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Studio C Alpha is an animatronic stage found at Chuck E. Cheese's. It was installed in restaurants from 1997 to 2002, and was the first stage widely produced to feature a single Chuck E. animatronic, as opposed to the five-character setup of past stages. Studio C Alpha was themed around a late-night TV studio, and featured a news desk-inspired stage for Chuck E as well a blue screen stage that kids could use to appear on the many video monitors in the showroom.
After the Awesome Adventure Machine was deemed too delicate and expensive to mass produce, CEC Entertainment came up with the much cheaper "Studio C" concept. It is a one character, one stage animatronic show. At this time in Chuck E Cheese history, they wanted to phase out the rest of the characters, so the stage featured a Chuck E. animatronic, along with a parrot character simply known as "Bird", for Chuck E. to interact with during shows.
This stage was built by Garner-Holt Productions, an animatronics company that builds figures for many major theme parks, such as Disney and Universal. They were contracted for the project after Creative Presentations, who worked on Chuck E Cheese and Showbiz animatronics in the late 80's-90's was struggling financially and not able to work on the new show. Chuck E Cheese Entertainment wanted this new figure to be friendlier looking than previous Chuck bots, to reflect his redesign from a rat to a younger, hipper mouse that occurred in the mid-1990's. To compensate for the loss of the other four animatronics, the new Chuck E. bot was also much more advanced than previous characters, being capable 32 different movements.
The Studio C showtapes in 1998 were a huge departure from earlier and later shows. As opposed to the characters singing the songs, various music videos of oldies and pop hits would play on the monitors, and the characters would comment during the videos. These shows were very negatively received.
When Jeremy Blaido took over Department 18 as Director of Entertainment in August 1998, he started making shows with bigger roles for the other characters, so Bird and the late-night studio theme were quickly dropped. The other members of Munch's Make Believe Band would be portrayed as puppets appearing onscreen, whom the robotic Chuck E. would interact with. Additionally, the shows returned to their pre-1998 format of the characters singing songs, with dialogue and skits inbetween.
Over the years, Studio C Alpha has seen some downgrades from its original concept. Due to the late-night theme being lost due to the change in show format, Chuck E's red and black tux was eventually replaced by either his blue "Cool Chuck" look, or his purple "Avenger" outfit during the mid-2000's. The blue screen cameras were gradually removed starting in the early 2010's with the Ticket Blaster's debut. The Ticket Blaster's placement in front of the blue screen made it unusable. Around the same time, the interactive console between Chuck E's stage and the blue screen was removed and replaced with bright red letters spelling "C.E.C". The reason for the console's removal was due to its difficulty to repair, as well as it providing a hinderance during Live shows.
Studio C Alpha was discontinued in 2001 when it was replaced with the cheaper Studio C Beta. However, 76 Alpha stages still exist today, making it one of the most common stages at Chuck E Cheese.
Studio C Alpha gave the showroom a movie-studio style look with TVs, cameras, and lights. The stage itself had a "late night show" look, with a cityscape background behind the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic. There were colored lights scattered about the ceiling in the showroom. There is a big "Applause" sign and a big "On The Air" sign. The "live" video camera shoots people standing in front of the blue screen, and displays them on the overhead TVs. In a few locations, a karaoke option was tested to go along with the blue screen area called Chuck E's Star Search, but the concept failed in 2001.
The showtapes for Studio C originally ran with laserdiscs. In 1999, these were upgraded to a DVD system. Each DVD contains the main show footage, puppets, live and birthday shows, diagnostics, blue screen interactive intermissions (2000-2002), karaoke (1999-2001), and on hold music (usually songs from different showtapes, such as Variety Show). To run a new show, the location is sent a software upgrade floppy disk along with the DVD, which includes the programming.
There is a touch screen panel where live shows, diagnostics, birthday shows, etc. can be programmed. When starting up Studio C in the morning, it asks the employee to type in birthday kids' names so during the birthday shows, the kids' names will flash on the screen. Diagnostics can be selected from the panel, and there is also a password feature. The cast member password allows programming of live shows, birthday breaks, and birthday shows.
In the early 2010s, various upgrades have been made to Studio C Alpha such as replacing the Interactive Console with a CEC panel and flashing lights, as well as upgrading showtapes from DVD and floppy disks to a single flash drive containing all show elements. In mid-2013, many Chuck E. Cheese locations removed the cameras from the Blue Screen for all types of Studio C setups. Many Studio C locations now have the Ticket Blaster standing in front of the Blue Screen.
- Studio C Beta replaced Alpha in 2000 which caused the Alpha to be discontinued a year later.
- There are four ways to test the character movements and lights: The Tech Term, the panel underneath Chuck E, the show diagnostics, and the touch screen panel.
- The Studio C character and elements were created by Garner-Holt.