Looney Bird's Lab (Johnsonverse)

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Looney Bird’s Lab logo 2021.png
Looney Bird's Lab on Windows.png
Looney Bird's Lab running on Windows
Original author(s): Kevin Aldo
Developer(s): Creative Engineering
Initial release: September 10, 1995 (25 years ago)
Stable release: January 28, 2021
Operating system: Macintosh
Mandatum
Windows
Platform: x86-64
Available in: 26 languages
Type: Animatronic programmer
License: Trialware, SaaS


Looney Bird's Lab is a program created by Creative Engineering and used by ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc. for ShowBiz Pizza Place and Chuck E. Cheese's, as well as Looney Bird's until all its locations were closed or converted to ShowBiz locations in 2015. It is used for programming Rock-afire Explosion, New Rock-afire Explosion, Munch's Make-Believe Band, and Ho-kago Tea Time shows, and was first released on September 10, 1995.

In addition to SPT, the program is used for privately-owned or non-SPT shows, such as remaining Pizza Time Theatre shows, virtual shows, other AnimeTronics, and even custom animatronics. Walt Disney Imagineering has also used the program for programming Audio-Animatronics since 2014. It is also compatible with the Rock-afire Replay video game beginning in the January 2021 release.

Logo from 1995 to August 1996.
Logo from 1996 to September 2015.
Logo from September 2015 to the Janaury 2016 update.

Specifications

The program uses special technology

Backwards compatibility

The program is backwards-compatible with older showtapes, including the original reel-to-reel tapes, the Cyberstar VHS and DVD-based showtapes, and the transitional Cybervision reel-to-reel tapes. Looney Bird's Lab can convert the original signals into the new ones on-the-fly.

One example of this backwards compatibility can be found on the popular YouTube channel "ShowBiz Manager Makoto". In one video, the manager of the ShowBiz Pizza Place location in Hiroshima, Makoto Honda, experimented with the program to see if the Ho-kago Tea Time AnimeTronics could play old shows without any modifications. The show in question was the June 1991 Chuck E. Cheese's showtape "Future 91", specifically the third segment with the songs "Guessing Game" and "See You Soon, My Friend". The result was the entire segment being played perfectly, albeit with the animatronics using the movements from a Road Stage that made them move in an unnatural way and open their mouths wider than during normal operation. More specifically:

  • Yui used Jasper's movements
  • Ritsu used Pasqually's movements
  • Mio used Helen's movements (and had to have her bass guitar removed)
  • Mugi used Munch's movements
  • Azusa had to have Chuck E.'s movements manually added (she, too, had to have her rhythm guitar removed)

The video went on to show the segment being reprogrammed in-store, with the end result proving satisfactory.

History

Conception

In the summer of 1992, Johnson Industries CEO Sheldon Johnson, Jr. requested that CEI head Aaron Fechter create a more sophisticated, user-friendly program to program new Rock-afire shows, as Fechter had been using an Apple IIe computer for years. At first, Fechter was reluctant, but decided to go through with Johnson's request. With the people Fechter recently hired for operations, work began on a new program on July 19, 1992. The Apple IIe continued being used for the time being. Once the program was finished, the Apple IIe was put in storage; in 2015, it was moved to the Creative Engineering museum, where it resides to this day.

Early testing

On February 10, 1993,

Stable release

On

Reception

Use in fandom

The program is well-known for its use by animatronic fans. Chris Thrash used the program for his custom Rock-afire Explosion shows in the late 2000s, which helped spur a revival in interest for the band. David Ferguson, the creator of the BlueBox, has