16 February 2008

In, through... and beyond

Though George McGinnis will always be best remembered for engineering and industrial designs inside the Disney theme parks, for a brief moment his attentions were diverted to another medium: film. In 1979 McGinnis received his one, and only, screen credit for the Disney film The Black Hole.

If The Black Hole is remembered for one thing it is the character that stole the show, V.I.N.CENT. (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized), hereafter refered to as Vincent. Vincent was the creation of George McGinnis, as were the rest of the robots used in the film, who ran away with the picture despite the best efforts of actors like Maximilian Schell and Anthony Perkins. Though McGinnis was hesitant at first, he grew to appreciate the experience. In the end, according to Roger Broggie, the robots were the best thing in the film, a sentiment I’m sure most of us are inclined to agree with.
We all know that Hollywood is not entirely glitz and glam, there is a lot of hard work and problems behind the scenes that must be completed and overcome before we are able to view the finished project. The work on Vincent the robot was no different, George McGinnis recalls one such problem he had when working on Vincent’s eyes, “With Vincent they wanted a robot whose eyes could be animated. So the eyes I came up with used a matrix of Ferrani-Packard discs, discs that flipped. You see them in these alpha-numeric readouts. They're small little discs that quiver when they flip. You could have created any pattern that you wanted with those eyes. But they had technical problems getting them animated when the principle actors were on the stage, and they didn't have the time to develop a solution to the problem. So they threw a couple of buttons on there, which bothered a lot of us. I wish the matrix of dots had worked initially, but I understand. They had the actors on stage. They had to do something."

Though this was his one and only foray into the world of movies, it must be looked upon as a success, even if the movie was anything but. Vincent may have been overshadowed by another little droid, R2-D2, but the fact that he is remember almost thirty years later stands as a true testament to the design work of George McGinnis. Just another reason that George McGinnis deserves the right to be a Disney Legend, not only for the recognition he truly deserves, but as a tribute to his remarkable, and far reaching, body of work.

Bibliography: Beyond Today Bibliography

Remember, we are fasting approaching the horizon, or rather the article on Horizons. I want to make this segment as much about all of you as it is about Horizons and George McGinnis’ work on it. If you have a story you would be willing to allow me to share with the Main Strret Gazette’s readers, by all means, please email me. I have received some wonderful stories already, but there is always room for your story.


Unknown said...

Nice McGinnis connection. That movie still scared me, though!

Shana said...

Hey, that's my dad! Thanks for writing such a nice article! Vincent, Old Bob, Max....all family to us. :) (I can't help but comment when I see things like this on the internet - I've so proud of my daddy - and it's nice to see others who appreciate his work so much, too!) Blessings! Shana McGinnis

Ryan P. Wilson said...


Thank you for your kind words. I only hope that through these articles more people become aware of your father's work, and that he receives the credit he deserves. He is truly an inspiration!