New Fandom Member F.A.Q.

From Cheese-E-Pedia
(Redirected from Temporary Crash Course)

Welcome!

Hello new user, it seems you're interested in Pizza Time Theatre / ShowBiz Pizza Place / Chuck E. Cheese's / Creative Engineering. This is a crash course on the fandom, the inner workings of these companies, and what you can do to help.

What is/are?

  • "Data?" - The community always refers to lost media as this, though this term is also used for animation signals. This is because both are synonymous with being hard to get your hands on.
  • "Showtapes?" - these are a physical piece of media that contains generally 30 mins - 2 hours of musical content. They are all generally formatted to have a hidden audio channel that passes through animation signals to the computer for processing, which aren't usually posted online. Stores have always received new showtapes every few months for the past 40 years, and they usually just keep older tapes in a storage room or throw them away, as it is not permitted to play previous tapes. Showtapes take on different formats throughout the years:
    1. 70's to mid 80's: 2-4 Track Reel
    2. Mid 80's to Mid 2000's: SVHS Tape
    3. Mid 2000's to 2023: DVD
    4. Studio C shows have their animation signals split onto a Floppy Disc.
    5. 2023+: Navori System transfers from the cloud. No longer on any physical medium.
  • "2.0" - This is the CEC 2018 2.0 Remodel Program that is has been replacing all animatronic shows since 2018. Only ~150 stores are left that still contain animatronics.
  • "Phases" - This is a commonly used phrase to erroneously refer to the current remodel of a store, when it is actually a separately installed package stores could opt into. The CEC Phases & Remodels category clears up what delineates each variant a store can be at any given time.

I want to learn more, any video recommendations?

Where can I / how should I watch showtapes?

Showtapes are generally scattered across YouTube and other archival sites to varying degrees of quality. How you want to view them and in what order is up to your preferences.

Quality Warning

Be aware however that analogue tapes (generally any Showtape before the 2000's) can have extremely poor quality. Some tape rips may have had one of the stereo channels cut out, causing some characters and instruments to be almost mute. Online rips also are plagued with low quality compression, poor quality rips from the tape deck, altered audio, ect. Due to these tapes also having channels for programming Data, sometimes this can leak into the recording as high pitched garbled noise. This will either be at a low volume in the background, or will momentarily cut into the audio track at full volume.

Rock-afire tapes are supposed to be DBX decoded before listening, and 99% of the publicly uploaded catalogue is not. This will cause things to be muffled or have a pronounced echo. Due to the additional issues with rips, most audio can also not be salvaged into a workable DBX decode.

I want to just listen to the audio.

Lots of uploads on YouTube and Archive.org cover everything. Some tapes may be out of order however due to most rips being cut into files for each song rather than a continuous tape recording. Check the Category:Showtapes article to ensure the correct order. Check multiple uploads to see which is the best quality.

When listening to Rock-afire tapes, attempt to search "DBX" to see if any DBX decoded rips are available. Watching performances of Rock-afire shows will usually have DBX Decoded audio coming out of the speakers, a potential alternative with the caveat of echo, low quality microphones, noise, and talking.

While Pizza Time Theatre tapes have likely had most of their original masters and stems destroyed long ago- aside from a few rare exceptions like the Donna Miller Session Recording 1 and 2, most Rock-afire masters and sub-masters still exist in physical form. On rare occasion rips of these masters have been made available- which offer an even greater audio fidelity than a cleanly ripped DBX decoded showtape due to multi-generation losses. Searching "Master" and "Sub-Master" in archives may offer you an extremely limited pool of high quality listening experiences.

Showtape uploads after 1988 where video was introduced will generally always be a video file instead of just audio. If a tape you come across has garbled noise playing on top, this is the programming Data. Mute the data channels in your playback software to have just the music.

I want to watch the showtape video feed.

All showtape video is available on YouTube, and some rips on other sites. Due to a majority of video feeds being SD content, YouTube will heavily compress them unless they are stretched into an HD frame. Downloading raw showtape rips or watching upscaled uploads may help.

A few channels have uploaded rips of the original analogue masters for some tapes, giving much better fidelity. These are pizzacam, pizzacam3, and Brian Hagan.

Be aware that Studio C showtapes had three simultaneous video feeds, and that most uploads only feature the "main" feed or the "puppet" feed. Almost no public videos contain all three (Here is an example of all 3). Studio C also programmatically switched these feeds to swap out which one displayed on the main TV or on any of the numerous side TVs. The only way to know which feed is currently selected is to watch in-store footage or simulated Data content.

I want to watch the animatronics.

This is the most currently underdeveloped way to see showtapes. Various recordings do exist but are scattered across YouTube to varying degrees of mic quality, video quality, quality of the animatronics, ect. Lots of videos contain talking, people getting in the way of the show, cameras only being pointed at a single stage or character. ect. Most videos will not have the raw audio overlaying the footage, nor any raw video feed displayed.

Some recordings may also be of fan maintained shows, which may not be up to the original specifications, or may contain non-authentic hardware that can change the visual appeal such as using LED lamps for bulbs or LED tv screens for video feeds. Fan shows also can contain non-original cosmetics and masks. Some fan shows however can be better put together than officially maintained stages, and will be up to viewer discretion.

One way to watch showtapes in a tailored custom experience is to view them in a digital animatronic simulator, of which many different projects are available or have uploaded content on YouTube. These can preserve many long-dead stages or showtapes that have tricky to find footage.

Be aware however that any showtape performance, whether on authentic animatronics or simulated ones, could be fan programmed. There are many examples of official showtape audio being custom programmed- usually from users who do not have access to the original Data. Uploaders will usually note in the description or title of their videos if the performances are fanmade or official.

What resources are out there for research?

Outside of manually finding sources through newspaper.com, archive.org, and home videos on YouTube, there are a few places the fandom has compiled information on outside of Cheese-E-Pedia.

  1. ShowBiz Pizza Forum was the first forums ever from 2000-2014. Not many articles have been saved on Wayback, but some rare bits of information may be within its pages. It was abandoned in 2014 after being infected with adware.
  2. Retro Pizza Zone was the original forums between 2014-2018. Many knowledgeable members who had worked for the companies in the 80's and 90's have lots of information and pictures on there. It was abandoned after Zetaboards merged with Tapatalk and ruined the site's user interface.
  3. When looking for images of rare signs, parts, robots, ect, accounts on Instagram have their collections posted. This is where a lot of the fandom moved to after 2018, but are now mostly on Discord servers.
  4. http://www.showbizpizza.com/ is a site created in the early 2000's that was the original history book for everything. It is the easiest way to ease yourself into the history of the companies, as its articles talk about broader and interweaving concepts. However, new articles haven't been written in almost a decade, leaving many pages blank, and nothing in the modern era discussed at all.

Where can I get animatronics/other stuff?

Many items from stores will be kept by their employees after their closure, and usually be sold or given to members of the community. This is how many pieces of lost media will surface decades later. They'll either show up on eBay, the person will join the fandom looking to give them away, or someone will happen to know them. These are generally just random people who happened to work at any store within these past 40 years.

If you are looking for an animatronic from any company, they will generally either appear in private sales for $1k-5k depending on condition, or be publically listed on ebay for usually 1.5x-2x price. If you are trustworthy with handling bots and show you have the money, most people can hook you up with a private seller. It may take a few months/years for your exact animatronic to show up in the condition you want.

It is mostly frowned upon in the community to post videos of stores destroying their animatronics, or posting anything showing an animatronic in a private collection (With it having the cosmetics of the copyrighted character on it. Bare mechs, or Rock-afire characters aren't included). This is due to the bad reputation these videos can give to CEC Entertainment, which has promoted them to be more vigilant in destroying animatronics further.

Should I try to contact ___?

Almost every major employee, corporate leader, and private collector has been contacted about information and lost media, and current ones are being handled by the admin team and major members of the fandom. It is generally not worth seeking out new contacts due to this.

Why are there a lot of blank pages?

This is more thoroughly explained in About Us, but due to the fandom not having too many outlets to properly document information for the past 20 years, lots and lots of information is just presumed to be known by its members. Cheese-E-Pedia is trying to be the site to correct for this, but we are still many years from getting everything listed with sources. A lot of our sources also come from employee testimony, which can make it difficult to research some subjects. It is recommended to ask the community for anything you don't understand. It is garunteed that multiple people will be able to help you and point you in the right direction.

What's with PTT/SPP/CEC being the same company?

Pizza Time Theatre and ShowBiz Pizza Place merged their companies in 1984 as is known, but internally- this was basically a takeover by ShowBiz. While the Pizza Time Theatre name was still used up until the late 80's, the usual running of stores by PTT was never the same after the merger. This is why the wiki is formatted to cut off all PTT categories at that year.

After SPP lost the rights to the Rock-afire Explosion, they had to pivot back to their PTT IPs to replace all branding. This then coincided with dropping of the SPP branding by 1992, which is the wiki's decided cutoff year for the SPP category. The company however was still being called "ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc.". up until the late 2010's.

Where can I communicate with the Cheese-E-Pedia Community or its Admins?

The main place to go is the officially run Discord Server, where community efforts are made to create pages, find sources, archive lost media, and have general discussion. Some users on the Wiki will also have links to their contact pages on their user profile page, alongside discussion being done on an article's Discussion Tab.

I have Lost Media in my possession, where can I upload it?

If the item is an image or scan, feel free to upload it to the relevant article on the site. If it is a document, video file, audio, or anything else that cannot be hosted directly on Cheese-E-Pedia, join the officially run Discord Server and contact the admins about getting the item uploaded to the DDD Archive. If you own an item that you do not have the resources to archive, notify the Discord Server to see if someone may be able to cooperate with you. The Cheese-E-Pedia community will do what it can to see all media preserved.