News PhotoPass at some character locations being replaced by automated cameras

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Yeah, going to have to say this is a major downgrade. I have the odd ability to be able to wiggle my nose like a rabbit or mouse, weird I know. Three years ago at the Mickey meet and greet in Epcot, Mickey noticed this and we got into a nose wiggling contest. The photographer got pictures that no machine would ever be able to capture. The best part of the photo is my son's reaction in the background.
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With all due respect... That's not a good photo. It's the memory you're recalling with fondness, not the photo.
 

plutofan15

Well-Known Member
With all due respect... That's not a good photo. It's the memory you're recalling with fondness, not the photo.
With all due respect.... you’re missing the point. I am not commenting on the artistic merits of the photo; whether the lighting is well done or the framing is perfect. The point is that a automated camera would never have been able to capture the moment regardless of how good or bad some judge the quality of the photo.
 

Chomama

Well-Known Member
We had these last month for tink, Kyle and chewie. The photos are terrible. You are required to stand inside a small rectangle painted on the floor or you won’t be in the correct spot for photos. Very difficult with an excited preschooler. No good candid photos and a ton of awful
Ones. Also there is something lost in not interacting with a photographer who is encouraging different shots with the kids. I really truly hated these
 

larryz

Gold Star Duck
Premium Member
Yeah, but I'm a passholder (for the next 2 months at least) so they are included with my AP. No refund there. But as these are rolled out, I'm becoming less and less inclined to tell people to get Memory Maker. Which is a really sad thing for a former photopass photographer to say.
A Cherry Coke says they dismiss your complaints as those of a disgruntled former employee.
 

larryz

Gold Star Duck
Premium Member
Yeah, going to have to say this is a major downgrade. I have the odd ability to be able to wiggle my nose like a rabbit or mouse, weird I know. Three years ago at the Mickey meet and greet in Epcot, Mickey noticed this and we got into a nose wiggling contest. The photographer got pictures that no machine would ever be able to capture. The best part of the photo is my son's reaction in the background.
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Can't see your nose wiggling. This photo, without your backstory, comes across as slightly ... creepy, almost as if you're challenging Mickey to some untimely fisticuffs.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
A Cherry Coke says they dismiss your complaints as those of a disgruntled former employee.
that wouldn't terribly surprise me. But I've also received the same responses that many others have- ones that aren't former cast members. And I make it pretty clear in my videos that I'm not a disgruntled former cast member. Honestly, the things that I complain about in the parks are rare. But I'm also small enough that they more than likely don't pay that much attention to me anyways. :)

Can't see your nose wiggling. This photo, without your backstory, comes across as slightly ... creepy, almost as if you're challenging Mickey to some untimely fisticuffs.
Except for the kid right behind them laughing, making it pretty obvious that it's not "fisticuffs" but something else going on. I thought it was a pretty amusing photo myself, even without knowing the back story. But it's also a great visual reminder of a treasured moment. Sure it might not be for everyone, but it is for them. And that's why it's a great photo.
 

plkkak

Member
We just visited Hotel Xcaret and the Xcaret parks in Playa del Carmen. One thing we were blown away by was the ubiquitous Xelfie cameras they have all over their properties. Just scan your band and the themed automated cameras take your picture at hundreds of locations. Whenever you come back to your hotel room, the TV starts showing you all of your most recent pictures. This is so well done and such an amazing experience that I can't believe Disney hasn't done the same thing.

I hope Disney copies what they do.
 

TOCPE82

Well-Known Member
We did these on our trip last week. The photos with Tink were AWFUL. The cameras were clearly already in the Mickey and Minnie Town Square location, as well as Anna/Elsa in Norway.

I'm sure these are passable for adults, but YOU try telling a 2 year old to look at the camera or capturing the perfect shot of kids walking up to the characters. I use Photopass so I don't HAVE TO use my own camera and can instead just enjoy the moment.

I emailed Photopass and wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com and would encourage others to do so as well. Numbers matter in the aggregate.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
We just visited Hotel Xcaret and the Xcaret parks in Playa del Carmen. One thing we were blown away by was the ubiquitous Xelfie cameras they have all over their properties. Just scan your band and the themed automated cameras take your picture at hundreds of locations. Whenever you come back to your hotel room, the TV starts showing you all of your most recent pictures. This is so well done and such an amazing experience that I can't believe Disney hasn't done the same thing.

I hope Disney copies what they do.
Don't doubt that it's not in the works and coming at some point.

I'll say it again- a box can NEVER catch the same moments that a real photographer can- even a selfie box. It can't tell you how to pose, do anything different or fun, or coach a smile out of a crying kid that doesn't want to look at the box.

I'm happy you got some good photos out of it, but I'll bet you were the exception, and not the rule. And I'd really be curious how many of your photos would have been made much better with a bit of interaction with the one taking your photo.
 

plkkak

Member
Don't doubt that it's not in the works and coming at some point.

I'll say it again- a box can NEVER catch the same moments that a real photographer can- even a selfie box. It can't tell you how to pose, do anything different or fun, or coach a smile out of a crying kid that doesn't want to look at the box.

I'm happy you got some good photos out of it, but I'll bet you were the exception, and not the rule. And I'd really be curious how many of your photos would have been made much better with a bit of interaction with the one taking your photo.
It was just my wife and I. I agree if we had our kids a person would’ve been better. Still, I felt like the amount of photos we got, and the locations they are able to capture far outweighed the benefits of a human photographer.
 

LukeS7

Well-Known Member
I've posted earlier in the thread, but figured I'd drop back in. As a photographer and a guest, I absolutely hate the direction that they've gone with this. I 100% agree with the take that a box in a static position will never be able to stand up to a photographer who is actually capable of moving around. It literally can't from solely a technical standpoint (it can't capture any other angle aside from the one it is positioned at).

While I haven't had a great experience with my PhotoPass photos from photographers, I've chalked it up more to the equipment they have to use and the time they have to setup each shot. When we went on our last trip, I would adjust the exposure settings on my camera while we waited our turn and then ask the PhotoPass photographer to take a photo on my camera. 100% of the time, this photo was better than the one that the same photographer took on their PhotoPass camera.

I also want to speak to an aspect that's being lost that's been mentioned but should be emphasized more: uniqueness. We should not be striving towards everybody's vacation photos looking the exact same. Same angle, same positioning, same framing, just with a different person standing next to the character. If I go over to my friend and show them the one good posed photo of meeting a character, they shouldn't be able to pull up the exact same photo of themself. Having a human photographer, even if they don't get the exact perfect framing, creates variety. It creates some form of uniqueness.

In-regards to the selfie cameras that were mentioned from another resort: I hope those never enter a Disney park. This is both for the above reasons and also due to the fact that I hate the trend of people's only photos of things being selfies. (This next bit is not aimed at anyone, just a general statement), I'm sorry, but nobody wants to see 50 pictures of you and your friends/family staring at a camera and filling more than half the screen.

Sorry this dwelt into a mild rant, just slightly passionate about the topic 😅
 
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SirWillow

Well-Known Member
Great post, and agree with everything you've said

While I haven't had a great experience with my PhotoPass photos from photographers, I've chalked it up more to the equipment they have to use and the time they have to setup each shot. When we went on our last trip, I would adjust the exposure settings on my camera while we waited our turn and then ask the PhotoPass photographer to take a photo on my camera. 100% of the time, this photo was better than that the one the same photographer took on their PhotoPass camera.
Two other factors I'd add-
1. Photopass aren't allowed to adjust their settings. They are given a fixed setting to use, depending on where they are assigned, and can't change that based on changes in lighting or other factors. Honestly, most of them likely wouldn't know what to change them to anyways, which leads to...

2. Lack of training. The amount of training that the photographers get now is reduced quite a bit from when I worked there. Even on areas like the type of photo, framing the shot, rule of thirds, and how to pose the guests has been cut. My last couple of trips I saw a noticeable decline in those area compared to in the past. While there are many that still take a good photo, the numbers are declining on how many will do a good quality, unique, and fun photo.
 

LukeS7

Well-Known Member
Great post, and agree with everything you've said



Two other factors I'd add-
1. Photopass aren't allowed to adjust their settings. They are given a fixed setting to use, depending on where they are assigned, and can't change that based on changes in lighting or other factors. Honestly, most of them likely wouldn't know what to change them to anyways, which leads to...

2. Lack of training. The amount of training that the photographers get now is reduced quite a bit from when I worked there. Even on areas like the type of photo, framing the shot, rule of thirds, and how to pose the guests has been cut. My last couple of trips I saw a noticeable decline in those area compared to in the past. While there are many that still take a good photo, the numbers are declining on how many will do a good quality, unique, and fun photo.
I didn't know that they weren't allowed to adjust their settings. I can see why they would go that route given your second point about lack of training, but that's a horrible choice. That explains the large differences between the photos that I set the exposure settings for and the PhotoPass versions.
 

plkkak

Member
Here are some of the pictures captured by the Xelfie cameras at Xcaret.

The cameras cover some unique perspectives a person couldn't easily capture. Some of the shots would be hard with lots of people around.

Consider the possibility of having these cameras all over the resorts. For example, getting your picture at AoA in the Cars ir Lion King areas. This would be available 24x7 and they could have them everywhere. I still think they could and should use human photographers in notable places like in front of the castle.

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Ponderer

Well-Known Member
2. Lack of training. The amount of training that the photographers get now is reduced quite a bit from when I worked there. Even on areas like the type of photo, framing the shot, rule of thirds, and how to pose the guests has been cut. My last couple of trips I saw a noticeable decline in those area compared to in the past. While there are many that still take a good photo, the numbers are declining on how many will do a good quality, unique, and fun photo.
Though a well-trained photographer can be a double-edged sword. We were getting a PhotoPass shot outside the Hoop-De-Doo last October, and I was LONGING for an automated robot. This guy thought he was Annie Leibowitz. He was surly, went out of his way to contort us, and was absolutely condescending about how we had to just listen to him, because he was the one who knew how to take a good photo and he didn’t have time to explain it to us. (I only shoot video for a living, so I guess I’m an effing amateur.)

Anyway, it wasn’t a huge thing, but it was easily the most subpar CM experience we had the whole trip. And we looked so stiff and uncomfortable in the photo. It was technically fine, but we didn’t look like we were having half the fun as in our other PhotoPas shots.

(We didn’t really realize it was that bad until the next night at the Halloween party, when some of the photographers were delighted by how hammy we were and willing to play along with props and such.)
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
I didn't know that they weren't allowed to adjust their settings. I can see why they would go that route given your second point about lack of training, but that's a horrible choice. That explains the large differences between the photos that I set the exposure settings for and the PhotoPass versions.
Many (I'd say likely most) photopass photographers aren't photographers before they start, and there just isn't time to give them enough training to be fully experienced with aperture, shutter, iso, white balance, etc where they could change their settings quickly on the fly. So other photographers have gone into each location and figured out the "best" settings that should work most of the time. Outdoor locations actually usually use one of the semi-automatic modes (e.g. "P") to cover the changing lighting so the photographer doesn't have to worry about it- and risk messing up the shot completely.

Here are some of the pictures captured by the Xelfie cameras at Xcaret.

The cameras cover some unique perspectives a person couldn't easily capture. Some of the shots would be hard with lots of people around.

Consider the possibility of having these cameras all over the resorts. For example, getting your picture at AoA in the Cars ir Lion King areas. This would be available 24x7 and they could have them everywhere. I still think they could and should use human photographers in notable places like in front of the castle.
There are some neat perspectives there- and the exposure settings are really good. But what I notice- and where the problems in the boxes lie- is the lack of originality in poses, and expressionless subjects. There are a couple where you did something a little different, but most of them you're just staring ahead with your arms straight at your sides. A photographer could have gotten more engagement out of you, more interaction, more expression, and much better poses than just standing there.

They are good for what they are, but they could be so much more. And an experience with a good photographer creates a memory all of it's own to go along with that photo as well. Of course it can also go the other way like...

Though a well-trained photographer can be a double-edged sword. We were getting a PhotoPass shot outside the Hoop-De-Doo last October, and I was LONGING for an automated robot. This guy thought he was Annie Leibowitz. He was surly, went out of his way to contort us, and was absolutely condescending about how we had to just listen to him, because he was the one who knew how to take a good photo and he didn’t have time to explain it to us. (I only shoot video for a living, so I guess I’m an effing amateur.)

Anyway, it wasn’t a huge thing, but it was easily the most subpar CM experience we had the whole trip. And we looked so stiff and uncomfortable in the photo. It was technically fine, but we didn’t look like we were having half the fun as in our other PhotoPas shots.

(We didn’t really realize it was that bad until the next night at the Halloween party, when some of the photographers were delighted by how hammy we were and willing to play along with props and such.)
and this again highlights the difference a photographer can make. Sadly in this case it's a negative one. It does highlight why Disney doesn't want their photographers to play with settings. When I was there, there were 2 that I knew of that had free reign, and a small handful of the rest of us that had a little freedom depending on what we were doing (I was blessed with that when roving the World Showcase). Most were told to leave the settings alone- and that's part of the reason.

His attitude though is even worse. And I'm sorry for that. I do think that it's another area that training has slid a bit. When I was there, part of our goal was to make each photo experience a fun, exciting, memorable one so that when people looked at the photos they had a great memory attached to it. instead of one like you had, or that many have when they encounter the "wall of photographers" at some parks. We'd get out of the way and just shoot when with charcters, helping the character at times to make the encounter with them the best it could be. But when it was just the photographer and the guest, the goal was to capture a special moment that might have been missed, and to make a great experience and memory attached to it.

Not everyone can do that. And sometimes even the best have a bad day. :-(
 

Ponderer

Well-Known Member
and this again highlights the difference a photographer can make. Sadly in this case it's a negative one. It does highlight why Disney doesn't want their photographers to play with settings. When I was there, there were 2 that I knew of that had free reign, and a small handful of the rest of us that had a little freedom depending on what we were doing (I was blessed with that when roving the World Showcase). Most were told to leave the settings alone- and that's part of the reason.

His attitude though is even worse. And I'm sorry for that. I do think that it's another area that training has slid a bit. When I was there, part of our goal was to make each photo experience a fun, exciting, memorable one so that when people looked at the photos they had a great memory attached to it. instead of one like you had, or that many have when they encounter the "wall of photographers" at some parks. We'd get out of the way and just shoot when with charcters, helping the character at times to make the encounter with them the best it could be. But when it was just the photographer and the guest, the goal was to capture a special moment that might have been missed, and to make a great experience and memory attached to it.

Not everyone can do that. And sometimes even the best have a bad day. :-(
I’ve worked in the videography business for quite some time, and I’ve gotten to work with different pros and newbies and gotten a feel for different personalities. This isn’t strictly Disney-related, but assuming decent training, I would always pick an enthusiastic newbie over a pro for this sort of job. There can be so much entitlement and arrogance because some pros will always think they’re slumming in this kind of work, and I don’t know if you can train that out of them.

And again, this was a rarity. In general, I was delighted by Disney photographers (the ones we had at Haunted Mansion and at Echo Lake by Gertie were also particularly lovely). My order of preference would go like this:

1) Happy, well-trained photographer
2) Soulless robot
3) Richard Avedon wannabe
 
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