nWave builds their brand
Janine S. Baker SVP, distribution and development, interviewed by Judith Rubin
ABOVE: A still shot from the nWave film “TurtleVision”. Photos courtesy of nWave.
[quote]When I think of nWave I think of a company that is always thinking two steps ahead of the industry. That they always want clients to see what the future could look like and they offer the best in 3D/4D entertainment.” — Charlotte Brohi, VP Film Programming & Distribution Houston Museum of Natural Science[/quote]
[quote]We have been working with nWave for over 15 years. They helped us open our first 3D theater and have always been a visionary in 3D/4D entertainment. We choose nWave because of their quality and our audiences love Sammy from ‘TurtleVision.’” — John Rouse VP of Operations Aquarium of the Pacific[/quote]
[quote]I like working with nWave because the entire team is enthusiastic, professional, passionate about what they do and committed to getting films out to audiences across the world. The California Science Centre opening for ‘HURRICANE,’ organized by nWave and the CSC, was a truly informative and fun event. We are looking forward to collaborating with nWave again on our forthcoming production ‘SNOW.’” — Jacqueline Farmer Producer & Co-Director of Hurricane & Snow[/quote]
InPark: nWave is taking a new direction in growth – could you expand further?
Janine S. Baker: As markets change, it is clear to us that in today’s entertainment industry, owning your own IP is the key to the future. Platforms for viewers are changing and growing with technology and consumers have limited leisure time. The mandate is clear: to make content available anytime, anywhere for the best fit in the viewer’s busy day. Device viewership is growing, with a need for high-quality, original content as well as a demand for content on the usual platforms that have always been our bread and butter. nWave owns all of its IP and is moving forward to continue to grow the brand that is familiar to family audiences worldwide.
nWave is the pioneer of cross-platforming – making the most of digital assets on as many specialty platforms as possible, whether giant screen, attraction, ride film, feature film, broadcast, VR, AR… Is this still the best strategy to get maximum content distribution? What platforms are strongest in today’s market? Can all content be formatted for all platforms?
The audience always drives the direction of the market, and evolving technology is changing the landscape at a fast pace while feeding the consumer’s demands. It’s imperative that our content plays on all platforms in order to fully serve the family and school group audiences that are our core markets.
nWave keeps pace with evolving markets and evolving technology. High-quality 3D is a core product for us; it is unique and a major factor in keeping our content moving forward, and the result is growth – growth in features, attractions and giant screen, growth in all our markets, in-home and out-of-home. New technology for VR headsets will promote growth in the home markets and AR promises to enhance design of exhibits as well as the preshow/queue experience in specialty theaters, tied in to IP from the main show.
Is 3D still important?
Yes, 3D remains important, still and always – especially in our attraction and giant screen markets. Some have tried to exhibit 2D in the 3D theaters but 2D just doesn’t perform or bring in the numbers like 3D does. It is the best way to immerse the individual as well as enable friends and family to share the joy of the experience. Each member of the audience still reaches out to touch our snake in “TurtleVision,” or gasp at the sound of the hurricane ripping through the city in “Hurricane” – they are living each moment and creating memories that they will talk about for weeks and years.
An example is a client who contacted nWave because they had experienced our film and 3D while on a family vacation, and couldn’t stop talking about it! The result is the theater reached out to license that film – telling us that they want that same experience for all their patrons and knew we could give it to them.
SLIDESHOW: nWave Films
What’s the ideal length for a show nowadays, and why? Does it vary depending on venue/audience?
Ride films are always under five minutes, and 4D attractions have been a 10- to 14-minute experience. And now, more and more giant screen clients are requesting lengths similar to planetarium shows which run about 20-25 minutes. Basically, school groups and families are spending less time overall at the venue – the average time spent is three hours with 10 minutes at each exhibit, so they don’t have a lot of time for a 45-minute film. nWave packages its content accordingly to serve all these venues and needs.
What guidance do you have for today’s owners and operators about delivering a great guest experience that is differentiated as well as competitive?
Think guest immersion. Think of the film as part of a larger, integrated experience at the site. Moreover, the theater itself needs to be designed as an experience – which can be as simple as 4D effects, background music with multiple tracks to set the mood as guests walk in, or even trivia from the film playing as a slideshow on the screen or on monitors outside of the theater, while other sites partner a film with an exhibit. While you’re figuring it out, be up front with your providers about what you need and expect, and what resources you have. Some sites have their own creative teams in-house while others hire design teams – it just depends on the site and budget.
nWave has had some high-profile successes with giant screen films, including “Hurricane 3D” and “Planet Power.” Tell us about those launches and how they are being presented and received.
“Hurricane 3D” was part of the new Laser IMAX Theater at California Science Center – it was a fantastic launch [October 10, 2017]; the science center created a great event, with selfie stations that were hugely popular, pictures from space depicting the eyes of several historic hurricanes, and a family day event for which the education department created activities to inform young audiences about how a hurricane is formed.
“Planet Power” just launched [March 22, 2018] at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum featuring a special guest appearance by Solar Impulse co-founder and pilot André Borschberg, who completed a historic flight around the world in 2016 in a plane powered only by the Sun. They participated in a panel discussion after the screening, alongside director Pascal Vuong. This launch was very successful; the audience was very engaged and asked many questions regarding the flight. And of course, there was a selfie station where guests could take their picture beside, and interact with, Ben Franklin.
SLIDESHOW: nWave Premieres
What’s new in attraction films from nWave? Internationally?
Our new films always debut at IAAPA Orlando (November) and the GSCA annual conference (September in Chattanooga, TN), both still to come, so that’s where the industry will be able to learn about our 2019 slate. The newest titles currently in our library are “Son of Bigfoot,” “Return to Lost World,” “Hurricane” and “Planet Power.”
How is “Son of Bigfoot” doing?
Great! It did really well as a feature internationally and the attraction just debuted in March this year while we created a giant screen version as well. The theme is about acceptance and loving who you are even if you don’t really fit into the mainstream. And that is a theme for nWave as well – we have always been a little different than others in our industry – but thinking differently has always been a key to our success. • • •