In Falcon’s most recent blog, my colleague CG Supervisor Claudio Gonzalez discussed some of the technical aspects of developing 360-degree dome media content. I think it’s important to understand a bit of the background leading to today’s content development in terms of the theater itself and how it has evolved into its current state of being.
Quite often, in fact more often than not nowadays, you’ll hear the term “immersive” when discussing the latest attractions dappling the theme park landscape. This seems to be the latest hot trend, but at its roots, the “immersive experience” can be traced back some 2,500 years to the ancient Greeks as they gathered in a semi-circle around a single playwright speaking the role of protagonist in his attempt to bring the audience out of their ordinary lives and explore their imaginations in this new concept called theater.
It didn’t take long for theater to evolve to include an antagonist and narrator (deus ex machina to be more precise) and so on. One of the early playwrights, Sophocles, who went on to write a very complex play about a king named Oedipus was so bold as to add a third actor to the stage. This was a time of great advancement in technique and technology, but one thing that was consistent in the era, and throughout the next millennia, was that the audience would be able to almost entirely surround the stage to gain the best vantage point, be the closest to the action, and have the most “immersive” experience possible. This was the origina of Theater in the Round.
A small amount of time later Disney continued and evolved this tradition of a circular-based theater with the CircleVision Theater introduced in 1955. This was a technological breakthrough allowing a large audience to gain a continuous panoramic view of the media landscape. It was also a major shift in the concept of Theater in the Round as it inverted the audience location with the “actors” and put them on the inside looking out. In fact, they could look all around at the performance, rather than the old method of everyone looking toward the center. From Disney’s lead, media and A/V visionaries continued to stitch together more tightly the screens and bring them overhead in order to more fully envelop the audience within the story.
Falcon’s first contribution to this evolution was Adventures into the Deep 360° 3D Theater which debut in 2005, followed by the development of the Dragon’s Treasure® theater at City of Dreams casino in Macau. Our Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Cecil Magpuri, was commissioned with creating a media extravaganza which would push the boundaries of technology and experience for guests of the casino. Cecil delivered a 60m diameter dome with projection from all angles, LED lights embedded within the screen, and just for good measure, several sections of the screen descending throughout the show highlighting sequenced waterfalls and a variety of effects. This turned into a major success, gaining numerous awards including Thea and VES awards.
Following this success, Cecil and the team here at Falcon’s took the next step and developed a way to run media right through the middle of the audience. Sea World was looking for something new and immersive and landed on Falcon’s Spheron® Theater, which happened to be a perfect solution for the Turtle Trek attraction. Spheron® , the world’s first 360° 3D omni-view attraction featured a 20m diameter dome theater that completely enveloped the guests within the environment.
This was another Theater in the Round evolution as guests could actually see manatees and other sea life floating through the “water” above them with complete conservation of scale and perspective. To achieve this was a technical hurdle which was not previously solved in the industry, but Falcon’s developed custom lensing design and a proprietary rendering approach to achieve this one of a kind guest experience.
Since that time, Falcon’s continued to evolve the “immersive experience” of putting the audience within the media and the story, most notably with the Circumotion® Theater which incorporated a rotating and tilting motion base accommodating 134 guests within the 360-degree 3D dome theater. The first Circumotion®, installed at IMG World’s of Adventure in Dubai, featured the Hulk IP from Marvel. Critical to such an attraction was the choreography of the physical movement in achieving a believable first-person experience. Just as important was the synchronization of that movement with the media, all planned in early scripting and storyboarding. Such a feat took incredible talent and vision! It was a critical success and only lead to the inevitable question… “what’s next?”
From my perspective as a theatergoer and audience member, I can say that I want to see the stories evolve, I want the media to be more amazing and I want the experience to be more directed at me personally. As a member of the Falcon’s team, I can only say that these are the same desires that drive us and without giving away too much, the future is infinite, immersive and integrated….
VP of Global Licensing/Business Development
Daryl is a well-known themed entertainment industry veteran. His understanding of ride system and media, paired with his meticulous mind provides an insight to clients of the overall culture here at Falcon’s.