FMX 2021: Insights on AR, VR, and LBE

FMX 2021, a conference focusing on animation, visual effects, games, and immersive media, was held May 4-6, 2021. The digital event featured three case studies of interest to the licensing community: the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park land; Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix-Up, an app-centric augmented-reality, multiuser, multimedia experience with a live community element; and a free-roaming virtual-reality location tied to The World of Rulantica, an IP that got its start as a water park in Germany.

See our Trade Show page for detailed coverage of the presentations on these three initiatives. The insights are likely to be especially relevant to owners of licensed properties considering extending into tech-driven location-based entertainment (LBE), virtual reality (VR), and/or next-generation augmented reality (AR). Here are some of the key themes that cut across the trio of panels:

  • Technology is about supporting the story, not about the “wow factor.” It is often important to opt for a lower level of resolution, rendering, or other bells and whistles than the technology can accommodate. The story, the characters, the brand, and the setting dictate what level of technology makes sense. And too much technology can be overwhelming. Extensive testing is a must to determine how far to go.
  • No matter how tech-forward an immersive initiative is, a personal touch in the form of live interaction and/or community is often critical. VR can be isolating, but when integrated into location-based entertainment, that disappears. Meanwhile, live actors offer a bridge between technology and the real world, enhancing the experience immensely and bringing it to life.
  • There must be a balance between user agency and a community experience. Technology allows individuals to drive their own version of a story, whether on their phone or in a physical location. But there are boundaries to what individuals can do. For example, the actions of one should not ruin the experience for the rest of the users or affect the timing of elements of a story that must play out in real time.
  • Attention to detail is key to immersion. While looking at the big picture, it is also important to examine every detail, from sets to humor to actor behavior, and make sure it is true to the world and maintains the illusion of being in that world. That is true within a digital environment, as well as in a physical environment.
  • The challenge of describing brand-new tech-driven experiences can have an impact on marketing. Speakers noted that pitching their projects to commercial partners and fans can be difficult when a technology is entirely new, since the potential partners and fans tend to compare it to familiar experiences that are not really parallel.

Read our coverage for details about the objectives of the three IP-based ventures, how a balance was created between technology and the personal touch, how the properties were integrated into the respective projects, and more.

A reminder that the new edition of Raugust Communications’ e-newsletter comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, May 18. The Licensing Topic of the Month examines some of the changes in licensing contract terms that have come about during the pandemic, while the Datapoint research spotlight highlights recent beauty collaborations. If you do not yet subscribe to this free publication, you can do so here.

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