Prompt: Entertainment engineering brings to light some of the more light-hearted aspects of engineering. Entertainment in itself is one of America’s most popular pass times and encompasses subjects such as film, television, music, games, reading, comedy, theater, circuses, magic, street performance, parades, fireworks, animal shows, and the list just goes on and on. Entertainment holds a very special place in the world and always has; whether in the form of the plays of Ancient Greece, the jesters of the medieval times, the shooting exhibitions from the days of the wild west, the black & white films that the soldiers of early wars watched to forget about their harsh reality, or the 3D special effects that seem to captivate us all on the building-sized screens of today, entertainment has always been there to help relieve the stress of those who indulge in it. Today this is especially important for the citizens of this great country as we work longer hours, spend more time stressed, and find the well-appreciated release provided through entertainment to be more and more refreshing. For all these reasons and many more, the entertainment industry is here to stay and will constantly require great engineers to keep it afloat and help it to progress. Pick 3 forms of entertainment and describe how a mechanical engineer could contribute to them, or 1 form and 3 considerations.
Recently I went to the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and I was pretty surprised at some of their choices to enhance the entertainment experience on some of their latest attractions. We are all familiar with roller coasters and their exhilarating speed, drops, and turns, but modern attractions at theme parks are going beyond simply high speeds and elevation to immerse guests into their worlds. As an engineer hired to further study and implement some subjects of my curriculum into new attractions, I would take kinematics/relative motion, machine design, and optics into consideration.
- Kinematics/Relative Motion
At many theme parks there is an influx of attractions that heavily rely on the principles of kinematics and relative motion to simulate movement in a small enclosed area. This is opposed to large physical roller coasters that take up tremendous amounts of space, cost incredible amounts of money to build, and raise many safety concerns and standards that have to be met especially for faster moving attractions. Disneyland in California has Star Tours in which the passengers are taken from planet to planet by only rotating from their seats. Universal Studios in Hollywood has the Transformers Ride 3D which does both real translating of the passengers cart as well as simulated motion. I much prefer the Transformers ride because if you are only simulating motion, you eventually realize that you are not actually moving but a combination of both confuses the mind and makes it wonder whether you are actually moving or not.
- Machine Design
Still I believe the E-Ticket attractions are still the bigger roller coasters where you zip though loops upside down and through the air at face melting speeds. Machine design takes into account all the loads on all the components of the ride and ensuring with a factor of safety that those loads will not cause a failure. A corrosion study can also be done to mitigate the effects of corrosion to not only prevent certain kinds of corrosion that are likely to happen, but also avoid an unexpected failure due to fatigue or stress. Taking a statistical approach to the possible loads that the ride will introduce on components will make the design the safest and most enjoyable that it could be.
As a mechanical engineer there is not a course in my curriculum that approaches this study directly but it would be an area I would like to further study. 3-Dimensional movies and attractions make the audience believe that the action is really happening inches from their faces. Further developing this technology to make it more realistic would definitely improve the experience of the audience. Optics could also improve the experience by making images seem unrealistic like in the Clowns 3D maze at Horror Nights. The 3D glasses made certain images appear closer than they were but there were sections of the maze that blurred the line between real actors and projected imagery. I was stunned when I thought a menacing clown was only a screen projection but then came out of the screen was smiling right in front of my face. I was impressed but more scared by this effect.