Walt Disney Company And Silicon Graphics Team to create Virtual Reality Exhibit at Epcot Center

Imagineering Lab Showcases Immersive 'Aladdin' Experience in New Innoventions Pavilion at Walt Disney World Resort

On July 18, 1994, Walt Disney Company and Silicon Graphics, Inc. unveiled the Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Labs at Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla., which offers a sneak preview of Disney's first work in virtual reality. Based on the full-length animated film, Aladdin, the new exhibit combines Silicon Graphics' visual computing expertise with the creative talents of the Walt Disney Imagineering team.

"The entertainment industry is the technology driver of the decade. By collaborating with Disney, the unparalleled leader in defining the animation experience, we will set a new standard for the converging worlds of technology and entertainment," said Mike Ramsay, senior vice president of Silicon Graphics' Visual Systems Group. "Today's audiences expect experiences that are realistic, exciting and interactive. WDI delivers Disney's renowned technical mastery and artistic innovation, while giving audiences a taste of next-generation virtual reality entertainment."

The Walt Disney Imagineering Labs is designed to give the public a glimpse of how Disney creates its magic. Nearly half of the Labs' exhibit replicates the actual working environment at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, Calif. The exhibit highlights "Imagineers at work" creating virtual reality experiences on Silicon Graphics' family of computer systems.

The other portion of the Labs is designed for guests of Walt Disney World to immerse themselves in Aladdin's town of "Agrabah." Guests will be taken through Agrabah in a quest for Aladdin's lamp, where they view, interact and virtually "fly" through scenes from the movie.

From four virtual reality flight stations, guests will experience a "test flight" aboard the film's popular magic carpet-all in a virtual world created with Silicon Graphics systems. Guests view the experience on miniature wide-angle television screens contained in head-mounted displays and control the images they see by grasping the edge of the magic carpet.

The Walt Disney Imagineering Labs also feature a real-time computer version of Iago, the classic Disney animated character from "Aladdin," who hosts the experience and travels with guests. A breakthrough in real-time character animation, Iago can exhibit more than 100 movements including gestures such as winking, laughing and crying.

To create this level of animation and realism, WDI utilizes Silicon Graphics' Onyx(tm) graphics supercomputers, which deliver the world's fastest graphics and advanced supercomputing performance. The Onyx systems, which incorporate RealityEngine2(tm) graphics subsystems, are at the technological heart of the exhibit. The systems provide a combination of high frame rates, sharp pictures and rich scenes that are animated in real-time using the IRIS Performer (tm) application software. WDI also utilizes Silicon Graphics' Indigo2(tm) desktop systems for modeling and animation design. All Silicon Graphics systems are based on the powerful 64-bit MIPS(r) RISC microprocessor architecture from MIPS Technologies, Inc.

"To develop a true virtual reality experience that allows visitors to enter and become immersed in the Aladdin environment, Walt Disney Imagineering Labs required the performance and high-end graphics capabilities of the world's most advanced supercomputers," said Jon Snoddy, senior show designer at WDI. "Silicon Graphics is a company which builds itself around pushing the high-end graphics envelope. It has been exciting to work together to build a real-time system that will produce Disney-quality story and art."

Walt Disney Imagineering Labs will be fully operational in Fall 1994. WDI will continue to embrace future Silicon Graphics technology as it enhances the virtual world software and migrates from the sneak preview forum to other Disney venues.

Silicon Graphics, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of high-performance visual computing and data server systems. The company delivers interactive three- dimensional graphics, digital media and multiprocessing supercomputing technologies to technical and commercial environments through direct and indirect channels. Its subsidiary, MIPS Technologies, Inc., designs and licenses the industry's leading RISC processor technology for the computer systems and embedded control markets. Silicon Graphics has offices worldwide and headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.