Dimensional AR™

New opportunities for Broadcast Events

Problems with augmented reality at broadcast events:

  • The in-person audience can’t see the AR
  • The TV Director can’t capture AR in the lens

Solution: Dimensional AR™

  • Visible to the in-person audience
  • Visible to the TV Director’s lens

The effect is made with a proprietary projection screen and specialized content.

“Everybody wants AR and holograms for their TV shows. There’s no such thing as a hologram. Traditional AR is problematic for broadcast. So this is the effect we’re excited to explore.” – Robb Wagner

Email robb@stimulated-inc.com for more information.

The video below was made without any VFX post production. The entire video was captured live in the lens using a combination of background projection and Dimensional AR.

Film credit: McGarryBowen/Found-Studio

 

Dopamine

“A dopamine release tells the brain that whatever it just experienced is worth getting more of. And that helps people change their behaviors in ways that will help them attain more of the rewarding item or experience.”
– Bethany Brookshire, Science News For Students

DOPAMINE ACTIVATES CURIOSITY, EXCITEMENT & WONDER.

IT ACTIVATES THE PLEASURE CENTERS IN OUR BRAIN.

“Surprise, mystery and anticipation boost our dopamine levels, which triggers attraction and excitement. When new stimuli are involved, our brain releases more dopamine giving us a shot of pleasure.” TEDx

“Surprise by definition feeds off our love for the unexpected. Surprise is your brain’s way of alerting you to pay attention, which in turn activates curiosity, excitement and wonder.” TEDx 

The second it was over, we wanted to see it again.”
-Cruise Radio

That’s Dopamine

Millennials don’t want your MTV but they do want your cruise ship

Can the cruise industry rescue broadcast entertainment from irrelevance?

By Robb Wagner

I’ve been working in the cruise line industry and network broadcast industry in parallel for about six years now. Here I’m sharing my inside perspective of two industries, one in decline and one on the rise.

Slide from the 2017 Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) State Of The Industry Report

When I was first invited by Carnival Cruise Line to fly to Italy and look at one of their brand-new ships in the shipyard, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been on a cruise ship before let alone a Carnival cruise ship. I didn’t know much about the brand but I had heard of the ‘booze cruise’. And besides, cruise lines still had the reputation for stale chorus-line entertainment. But when I stepped onboard Carnival Magic I was blown away. She was stunning. Sure, I’ve been part of some of the biggest TV events, concert tours and live experiences on record, including the Academy Awards, Live Earth and the Super Bowl Half Time Show. But I had never seen anything like a brand new cruise ship. It became instantly clear that Carnival was not working for today but for the future.

Developing, designing and producing the first-ever Floor Screen – “77th Academy Awards”, 2005

Ready to make memories – Carnival Vista arrives at her first port to the raucous cheers of loyal Carnival Cruise Line customers. Trieste, Italy, May 2016

I had been headhunted by Carnival with the assistance of a business consulting company they work with, which I found fascinating in itself. I learned that Carnival, with the help of the business consulting group was projecting the future of their business including who their future customer would be. Our job was to figure out how to entertain and engage them. My job was to help Carnival create the future. Right away I knew this was for me.

After all, I built my entertainment development company, Stimulated-Inc. by helping broadcast brands like Viacom (MTV Video Music Awards), movie brands like Disney (Hannah Montana 3D) and Sony (Michael Jackson’s This Is It) take giant leaps and transform the way they entertain and engage their customers.

Producing Biggie Smalls in screens with P. Diddy live-onstage – “MTV Video Music Awards”, 2005

Filming Disney’s “Miley Cyrus & Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds 3D Concert Film”, 2007

Producing Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ 3D concert, 2009

But hold the phone. This cruise line is saying they are willing to be bolder and more daring than all of those? And they have a five year plan? I had never heard of such a thing in all my years of working in broadcast, film and music. This was the natural next evolution of Stimulated-Inc.. Helping a brand take giant leaps by developing new ways to entertain and engage their customers. This was exciting.

Developing, designing and producing next-gen live entertainment – Carnival’s award winning “Epic Rock” theatre production , Carnival Sunshine, 2014

By contrast, soon after I visited a senior-level network TV executive at her office in Manhattan. Sitting on her couch we shared anecdotes and caught-up on lost time. She said, “Robb, you can’t imagine how frustrating it is to work for a big TV network that still does things the same old way.” “What do you mean?”, I asked. “Well, TV executives think they know what audiences want, they order pilots, they focus-group the pilots in a room of 12 people, then they green light TV shows for millions of dollars only to fail.”

She called that frustrating, I call it crazy. From everything I’ve learned working the cruise industry and the tech-entertainment startup I co-founded in 2013, the first problem here is thinking you know what the audience wants, when you don’t even know the audience.

And this gets into a deeper brand identity crisis I believe broadcast needs to deal with. The cruise industry is made up of distinct brands. There’s Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and so on. Each brand has its emotional connection to the audience. Carnival is the Fun Ship, Royal Caribbean is the WOW, etc. Customers have an emotional relationship with these aspects of the brand, which is where cruise line brand loyalty comes from.

Crafting emotional connections between brand and customer – Carnival Breeze, 2012

But none of that emotional brand identity exists in network broadcast. The big TV networks are generally seen as the same. They have all have variety programs, drama programs, daytime programs, sports and news. But it’s the programs, not the networks have the brand identity. In general the networks don’t have a brand. Only the shows on the network have the strong brand identity and emotional connection to the audience.

The last TV network to have a big brand identity people could connect with was FOX. But this is going way back to when FOX was the new kid on the block. There were three major TV networks at the time and then there was FOX: the bold one, the rebel. FOX could afford to be the bad boy. It could afford to take chances. It could afford to write new rules. FOX is largely responsible for opening the door to much of the reality genre programming we see today, with the biggest example being American Idol. American Idol was synonymous with FOX when it first came on the air. Idol was bold, new and innovative. People talked about it at the water cooler. It came on the scene like Facebook, out of nowhere.

Cut to 2017 and there is no new kid on the block, no rebel, nobody rewriting the rules or taking chances like FOX did in those days. There are just four networks. Even the big one, American Idol is now making the parallel leap across networks, which isn’t that big of a leap. Because the audience identifies with American Idol as the brand, not the network.

Cable TV channels such as Nat-Geo have created more brand identity than the big broadcast networks. Speaking at Variety’s Massive Summit, “Genius” Producer Ron Howard commented on this brand affinity. “It’s the story linked to the (Nat-Geo) platform, which sends another kind of message, whereas in the past it’s always been the story that drives everything, and that’s not necessarily the case now.” Meaning, Howard is allowing the platform (Nat-Geo) to inform this project, challenging him and the the story in important ways. This is exactly what we do for brands like Carnival and this is what is missing from the big networks.

Talking with major network TV executives today, I’m able to get them excited about some of the things that we’re doing on cruise ships. We’re doing Virtual Cast Extension, Virtual Set Extension and we’re using videogame technology to create the next generation of immersive entertainment at sea. One network TV executive I recently spoke with said “Robb, why aren’t we we doing any of these things on our shows?” I laughed and said, “Because I just told you about them.”

Producing and directing Virtual Cast Extension™  – Carnival’s top-rated “Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures”, Los Angeles, 2016

Making memories and stimulating emotions – Carnival’s top-rated entertainment: “Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures”, Carnival Vista, 2016

Creating the future at Carnival’s brand-new 44,500-foot creative development facility – Carnival Horizon creative development meeting, Carnival Studios, 2017

But it’s the cruise line industry that’s on the rise with Millennials and Gen-X, while the broadcasting industry is seeing double-digit declines in viewership. The reason seems simple. One industry has been carefully and thoughtfully finding new ways to create the future for their brands, while the other keeps-on doing things the same old way.

Stimulated-Inc.’s new pilot program for brands is called Brand Entertainment Accelerator. Feel free to reach out for information. robb@stimulated-inc.com +1-818-853-9000.

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MAKING LIVE PERFORMANCE TAKE FLIGHT

BEST PRACTICES FOR MIND-BLOWING CONVERGED REALITY™.

By Robb Wagner

wings

Converged Reality™ is cutting-edge narrative made by merging live performance with technology such as LED screens. You’ll see it on broadcast events like “America’s Got Talent”, at concert tours and in digital creator space.

For Carnival Cruise Lines we use Converged Reality™ to simulate interactivity between the live in-person performers onstage and the LED screens that are part of the scenic design. Featured here, “Epic Rock”, is an award winning live stage production we created with Carnival.

THERE ARE 5 KEY STAGES IN THE PROCESS.

STAGE 1. CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT.
STAGE 2. PIPELINE DEVELOPMENT.
STAGE 3. LIVE ACTION WORKSHOP.
STAGE 4. MEDIA DEVELOPMENT.
STAGE 5. LIVE INTEGRATION.

STAGE 1. Your process will begin with Creative Development. What is the big idea and how can you merge technology with live performance to capture the imagination? The final deliverable of your creative development process should be a strong storyboard that shows as much detail as possible. A best practice is going one step further to create an animatic, but you shouldn’t do that until after you’ve completed the next stage. Here’s why.

STAGE 2. Figuring out the entire pipeline before you begin making any assets is more than a best practice. It is mission critical and there’s a lot to figure out. You need to make sure your frame the rates are correct, you have to worry about your final LED pixel pitch, latency, scaling, media deliverable specs and any limitations of the media display systems including the screens. The danger in not figuring out your pipeline is, you can go through the whole motion of the process and if you have overlooked one small detail, that’s enough to bring down the project.

STAGE 3. With your Creative and Pipeline Development complete you’re ready to record a precise reference of what the live, in-person performance will look like. The Live Action Workshop is where the exact movements of the live, in-person performance are choreographed, rehearsed and captured. There are a handful of technologies you can use to capture the data, including mo-cap. A simple way is just using a video camera.

EVEN WITH THE SIMPLEST TECHNOLOGY THERE ARE PITFALLS YOU NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR.

A best practice is making sure the frame rates of everything you do match the final media delivery system. This should include your music, camera recordings and media renders. If any of these get off you can find yourself in deep trouble down the line. Even the difference between 29.97 and 30 FPS is enough to cause major problems.

media-development

STAGE 4. When your Live Action Workshop is done you can move ahead to Media Development. By using the captured workshop data as a precise reference for timing and positioning, you can track the movements of the live in-person performance on a timeline and design the media elements to match those movements exactly.

TOTAL CONTROL OF THE PROCESS IS REQUIRED TO DEVELOP THE MEDIA WITH PRECISION AND CONFIDENCE.

Even the smallest oversight can throw your project off track. Once your elements don’t sync up properly it will be painfully difficult if not impossible to recover.

live-integration
STAGE 5. The final stage is Live Integration, which in live entertainment means the final product. For Carnival it’s the live event where the in-person performers appear on stage along with the LED screens. The media elements, the display technology and the live performance all converge to form the final picture.

IF YOU DO THIS WORK WELL THE AUDIENCE WILL SEE IT AS ONE-BIG-IMPOSSIBLE-PICTURE AND YOU’LL BLOW THEM AWAY.

The video below offers a glimpse into the making of “Epic Rock”.

Molding & Breaking Process Videos

Case Study: Carnival Cruise Line


CONVERGED REALITY – Above See how a dancer commands a body of water with his movements onboard a Carnival cruise ship.


VIRTUAL CAST EXTENSION – Above See how 100 virtual performers to Carnival Cruise Line’s LED screens.


CONVERGED REALITY – Above See how Carnival takes its guests breath away.


VIRTUAL CAST EXTENSION – Above See Single Ladies multiplied in Carnival’s LED screens.

Below Only 4 of the dancers in the photo below are live on Carnival’s stage. The rest are virtual in an LED screen.


VIRTUAL CAST EXTENSION – Above See Carnival award winning stage production, “Epic Rock”.


Above Only 5 performers in the video above are live on Carnival’s stage. The rest are virtual in an LED screen.

 

What the heck is an adhoc cohort?

Why The Adhoc Cohort™ Is One Key To Innovating Content

By Robb Wagner

Over the course of the past 14 years I’ve been working in the broadcast, film, concert, digital, technology and cruise line industries in parallel. In this series I’m sharing my inside knowledge about bringing top people from disparate industries together to make magic.

At Stimulated-Inc., Adhoc Cohorts let us innovate content for great partners like Carnival Cruise Line. Customer satisfaction and critical acclaim are just two examples of the value this creates for Carnival.

Driving repeat business with the world’s largest cruise line. “Celestial Strings” onboard Carnival Horizon 2018.

The Adhoc Cohort™ is SEP™ (standard experimental procedure) at Stimulated-Inc. Because when ‘best-in-class’ people from disparate industries are brought together to make something new – magic happens.

Case Study #1: Carnival Horizon

In Stimulated-Inc.’s latest entertainment collaboration with Carnival Cruise Line and Director Paul Roberts (One Direction, Sam Smith, X Factor), we reimagined LED screens as a flying bumble bee view that would transcend surreal landscapes. We carefully considered this idea through the lens of Carnival’s guests, envisioning endless time-travel through a fantasy incarnation of the four seasons. We imagined seamless interactivity between live performance and digital content, every photon inciting an emotion. Our dream for Carnival’s guests was bigger than letting them just go ‘to’ surreal destinations, but deeper ‘into’ them instead, in a 40 minute fantasy journey.

How? Who? Impossible? A lesson learned from Michael Jackson. When people said “It can’t be done”, he said, “That’s why we have to do it.”

Enter the need for the adhoc cohort.

The bumble bee POV inspired us to R&D video game technology during our Phase One. We deep-dove with the experts and explored a theory that adding video game creative development and technology to our strategy was worth exploring. We successfully experimented. But this was only one piece of the experiment. We also found reasons to draw from other industries such as feature film for its VFX innovation, and live-events for its big-format motion graphics innovation. We sought-out and brought together top global talent from each of these industries and molded them with ourselves into an Adhoc Cohort.

This is when things get exciting. When great people are pushed out of their comfort zone great things tend to happen.  It often takes a beat-or two-or three, for the individuals in the Adhoc Cohort to figure out what the heck we’re trying to do and how they’re possibly going to help. They start-off thinking we’re crazy. But there’s always that ‘a-ha’ moment when “You mean I’m not doing the same thing I did yesterday?” ignites a spark, and the work goes crazy.

Carnival Cruise Line’s “Celestial Strings” exceeded even the greatest of expectations.

“The theater’s LED screens provide not only a background but interact with the players becoming performers in their own right.” – Beyond Ships

The art of the Adhoc Cohort takes years to master. They take a sixth sense to bring together, require specialized project management, and are unwieldy without specialized workflows, procedures and tools.  Adhoc Cohorts are global so they work 24/7, a blessing and a curse. All the extra effort we put into Adhoc Cohorts is worth it to us, because nothing is more satisfying than exceeding expectations for great partners like Carnival Cruise Line and their guests.

“The audience had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to this sophisticated programming.” – Beyond Ships

Feel free to email me if you want to know more. -Robb Wagner

Molding & Breaking

PHASE 1

MOLD

  1. Learn everything we can about you, your goals and your audience.
  2. Bring together an adhoc cohort of experts.
  3. Deep dive with experts and mold your project.
  4. Present recommendations & options.
  5. Agree on direction.
  6. Agree on budget & schedule ranges.

 

PHASE 2

PLAN

  1. Grow the adhoc cohort.
  2. Lock creative direction.
  3. Make detailed roadmaps.
  4. Program Stimulated.Works.
  5. Close loops on all questions.

 

PHASE 3

EXECUTE

  1. Create the project assets.
  2. Integrate assets into the final product.
  3. Rehearse & refine.
  4. Modify assets as required.
  5. Sign off on the final product.
  6. Go live.

 

PHASE 4

BREAK

  1. Archive project assets.
  2. Break the mold.

FREELANCE SYSTEMIZED

STIMULATED.WORKS. BETTER THAN ORDINARY FREELANCE. GUARANTEED.

“A unique, smart and very effective way of creating great content.”
– Dan Hadley, Production Designer, Foo Fighters

“The secret weapon my clients use to tap into the global workforce of design & animation talent.”
– Joel Pilger, Creative Business Consultant, RevThink

FREELANCE  REVOLUTIONIZED

Five years ago Stimulated-Inc. set out to revolutionize a way to let the world’s best freelance artists give us their best work.  The experiment worked better than planned.

“I imagined a system that would let the world’s best freelance artists bid to work on our jobs. I imagined a system that would let the world’s best freelance artists give us their best work. For the past five years Stimulated.Works has exceeded my wildest expectations. I’m willing to bet it will do the same for other companies who try it.”
– Robb Wagner, Founder, Stimulated-Inc.

FREELANCE  VALUIZED

OVERSIGHT
Get the assurance that comes with job supervision.

SUPPORT
Access Project Managers & Producers online & on phone.

KNOWLEDGE
Attain the knowledge that will let the world’s best freelance artists give you their best work.

TECHNOLOGY
Gain access to the required technology that lets artists give you their best work.

WORKFLOW
Follow a reliable roadmap to successful execution every time.

SIMPLICITY
Enjoy an on-demand system that simplifies your daily activities.

POWER
Master the art of getting the best work from the world’s best freelance artists.

FOR ABOUT THE SAME COST AS ORDINARY FREELANCE.

FREELANCE  GUARANTEED

SATISFACTION GUARANTEE
If you are not satisfied with a final product pay what you feel the work is worth.

OPT OUT PROTECTION
If you are not satisfied with a final product opt out for a percentage.

Call 818-853-9000 x1

Choose a date & time for a call to find out more

EXPERIENCE THE BEAUTY OF GLOBAL COLLABORATION

STIMULATED.WORKS ANIMATION STUDIO

Stimulated.Works™ is an animation studio that looks at global collaboration differently than firms look at the outsourcing of production.

When we considered the role of global collaboration in our company, we made long-term investments to develop collaborative capabilities. We redesigned our company to increase the effectiveness of these efforts.

We go beyond simple wage arbitrage, asking partners to contribute knowledge and skills with a focus on innovation.

Here’s what people in different industries are saying…

“A unique, smart and very effective way of creating great content.”
– Dan Hadley, Production Designer, Foo Fighters

“Their animation make our reels sizzle.”
– Tim Bock, SVP Unscripted & Alternative, Global Road Entertainment

“The secret weapon my clients use to tap into the global workforce of animation talent.”
– Joel Pilger, Creative Business Consultant, RevThink

See for yourself

Call us today 818.853.9000 X1