In early 2012, Weigl became a Vendor Partner with CEC Entertainment Inc., to help evolve one of the most iconic animatronic venues in the world, the Chuck E. Cheese stage show.
With over 550 restaurants in the US and rapid expansion both domestically and internationally, CEC was planning for the fifth iteration of the main stage attraction when Weigl was asked to engage in the conversation. A major priority was to evolve the technology backbone to allow for more advanced programming and control opportunities.
Dubbed Circles of Light, the new stage show includes many new elements designed to further engage the guests and highlight the Chuck character. Features include; a massive HD video wall, enhanced theater-quality lighting, and touch-sensitive LED-backlit wall panels. The new stage is fabricated by Corman and Associates, and continues to use the famous Chuck character produced by the California-based animatronic’s studio, Garner Holt Productions.
Garner Holt Productions has been building Chuck as an animatronic figure since 1998 when the Studio “C” show was introduced. They have built over 450 animatronic shows for locations around the world, in addition to some unique concepts and specialty projects. Company founder Garner Holt says, “CEC Entertainment has been one of GHP’s biggest clients for fifteen years. CEC has been wonderful to work with—it’s a very personal type of relationship, and I am grateful to have them as clients.”
Weigl worked closely with Garner Holt Productions, Corman and other vendor partners to bring the show control components into the discussion early. This early involvement allowed the stage to take advantage of guest interaction opportunities that were previously cost prohibitive. Together we planned not only for the current show, but future upgrades that can be seamlessly integrated to further evolve the experience down the road. Weigl’s Director of Technology Mike Blasko says, “Our hardware is extremely flexible and we wanted to put an architecture in place that would be responsive to further development.”
Weigl was tasked to develop a custom version of our ProCommander with an integrated digital media player from CE Labs and a custom Pro I/O to interface with legacy CEC equipment. The ProCommander LTC (Linear Time Code), which fits in a 1U rack space, replaced six large relay panels, a wall sided control panel and dramatically reduced the cabling needs. All of which greatly reduced the installation and maintenance burden for technicians across the country.
As important as the hardware technology upgrade was, providing the CEC team with a state of the art workflow for programming and show deployment using VenueMagic SC+ Show Control Software by Entertainment Sciences Group (ESG), ESG was also a critical part of the success.
Working closely with us and CEC, ESG created a custom software tool that translated CEC show files across their legacy system and VenueMagic formats, enabling the CEC show to migrate previously produced shows in to VenueMagic SC+, rather than having to redesign them entirely from scratch. Additionally, the customization made it possible to run the newer shows, designed in VenueMagic SC+, on older systems awaiting the technology upgrades.
Currently all Circles of Light shows and recently renovated restaurants are being powered by Weigl technologies. Scheduled renovations and new store openings are steadily increasing, as well as international expansion.