Friday, August 19, 2022

Lessons of immersion, awash in useful tech

Issue 91 editorial by Judith Rubin, InPark Editor

Entertainment technology has matured to the point where long-term visions, goals and expectations are being realized and then surpassed. As Trent Oliver (Founder and Managing Director, Blue Telescope) aptly summarized, “It’s all the stuff we talked about for years and it’s actually here.” She was moderating a panel on immersive experience at InfoComm 2022 in Las Vegas in June, where we heard from the forces transforming the industry through milestone attractions such as Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, AREA15, Illuminarium and more.

As always, venues must renew themselves to retain customers and stay current. “We are constantly swapping things out,” said Mark Stutzman, CTO of AREA15. “Part of our goal is to be insanely nimble. Constant change is the only way to keep guests entertained in 2022.”

State-of-the-art means nothing if you can’t stay up and running. “Be leading edge but also robust,” said Hilary McVicker, VP Sales and Marketing, The Elumenati. “Ten-year-olds can be brutal on technology.”

Markets have evolved. “Audiences now expect interactivity; they think everything is a touchscreen already,” said Brian Allen, EVP of Technology & Content, Illuminarium Experiences. “We are heading toward a truly ‘choose your own adventure’ story – fully interactive, fully personalized.”

Mature technology super-optimizes the ability to fulfill some goals: refreshing content quickly, multi-use spaces, frictionlessness and seamlessness, reaching broader and more diverse audiences. “Van Gogh became a brand everyone wanted to see,” said Mario Iacampo of Exhibition Hub. And they now could. “You would never bring an exhibition to Albany, New York, for six months before this.”

“There’s not an experience on the planet that can’t improve in regard to accessibility,” said Stutzman.

Today’s immersive experience revolution is being accompanied by an equally transformative operations revolution, both empowered by today’s state-of-the-art tools and technology and intensified by guest participation.

Data gathered supports creating better experiences more closely aligned with customer behavior. “We can predict what the market will look like in Vegas on a given day. We can make sure our businesses understand their business better than any of their counterparts,” said Stutzman.

As Iacampo said, “It feels like the beginning of something.”

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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