beluga-chariot-090412In 1861, eleven year old Sarah Putnam wrote in her diary about witnessing one of the first public shows featuring a trained beluga whale: “I went again to the Aquarial Gardens and there we saw the Whale being driven by a girl. She was in a boat and the Whale was fastened to the boat by a pair of rains [sic], and a collar, which was fastened round his neck. The men had to chase him before they could put on the collar.”

More than 160 years later, SeaWorld San Antonio’s show Azul features belugas dancing with high divers and synchronized swimmers.  In Orlando and San Diego, the beluga live in “the wild” next to a research base in the Wild Arctic. At Chimelong’s white whale stadium, a giant curved screen above a rocky set can portray everything from the night sky to a closeup of the performers.

img_6981Over time, different ways are sought to interpret the same subject.  When technology is needed, as at Chimelong, it supplements the way a technology savvy audience perceives the world, creating a connection between the subject and viewer.  Art, as in Azul, can achieve the same outcome.  And sometimes, what’s needed is an overall suspension of disbelief – an acceptance that we have actually traveled into the subject’s natural realm.  Technology, art, and story (or in a number of cases, backstory) when combined successfully, create an emotional connection between the show, exhibit, or attraction and the patron.  They become important tools in updating perception as societal mores change over time.  With advances in technology and increased debate over keeping animals in captivity for entertainment, children two generations from now might very well be experiencing the beluga through advanced robotics, interactive virtual reality, and gamification.

This week, leaders in the themed entertainment design field will be meeting at the Ringling Museum of Art and other campuses of Florida State University in Sarasota for the 2014 edition of SATE — Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, Experience — to discuss the latest trends in these fields and their cross-integration in the successful development of new experiential activities and attractions.

So why did I start off with the Boston Aquarial Gardens in 1861?  Barnum, who had been involved with the business from its inception in the 1850’s due to a strange chain of events involving the bankruptcy of his American Museum in New York, had gained full ownership of the Aquarial Gardens by the time of Sarah Putnam’s visit.  The Gardens had begun a transition away from being a science oriented venue to a showman’s paradise.  Trained non-marine animals were brought into the building and heavily showcased.  Magicians performed shows.  And aboriginals from South America performed.  Just like a century later, native Americans would perform at Disneyland and after that Polynesians at a Cultural Center living history museum in Hawaii.  Just like local craftspeople showcase their skills at Silver Dollar City and Japanese artisans spin candy sculptures at Disney’s EPCOT.

Everything began with Barnum.  Dolphin Tales at the Georgia Aquarium owes as much to Barnum and that beluga swimming around the central pool as it does SeaWorld.

In 1875, Barnum financed P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome, which in 1882 merged with the Cooper and Bailey Circus to form Barnum & Bailey.  In 1907, the Barnum & Bailey Circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers, who continued to operate it separately from their own circus.  Eventually, in 1919, the two were merged into Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey.  In 1967, the Feld family purchased the circus.  And as Kenneth Feld, the CEO of Feld Entertainment, is headlining SATE, there’s one connection.

J2_caAnother is the grounds itself.  John Ringling, one of the five Ringling Brothers, began construction on his $1.5 million ($21 million by today’s standards adjusted for inflation) Sarasota mansion in 1924.  That mansion and its grounds eventually became the centerpiece of the Museum.  In 1927, John Ringling made Sarasota the winter home for his circus.  In 1948, a museum of circus artifacts was added, which is still a major feature of the museum.

J3 Day-2-Pt-2_045So who’s who at SATE?

Chairing the Storytelling segment of the SATE design conference, Oct 2-3 in Sarasota, FL, Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group announced speakers and sessions:

“A Conversation with Kenneth Feld,” in which Phil Hettema interviews the CEO of Feld Entertainment Inc., will headline the conference on Oct 2

Orchestrating Desire: Using Story to Create Compelling Experiences – Raul Fernandez of Brainwave ThoughtProducts

The New Crossroads of Storytelling, Design, and Personal Technology – Denise Chapman Weston of WhiteWater West

About the SATE ’14 Storytelling speakers

Denise Chapman Weston
Owner & Creator of Cool Inventions, Apptivations
Director of Imagination, Whitewater West
Denise Chapman Weston is a professional Playologist. Since the age of seven, she has been inventing magical experiences and bringing them to life. She co-wrote three books on play and has a career in creating interactive experiences and toys. Chapman co-owns over 45 patents on family attractions, toys, and technology. MagiQuest, a live adventure game is one of her “actual-reality” accomplishments. Slideboarding, a mash of Guitar Hero and waterpark slides is her most recent invention as a partner at Whitewater West. The Memory Machine is her first transmedia novel using digital devices to tell a story. She lives in Rhode Island with her three children and a home filled with imaginative steampunk characters of her creation.

Raul Fernandez
CEO, Brainwave ThoughtProducts, Inc.
Raul Fernandez has written, designed, or provided creative direction for interactive theme park attractions around the globe for over 20 years. Amongst his favorites are the Thea Award-honored Enchanted Tales with Belle and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold at DisneyQuest; Monsters Inc’s Laugh Floor, Stitch Encounter (both Paris and Hong Kong), Magic Words With Mickey (Magic Kingdom’s talking Mickey character greeting), and Turtle Talk with Crush (especially the one in Tokyo DisneySea). He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and an MFA from USC Cinema School.

Kenneth Feld
Chairman and CEO, Feld Entertainment Inc.
“Our only limits are our imaginations, and I want our audiences to reconnect to that part of them that makes each one of us unique and powerful,” says Kenneth Feld. Kenneth was a sophomore at Boston University when his father, entertainment impresario Irvin Feld, purchased Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® in 1967 and celebrated that feat by staging a signing ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome. After earning his degree in business management in 1970, Kenneth began what he calls his “graduate education” by working side by side with his father in all facets of the company to learn the live entertainment industry. After Irvin passed away in 1984, Kenneth assumed the role of CEO, and Feld Entertainment has grown exponentially under his watch. Today Feld Entertainment is still a family-owned and operated company with performances appearing in more than 75 countries. Kenneth is the second generation of the family in the business and he has been joined by his three daughters, Nicole, Alana and Juliette, who represent the third generation of the family with the company.

Phil Hettema
President & Creative Executive, The Hettema Group
Phil Hettema has directed the design and production of numerous theme park rides and shows, cultural attractions and museum exhibits over 35+ years. The Hettema Group is known for attractions that maximize guest experience through innovative storytelling, compelling technology and a commitment to emotional resonance. Recent projects include The One World Observatory, currently under construction at the new World Trade Center in New York City, the High Roller observation wheel for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, “Dragons Wild Shooting” at Lotte World, South Korea and the USA pavilion at Yeosu Expo 2012. Previously, Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for 14 years. He began his career as a designer at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Chairing the Architecture segment of TEA’s SATE conference, Oct 2-3 at FSU, Al Cross of PGAV Destinations announced sessions & speakers.

Emotion & Architecture
Architect, historian, theorist & philosopher Dr. Timothy Parker will discuss the myriad ways architects compel emotional response out of physical space.

Light & Feeling
Pioneers of lighting design Zack Zanolli (Fisher Marantz Stone) and Abbey Rosen Holmes (NYXdesign) lead a discussion on the psychological dynamic in moments and places shaped primarily by light.

The Psychology of Place
Panel discussion focused on the deeper societal and cultural meaning behind our structures. Speakers to include Jeff M. Sugar, RLA, ITEC Entertainment Corporation.

Meet the speakers

Timothy Parker
Assistant Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture and Art
School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University, Vermont
Dr. Parker’s primary area of specialty is the interpretation of modern religious architecture. He is co­-editor and contributor for the recently published Sanctioning Modernism:Architecture and the Making of Postwar Identities. Having received several substantial fellowships and awards, including the Carter Manny Award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, he has presented his research broadly, from community settings to international professional conferences.

Zack Zanolli IES USA829 LEED AP
Associate Principal
Fisher Marantz Stone
Zack began as a theatrical lighting designer before joining the award winning architectural lighting design firm, Fisher Marantz Stone in 1984. In 1990 he became the Lighting Director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and was responsible for over two hundred exhibits over thirteen years. In 2003, Zack returned to FMS to apply his unique expertise to such projects as the Gettysburg Visitors Center, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, and the 9/11 National Memorial and Museum in New York City.

Abigail Rosen Holmes
NYXdesign
Abigail Rosen Holmes works internationally, creating lighting and video design for the concert touring, television, architecture and corporate events industries. Abigail has designed international concert tour lighting for many of the most iconic and critically acclaimed artists. Architectural projects include the High Roller Observation Wheel for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas. Abbey previously worked at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Jeff M. Sugar, RLA
Director of Planning
ITEC Entertainment Corporation
Jeff Sugar’s talent in crafting creative design solutions for unique projects has earned him a reputation for exceeding each client’s expectations. His ability to blend practical design ideas with complex, one-of-a-kind visions enables Jeff to consistently achieve high level results. Whether it is a traditional Landscape Architectural project, resort wide master planning or detailed area development design; Jeff uses his strong experience in project management skills to insure that all design details are fully realized throughout every phase of the project. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning.

Al Cross
Vice President, PGAV Destinations
Al Cross continues to create designs in a wide variety of building and project types. His work includes Chimelong’s Hengqin Ocean Kingdom near Macau, China as well as Thea award recipients Georgia Aquarium (2007) and Discovery Cove (2001). Al received his Master of Architecture in 1979 from Washington University in St. Louis before becoming a Licensed Architect in 1982. Al is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Themed Entertainment Association.

Chairing the Technology segment of TEA’s SATE conference, Oct 2-3 at Florida State University, Mk Haley of Walt Disney Imagineering and FSU announced sessions & speakers.

Tech me out to the Ballgame
Mark Francis will moderate a panel on technology and guest engagement in sports venues. Prof Francis teaches The Business of Sports at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and is a sports management consultant. Panelists will include Johnny Miller of BambooEngine, Matthew Chaka Bainbridge Esq. of Bainbridge Sports Management, Bill Walsh of the Tampa Bay Rays, Daren Dulac of Extreme Networks and Larry Blocker of Miami Marlins.

From Vegas to Theme Parks
Tommy Bridges of ATI, Stephan Villet of Smart Monkeys and Eric Cantrell of Medialon will address how newer AV and show control technologies seen in Las Vegas nightclubs and media installations can be applied to theme parks. Panel moderator: Martin Palicki of InPark Magazine.

Educational Models
Peter Weishar, Dean of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre & Dance at Florida State University (FSU) will lead a showcase of new themed entertainment curricula at FSU and other colleges. Speakers include Shirley Saldamarco of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), and James Oliverio of the Digital Worlds Institute, University of Florida.

Prof. Mark Francis, MBA, MA
UCLA Anderson School of Management Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports (MEMES)
A life-long educator, sports enthusiast and high-performance coach, Mark is a specialist in the areas of Sports Management & Marketing with significant interests in Fan Experience & Engagement, Brand Management, Marketing, Business Development, Law and the exciting field of Social Media Marketing. In addition to his teaching role at UCLA he also serves as a Sports Marketing Consulant for BaAM Productions, a major player in sports experience design and project management.

Johnny Miller
Founder of BambooEngine.com
Bamboo is an audience engagement tool that helps teams drive both ticket and merchandise sales year round. Bamboo recruits, engages and rewards fans within a game environment for generating referrals. We leverage game mechanics combined with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ to keep people engaged- and when they refer their friends we reward them. Bamboo has developed successful marketing referral marketing programs for Nestle, FOX and Pepsi. Johnny produced for ABC Sports, NBC Sportsworld, ESPN, TBS Sports, BBC, Telemontecarlo and HBO, Olympics, America’s Cup, Monday Night Football, Superbowl, and MLB All-Star Games.

Matthew Chaka Bainbridge Esq.
President, Bainbridge Sports Management
In the sports industry for 10 years, mostly in contractual representation of Athletes; started in Cayman Islands, now based in Miami. Involved in all aspects of a client’s career: Financial Advisory, Real Estate, Social Media, Marketing, Brand Recognition, Legal work. Represented athletes in the X-games, Rugby, Lacrosse, Baseball, Ice Hockey, Cricket, Winter and Summer Olympic Games. Involved in negotiation of over $20 million in endorsements and appearances along with contracts, with such companies as Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Pizza Pizza, Porter Airlines. Director of BSM Charitable Organization with the mission of Changing Children’s Lives through sports and education. Director of BSM Conferences designed to assist graduates with job placements as well as current industry leaders to network and gain clients.

Bill Walsh
Senior Director of Business Development, Tampa Bay Rays
Bill has been with the Rays since 2007 and is involved in a number of strategic areas for the club, including capital project management, market analysis, revenue management, and technology investment. Key business development projects include leading the team’s digital and mobile strategy as well as deepening the club’s use of big data and analytics in decision making and modeling customer behavior. Prior to his work with the Rays, Bill served as Vice President of Real Estate Development for the New York City Economic Development Corporation during the Bloomberg administration, where he worked with developers and community groups on public private development projects totaling over $1 Billion in private investment.

Daren Dulac
Director Strategic Partnership Development – Sports & Entertainment Business
Extreme Networks
Extreme Networks is a leading manufacturer of High Density Wi-Fi products for Stadiums and Venues and developer of big data analytics software measuring WiFi usage patterns in public Venues. Daren’s focus is on developing strategies and partnerships around monetization of mobile digital assets through various platforms. His recent work has earned Extreme Networks the designation of Official WiFi Analytics Partner of the NFL. His other work includes key partnerships with the leading digital media rights owner in collegiate athletics and successful integration with a major carrier.

Larry Blocker
Sr. Director, Game Presentation & Events
Miami Marlins, L.P.
Larry Blocker has been working in sports marketing and more specifically in Game Presentation and Events for the past 20 years. Starting out at the University of Florida to the NBA’s Miami Heat, WNBA’s Miami Sol, American Airlines Arena to currently MLB’s Miami Marlins and the New Marlins Ballpark as well as many consulting jobs. Some of Larry’s career highlights are that he was in charge of all the game presentation for the 2006 Miami Heat’s championship run and producing all of the NBA Finals games, championship parade and championship banner raising and ring ceremony carried live on TNT. Larry was selected by the NBA numerous times to produce center court at Jam Session for NBA All Star weekend from running the East and West practice to live events on ESPN. As well as coordinating the game presentation for two FedEx Orange Bowl game and two FedEx Orange Bowl Basketball Classics. In addition, designing in every aspect the control room for New Marlins Park and was just awarded best Game Presentation at the SEAT conference in July 2014.

Tommy Bridges
Executive VP, All Things Integrated
Tommy Bridges is a 26-year veteran of the audio-visual and broadcast product industry who helped Alcorn McBride become a global powerhouse. Bridges has worked with Walt Disney Parks, Universal Studios, and many other theme parks, visitor attractions, and museums throughout the world. In 2012, he was elected to the International Board of the Themed Entertainment Association

Stephan Villet
Owner, Smart Monkeys Inc.
Stephan Villet is a leading expert in entertainment show control. His company, Smart Monkeys, is in the top tier due to his creativity and expertise in system design, and his extensive experience in major projects such as the Integrated Environmental Media System at the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX – recently open but already the recipient of multiple awards. In 2006, his work was the basis for the LDI symposium, “The Essence of Show Control.” He has presented at the SEGD conference, LDI master classes and DSE. In 2013, Villet produced and presented a seminar series, “Advanced show control concepts and designs,” in cities across the US and Europe.

Eric Cantrell
North America Sales Manager, Medialon 
Eric is a lighting, video, and show control designer/programmer with a background in theatre, specializing in interactive environmental controls for museums, themed attractions, and specialty venues. He has been with Medialon since 2008. Prior to that, he was projections operator for Wynn Las Vegas, and technical director for The Jordan Experience. He also freelances as a lighting designer on shows for various theaters in South Florida.

Martin Palicki
Editor-in-chief, InPark Magazine
Having worked in the theme park and entertainment industry throughout high school and college (Six Flags Great America, Walt Disney World, Adventureland, Rink Side Sports and Family Entertainment Center), Martin founded InPark Magazine in 2004. InPark grew to cover theme parks, waterparks, museums, world expos, specialty cinema, technology, design and more. InPark shares multiple perspectives: those of owners, operators, designers and vendors, as well as the guest experience.

Peter Weishar
Dean of College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance
Florida State University
Peter Weishar comes to FSU from the Savannah College of Art and Design’s School of Film’s Digital Media and Performing Arts, where he served as Dean since 2004. Previously, he was a full-time professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts department of Film and Television and graduated from Union College with a B.A. with honors in Studio Art in 1983. On top of his career in academia, Weishar has published three books discussing computer art and animation. He is an innovator in video and media technology and has worked for creative firms and advertising agencies.

Shirley J. Saldamarco
Carnegie Mellon ETC
Shirley Saldamarco is an entrepreneur, a producer and an educator. She worked in theatre at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, produced national programming at WQED-TV and, as President of Interactive Media Productions, produced a variety of broadcast and non-broadcast programming. She provides consulting services and serves on several professional boards, including the Themed Entertainment Association International Board of Directors, TEA NextGen Committee, Steeltown Film Factory, LEGO First Competitions, National Civil War Museum and Robot Hall of Fame. Shirley has been a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon since 1990, teaching in Drama, the Heinz School and the Entertainment Technology Center.

James C. Oliverio
Executive Director, Digital Worlds InstituteUniversity of Florida
James Oliverio is internationally known as a creative artist, researcher, educator and producer, and is a frequent keynote speaker and consultant to digital media, industry and education programs. He has served as Executive Director of the Digital Worlds Institute at the University of Florida since January 2001, with full professorships in Digital Arts & Sciences and in Music.

Mk Haley
Walt Disney Imagineering,
and Entrepreneur in Residence with Florida State University
Mk Haley is currently a Creative Program Manager with Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), having enjoyed roles across creative, technical, and operational teams since 1994 with Disney. Primarily serving WDI, Mk has also worked with Disney Corporate on company-wide collaboration initiatives, as well as emerging technologies for Television experiences with the Digital Media Teams. Mk is also faculty and the Entrepreneur in Residence for the College of Visual Arts, Theater and Dance at Florida State University in a unique partnership to bridge industry and academia in Themed Entertainment.

Chairing the Experience segment of the SATE design conference, Oct 2-3 in Sarasota, FL, Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company announced speakers and session topics:
“Legends of Frontierland” features Cory Rouse of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI)
Joe Garlington, recently retired from WDI, will address “Interactive Experiences”
“Designing Cultural Attractions” is with James Anderson and Matt Dawson of Forrec Ltd.

Cory Rouse, Creative Director
Walt Disney Imagineering, Research and Development
Cory Rouse serves as Creative Director for performance driven projects at Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development. He most recently led the Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush interactive game at the Disneyland Resort. Cory has been with WDI since 2007, and along with leading narrative experiences, has been integral to the Autonomatronics division developing new and exciting ways for Disney Parks guests to meet and interact with their favorite characters. Prior to joining WDI, Cory helped launch the G4TV television network. Cory is an accomplished improv performer, a Saturn Award winner and has contributed to Thea-awarded projects. He is a member of AGVA, the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Musicians and performs bluegrass with The Dustbowl Cavaliers.

Joe Garlington
VP, Walt Disney Imagineering Interactive Studio (Retired)
At WDI, Joe Garlington was creative lead for interactive projects. He also led visioning for Epcot and partnered with WDI R&D. Projects include: Test Track 2.0 at Epcot; Kid’s Clubs, Interactive Dinner Theater, Disney cruise ships; Turtle Talk with Crush; The Sum of All Thrills; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Toy Story Midway Mania games; Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor; Stitch Encounter; and DisneyQuest. Garlington was a co-founder of Art & Technology, Inc., a pioneering effects company whose clients included the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, San Diego Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, Bush Gardens, Six Flags, Universal Studios and Harrah’s Automobile Museum. See Park World Magazine’s exclusive pre-SATE interview with Joe Garlington.

James Anderson
Lead Creative Director, Forrec Ltd.
James is Forrec’s ‘Story-Teller-in-Chief,’ responsible for developing the creative concepts and stories that bring client needs and directions to life in an imaginative and captivating manner. An architect by training, James is adept at ensuring that story lines encompass every aspect of a project, from the master plan down to the smallest graphic detail. Many international clients, including LEGO, Nickelodeon and Universal, have trusted him to translate their strong brands into successful projects. He has lived overseas for the construction review stage on two major developments, LEGOLAND Deutschland and the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

Matt Dawson
Director Museums and Science Centres, Forrec Ltd.
Since earning a Master of Architecture at Princeton University, Matt has worked in the museum field as a designer, as a consultant, and as a senior museum manager. An experienced creative director and team leader, Matt’s visionary design approach brings collections to life, so as to create compelling visitor experiences that are locally relevant and globally acclaimed. For five years prior to joining Forrec, Matt worked in senior museum positions in a succession of three major projects: the opening of the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the opening of the new Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and the expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Adam Bezark
Creative Director, The Bezark Company
Adam Bezark is an award-winning writer and director who combines a wide variety of media and technologies to produce startling new entertainment. His experience ranges from theme park rides and attractions, to film and video, museum exhibits, live shows and special events. He has worked with, and developed material for an impressive roster of celebrity talent, including Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron and John Lasseter.

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So really, what do all these experts in Storytelling, Architecture, Technology, and Entertainment have in common with Barnum.  He understood the importance of making things fun, of creating a unique atmosphere, a “big show.”  Barnum studied everything he could and learned from others.  He spent over a year studying why the Aquarial Gardens was able to keep that beluga in 1861 alive for over so long when his other belugas passed away within a few months at his American Museum. He spent time with the experts, listening, asking questions.  And SATE presents that same opportunity for those in the themed design industry.  A chance to talk and listen to experts in a diverse array of fields.

Barnum understood that everything was important to consider, that he needed to understand both sides of the coin.  Which is why he’s been quoted as saying both “The public is wiser than many imagine” and “There’s a seat for every ass and an ass for every seat.”

In his books he wrote:

“The road to learning is a royal one; the road that enables the student to expand his intellect and add every day to his stock of knowledge, until, in the pleasant process of intellectual growth, he is able to solve the most profound problems, to count the stars, to analyze every atom of the globe, and to measure the firmament this is a regal highway, and it is the only road worth travelling.”

and

“But however mysterious is nature, however ignorant the doctor, however imperfect the present state of physical science, the patronage and the success of quacks and quackeries are infinitely more wonderful than those of honest and laborious men of science and their careful experiments.”

Barnum understood that science/technology and showmanship are of equal importance.  As do those attending SATE.