13 September 2017

Flying Dreams attraction at Ferrari Land represents a media production breakthrough in the use of drones for large format dome cinema

“Flying Dreams” represents a breakthrough in the use of drones for specialty cinema. From the first test of equipment in the field, to the international shoot in six countries, to the last pixel in post production, the media production team led by Mousetrappe faced and overcame a series of unique challenges.
The “Flying Dreams” media production team is a who’s who of specialty cinema and special venue attractions, helmed by Mousetrappe, with Daren Ulmer (director) and David Briggs (writer), Don MacBain (producer), Sean Phillips (director of photography), Ken Saba (editor), Rick Rothschild (consultant); Jon Baker and Bruce Broughton (music and sound) and Muse VFX (visual effects).
“Flying Dreams” is a new flying theater attraction in the Ferrari Experience building at the new Ferrari Land, a third gate that opened in April 2017 at the PortAventura theme park destination resort near Barcelona. “Flying Dreams” serenely soars over world landmarks and swoops down to spotlight 11 different models of Ferrari GT™.

Spitz releases new fulldome title "Faster Than Light" for planetariums and museums

“Faster Than Light: The Dream of Interstellar Flight” offers a compelling and credible story for our time with broad audience appeal, speaking to a wide range of ages, interests and educational topics,” said Mike Bruno of Spitz Creative Media. “We think our planetarium clients will find it an enduring and versatile title for public and educational programming. We’re very proud of what the team has accomplished and pleased to add ‘Faster Than Light’ to the Spitz fulldome library.”

Robin Sip of Mirage 3D and Brad Thompson of Spitz
speak at Fulldome Festival Brno, where
"Faster Than Light" received an award in 2017.
“We chose the grand story of interstellar flight because it’s richly thematic and the human quest resonates with people,” said director Thomas Lucas. “Scientists are discovering that the galaxy is filled with planets. Telescopes are coming online that are going to be able to look at some of these worlds and determine whether there are atmospheres and possible signs of life.”

“Faster Than Light” was produced by Robin Sip (Mirage 3D), Mike Bruno (Spitz Creative Media) and Thomas Lucas (Thomas Lucas Productions). Brad Thompson (Spitz) and Leon Verschoor (Mirage3D) directed the visual production. This 25-minute documentary is available for general release in all fulldome formats. The project was supported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Film Office.... Read full story

Video clips/more info 

14 May 2017

Media producers: Ben Stassen, Ken Saba, Luke Ployhar, Don MacBain, David Love

Media producer David Love, Hollow Studios, educated at "Disney University" - October 2016, InPark magazine
..."enamored with ride films since experiencing Star Tours in 1987, David formed a long term ambition to create them. In 2008, as Hollow Studios (first iteration, Hollow 4D Studios) he had become well versed in 3D animation as well as live action 3D, and the company rolled out an original media-based turn-key attraction at the IAAPA Attractions Expo, where the company received IAAPA’s First Place, Best Exhibit 600-1000 Sq. Ft. award. They built a library of six films over the next several years... Full story

The House that Ben Built: interview with Ben Stassen of nWave Pictures - March 2016, InPark magazine
...How did the Robinson Crusoe story wash up on nWave’s shores?
I love castaway stories – and they provide good, family-oriented subject matter with good themes. Robinson Crusoe is a classic that lives in the public consciousness – a recognizable IP. Most people know at least the basics, even if they haven’t read the book by Daniel Defoe. It was ideal for our purposes, and this was such a new and original angle – seen from the point of view of the animals on the island where the hero is shipwrecked....Full story

Ken Saba: The whats, whys and hows of media production (interview) - Feb 2017, InPark magazine
...First, tell us about Soarin’ Around the World.
There’s an ironic backstory. In 1998 at Walt Disney Imagineering, during a semester off while I was working as an assistant editor, the late Tom Wright, who was in charge of film distribution, told me about this great project coming up and encouraged me to stick around for it. However, I was partway through getting my degree at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and had to go back so as not to lose my placement. It was a tough decision. I remember telling Tom, “I’m going to kick myself for this.” The project was Soarin’ Over California. I would have been assistant editor. But there I was, 18 years later, the editor on Soarin’ Around the World. If it doesn’t happen now, it’s gonna happen later! ...Full story

Luke Ployhar and "Space Next" - March 2016, InPark magazine
...Luke Ployhar began working on the new space documentary, SPACE NEXT, as a “passion project” to develop internally at his company, Afterglow Studios while continuing to contribute to other giant screen productions such as Space Junk 3D, Electropolis and Antarctica 3D: On the Edge. He founded Afterglow in 2006 after relocating from Los Angeles to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. With such films as Minority Report, Inspector Gadget, Planet of the Apes and Austin Powers under his belt, Ployhar found that his mainstream movie making skills in production, visual effects, 3D and animation transferred effectively to the alternate universe of special venue cinema... Full story

A well-oiled process: Media producer Don MacBain fosters collaboration - November 2015, InPark magazine
...At pretty much any point in his career, Don MacBain could be found working on or near the forefront of special venue cinema, whether analog or digital, flatscreen or dome, big screen or small, entertainment or education or corporate, 2D or 3D or even 4D. At this writing MacBain was just wrapping up a 15-month project with Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), which contracted him to oversee media production for the extensive re-imagining of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum (Midland, Texas USA), which opened in the first quarter of 2016... Full story

Social media, blogging and content marketing: keeping a balance and perspective

Judith Rubin
This is based on questions I often field from clients, to help everyone stay out of the weeds when it comes to the effective use of social media and content marketing. 

Clarify your business marketing goals
First of all, we are discussing social media as an online publishing and editorial tool applied to marketing and public relations goals in business. Social media has broadened the ways information can be expressed and distributed to serve the core mission and convey the message. It's easy to confuse social with business - we are not going for flavor of the month so much as an effective approach that serves the client goals. Identify the goals, identify the best channels, and formulate a strategy.

What are the advantages of blogging?
Blogs can be standalone, or integrated into a website. They can be an effective way to create an online information clearinghouse that could be quickly updated, create a body of information focused on a particular topic, be time sensitive, professional looking, and not require the services of a webmaster. Blogs help build the overall internet footprint, boost search marketing, create incoming links. They also allow for a little experimentation in what drives traffic and gets pageviews. And they can be made press-friendly. Blogs can be designed to serve up a body of reliable official information and resources. Interface with other social media formats facilitates sharing the information easily by anyone who visits the site. Blogs can also outlive their usefulness - with the number of possible directions online marketing can take, be aware when something falls by the wayside and make a decision either to bring it up to date, position it as an archive, or eliminate it.

How are we measuring our results? How do we know if our numbers are high or low?
The measure is always tied to whether you are getting what you were aiming for. What were your goals? Registration for an event? Press coverage? Increased awareness? Education? Post-event reporting? Numbers can look high or low depending what you compare them to. Find realistic comparisons based on your industry, your competitors and your own past performance.

What is the right balance of quality and quantity?
One thing to be concerned about is over-proliferation. Resist the pressure to be everywhere all the time - it's not possible, but the attempt will compromise quality. Always be looking to see what a particular channel gains you in terms of exposure and to what audience. 

Should we have individual blogs or social media accounts for departments, divisions, offices or individuals within our organization? 
This is an umbrella question. The answer may be yes or it may be no - the issues to discuss first pertain to proliferation, consistency, editorial quality, ability to update and maintaining your contacts list - all crucial factors. 

Each separate channel - whether it is a Facebook page, Twitter account, Vimeo channel, WeChat account, blog or other forum - engenders a separate database in terms of members or followers. Each channel needs a stream of content. Who will be responsible for these things? How will you keep everything under the umbrella in terms of branding and message, and access to the contacts list that is a very valuable asset? Will you find yourself competing with members of the press who have been supporting you? How will you deal with admin changes? Online forums can be damaging to a business, when in unprofessional or unethical hands. 

How do we select our editorial topics?
Do what an editor does: work to stay in touch with the community and identify what's important and possibly under-reported. Chat with leaders and people in the know about direction. Look for trends, significant projects, markets and so forth, and narrow it down. Cultivate awareness of your audience, what are you trying to convey and what you hope to accomplish. Be objective.

How much time is required?
More than you think.

How should we focus our efforts abroad?
Determine the appropriate channels and how best to use them depending on the region. There can be a lot of variation. 

Must this be done in-house? 
You can use an agency or freelance specialist or media outlet that provides such services, and make them your marketing partner. It can be an advantage to do so, in that these tasks are a part of their core business. Any good provider in this field is always working to stay up to date, to understand branding and editorial quality, and to build online followings. You are more likely to get bigger results faster, and clear explanations of what those results indicate.

17 June 2016

Grove East Provisions carries on the brick-oven artisan bread tradition established by Red Fox Baking (Saint Louis)

Chris Sheets of Red Fox Baking during brick oven construction at Grove East Provisions
On the corner of Arsenal and Minnesota in the Tower Grove East neighborhood of the city of Saint Louis, Barry Kinder operates Grove East Provisions, a bistro-style neighborhood eatery and bakery known for sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, beer and wine by the glass, bottle or six-pack, liquor, Sunday brunch and the artisan bread of Red Fox Baking. Provisions first opened its doors in June 2014 and just celebrated two years in business.
Kinder (left) and Sheets during construction of the brick oven
Barry Kinder in front of the lit brick oven

Quite a following has grown up around the bakery's crusty, naturally leavened loaves, which are produced in the brick oven designed by Red Fox co-founder Chris Sheets and constructed by Kinder and Sheets with the bakery's other two founders (Jenny Wilson and Jake Marks, who departed the business a year ago). The bread is used in Provisions' signature pressed sandwiches, including the BLT, Meatloaf Melt and Grilled Veggie, and also accompanies Barry's famous chicken soup (named one of the 100 best dishes in Saint Louis by the Riverfront Times).

Ever since the recent announcement by Sheets that Red Fox would close at the end of June, customers have inquired about the future of their favorite bread and sandwiches, in addition to expressing best wishes for Sheets as he moves on to his next challenge.

Barry Kinder wants his customers to know that their bread fix is not going away. In the absence of Sheets the brick oven still remains, and Kinder has been learning the art from Sheets to ensure both continuity and quality. In the two years since opening Provisions, Kinder, a European-trained chef, has made it his business to serve his fellow Saint Louisans with the high-quality, delicious comfort food they crave. In that time he has also gotten well acquainted with the brick oven he and Sheets built - and turned out many products from it, including the wood-fired pizzas that draw crowds every Friday and Saturday, and a range of other baked goods.

"The amazing bread of Red Fox Baking has been integral to this restaurant and its offerings from the start," said Kinder. "It's been an honor, a pleasure and a great learning experience working with Red Fox, especially Chris Sheets, who is a true artist of the grain and a real professional. I'm grateful to him and I'm going to miss him. He set a high bar for quality and Provisions will uphold that."

Grove East Provisions is at 3101 Arsenal St. (corner of Minnesota), Saint Louis MO 63118. Open 11 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. Tel. 314-802-7090. Also on Facebook

Note from the author: Local restaurants are not my usual beat - normally I cover theme parks, museums and visitor attractions - but Grove East Provisions has been part of my life since it opened and made my neighborhood a better place. See my first article about Provisions from November 2014. -- J.R.

11 January 2016

Where to find Judith Rubin

At the 2015 TEA SATE conference in Pittsburgh. TEA COO Jennie Nevin is on the left.
I have been busy as usual writing, posting and publicizing, but not so much on here. Please look me up on Twitter @judithrubin and on Facebook (Judith Rubin Etc.) as well as on LinkedIn. You can also find my posts regularly on the TEA website www.teaconnect.org and InPark Magazine www.inparkmagazine.com.

29 September 2015

Fitter tigers and splash-happy elephants: New zoo habitats

My article in issue #59 of InPark Magazine explains why new exhibits with soaking, swimming and splashing options will make the tigers fitter and the elephants happier at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo, respectively.

But just what does it take to create a water attraction for zoo animals? It goes far beyond making and filling up a pool. Read the story here.

24 September 2015

The 2015 Milan world's fair has the taste of success

Editorial, 8/29/2015: A delicious success in Milan (InPark Magazine issue #58)

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." -- George Bernard Shaw

Expo Milano 2015 is displaying considerable success on many fronts: popular, critical, visitation and international goodwill.

Organizers showed savvy in choosing a theme that revolves around food – allowing exhibitors to address the serious angles (world hunger, food sustainability, agribusiness) while simply celebrating the joy of food. This brilliant theme has allowed the Expo to leverage the brand of Italy – its inherent appeal for travelers and residents alike. Food and food security are subjects on which every exhibitor can shine as well. Moreover, world’s fairs have historically ushered in a wide range of breakthroughs and these have included food trends.

Food is something that never goes out of style, never loses its relevance and has always been a key element of an expo even when not central to the theme. I think Milan 2015 will stand as an example of a world’s fair perfectly tailored to its region and to its era.

Politically, the expo is established on the international radar as a place to be seen. Expo 2015 Milano has been drawing heads of state and dignitaries from around the world. A partial list includes the presidents of Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Lithuania, Columbia, Ivory Coast and Madagascar; the Queen of Belgium; the Prime Minister of Egypt; and from the US, First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Measuring success by attendance, Milan 2015, a 6-month expo running May 1-Oct 31, reached 8.3 million at the halfway mark. As, historically, visitation rates balloon toward the end of an expo as closing day looms, Milan is likely to reach the 20 million total that organizers originally projected.

A look at attendance totals for the previous expos held in this century provides context. Milan’s numbers are very competitive with the last 6-month world’s fair held in Europe, Hanover 2000, and well ahead of the more recent, 3-month event in Zaragoza (Spain). The much higher Shanghai numbers reflect the much larger local population that region has to draw upon.

Many thanks to consultant James Ogul, InPark’s world’s fair expert, who was a resource for this article.

  • Yeosu 2012: 8,203,956 (3 months)
  • Shanghai 2010: 73,000,000 (6 months)
  • Zaragoza 2008: 5,650,941 (3 months)
  • Aichi 2005: 22,049,544 (6 months)
  • Hanover 2000: 18,000,000 (6 months)

05 May 2015

How TEA fosters professional development for students of themed entertainment

by Judith Rubin

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) cultivates students and young talent through its NextGen initiative. Activities include TEA GibGab, a speed networking event bringing together TEA NextGen members, who are college students or recent grads - with TEA member companies looking for new hires.

"The talent we cultivate is our industry's future," said TEA President Steve Birket (Birket Engineering) who participated in TEA GibGab East on April 2, 2015, in Orlando. "The large entertainment owner/operators tell me that TEA’s member companies are their lifeblood.”

TEA COO Jennie Nevin said, "Especially in Asia, we are seeing dramatic growth in the leisure sector, and there is huge demand for what our members can provide."

Gary Blumenstein of sponsor company Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, sponsor of GibGab West on April 16, 2015 in the Los Angeles area, said, "It gives you a chance to meet the new talent and delve a little deeper into their skills and goals. Whether they are artists or engineers or both, they’re sharing similar goals to create the immersive stories and experiences of themed entertainment."

Click here to read the full article and learn more about TEA activities in professional development, networking, conferences and more.