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Special Event | IMMERSE 2018

Special Event | IMMERSE 2018

Experience Imagination Special Event Episode | IMMERSE 2018

Show Host: Abhinav Narain – Project Coordinator

Studio Guests: Cole NeSmith - Executive Director of Creative City Project, Jesse Allen – Editorial Director, Charlie Jicha - Project Coordinator, Andreas LaTourrette - Technical Artist, Benjamin Allen - Technical Artist, David Consolo - Technical Manager

Listen to Special Event | IMMERSE 2018 on iTunes, Spotify, or GooglePlay

Bringing art to life, a celebration of Orlando's vibrant artistic community

IMMERSE 2018 is a 2-day event in Downtown Orlando featuring more than 1,000 artists and hundreds of creative experiences for an estimated 40,000 guests to enjoy. Members of the Falcon’s team were selected to design two immersive exhibits: “Art of Athleticism”, a digital media experience that uses real-time motion tracking technology to allow people to become the paintbrush and use their bodies to digitally paint on giant walls, and "The Seraph", a 7.5-foot angel created using projecting mapping. These displays combine design and technology to allow guests to interact with art in new ways.


Thank you goes to Cole NeSmith, Executive Director of Creative City Project, for joining us for our conversation. Visit http://www.creativecityproject.com to find out more about Creative City Project. Also, a huge thank you goes to Orlando Health for sponsoring this incredible event https://www.orlandohealth.com. We hope to see everyone at IMMERSE 2018! You can get your tickets here: http://www.creativecityproject.com/book/


“Experience Imagination” is a Themed Entertainment Podcast presented by Falcon’s Creative Group, a design studio and media house that works to create immersive experiences around the world. Learn more about us at www.falconscreativegroup.com.

Special Event | IMMERSE 2018 Transcript

Cecil: You're listening to experience imagination, a themed entertainment design podcast, presented by Falcon’s Creative Group. Every episode we discuss a new topic with a panel of creative professionals. Hi, I'm Cecil Magpuri, President and Chief Creative Officer of Falcon’s.

Abhinav: Hey everyone this is Abhinav Narain here for another exciting special event episode on October 19th and 20th, right here in the city of Orlando. The Creative City Project is hosting the event IMMERSE 2018. Falcon’s Creative Group was honored to be selected to provide the interactive experience sponsored by Orlando Health. We'll talk about that in a little bit. It's a really exciting event, more than a 1000 artists and performers and over I think 40,000 people are expected to attend. It's really about bolstering and celebrating the artistic and creative community of Orlando. We have some really exciting panelists to briefly talk about the event and some of the experiences that we helped to create. First, we were privileged enough to meet with Cole Nice Smith who is the CEO of the Creative City Project, as well as the host of the entrepreneur podcast, which is an awesome podcast. He's a great guy and are a team member Jesse was able to go out and speak with him. So we'll let Jesse take it away.

Jesse: I was sitting down here with Cole NeSmith from Creative City Project were just days away from IMMERSE. Cole, where are we and what's about to happen here?

Cole: Right now we are actually sitting in a building that's housing and installation called “The Worlds of Corkcicle”. It's a big three-story building with 12 built environments that audiences can walk through and explore these installations, interact with them and maybe even take some pictures inside of them. So we're right now on the first floor of that surrounded by several installations.

Jesse: So tell us a brief history of the city creative project and your role within it.

Cole: Creative City Project is an organization that I started. It really just started it in 2012 with me just calling a bunch of friends and saying, Hey, come out and play your guitar or do a dance on a street corner. And it started with us just going out and doing stuff and no sound or lights or permits or permission or anything. We just started making art in the public spaces of the city. And here we are six years later we shut down Orange Avenue, church street, Pine Street will have more than 1000 artists and performers this year in an audience of about 40,000 people. So it's grown really rapidly and at the heart of what it is that we're doing, it's intended to cultivate the artist community here in central Florida and for the people who call Orlando home to help them love living here even more. And then on the global perspective, like help shape the global perception of the place that we call home as a place for innovation and creativity.

Jesse: This year, Creative City Project partnered with our company Falcon’s Creative Group to create “The Art of Athleticism” and it's an interactive experience for IMMERSE presented by Orlando Health. Can you tell us a little bit more about this experience and how it came to be?

Cole: We've been partners with Orlando Health for the last couple years and one of the things that we focused in on in that partnership is this idea of like the body being a work of art and so when we started talking to them about, okay, how could we create something that really kind of amplifies that idea and takes it to the next level? We started talking about, okay, what if we made this environment where people could go in and use their bodies as essentially giant paint brushes, and so that's when we came to Falcon’s creative and we said, hey, this is the idea, and so over the last several months we've been working together to create some interactive digital media that allows people to use their bodies to digitally paint on these giant walls of this inflatable structure that we've created that 60 feet long and 25 feet wide and 20 feet high, and so it's gonna be really exciting to see our audience get in there and move around and use their bodies to bring that space to life.

Jesse: Awesome. What do you personally hope IMMERSE will become in the future?

Cole: So, our big vision is a four-day event by 2020. That creates amazing experiences like the ones that were creating this year, whether that involves technology are these cross-genre collaborations, but also incorporating in national and international artists, whether that's performing artists or installation artists in creating an event that truly does become a global destination and hosts more than 100,000 people in 2020. So next year 2019, we're looking at how we expand from two days to three and then in 2020 a four-day event. That really creates a lot of momentum and has come such compelling experiences that people begin traveling to experience what it is that we're making together.

Jesse: That's cool. So obviously a huge endeavor to pull together with all the people and the space needed. How did you get the city of Orlando onboard with this?

Cole: Well, I would say that our biggest champion at the city is a guy named Thomas Chapman and he is the Director of the Downtown Development Board and even in 2012 when it was just a bunch of artist friends going out and kind of renegade arting he took notice and he called me into his office and he said, "What is this thing that you guys are trying to do?" And at that time it was nothing. We weren't trying to do anything. We were just going out and doing what it is that we were doing. There was no big grand vision or you know, big plan. There was no organization, there was no nonprofit, there was no corporate designation, there was nothing. It was just a bunch of artists doing stuff.

Cole: And since then, Thomas has continued to make a way for us because obviously we have to collaborate with the fire department and the police department and traffic control and parking and all kinds of people in municipal government who have over the years we've just taken this journey together and they're beginning to understand the big vision and they see what it is and we truly couldn't do what it is that we do without the cooperation of the Downtown Development Board and the city of Orlando and Orange County government and to some degree the state of Florida government. It's been a fun, oftentimes trying and difficult process, but it's been really wonderful to be surrounded by people at the city level who really do care about this place we call home and want to see it and be amazing.

Jesse: Absolutely and also just the engagement you have with local artists. Can you talk a little bit about that process and just how you get them involved in and that kind of thing?

Cole: We're really fortunate to have such a vibrant creative community here in central Florida and we as a programming team doesn't, we don't have to go out and pull teeth and like beg artists to be part of this thing. We're really fortunate that not only do we have a lot of talented artists, we have a lot of collaborative artists who really care about creating interesting things and getting out into the public spaces and the streets of the city and bringing them to life.

Cole: And so I find that our creative community really resonates with this idea of facilitating meaningful shared experiences for the guests who come to IMMERSE every year. And so every May we put out a call to artists and a lot of those artists respond to that call and we work hand in hand with each of those artists and those arts organizations from May to October, from concept to execution and refining the idea and understanding what's needed from a technical perspective and walking alongside of all of those artists until all of it comes together and comes to life in October.

Jesse: That's great. so you talked a little bit about the Interactive Tent Forum Orlando Health and Falcon’s Creative Group. What made you decide to collaborate with Falcon’s Creative Group? What was that process like for you?

Cole: We as an organization the Creative City Project at the beginning of the year started producing a podcast called Entrepreneur and it's been a fun process. The whole podcast is designed to help artists make creativity their career. And so we do some interviews. We talked to artists about where they are in their process, maybe some of their challenges, maybe some of the lessons they've learned along the way. There's a lot of practical advice, there's marketing advice, there's things about how are we being disciplined, what kind of habits are we there? There's all kinds of this stuff and the podcasts and it's been really amazing.

Cole: It's meaningful and that's actually how we connected and then got the opportunity to come and spend some time with you all. And now we're making awesome stuff together.

Jesse: That's awesome. So if you're an aspiring artist right now and you're kind of coming up in this city, seeing inspired by what you see at Amherst this weekend or whatnot, how do they become part of this movement that you started? Like what advice do you have for this kind of next wave of artists coming up?

Cole: Give time everyday to the thing that it is that I say I want to do and really understand and clearly identify like what's the one thing that I want to pursue with my creative career, with my creative passion, with my creative craft and to give myself over to that on a regular basis. One of the things that every single one of my creative writing professors in college said was, "If you want to be a full-time writer if you want to be a professional writer, you have to write every day." And I think that expands to anybody who's trying to do anything, whether it's a creative thing or just starting a company or having a family or being a healthy human being. Like we can't casually come in and out of our deepest passions.

Cole: They have to be things that we give attention to every day, so we'd love to collaborate with artists next October and we'd love for more artists to respond to that call to artists in May, but really that's just one small bit of what is it like for you as an artist to give yourself over to your creative craft every day.

Jesse: Cole, thank you so much for your time. Your work here is inspirational-

Cole: Thank you so much

Jesse: I'm looking forward to having both our listeners and even our studio staff that's helped make this project attend to IMMERSE.

Cole: Can't wait to have you. See you there.

Jesse: All right.

Abhinav: Thanks again, Cole, for a fantastic conversation. We are now going to switch gears and talk about one of the interactive installations that Falcon’s is contributing to IMMERSE 2018. I'm joined now by our interactive team Andreas Latourrette, Benjamin Allen, and David Consolo. Andreas, how’s it going?

Andreas: Doing well. Thank you.

Abhinav: Ben. How are you?

Ben: Good. What about you?

Abhinav: Good. And David?

David: How's it going? Very well.

Abhinav: We're here to talk about “The Art of Athleticism” presented by Orlando Health. So first I wanted to ask, how did this project come to be? Andreas, if you want to start us off?

Andreas: Absolutely. We had heard that one of our other employees was working with Creative City Project to do interactive art piece and then he heard that Orlando health was looking for someone who could bring this art of athleticism to life. And basically from there we just kind of started working with them to make this cool project.

Abhinav: Fantastic. What were the initial goals for the design of this project? “The Art of Athleticism”?

Andreas: So initially they asked us to make sure that there was some sort of user integration, not only in the sense of the player the user gets to interact with this art piece, but they were present in the world that we were creating. So that was kind of the first stipulation at least.

Abhinav: To backtrack a little, “The art of Athleticism”, what is the final product look like right now? On a high level?

Andreas: Right now we're looking at something where you as a player have to really engage with the content in order to see the full potential of what it has to offer and that's where we're fusing this athleticism with this interaction because you don't necessarily always have to be very active to interact with something like this.

Abhinav: What will players see? What visually does this look like?

Andreas: So right now the theme is really very painterly, so you'll see the players will see a representation of themselves that's slightly abstract, but as they continue to interact, they will be throwing paint and be depicting pretty much whatever they want to onto this environment that we've created for them.

Abhinav: And this is like projected on a wall.

Andreas: Yes. So we have several projectors and it's going to be a very large space and it's going to cover most of if not entirely, the space that we have.

Abhinav: What was the process like to get to that concept? How did the idea evolve?

Andreas: First of all, the most important part was getting the player to be active. So not just sitting or standing still. And then kind of moving the arm around to touch points or something like that. We wanted them to really engage fully so we thought if they can see themselves and see themselves in almost a fantastical way, they're more likely to really interact and engage with this content. So that was kind of how we began our steps towards where we are now. And then after that we decided the player really needs to have something that they can express themselves freely and almost let loose because then you today everyone's very stressed and very uptight and this is a chance for them to really just kind of enact the fantasies of making a mess and having fun doing it while also being active at the same time.

Abhinav: I know Andreas, you worked the most on this project, but for the entire all the interactive with guys that we have here. What is technologically unique about tackling this kind of a project?

David: The interface that we're using as a connect and basically allows us to tract the human body in a virtual space and we'll have multiple walls that we have to track and multiple users that we have to track. So the scale of it was the biggest thing we had to tackle, but there's multiple connects, multiple computers, all synced within each other. That scale is huge. That's the biggest thing.

Abhinav: Absolutely. Cool. Thanks, David. A big nature of this event that's coming up this weekend, at least at the time of recording is that it involves a lot of experimental technology as well as a lot of really artistic freedom of expression and creativity. So I guess I wanted to hear what do you think are your most excited to see taken from this project and applied in future projects that you work on, Ben?

Ben: Well that's interesting. I think one of the big takeaways we can get from this is that the takeaway that you've gotten from previous projects have helped us immensely with this one. I was really impressed with once we started, how smoothly and how quickly everything just kinda came together. Using a Unity and the connect SDK we were able to get the technology implemented very quickly and have it working on our end. Programmatically, the systems were relatively simple and once we got minimal art direction and we were able to kind of move around in there and feel it out, get feedback and then alter it and update it and everything just went so smoothly. Like I can't even begin to say how easy it was really was. Well, not easy, but it just was so smooth that it felt easy.

Abhinav: Yeah. So it was, it was a really good validation of the process that you're developing as you venture into new territory and absolutely. It's just kind of refining that process further and further.

David: And in this specific circumstance, making the outcome of it being easy to actually means that you're doing it right and it means that it's going to work because it can only get harder from there.

Abhinav: With interactives, I know a big part of that development process is in playtesting and running through different iterations of the original concept. Can you talk a little bit about what that process was like?

Andreas: It's funny you bring this up because it's a unique instance where to play test you have to use your entire body in order to get the interactivity to work and that requires more physicality than a programmer and artists might be used to at any one given moment.

Abhinav: It's not just your hands on a mouse and keyboard.

Andreas: Exactly. So you iterate on something and then you have to physically get up and flail around to see the full range of motion and how it interacts with that and that and that's a good way to kind of lead into our next thing. As far as working on this has been very interesting because in interactive media you have a lot of work you do with shaders and texturing and particle effects and having all of those different elements now reacting to the way a person moves is completely different than when you're a traditional video game where you have full control over the way the player moves to the space. So that's been a really interesting challenge, but also really fun to kind of figure out and see, okay, well how do we push this further now this thing that's well established within interactive media, we pushed this by getting players to directly affect how it's, you know, the outcome of it. So that's been a really interesting part of the iteration process as well.

Abhinav: You have to kind of account for the variables of, you know, who knows what people will do, but whatever they do, they, it should, should have some sort of feedback.

David: It was nice because we were kind of an open office so people will walk by our testing station and we're able to in real time test how it will be on site.

Abhinav: Hey, come over and wave your hand.

Andreas: Whether we want them or not to walk past our media, they're going to do it. And that actually opened our eyes to a lot of different variables.

Abhinav: Yeah, that's I remember myself, I was walking past and being able to notice like, Oh hey, what are you going for here? And being able to have those conversations with, with fresh eyes. I'm sure it's a lot of information, but ultimately the final product looks amazing. Where can people find the installation?

Andreas: I believe if you look at the IMMERSE map that they have provided, we will be in pavilion number six right next to the Orlando health art of Athleticism, some kind of area. So that would be the best place to see this in action and try it out yourself.

Abhinav: Thanks, guys.

David: Thank you.

Andreas: Appreciate it.

Ben: Thank you. Yeah, it was a pleasure.

Abhinav: For our next discussion, we are going to be switching over and talking to Jessie Allen, who you heard a little while ago interviewing Cole as well as Charlie Jicha. Both of them are team members of Falcon’s Creative Group who actually collaborated on a personal project that will also be showcased at IMMERSE 2018. Say hi Jesse.

Jesse: Hey, how you doing?

Abhinav: Doing good. And we're here with Charlie.

Charlie: Hey, how's it going?

Abhinav: Doing good. So we're here to talk about the Seraph. Did I say that correctly?

Jesse: Yes.

Abhinav: Alright. On our super high level, what is the project? How would you describe what the Seraph is? Jessie, you want to start?

Jesse: Sure, yeah. “The Seraph” is essentially a projection mapped sculpture, so you have a sculpture of a six winged, Seraph angel and it is augmented by projection, both media, like traditional media, video, whatnot, and fully interactive media. So stuff mapped off of the Unity game engine.

Abhinav: And what, for those of us who don't know is a Seraphim Angel. Did I say that correctly?

Jesse: Sure.

Abhinav: Charlie, you want to take that?

Charlie: It's a great question because no one actually really knows what a Seraph Angel is.

Abhinav: Okay.

Charlie: It's a mythological angel according to scripture that is the highest of the angels. So you have all different classifications of angels, archangel and so on. But most of illustrations behind them highlight the fact that they have this sixth wing structure and a massive glowing light within.

Abhinav: There's the visual component of how it's subjective, which is that it's a skill. It's a sculpture of kinds as you put it. Jesse, what is the interactivity first of all? Real quick.

Jesse: Sure. So that's, that's like the coolest part about it. So there is this, you have “The Seraph Angel”, which sits about five feet from the guests, they have a golden podium that they walk up to and there's this like book with a bunch of hieroglyphs in it. And I'll let Charlie talk about the actual symbols of it. So one of the elements in the book, it's a, like a controller is a microphone. So if you talk into it, it changes patterns on the Seraph Angel itself. There is a leap motion controller, if you move your hand around, it will make all the feathers, basically, the virtual feathers realign themselves depending on how your hand works.

Charlie: It's pretty cool.

Jesse: So all of the symbols are painted in electric paint and if you touch any of the symbols, it changes the programming on the projection. So it'll tell you a different story depending on the symbol that you choose. And I'll let Charlie talk about what the symbols are.

Charlie: I'm a real nerd about symbols and when it comes to iconography and how that portrays story and so much of these are from mythological texts, from around the world. Going back to ancient Mesopotamia, each symbol has its own origin, but it has its own reveal to what the angel could portray, which goes back to really creating a universal experience.

Abhinav: Charlie, I want to hear your thoughts on the ... And maybe you can talk to this at some point. I want to circle back on interactive paint because that sounds super cool.

Charlie: Oh my god it's the best. Jesse and I previously worked on a project with the bare conductive paint to create an interactive painting that you could touch and it would augment sound, which was fantastic, but then this is the next step of taking it to that fact that this paint is not only augmenting that, but it's augmenting your visual space and you have control over that, but it's very dense and thick and when you actually apply it, it won't flow like normal painted almost flows like for anyone who paints like a modge podge or like a sealant, it has a very dense form to it and it almost bubbles up. When it actually finishes, it flattens out a bit after arrests, but it's just a very different material to paint with.

Abhinav: In the simplest terms possible for me being a total amateur at all this what actually defines it as interactive

Jesse: In this particular case with the Seraph, we have connectors that run through the book and the paint goes over the connector and then on the other side of the connector, it was like a little alligator clip that connects this little metal post and that goes to an adrenal board. Now in the original that like if you just buy it off the shelf, that adrenal board is set up to be just controlling audio. But I wiped the board and I put in new codes so it would start to sin command data. So like Midi Command data.

Jesse: And so now when you touch the paint, it goes through the alligator clip and it arrives at the board. It says, Hey, this is trigger one, and then it turns it into a Midi Command and sends it down to USB line and then all of a sudden on the laptop side, I can put that in any system that I want

Abhinav: last question. What has been your favorite part of this project or your favorite takeaway? Charlie, you want to start?

Charlie: The first time I saw everything assembled and we put light on it. I think that was really a magical neat moment of seeing everything come together at work. I'm really big. I always like if I'm, when I finished something, I'll put it up and I don't look at it for like 30 minutes. They'll walk away and they'll come back and take a look at that. And it makes that first reveal like, oh my God, we actually did something.

Abhinav: Good validation. Yeah. Especially for something so experimental. Jesse.

Jesse: This has been really hilarious because it is a home project. So I had to clear out my entire living room and tie up all my lights up on the ceiling and stuff like that. And One night I was out there programming it and it was in a pretty good state and my granddaughter came through and she saw it for the very first time and just was like entranced by this thing. It was just like, wow. And I said, well try some stuff, just go up to the book. I didn't even tell her how to use it and intuitively she starts touching the symbols and watching like things change and I could just tell her by her expression it was just total sorcery, like no idea what she was having a great time with it that's, that's cool.

Jesse: And then, of course, the other cool part is just learning. That's kind of been the thing about our company here is that you got this room full of like crazy creative people and from completely different backgrounds and those little lunchtime conversations when you're like, I've got this crazy idea and they're like, hey, I could do that. And in that kind of collaboration both at work and outside of work is so unique. That's just a true blessing.

Abhinav: We're hoping to get this episode out before the actual event. So in case anyone's listening, who's in the Orlando area, where will they be able to find the Saraf?

Jesse: So “The Seraph” is going to be set up at IMMERSE which is taking a place in downtown Orlando, October 19th and 20th. That's this Friday and the Saturday. We're in a tent right outside of the history museum of Orlando.

Charlie: Yeah, the history center downtown a for anyone who knows Wall Street, it will be close to there, but if you go down to Lake Yola area or downtown, you really can't miss it.

Abhinav: Great. Well, thanks, guys.

Charlie: Really appreciate it. Looking forward to seeing it in action.

Abhinav: On behalf of Falcon’s Creative Group, we just want to say one more time how excited we are to be participating in this IMMERSE 2018 event. It's going to be really awesome. October 19th and October 20th, more than 1000 artists and performers and over 40,000 people are expected to attend. We feel very fortunate to be able to contribute to the Orlando art community and to continue to cultivate and grow this an awesome opportunity. So we look forward to seeing it become bigger and better every year. Thanks for listening.

Cecil: This has been experienced imagination. For more information about this episode's discussion, be sure to visit our blog at falconscreationsgroup.com and don't forget to follow Falcon’s Creative Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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