Throughout a career that began in the 1980s, working with such design companies as BRC Imagination Arts, The Hettema Group and now his own firm, The GW Group, George Wiktor has operated somewhere on the bleeding edge of experiential storytelling – mostly for world expos, museums and corporate visitor centers – learning to combine media, technology and architecture in ever-more seamless ways that are today taken for granted as a benchmark of quality attractions. He served as president of the Themed Entertainment Association, and continues to play an advisory role within TEA.
His award-honored projects include: Barnas Brannstasjon [Children’s Fire Station] at Kongeparken, Norway (Thea Award, 2012); “Beyond All Boundaries,” National World War II Museum, New Orleans (Thea Award, 2010); Volkswagen Glaserne Manufaktur, Dresden (Thea Award, 2002); and “World Song” for the USA Pavilion at Seville Expo 92.
Prior to the 2013 IMERSA Summit, which took place in Denver, CO, USA Feb 14 – 17, InPark’s News Editor Joe Kleiman asked him 5 questions. Here’s what he had to say:
1. You are representing the Themed Entertainment Association at the IMERSA Summit. What can each organization and its membership learn from the other?
We definitely can and should learn from each other. TEA members can get exposed to the new opportunities presented by digital fulldome systems in order to add to the bag of technologies they use to tell stories in immersive environments. IMERSA members can be exposed by TEA members to the different methods of telling compelling stories in the same immersive environments. Additionally TEA members are a great resource in creating unique and authentic one of a kind attractions that can make fulldome theaters stand out and compete in a crowded market place.
2. This past year, SeaWorld opened two major attractions that utilized fulldome technology. Do you see an ever increasing role for this technology’s applications in attractions?
It does seem that there are several fulldome projects being planned for attractions around the world at the moment. I do see a role for the fulldome technologies in attractions both as self standing shows as well being integrated in physical sets as media surfaces. Will it be “ever increasing”? I am not sure, but it will probably find its place among the multiple technologies available to attraction designers.
3. Is it best for the story to be a tool applied to the available technology, or does it work better the other way around?
For the person who owns a hammer every problem (or solution) is a nail. So obviously for the fulldome owners they must apply the story to the technology they own. In themed entertainment, speaking as a designer, the ideal is to apply the appropriate technology that best tells the story.
4. You have worked on films for museums and world expos. Do you have any interest in producing or directing a fulldome feature?
Absolutely. I think the story telling skills developed in immersive location based environments are a perfect fit in creating compelling story based experiences in fulldome theaters.
5. To what extent does the technological savvy of an audience affect the level of technology involved in your presentation?
That depends on the presentation. If the experience is passive then no technological savvy is required. However in today’s “participation culture” the audience’s technological literacy requires designers to have the cultural savvy to create technology based shows that are relevant to that audience.