the desired color to flow down the fiber optic. This is all programmed in a certain sequence and time schedule.

    Ingenious, but not the most complicated of special effects. I love them! And the look on someone's face when they see them for the first time is priceless as it is so unexpected!

    Hope I didn't spoil the magic for anyone!

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfun55 View Post
    Hope I didn't spoil the magic for anyone!
    Not at all! I wanted to know that
    "If you can dream it you can do it."
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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfun55 View Post
    Those tails then connect with, essentially, the light source and control unit that sends a signal to the light to get the desired color to flow down the fiber optic. This is all programmed in a certain sequence and time schedule.
    How does the light source and programming work?
    "If you can dream it you can do it."
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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW4Ever View Post
    How does the light source and programming work?
    I am only speculating based on my limited knowledge on theatrical lighting systems, so it may not be exactly correct as technology has progressed incredibly since I was last involved in that field, but here goes...

    The first step is a computer that is programmed with all of the cues for the lights. Each cue will tell an individual strand to turn on or off, how bright it should be (intensity), and what color. All of the cues are linked together, like a virtual tape cassette, and when they start, the computer runs through the programming sending the cues to (for lack of a better name) a dimmer switch. The dimmer switch interprets the cue and makes it reality by turning the designated light source on to the desired intensity and color for the fiber optic.

    The light is then sent down the fiber optic, which greatly resembles water flowing down a garden hose, and the light 'flows' out of the end of the fiber optic that is embedded in the cement. If you have seen the toys that the kids are playing with at night time in the parks where the toy looks like it has a lot of lighted strands coming out of the top, then you have seen fiber optics. The fiber optic itself has no light or color, but receives it from the source.

    I would imagine that each individual fiber optic does not have to be programed individually, but that there is a program where each slab has all of the fibers linked together. The designer would then be able to import a picture sequence that they would want and then the computer would translate that into individual cues for each fiber. Like I said, technology has progressed a lot since I was in that field, but this is my best guess on how the system actually works.

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    The first time I saw these I stod there for a half an hour just gazing in wonder and amazement! I thought to myself that "Mickey Mouse does AMAZING magic!" Just to let you guys know I was 4..........
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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    *digs madly through the bookshelf*

    "One of the features added to the plaza during the 1994 redevelopment was the fiber-optic patterns worked into the paving near the entrance to the Innoventions buildings. This technique, which is a labor-intensive process owing to the sheer number of fiber-optic points and the necessity of embedding them cleanly in the base material, was later used as the basis for the swirling optical effect at the main marquee for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the Disney Studios."

    The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World. New York: Disney Editions, 2006.

    Dunno if that helps, but I remembered the reference. I too am fascinated by those little pixie-dust lights. There's just something amazing in the simple chase and change of lights - it taps into my kid-wonder in some deep way. My husband usually has to drag me away from that area; I want to watch and chase the swirling lights!

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    I have pictures of my daughters from 16 years ago with the original optics tracing the light with her little finger, pacifer in her mouth. Priceless, she was 2.

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    Re: How DO they do that?!

    Where exactly is that at?


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