I recently went bowling after having not gone in a year or so. One of the first things I noticed were the animations that now grace the video monitors. (Last I had seen* were the "/" for spares, the "X" for strikes, and the turkey — who looked a bit like the "duck" from Atari's Adventure cartridge)
"Ooh... shiny!", said I.
These animations (the ones I've seen) are part of Brunswick's "FrameWorx Scoring System" which, truth be told, is a bunch of stuff not just animations. Apparently, FrameWorx covers things such as ball return units, tables, chairs, trash cans, "the whole shootin' match" (as my friend Scott might say). But this node is only going to talk about the part the average bowler is going to be most familiar with — that is, the post frame animations. These animations, usually involving personified ball and pins, play (for the most part) after you have rolled your second ball.

Rick Kruse, the product specialist for FrameWorx, let me know that they are thirty-seven different animations total. Personally, I have only seen about twenty-eight which I will now list below:

Miscellaneous animations:

  • Fenced - multiple horned "bull" balls stampede towards a wooden fence. The fence bends to the point of breaking, but a cowboy hat-wearing pin on the other side pushes the fence back. The wind is knocked out of the bull balls and they are driven back. This animation often appears directly following one of the lower "open" animations.
  • Star frame - the "camera" pulls back through a space scene. We pass an Earth-like bowling ball planet, a ringed Saturn, and then come to a stop with the top of a third planet in the foreground. In the background stars shimmer and a pin "rocket" shoots by. The words "Star Frame" quickly roll clockwise onto the screen. In accordance to the prophecy, the planets all have the signature three finger holes.
  • Beer Frame - a pitcher full of cold yellow beer spins as it slides down the lane — as if it were a long bar — finally smashing through the ten pins.
  • High Game - the camera climbs a long distance to the top of an ivory colored column. Once it reaches the top we see the words "High Game". I'm guessing this signifies getting the high score for either the lane or the alley.
  • Split - we see a close up of ten pins. Suddenly, a Shazam-esqe bolt of lightning strikes the first pin splintering it in two pieces. The remaining nine pins seem to be blown away by the disturbance. Unlike other animations, this one plays after the first ball.
  • Split (from the older 1995 FrameWorx system) - a little red bowling ball runs towards the ten pins. At the last second (shown in a The Color of Money-esqe "over the ball shot") the back nine pins step aside leaving the front pin to face the twelve-pound wrath alone.
Animations for "open" frames:
(frames where you failed to knock over all ten pins)
  • Open (sesame) - A rather bouncy bowling ball hops down the lane, only to be foiled at the last moment by a trapdoor in front of the pins. Then the word "Open" and "(sesame)" appear, the former looking as if it were cut from bowling lane wood.
  • (Yes, You're) Open! - with an orange flash, a bowling ball slams against the front-most of ten armor-plated pins. The pins are unharmed; the ball, however, jaggedly cracks (like a Dali-esqe egg) in two. A red and white sign saying "Yes, You're Open!" (like you might see on the front door of a hardware store but with the word "You're" replacing "We're") drops onto the broken ball.
  • OLE! -> OPEN! - a ball with big Boss Hogg bull horns and a ring in it's non-existent nose stampedes down the lane. As it reaches the pins, they all move to one side — the front pin waving a red cape like a bull fighter. "OLE!" then appears; the "L" and the "!" turning into ""P" and "N" spelling "OPEN".
  • Support Your Local Sheriff - it seems someone forgot to lock the door to the old-west themed jail cell. Five smirking pins quietly make their escape, walking right past the sleeping bowling ball sheriff. Better round up a posse!
Animations for spares:
  • Split Conversion - a "cheerleader" ball — complete with little legs, sneakers, pom-poms, and a blonde wig — jumps up between the pins of a "seven ten split". As it comes down from it's jump it does the splits knocking down both pins with it's feet. I think this applies to any split, not just a seven ten split.
  • Spare - a lone pin sits in the middle of a red and white "target" painted on the lane. A bowling ball drops onto it from above breaking off it's "head" before sending the "body" flying. After the carnage, five bubbles drop down to form the word "SPARE". This animation is especially "cartoon" looking.
  • "The Great Sparedini" - A blue bowling ball with a magic wand and top hat (yet disturbingly, no hands) appears onstage next to a pin floating horizontally. The wand is waved and the pin magically disappears. The hell, you say. Sparedini just bows and flourishes his hat theatrically. Your bowling partner leans over and closes your agape mouth.
  • The UFO from the planet Brunswickia - a flying saucer with a bowling ball as it's center (that's gotta affect the gas mileage) flies up to a lone pin on a dark country road. Hovering above it, a green light appears from the saucer "beaming up" or vaporizing the pin. The saucer then bows to the camera and flies off.
    Somewhere, Richard Dreyfuss is building a pin-setter from Idaho's finest.
  • Vehicular pin-slaughter - three pins stand in their front yard, probably enjoying the beautiful weather, perhaps they can hear snippets of the open-air concert in the park some three blocks away. All of this matters for naught because a red convertible driven by a sadistic little bowling ball jumps the curb, smashes through the fence and knocks over one of the pins. Oh, the humanity!
  • The hook - three pins stand behind a red cordon watching a golf tournament. A bowling ball in a little golfers cap swings his club. His golf ball shoots into the sidelines knocking over the innocent bystander middle pin. A final close up of the ball reveals it's gruesome smile.
  • 'I'm a Lumberjack' - ten pins hide in a forest setting (shades of Macbeth) with bits of foliage held around their "heads". With just one blow of his mighty axe, a bowling ball cuts down nine of them. We cut to close-up of a visually relieved tenth pin. Cut to a pin POV shot as a small dog is shown finding the tenth pin. This last pin, following the almost nail-biting foreshadowing, then joins his fallen comrades. War, what is it good for?
Animations for strikes:
  • The Terminator - the word "Terminator" appears, then a huge 3D metallic "X" descends onto the ten pins crushing them into tiny round pebbles. I'm reminded of when Letterman crushed those billiard balls with that ten ton press.
  • The Big Red X - from a view behind the ten pins you watch as a bowling ball shaped bomb rolls down the lane and then blows the pins away.
  • The Baseball Strike - a baseball with three finger holes in it flies up to ten pins sitting on a home plate and knocks them about.
  • The Pins on Safari Strike - we find a group of bowling pins on the African plains engaging in some sort of safari. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a red bowling ball with two rhinoceros horns comes a-thunderin'. Viewers with weak stomachs may wish to turn away as flying pins and little pith helmets are scattered into the dry wind.
Animations for multiple strikes:
  • The XX Double - a bowling ball is rolling down a "Y" shaped lane — that is, a lane that starts as one lane, then splits into two lanes, each with it's own ten pins. As the ball nears the fork, it divides like a cell into two, each going on to knock down their respective ten pins. You see this animation after you have performed a "double", that is, two strikes back-to-back.
  • The Playing Cards Double - you view a table from above as unseen hands take turns tossing in colored poker chips from all sides. Finally a pair of cards are tossed into the middle; each showing a "X". Again, this is for a "double", "X" being the sign for a strike.
  • The Steamroller Double - two lanes, side by side, are viewed from behind. You watch as a steamroller spanning both lanes rolls forward, eventually crushing both sets of ten pins on each lane. I'm not certain, but a smiling bowling ball may be pictured behind the wheel of the steamroller. Another double animation.
  • The Turkey (cooked) - A bowling ball shaped turkey is pictured on a platter ala Thanksgiving. It is complete with legs with those little paper doily "foot cover" things. This is for three strikes in-a-row — what is called, in bowling lingo, a "turkey".
  • A Turkey is Born - A single bowling pin stands upright in a small birds nest. Suddenly the white "eggshell" of the pin fractures into scores of pieces. The pin breaks away revealing a rather surprised looking turkey.
  • The Monster Truck Four in-a-row - a small monster truck (the truck's chassis is approximately as long as a lane is wide) thunders over the ten pins, crushing them under it's huge tires. "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! The ground's already shakin'! We'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge!"
  • Five in-a-row! - ten pins are laid out like matchsticks to form five "X"s. Through the magic of persistence of vision, they rotate and move about to form the words "FIVE IN A ROW". As you might guess, this is for five strikes in-a-row.
    It should be noted that while I saw this animation, it was, in no way, shown above my lane.
Brunswick FrameWorx Scoring Solutions
Copyright 1995
Brunswick Bowling & Billiards Corp.

Tidbits o' trivia:

  • The current system was originally designed and sold by ResultaSystem of Sweden before Brunswick bought the rights from them to develop it. ResultaSystem's modeling was done on a fictitious Norwegian bowling ball character wearing a Viking helmet (since the scorer was sold under the trade name of Viking2001).
  • The old system I mentioned above (/, X, turkey) used a Z-80 based computer system called the AS-80. It was Brunswick's first real computerized scoring system and has been around since 1979. Hankering to see one in action? They still have one of these systems at the Lao Bowling Center in Vientiane, Lao (it's behind the stadium). Just tell 'em strawberry sent'cha.

    Miscellaneous:

    • AMF, the Pepsi of bowling, also has a series of bowling animations which is called "AMF BOSS Scoring". Apparently, it has more than one hundred animations and thirty different screen graphics. The few animations that I've seen are perhaps more technically advanced but, in my opinion, seem to share little continuity with each other. Not a complaint, just an observation.

      Two notes about the "pindication" BOSS graphic used to show which pins remain standing after your first frame:

      1. it seems especially "shiny" — much like those old computer graphic still lifes with a glass of red wine and a mirror ball sitting on a checkerboard.
      2. the numbers on the pins remind me of an old Sesame Street classic. A chef stood at the top of a flight of stairs (the entrance to an elegant dining room or ballroom I think). He announced that he was carrying
        "Twelve banana creme pies!..."
        everything would go freeze-frame for a moment while numbers appeared and a chorus of young voices counted out
        "one two three, four five six, seven eight nine, ten eleven twelve!"
        At this point the chef would then take a comical pies-a-flying header down said stairs. Man, I loved that bit when I was a kid.

      A thumbnail sampling of BOSS screenshots can be seen at http://www.iass.com/amf2b.jpg
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