Amusement park offers surveillance footage of you as a souvenir

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41 Responses to “Amusement park offers surveillance footage of you as a souvenir”

  1. ethanol says:

    A friend and I thought this idea up several years ago–around 2000 or 2001, I think–and considered forming a startup to implement it and and pitch it to Disney and other theme parks. (My favorite of the company names we kicked around was “Big Brother Where Art Thou, Inc.”)

    We gave up on it because a) why would Disney buy the tech from us when they can build it themselves fairly easily; and more importantly b) yecch, I don’t want to surveillance technology even if it’s cute.

  2. blackhound says:

    Watching some of the YourDay videos on YouTube, though, I feel slightly less worried for my privacy, and slightly more worried about the sanctity of my memories of Tommy.

    Spinball Whizzer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjcjrWE2Bas

  3. Brother Provisional says:

    Back in the summer of ’07 I went to the Atlanta, GA aquarium with my family. In addition to near airport level security-screening theatre, they also forced all entrants to have there picture taken in front of a green screen. You were given an option to purchase a print of the photo with a cheesy photoshopped beluga whale in the background, but you most certainly did not have the option of not having your picture taken.

  4. mrbill1234 says:

    Under UK data protection laws, they would have to provide you with the footage for 10 pounds. BoingBoing posted something similar before:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/05/09/band-shoots-video-by.html

  5. Spikeles says:

    Don’t fear the camera, the camera won’t hurt you, the camera is your friend..

  6. Chuck says:

    Better yet, give them small portable video screens they can use to view live footage of themselves as seen from the nearest security camera.

    They can surveil themselves, and immediately turn themselves in for any crimes they commit.

  7. spazzm says:

    24:
    It’s about control and the consequences of control. Handheld cameras are in the control of someone’s hands, likely yours. So you can control what is shot.

    Not true. Everyone’s got a handheld camera – they’re built into mobile phones these days.
    You don’t control what a handheld camera shoots if it’s in someone else’s hand.

    Wall-mounted cameras are in the control of someone other than you, most likely.

    As are handheld cameras – unless I’m the only person on the scene. Which is unlikely to be the case in an amusement park.

    How many cameras are there watching you? Where are those cameras? What choices are the people in control of those cameras making?

    You can’t tell, but that’s the same for CCTV cameras and handheld cameras.

    Where does that footage go?

    The footage goes into a database – flickr.com, most likely. Or onto a harddisk.

    Who else sees or has copies of that footage?

    In the case of flickr? Everyone.

    If you’re not in control of the camera and its footage, you may never know the answers to any of these questions until that footage is used against you.

    You’re not in control of any other camera but your own. You cannot control the cameras of other people – what do you do if someone snaps a picture of you in the park, using their mobile phone? Do you talk to them and demand that they erase the picture?

    I’m not making this point to be obnoxious, I’ve got a genuine concern here.
    Let me start at the beginning:
    We have a society. Society has laws so that everyone can get along and get on with their lives. Our society is (depending on where you read this) a democracy. That means citizens are responsible for creating these laws.
    The process of creating laws often take the shape of public debate. Public debate lets us influence the opinions of other voters, for example through rational debate.

    The public debate about CCTV cameras seem to be concerned with how to get rid of them. The public debate about handheld cameras seem to be concerned with how we should be able to photograph anything we want.

    How would one go about to achieve both these goals, since they seem to be conflicting?

    Let’s say we create a law that forbids CCTV cameras. Fine, but what is a CCTV camera? As the name implies it’s a Closed Circuit Tele Vision. So all the Evil Amusement Park Inc. now has to do to keep all their CCTV cameras is to allow web access to them from their homepage – this turns them into Open Circuit Tele Vision, also known as WebCams.

    What do we do then? Ban webcams from public places? Clearly not a popular option.
    Well, let’s ban the Evil Amusement Park Inc. from storing the images in their database.
    Simple, we just create a law that says no images from CCTV cameras or WebCams may be stored in a database, public or otherwise.

    Oooops, suddenly we’re not allowed to upload webcam images to webservers (which are a form of database) – we’ve outlawed webcam feeds. And YouTube. And Flickr.

    What I’m trying to say is that laws have unintended consequences. We should carefully consider those consequences before we go ahead and demand that the law be changed.

  8. spazzm says:

    I dunno, I might buy that for the novelty value.
    At 7 quid, that is, not the 20 they charge for the all-inclusive one.

    It’d relieve me of the tedium of pulling out my own camera all the time, and I won’t look like a complete berk while running around, trying to find a good angle.

    Frankly, the only thing cooler would be if I could hire a robot to carry my camera for me, and take photos at moments when I was looking good.

  9. PrettyBoyTim says:

    It looks rather less creepy than Cory makes out in that they only seem to be recording footage of people on the actual rides, rather than general cctv footage of you walking about the park.

    Having said that, if I was one of the park owners I’d be incredibly tempted to install RFID sensors all around the park to get some data on how people tend to make their way around. It’d be invaluable information to help optimise the park layout. I guess it would depend on the kind of range you read the RFIDs from though.

  10. spazzm says:

    I don’t get it – handheld cameras are cool, but the instant they are mounted on a wall they become creepy.

  11. Flying_Monkey says:

    It’s all just training. Learn to love CCTV. CCTV is your friend. CCTV is fun!

  12. dainel says:

    If you’re the park owner, what can you do besides shoot a million photos and try to sell them to the visitors?

    1) which ride is most popular, at what time of day and week

    2) what is the wait time on each ride throughout the day

    3) screens at each ride that shows the current wait time for that ride, and nearby rides

    4) rearrange the location of the rides, so that the most popular ones are distributed evenly throughout the park, surrounded by less popular ones. This makes them more tempting, if only because the queue is shorter

    5) This doesn’t really have anything to do with RFIDs, but it’s just an idea.

    At banks, post offices, and nearly everywhere else, you can get queue numbers. They call your number when your turn comes, removing to need to stand in line. If any park does this, it will immediately become the most popular. How many of us will not go today because of the endless queues?

    Instead of standing in line for hours waiting for our turn, we’ll be chilling in one of the many coffee shops in the park itself, buying expensive drinks.

  13. thekevinmonster says:

    @#5: The Sears Tower in Chicago does the same thing. You get your picture taken whether or not you want a green-screened picture as a memento. I’m sure it has to do with terrorist crap. Also, when I was there, the two people handling the metal detectors had some kind of weird argument over whether my roommate’s Treo was allowable, but they didn’t talk to me or him about it, and they didn’t seem to stop people with much larger camcorders from getting through.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Holy crap. Trouble on Triton, anyone?
    Why’d we have to get the surveillance that gets sold back to you but not the 17 minute sex change?

  15. RumorsofmyDemise says:

    As an amusement park employee/nerd, I would personally be more amused to be able to buy a copy of a cctv tape showing the stupid shit we do when bored (I know I am guilty of catwalk reenactments).

    The whole tracking thing creeps me out; but if they’re going to do it anyway why not reduce the number of obnoxious dads sticking cameras in my face at the same time?

    @#5

    2) what is the wait time on each ride throughout the day?

    Most parks have this as well as the further capability of employees being able to radio to another ride and get instant updates for guests. During HHN Universal even has a text messaging service for wait times as well as a “choose your own adventure” option.

    3) screens at each ride that shows the current wait time for that ride, and nearby rides
    Also pretty standard, though the nearby ride one is pretty redundant.

    4) rearrange the location of the rides, so that the most popular ones are distributed evenly throughout the park, surrounded by less popular ones. This makes them more tempting, if only because the queue is shorter
    I am assuming you mean this for carnival rides? Otherwise the logistics of such a thing are damn near impossible especially since certain rides are more popular at certain times of the day/year and besides that are housed in their own specially-designed buildings.

    5) This doesn’t really have anything to do with RFIDs, but it’s just an idea.

    At banks, post offices, and nearly everywhere else, you can get queue numbers. They call your number when your turn comes, removing to need to stand in line. If any park does this, it will immediately become the most popular. How many of us will not go today because of the endless queues?
    Disney does something similar called “Fast Pass” which allows you to come back at a certain time and go through a shorter line. Universal charges for it; but allows you instant access on all of the rides. Both are pretty popular, both have their problems.

  16. noen says:

    “they only seem to be recording footage of people on the actual rides, rather than general cctv footage”

    That’s all they show you. I’d be pretty confident that they film every square inch 24/7. Remember this is Dominionist Disney, the people who want to make being gay a capital offense.

  17. igpajo says:

    Imagine if the day went badly.

    “Ah, yes, there’s the time Billy got mad at his sister and knocked her ice cream cone on the ground. Oh and Look, there’s daddy giving billy a talking to. Quick fast forward to Sally puking in the bushes after the Spinball Whizzer ride.”
    Good times.

  18. spazzm says:

    The examples can go on, of course.

    What if we create a law that states that hand-held cameras are allowed in public spaces?

    Ooops, suddenly tripods are illegal. If you want to buy a tripod, you have to sign a declaration stating that you are only going to use it indoors or in private.

    What about banning for-profit use of cameras in public places?

    Ooops, suddenly professional photographers and photo-journalists are out of a job.
    And surveillance is still possible, as all security guards will now be “volunteers” using helmet mounted panoramic cameras. Volunteers from a non-profit, of course – some sort of church, perhaps?

  19. mmbb says:

    …only if the includes the footage of me pissing on your plants (not because i’m drunk, but because i’m so green that recycling water trumps public indecency).

  20. pupdog says:

    Remember this is Dominionist Disney, the people who want to make being gay a capital offense.

    Actually, this is Alton Towers, owned by Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury, and leased to Merlin Entertainments, who also manage the Madame Tussaud’s around the world, the Legoland Parks, the London Eye…

    Maybe we could organize some sort of unofficial tag-swap, so that folks could get each other’s videos and see what kind of a day some random stranger had at the park.

  21. Takuan says:

    digital cameras are cheap, memory is cheap. First you offer this an extra. Then you do it for free. Then you make it compulsory and keep out private cameras. That way, when a ride malfunctions, you have the only evidence.

  22. claud9999 says:

    #28: ‘zactly, bring along a high intensity LED attached to your hat. IR LED might be interesting/fruitful.

    Ok, besides the “omfgmyprivacy!” and “whatsthebigdeal?”, my first reaction was, “cool, what sort of creative ways can we interact with this system?” Seems to me there are some great opportunities

    How about:

    Pick up a wristband, attach it to a blow-up (sex) doll, get the doll in lots of pics, buy DVD. Double score for a sex doll.

    Post on craigslist or other equivalent, saying you wish to swap wristbands at the beginning of the day anonymously. You pick up the DVD of someone you have only interacted with for 1 minute. Voyeurism at the amusement park! Bonus points for attaching it to someone unbeknownst to them. Double bonus points for attaching it to a staffer, triple for attaching it to a character.

    Pick up a wristband, put it in a locker/the trash, buy the DVD and see what they do when they have no record of you visiting anything in the park.

    I’m sure they are going to try to be very vigilant that folks attach the strap to their person in a semi-permanent way, but I don’t think it’ll take more than 1 day for someone to circumvent it somehow. (I s’pose they can use the same cameras to track that the person they’re seeing matches the person who picked up the wrist strap…and they can require you return the strap upon exit.)

  23. oscar says:

    Based on the clips on YT, there’s a lot of artful editing to put “you” inside of generic point-of-view video of the ride itself. With an added rockin’ soundtrack, of course.

  24. daneyul says:

    There’s so much filler (stock exterior shots of the ride, stock POV stuff from inside the ride) that you get very little actual footage of yourself. With the music, it has the effect of a commercial, with brief snatches of your party at the normal ride safety check points. No big deal at all, and I can see the cheesy appeal.

    This is no different than selling photos of riders as they drop (and hopefully lift their shirts) on Splash Mountain in Disney World, or countless other places. Something which has been done for 30 years with still photographs. Calm down.

  25. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    Takuan, they can’t keep out personal cameras. Families use their cellphones to keep track of each other in amusement parks, and it’s more and more common for cellphones to have cameras built in.

  26. JB NicholsonOwens says:

    @11: It’s about control and the consequences of control. Handheld cameras are in the control of someone’s hands, likely yours. So you can control what is shot. Wall-mounted cameras are in the control of someone other than you, most likely. How many cameras are there watching you? Where are those cameras? What choices are the people in control of those cameras making? Where does that footage go? Who else sees or has copies of that footage? If you’re not in control of the camera and its footage, you may never know the answers to any of these questions until that footage is used against you.

    @22: I wouldn’t be so quick to compare a Splash Mountain camera which apparently people know enough about to manipulate to their advantage (the shirt lifting you refer to) and surveillance cameras people know so much less about.

  27. rarrr says:

    @6 Is this right? I know some about the data protection act but does it extend to private land?

  28. EeyoreX says:

    I could purchase this for the novelty value. But then I would want it to be, y’know, NOVEL. The clips on YouTube seem awfully generic.
    Suppose you go on the same ride ten times. Will you get ten identical ride clips on the DVD?
    I would definatly like the DVD to include heat-vision shots of getting felt up during the pirate boat ride, as well as multiple angle shots of cousin Ike regurgitating a corn dog after a space mountain ride. Because those are the moments you wouldn’t capture on camera by yourself.

  29. Modusoperandi says:

    Whoopee. Cameras and footage in the park, but none of the guy breaking into my car in the park’s parking lot.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      What a brilliant idea. The wrecking yard could film you demolishing a dead car with sledgehammers and tire irons before it goes into the car crusher.

  30. GlenBlank says:

    Obligatory photos of tourists on amusement rides date back to at least 1903, when Charles Lawrence was hired as the official photographer at the Echo Mountain incline cable railway that was part of the Mount Lowe “Trolley Trip to the Clouds” in the mountains above Pasadena, California.

    Lawrence took photos of the passengers in the cable car at the top of the incline before they began their descent, and then during the trip down sold prints to be mailed “anywhere in the world” for 25 cents – which earned him the nickname “Two-Bit Charlie”.

    When he retired after a 30-year career, Lawrence estimated he had photographed over three quarters of a million visitors.

  31. Takuan says:

    then they’ll just use jammers.

  32. Takuan says:

    it was the transmission, wasn’t it?

  33. arkizzle says:

    Teresa @ 23

    But they can stop you using them for a particular purpose.

    I was in the Tate Modern last year, and people were happily taking photos of the installation in the main room. I had a small handycam (I was actually taking stills) and was immediately pounced on by the goons.

    They said it was fine to take photos, but no video! And it was a static piece!

    Admittedly, it was only because you could see a difference between my camera and the other cameras/phone, that they were able to say anything. Also, the cam I was using was unquestioneably lower res than the cam-phones and still-cameras people were using.

    So, they can’t stop people bringing cameras into the parks, but they can enforce a “no imaging”.

  34. arkizzle says:

    * ..a “no imaging” rule.

  35. Anonymous says:

    … Evil… Live!

    Recorded.

    God is NOWHERE.

    God is NOW HERE.

    - Control.

  36. monicaroy says:

    A great example of a dutch auction, for those who don’t know, is http://www.countspin.com.

  37. sabik says:

    Re queue numbers, unlike a bank or a government office, the park knows exactly when your number will come up, because rides have a fixed length. Instead of a number, it’d be a ticket for the 4:17pm ride. Which is, of course, possible, but has its own problems — done poorly, a queue of doting uncles and aunts at 8am would get all the tickets and everyone else misses out.

    The real problem is how to deal with demand exceeding supply. The classical method (if supply is fixed) is to raise the price. A queue does that naturally, by adding a “wait time” component to the price. It could be done directly, by raising the price at popular times (perhaps a Dutch auction), but that would probably not go down well. One could probably semi-explicitly direct people to less popular rides, by making up some sort of quest / collect-them-all mechanism where the popular ride is one of the prizes.

    Hmm, come to think of it, that last might not be a bad idea at all. Instead of making people wait in a queue (where they have no fun at all and make the park look bad), make them wait on the less popular rides (where they’re having at least some fun and the park gets to boast “no waiting in lines”). One could even make a dynamic reallocation would work, with specials and bonuses announced as the situation changes…

  38. nosehat says:

    I can’t imagine that a video like this would be much fun to watch. Imagine inviting your friends over and making them sit through it!

    It would be a pretty awesome way to establish an alibi though. ;)

  39. ironbear says:

    They see you, but you often don’t see them. Given the more covert CCTV used in some parks (Disney comes to mind) this might be a fun way to “spot the camera”.

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