77 years ago today the first Mickey Mouse watch went on sale. Disney had recently hired a new ‘merchandising man’ named Herman Kamen. His job was to market the Disney brand via Mickey Mouse. He put together a contract with the Ingersoll Waterbury Clock Co. of Waterbury, Connecticut — a dying and bankrupting company. The watch sold for about 3 bucks and was so successful it was solely responsible for saving the watch company from oblivion. They sold 11,000 the first day,and 900,000 in the first year. After 2 years they had sold 2.5 million Mickey Mouse Watches.
In the 60’s the company was renamed to US Time and now we know them simply as Timex. Timex makes watches for many other companies and brands such as Ecko, Versace, Guess, Valentino, Ferragamo, Opex and Nautica. Yep, without Mickey and Walt, we’d have never had Timex.
Mickey Mouse: Then and Now
The history of the Mickey Mouse watch is even included in this video about Mickey Mouse. It amazes me how much of an impact Walt Disney had on the 20th century — especially in ways that you don’t often think of.
There are many ways to create an image that will fool your brain into thinking a 2 dimensional surface has 3 dimensions. Years ago, all we had were Red/Blue blocking 3D glasses a lá Match from Back to the Future. This technology involves filming in stereo where the camera has 2 lenses spaced apart to record video just like how your eyes see. It’s kind of like looking through a periscope on a submarine but instead of bouncing the light down the tube with mirrors, it is bounced through time on film. Your left eye should only see what was recorded by the left lens and your right eye should only see what was recorded by the right lens. Your brain then uses all kinds of fancy geometry to assemble these two images back into one 3D view of the world
Similar technology is used these days with digital projection where you have polarized lenses where each lens is designed to block/permit light that is polarized in a certain way. Whatever the left lens blocks is permitted to go through the right lens and vice versa. The easiest way to demo this is if you have a pair of leftover glasses from your last movie theater 3D outing, put them on, look at yourself in a mirror, and close one eye. You won’t be able to see your other eye behind the glasses in the reflection because the light that passes through the glasses has been fully blocked, neat huh? When you are in the movie theater, the projector swaps between polarization for the left and right eye something like 120 times a second (as opposed to a normal projector which only needs to flash frames at 29.97 frames per second to prevent flickering as detected by the human eye/brain).
Older polarizing 3D attractions at places like Disneyland use a similar technique, but I have a feeling they use two separate projectors rather than just switching back and forth on one projector. That’s why sometimes when one projector isn’t as bright as the other you get this really wonky effect where it feels like you can’t see through one eye and you think the glasses are dirty.
3D Stereo Photography via “Jiggle Effect”
Another way to do it is by switching back and forth between two static images taken slightly apart from one another. You can see a bunch of cool examples of this method here. When I was going through the pictures from my recent Disneyland trip, I came across a couple pictures in a row that seemed by a jolly accident to work with this effect.
If you click to embiggen the image, the effect is easier to see.
This picture was taken during my trip for Disneyland’s 55th anniversary weekend. While waiting to get onto the Matterhorn (which took quite a bit to convince my dad that it didn’t flip or have any crazy drops to make him lose his stomach) along came Monorail Blue. It’s amazing how much quieter the Mark VII monorails are than previous models.
While visiting Disneyland for its 55th Anniversary last weekend, one of the special things they did to commemorate the day was to replace the B&W Mickey and Minnie Cartoons in the Main Street Cinema with Disneyland Opening Day footage. Some of the footage is black and white and some is in color. There were a few different reels they had playing, and I did my best to grab a few. This is the first reel that I captured. I added some audio to the silent films and I hope you enjoy these seldom shown recordings.
Black and White and Color footage from the Main Street Cinema at Disneyland. On July 17th, 2010 they replaced the standard Mickey and Minnie B&W cartoons with opening day footage of Disneyland. Here’s one of the video loops with some added audio.
Next week, on July 17th, Disneyland will be celebrating it’s 55th Birthday. Today, the Disney Parks blog announced the schedule of events for commemorating Disneyland’s anniversary including a dedication ceremony at noon, a birthday sing along at 4:15, special Retro-designed park maps, and a special set of Mickey Ears available only on July 17th that reads: “D 55th,” July 17, 2010. I was there last year for the 54th Anniversary and I recorded a somewhat shaky video of the commemorative ceremony with The Mayor of Mainstreet, the Disneyland Band and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
As you can see, the festivities were rather simple, but special none-the-less. It seems like they do a bigger deal when the anniversary mod 5 = 0. 🙂 Or, in non-engineer speak, anniversaries that end with a 5 or a 0. During the 50th Anniversary, they celebrating for 2 years and we ended up with the wonderful fireworks show called Remember… Dreams Come True as narrated by Julie Andrews. I absolutely adore Julie Andrews — for me, listening to her speak is like a warm voice-hug. The 50th anniversary also brought us the Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams once again, narrated by Julie Andrews. Both of these were strongly imbued with Walt’s touch when they chose to include audio recordings from his Original Dedication of Disneyland Speech. If there ever was a time you could feel Walt’s presence up above the Firehouse, it’s listening to Walt’s Dedication on the Park’s anniversary. And the Park never looked so beautiful as when it was all decked out with Mickey 50’s.
May you always stay young at heart. And may your Dreams continue to be inspired by imagination. And may you forever treasure this very special day at the Happiest Place on Earth.
I’ve yet to see a video come out the Muppet Studios in the last few years that wasn’t what I would consider to be a hit. Personally, I am hoping this is all leading up to The Muppets returning to ABC. I would love to see them show up on Friday Night at 8pm. I think it’d be about the perfect time slot. Kids and families tend to be home on Friday nights. You can’t aim for the same demographic as Monday through Thursday nights because they’re a lot less likely to be at home watching TV on a Friday night.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the Muppets live on stage, I can’t really describe the experience. If you immediately dismiss the idea as a sock puppet with some guys hand up their crack, I think you’re missing that the actors which perform the characters are every bit as talented and famous as any other TV or movie star. I’d almost argue they are more talented because they must remain in character at all times while ad libbing and maintaing both the voice and persona of the characters. I was fortunate enough to see The Muppets perform three songs live on Stage at the D23 Expo last year
(including Rainbow Connection). I was immediately 5 years old and started feeling misty. If you watch the video to the end, you’ll see Johnny Depp saunter over to Dick Cook (fully in character as Captain Jack Sparrow mind you) and you can hear him asking the audience “Did you see the Frog? The singing frog!”. Then, while Dick Cook asked him about doing more Pirates movies, he went on for a bit about how amazing the Singing Frog was.
Considering what passes for kids shows on TV today, I can’t see how The Muppets could fail. They’ve already used the internet to get a buzz going. They’ve got a new movie coming out (at D23 Expo they teased that the title would be “The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made” — a story about The Muppets being bought but a giant company and forced to work for them… Hrmm, that sounds familiar…)
Many of us that were kids when The Muppet Show was originally on (and the Muppet Babies) now have kids of that are likely to be in the exact target age group — and can you imagine a crazy idea like parents and kids watching a show with values together? I don’t think anything could be more sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational. So come on ABC, It’s time to get things started.Why don’t you get things started? It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights… I think it’s time to raise the curtain on The Muppet Show Tonight – Season 6.What do you think?