As an AV/IT director or media manager, you might be wondering why you should be concerned with what’s churning in the minds of the creative team. Rather than finding out six months down the road by way of a request to fulfill an “order” for digital signage, by having a seat at the drawing table early on, you can help enable the ultimate experience.
We are all participating in the invention of a new creative medium, said Joseph Bocchiaro, principal consultant at technology consulting firm, The Sextant Group. “It is visual and aural, but I would not call it audiovisual,” he said. Of particular interest is how artists are incorporating their various media expertise into new, wholly unique things. “Our challenge is working with the creative people, the architects, the software people, and the technology to pull it all together.”
|Catalyst, Viacom’s internal branding, marketing, & creative agency, engaged with Slanted Studios, a creative studio specializing in animation & interactive installations, & Hard Work Party, a strategic technology partner, to help make history come to life.|
Granted, most organizations don’t have a talent pool of animators and producers on staff, or an endless warehouse of content to access. But even media giants call on the specialized expertise of outside creative and technology teams to help develop a new digital experience.
In 2016, Viacom, the entertainment company that owns, among others, the brands MTV, VH1, BET, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TV Land, Spike, and Paramount Pictures celebrated 45 years of entertainment. To help mark the milestone, a permanent interactive installation, “The History of Viacom,” was created for the visitor’s center at its headquarters in New York City’s Times Square.
|Viacom’s Catalyst team did the design, animation, and content development. Slanted Studios wrote custom software that runs the integrated installation.|
The History of Viacom digital installation “is more of a giant diorama,” said Slanted Studios’ founder and executive creative director, Michelle Higa Fox. The 84-inch UHD transparent LCD, HYPEBOX by German manufacturer MMT was custom ordered. Within the installation are 20 custom-built dioramas, each with their own 3D-printed scenes incased within a bespoke shelving and LED system.
|The History of Viacom installation is like a multidimensional puzzle that keeps the audience engaged in the process of discovery.|
Conceptualizing and mapping the user experience was a collaborative effort between the internal and external teams. “We needed to figure out what the ‘attract mode’ should look like, or what are we going to do to catch someone’s eye,” said Fox. “What is the initial experience touching it? What does it feel like if you only get to spend 10 to 15 seconds with the piece, and what are the rewards for someone who stays for 30 seconds or more with the piece?”
The ‘attract mode’ has a call to action, so when a visitor presses the screen they dive into the timeline interface. Six different loops were created for the ‘attract mode;’ they play randomly so that the content will feel fresh to people who work on the floor, as well as to visitors seeing it for the first time.
Video content and 3D-printed scenes showcase cultural key moments from the last 45 years of Viacom. “A visitor to the History of Viacom installation can touch the screen and scroll through all of these moments in time,” described Fox. “Then there are certain ‘magic moments’ when you touch them, the screen animates, the screen falls away and reveals these dioramas behind the screen that are real objects. It is kind of this mixed reality that sets it apart from a traditional screen-based touch experience.”
Viacom’s Catalyst team did the design, animation, and content development, and Slanted Studios wrote the custom software that runs the integrated installation.
|Video content & 3D-printed scenes showcase cultural key moments from the last 45 years of Viacom.|
The History of Viacom installation is particularly good at keeping the audience engaged. “Catalyst designed the magic moments that peek out to be evenly distributed through the decades,” said Fox. “It rewards people who stay with the piece. Once you figure out this is possible, it really incentivizes people to stay with it, and go through every year because they want to find the boxes.”
The Catalyst team was really smart in the way they designed the user interface, noted Fox. “The dioramas can only be used once, but the areas around the dioramas are used multiple times in multiple different decades. It does a really good job making if feel like there’s endless amount of content hiding behind the screen to discover.”
Having 45 years of amazing video content might seem like a windfall for digital signage content creators. “I give total props to the Catalyst team,” Fox said. “It was a monster of a job to figure out how to both pare-down and organize all of that content—and it’s a three- or four-dimensional puzzle of how to actually place it in space.” It was a very engaging problem solving exercise for the team.