Picture these happenings:
A family arrives in an Eastern resort city and checks in at a well-known hotel. Grabbing their attention in the Victorian-style lobby is a 30-foot-tall brass birdcage with five life-size, brightly colored, fully animated macaw birds perched inside, singing witty lyrics. Every hour, the computer-controlled ''birds'' perform six different two-minute shows.
Or: A couple with young children goes to a fast-food restaurant for an inexpensive dinner. As they munch their pizza, they are amused by a stage show performed by nine life-size, walking, talking, singing, joking, animated animal characters.
These are just two of the many types of businesses using mechanical animals to attract customers these days.
Sophisticated three-dimensional lifelike or fantastic animated figures such as these were once found almost solely in top-ranking amusement parks. But fast-growing AVG Productions Inc., a leading animation design and special-effects company in Valencia, Calif., is trying to spread the trend to other businesses like restaurants, hotels, and even miniature golf courses.
The company builds scale models, entertainment and electromechanical animation displays, free-walking radio-controlled figures, and computerized, pneumatic, hydraulic, and electrical figures. It also manufactures most of its own pneumatic cylinders, interface boards, and electronic components.
Chief among AVG's current projects is the creation and mass production of an animated show for a new chain of family-restaurant-and-entertainment centers called Circus Playhouse & Food Emporium, a division of Jewelcor Inc.
AVG has also designed and built animated shows for the Castle Park chain of miniature golf courses. Still another project is an animated figure featured in a multimedia stage production to be taken around the country. And, in the planning stage, there's a major international attraction to be owned and operated by AVG Productions itself.