ABOVE: Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University
TEA’s annual conference on themed entertainment design and development
IPM asked SATE and TEA leaders about the technology component of the conference, and the industry.
“There’s no app for this”
Paul Kent, Electrosonic
SATE ’15 Technology Segment Chair
This year for the SATE conference the technical sessions are looking at the uses of technology that will influence the industry in the coming years. We are looking at technologies that are just starting to be used or thought about for the entertainment industry as whole. We are going to be looking at learning robots, using brain waves and your thoughts to control objects and interact with your experience. Virtual reality is now a reality and we will be looking at two styles of virtual reality, its use in immersive gaming and the use in the “real world” to enhance your ride experience. We have all seen drones in the news, and we are going to bring them to SATE to talk about their ever increasing use in creation of content for experiences, and their participation as elements in experiences. These threads will be brought together in a joint session with Steve Birket where we will discuss the real engineering behind the experiences that we live with everyday, and how elements are engineered to be reliable, repeatable and safe, in a session called “There’s no app for this.”
Democratization of technology
Steve Birket, Birket Engineering
TEA International Board President
I remember being on an attraction installation for a new Orlando park about 1989. Only the owner project manager had a (large) cell phone on his belt, no one else on the project did. You knew he was important!
Years ago many of the technology methods and tools used in our industry were held by a few, those having special training and tribal knowledge of the methods and tools. Elements of this remain certainly, and provide the creative spark, however a large component of this knowledge is now more common, and there are many more paths and places to gain this knowledge.
Technology is applied in an increasingly uniform manner, benefiting the technologist and guest alike. International standards exist and are increasingly accepted. As years ago standards did not exist in many areas of our unique industry, the best practice was determined by experienced people sitting around a table considering scenarios and outcomes. Over time these best practice discussions have evolved into formal industry standards.
The expectation for what technology will provide continues to rise, and the designer and guest just want the magic to occur. If the engineer does his job, his work is transparent and it must have been easy!
The entire themed entertainment industry is about collaboration so it’s not coincidental that designers and technologists work together as a team to create the total guest experience. Designers are focused on story and the architectural details that result in the complete immersion of the guest into the experience. Complex technology must be hidden and complimentary to the story and architecture. As Ed Catmull [co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios] once said, “Creativity inspires technology and technology inspires creativity.”
It’s ultimately all about the Experience, and how you get there. That is what the SATE equation is all about: integrating story, architecture, and technology to transport guests to an immersive themed experience that fulfills
the vision for the project. The best experiences seamlessly integrate story, architecture, and technology. The collaboration between trades is essential for success.
Great guest experiences also connect on a personal level. I admire the talent in our industry that makes this happen on a global scale and continues to raise the bar.
Hosting SATE ’15 at ETC Carnegie Mellon reinforces this professional culture. My Co-Chair, Shirley Saldamarco, says, “As an educational institution, the ETC organizes students into multi-disciplinary teams and teaches collaboration and team work above all else. Expertise diversity leads to more conflict, disagreements and debates and that’s precisely what leads to the creation of higher quality and more innovative products.” • • •