Friday, April 19, 2024

Technology for storytelling

InPark’s special showcase of top tier tech

curated by Joe Kleiman

We often hear that the proof of a mature technology is its indistinguishability from magic. Entertainment technology has, in many respects, reached this magic stage. The evidence is all around us in the form of stunningly seamless, immersive experiences that continue to push the boundaries of what was thought possible. Appropriately, today’s technology has an early seat at the project development table. It has matured to the point where its sophisticated capabilities influence design, influence the storyteller’s approach – where more than ever, manufacturers actively seek out dialogue with designers and storytellers to ensure their products support ever more magical, creative goals and achievements.

Seamless integration of technology into the built environment allows guests to be enveloped by story while taking the delivery apparatus for granted. Pretty much every aspect of a visitor’s experience may be technologically driven, starting with online ticketing prior to the visit to interpretive media and wayfinding through apps while within. New products for media design and show control enable faster production times, new forms of interactivity, and more efficient interfacing between products, without compromising the storytelling process.

For this story, we invited leading technology firms from the attractions industry to showcase some top products. Here, Mad Systems, 7thSense, AV Stumpfl, Smart Monkeys, Visual Terrain, Valtech, and Modulo Pi profile tools for interactive media and lighting, media delivery, and show control that enhance the guest experience and help propel storytelling for themed entertainment designers.

Mad Systems: personalized media delivery                

Mad Systems is an award-winning technology company specializing in designing and integrating interactive audiovisual exhibitions. They install systems worldwide, for visitor-based facilities including museums, visitor centers, traveling exhibitions, halls of fame, and more. While well-versed in traditional AV, Mad Systems expanded its capabilities and developed the AV++® line of solutions.

AV++® includes the patented Personalized Media delivery system. Secure facial recognition technology allows guests to enjoy curated experiences with content tailored to their preferences. Preferences can be set prior to entry to the exhibit facility and the personalization follows guests at every exhibit. Customizations can include language preferences, focused content based on age or subject, and accommodate an array of ADA needs. This unique approach to storytelling changes the way guests can take in exhibitions and ensures everyone has a satisfying, personalized experience.

The other pillar of AV++® is QuickSilver®, an IT-based, complete audiovisual system. QuickSilver® is rooted in flexibility. The system can be a wired or wireless solution, with servers being co-located within setwork. This allows the exhibit’s story to be the focus, not the technology. QuickSilver®’s flexibility eliminates the need for expensive control rooms which puts money back into the exhibit budget.

QuickSilver® was recently installed at venues including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum (Independence, MO, USA). This remodeled facility features cinematic-level experiences and immersive interactives showcasing incredible historical moments. Because the facility was a federal building, using WiFi was not an option, and a wireless QuickSilver® solution was needed. QuickSilver® servers were hidden within setwork in the exhibits and Randomizing Audio Replay units to create non- repeating immersive environments.

Mad Systems is ready to take storytelling to new heights, creating personalized experiences for everyone. With team members based in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and China, they can provide the proper solution to bring the next great story to life. Mad Systems is looking forward to meeting partners and distributors at ISE 2023.

Visit online at

7thSense: introducing the “Performer Range”            

Since 2004, 7thSense has been specializing in pixel generation, processing and management by providing a toolkit of advanced products for storytellers worldwide to fulfill their vision.

The R-Series 10, part of the 7thSense “Performer Range,” is ready for customers to run their preferred generative engines including Unreal Engine®, Unity®, TouchDesigner® and Notch®. Image courtesy of 7thSense

At ISE 2023, they’re set to launch a range of new technologies each designed to enable creative teams to tell their media- based stories with the highest standards of quality, reliability, and support. They refer to it as their ‘Performer Range,’ with each new product – R-Series 10, Actor®, Conjurer®, Compere® and Juggler® – being named after roles typically found in a performance environment.

Each of the 7thSense Performer Range of products – including the renowned Delta Media Server and Medialon product ranges – has been designed to work independently. But when combined together, they streamline the workflow which saves time, improves reliability and brings media-based stories to life.

The Medialon product line enables the 7thSense Performer Range of products to be connected to all other AV hardware and software systems within a show, experience, event or installation. It’s the ‘bridge’ between 7thSense and the wider technology environment and experience system – including the virtual world such as game logic in generative media. 7thSense is now compatible with it all.

All performers need somewhere to perform – the new 7thSense R (for ‘Ring’)-Series 10 provides the hardware platform for this.

Unlike previous 7thSense technologies, R-Series 10 is available to purchase from 7thSense as a standalone hardware product – designed to meet the needs of the most demanding generative projects, virtual production applications and complex media-based attractions.

R-Series 10 is ready for customers to run their preferred generative engines including Unreal Engine®, Unity®, TouchDesigner® and Notch®.

The new 7thSense Performer Range enables a workflow that grabs pixels from any external source and presents them just as the ‘storyteller’ – or the team behind the experience – intended.

7thSense will be premiering the rest of their Performer Range on January 31 at ISE 2023 in Barcelona on stand #5E250.

Find 7thSense online at

AV Stumpfl x Smart Monkeys: integrating ISAAC API into the PIXERA media server platform at ISE 2023

Since they officially announced their partnership in 2021, both AV Stumpfl and Smart Monkeys, Inc. have continued to deepen the integration of each other’s show control technologies.

The Smart Monkeys ISAAC technology provides a unified programming and front-end client interface for pro-AV installations, a modular platform that lets users monitor and manage all their AV systems from a web browser.

PIXERA control is a distributed integration and control framework that empowers users to seamlessly host new functionalities within the real-time rendering world of PIXERA and to control all aspects of an extended project environment.

Anything users create and integrate in PIXERA control can be distributed across their connected systems and shares itself. The combination of the two systems simplifies the process to realize complex installations and projects that require flexible customization and control options, scheduling solutions, media playout, logging, and user management.

ISAAC’s unmatched, high-level system health and maintenance capabilities can be coupled with finegrained access to the PIXERA content editing and presentation platform. The native integration makes for a fast and reliable deployment solution that is uniquely suited for fast-tracked projects. Image courtesy of AV Stumpfl & Smart Monkeys

“Including ISAAC and PIXERA in a system design brings a level of adaptability that greatly benefits intricate projects,” says Stephan Villet, Managing Partner at Smart Monkeys, Inc. “It also delivers a deliberate but flexible workflow for both control and content management.”

Since the early days of their technology partnership, ISAAC events could be created and synched with the ISAAC calendar directly from within the PIXERA control interface. It is also possible to pass variables to ISAAC and create a UI that can then be displayed right within ISAAC Workspace.

The PIXERA control module has the ability to connect to an ISAAC instance as a playback device. It is also possible to “pull” a schedule from ISAAC. The schedule is then further analyzed, and the content referred to is then accessed directly from the ISAAC instance or a network drive. The module plays the content at the correct point in time using multiple timelines to simulate an endless playback.

In a nutshell, ISAAC’s unmatched, high-level system health and maintenance capabilities can be coupled with fine-grained access to the PIXERA content editing and presentation platform.

The native integration makes for a fast and reliable deployment solution that is uniquely suited for fast-tracked projects.

Recently the combination of the two systems was put to great use as part of multiple installations at some of the world’s major international airports.

AV Stumpfl will be at ISE in Hall 3, Booth #3B600.

Visit both companies online:

Visual Terrain: telling stories (and having fun) with light

Visual Terrain CEO Lisa Passamonte Green recently collaborated with Beaudry Interactive and Bandit Lites to create Luminous Terrain™, an outdoor, interactive lighting experience that allows both children and adults to experience “living light” that reacts to them, provokes them, illuminates and invites them to play.

Luminous Terrain™ is based upon the companies’ 2013 project, “Rays at River’s Edge Park,” an interactive lighting art installation that occupied a five-acre Great Lawn within an 85-acre green space in the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa with Omaha, Nebraska. Conceptualized by visual artist Dan Corson, Rays received a 2016 IESNA Illumination Award of Merit, and ran continuously from 2013, until heavy flooding damaged the site in 2019.

Working together, the companies developed Luminous Terrain™, leveraging the proven methods of Rays with updated interactive technology, lighting fixtures, and lighting design. Luminous Terrain™ can be installed as a temporary, permanent, or touring attraction. Although designed for an outdoor environment to allow for freer play, an indoor version is planned for places where conditions for outdoor play might be unfavorable.

Luminous Terrain™ is based upon an interactive lighting art installation that received an IESNA Illumination Award of Merit. It can be installed as a temporary, permanent, or touring attraction, outdoors or indoors. Concept rendering courtesy of Visual Terrain

Luminous Terrain™ empowers guests to be active participants, using their own actions and movements to determine the outcomes, playing individually or together as a group. The experience currently includes a dozen games and activities, with more on the way. In its essence, Luminous Terrain™ is about activation, discovery, empowerment, human interaction and play. Plans are in the works to incorporate interactive media elements with the lighting.

“A great feature of Luminous Terrain™ is its customizability,” says Green. “It can be a series of disconnected (but fun) games, or it can be programmed to tell a story, support STEAM learning, or fit within an existing IP. Thanks to the flexibility of Beaudry Interactive’s technology platform, we are only limited by our imaginations.”


Valtech Themed Entertainment Studio: analytics and backends for creative design

Step into a fantastical world that feels real. Beyond the physical textures and iconic architecture, the land is alive – reacting, transforming, remembering. Guests have a role and a goal within this world, and their presence and actions alter their next encounter. It matters that they are here.

It could be a game – collecting achievements, earning points – or it could be an adventure – accepting tasks, meeting characters, and mastering quests. Either way, it is powered by a game engine.

Valtech Themed Entertainment Studio crafts unique worlds powered by game engines that put guests at the heart of the experience. Image courtesy of Valtech Themed Entertainment Studio

Valtech Themed Entertainment Studio crafts these moments of magic by building custom, backend systems that use logic and rules tailored to meet the specific project’s needs. This software connects individual show control systems to create an interactive world.

Guests are the heart of the design. It’s important to consider the way guests interact and how they can be rewarded or create surprises based on what they’ve done to build the inputs into that backend. Although the guest never sees that system, they experience the output: personalized physical effects, leaderboard displays, or mobile app moments to see how they’re doing or what they can do next.

The real world changes, and fantasy worlds should too. The power of data analytics utilizes the timing and behavior we track to create tools for our designers to improve the experience after it opens to guests. Understanding the percentage of players who win, how many guests unlock new tasks, or the order that people engage with things feeds back into a better guest experience.

These systems deepen the interaction in the fantastical world. And most of the time, those fantastical worlds are under NDA, so Valtech Themed Entertainment Studio built a prototype interactive game to showcase a simple backend system and track analytics at a live event.

Learn about this case study of Beat the Buzz and a more technical dive into what they do here:

Modulo Pi: Modulo Kinetic paves the way for engaging interactive experiences

Modulo Pi’s flagship media server is a fully integrated platform reliable across the complete workflow. Its real-time timelines, embedded live mixer, 3D engine and show control tools are brought within one consistent user- friendly environment. The scalable platform relies on Kinetic Designer, an intuitive user interface with dedicated workstation, connected to one or several V-Node servers.

At ISE 2023, Modulo Pi will launch Modulo Kinetic V5. The new version will pave the way for engaging interactive experiences both in permanent installations and live events, and with no coding needed. The new features will encompass a variety of possibilities: multi-user capability, interactivity through the manipulation of physical sensors or by touchless detection and tracking, possibility to interact with video, audio, lights, generative content, machinery, etc.

At ISE 2023, Modulo Pi will launch Modulo Kinetic V5. This new version of its flagship media server will pave the way for engaging interactive experiences both in permanent installations and live events, and with no coding needed. Image courtesy Modulo Pi

To meet the needs and budget of any type of project, Modulo Kinetic V5 adds the support of varied sensors and control systems: RFID, USB sensors and controllers by Phidgets Inc., 2D LiDARs, Azure Kinect, depth cameras, Leap Motion, 3D LiDARs… Being integrated in Modulo Kinetic’s internal library of devices, all sensors can be calibrated in seconds.

An internal library of effects available in the media server then serves as the foundation of the interactive experience. Using Modulo Kinetic’s real-time node- based compositing tool, the effects available as blocks can be linked and chained with ease, allowing show designers to create unique outcomes. Modulo Kinetic’s timelines allow to easily mix precalculated and real- time interactive content.

Planned for release at ISE 2023, a preview version of Modulo Kinetic V5 is already installed and powers interactive areas at the Fabrique des Lumières and Hall des Lumières digital art centers in Amsterdam and New York.

A glimpse at Modulo Pi’s interactive demos: • • •

Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Courtesy Mad Systems.
Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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