We figure out what makes them connect with an audience, and bring those most captivating aspects to life as tangible experiences in our own reality.
I have been lucky to be involved in the process of both interpreting existing IPs as well as custom IPs, not only in the realms of Theme Park and Attraction Design, but also from the domains of Visual Effects and Animation. While the practical processes between Architectural Design and Media Production differ greatly, the fundamental methodologies of storytelling through intellectual properties share identical foundations.
Some of the same challenges can arise in either sphere: whether it comes to interpreting beloved and cherished intellectual properties, and living up to the expectations cemented in the imagination of its fan base; or the hurdles involved in creating your own custom, original extended universe that grows naturally through cohesive transmedia storytelling.
By distilling these fundamental features, we can take advantage of the narrative aspects that absorb people to invest emotionally in the fates and lifestyles of their favorite fictional worlds. We get the chance to pinpoint the most coveted and recognizable facets of an IP as a basis to plunge the audience into a physical manifestation of an imaginary environment.
We get to immerse guests in the sights, sounds, scale, and spectacle of settings they have only visualized, and allow them to recreate or relive the most memorable moments from stories that resonate deeply in their collective hearts and minds.
Getting under the hood, a part of the process we get to see up close as theme park designers (that may be less apparent with IPs other medium), is the role of the audience themselves in engaging with the universe you’re creating. This proves especially important in our field, as the meat and potatoes of what we design is the empirical guest experience.
In the realm of literature—the root source of all modern storytelling—the audience has always relied on the author’s prowess to tap into the most vivid corners of their imagination. It is this theater of the mind that is the core of the readership’s experience. In the fields of film and television, moving images and sound created a new dimension of narrative delivery.
In stage or theater, similarly to video game play, a key ingredient is the element of live interaction and engagement that differentiates it from predictable, linear storytelling; whether that be an actor or singer playing off the reactions of the audience—or the player choosing a different path for the character—this engagement is a critical component of the experience.
In the arena of theme park design, we are allowed to combine all of these methods of delivery for storytelling simultaneously, with the additional corporeal dimension of role-playing yourself as a character within the story. It is this complete, multidimensional immersion within a living, breathing world that is the driving force behind a location-based guest experience.
Something special that we created with the Battle for Eire attraction at Busch Gardens Williamsburg was an original interpretation of cultural mythology: taking the loose framework of historical motifs and transforming those into a custom intellectual property.
Storytelling through custom IP creation like this gives us as designers the freedom to explore any direction of narrative, journey, or action. These possibilities become nearly limitless when paired with the canvas of 3D Media Production with the freedom to swim, soar, float or freefall, exaggerating any imaginable actions on 3D projections or in virtual reality.
When it came to the realization of an established, well-developed story universe with The Hunger Games IP at motiongate™, a greater challenge we faced was to achieve precise recreation and recognizability of fictional landmarks at scale, such as the Hall of Justice building facade recreated from the film franchise. What took that to the next level was the incorporation of other extended in-world narratives, such as media production using actors from the films to record additional, location-exclusive themed content.
Deriving from any existing fable or original tale—and taking form in any medium or method of delivery—storytelling through intellectual properties offers many of the same challenges and benefits, and allows content creators to connect on a deeper level with their audience to deliver them the most impactful and memorable narrative experiences.
Robb offers talents in civil engineering, architecture, software engineering, applied mathematics, urban planning, visual effects, automation, and project management.
His responsibilities range from architectural design and master planning to project management and client communication.
Robb’s wide range of knowledge makes him a versatile ‘swiss army knife’ with a willingness to tackle any challenge that comes his way.
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