Nate Thieme is the VP of Scenic Experiences at 3dx Scenic. What started as a scenic fabrication department for a live events company, 3dx grew when demand was generated from outside the business, notably Kings Island, where now nearly 90% of the business comes from external clients while still supporting the live events produced internally. In this interview, Nate talks about scenic design, fabricating for IP, and creating immersive environments.
“We like to say it’s like old-school craftsmanship meets new world technology.”
Designing for scenery is like putting together a puzzle. The picture of the finished project comes to life when the project coordinators and managers on the front-end deconstruct the vision of the finished project. By doing so, they can determine the internal armatures and structures that go into supporting the physical product.
A lot of back and forth open communication needs to happen to ensure that these project can come together, and oftentimes the final tweaking is done once onsite. While working on a touring piece for the movie Trolls, 3dx was tasked with creating a shipping container that had many dynamic components, including a hinge that would come up, hair that rise, and other motion elements. When the hinge did not rise as originally planned, it was determined that a piece was blocking the hinge from being able to lift. The final tweaks onsite were able to identify the issue and resolve it quickly.
Additional factors, regardless of whether the object is static or dynamic, need to be taken into consideration that are dependent on the project. For instance, size of the piece, the wind loads it will need to take, and even seismic loads if being constructed in a location such as California. With all of the structural considerations, it also needs to meet aesthetic standards so it is visually stunning as well.
Fabricating for IP
“When you talk real estate, you talk location, location, location. When you talk about IP, you talk sample, sample, sample.”
The process for working with intellectual property is the same as when there is no IP involved, but the project itself takes additional time. Because of how protective IP owners are of their brand, it requires additional meetings and input from all stakeholders in the project.
From the beginning of the project, the 3-dimensional file with the shapes and dimensions needs to be provided from the client. 3dx will then produce multiple samples that will then be distributed to the designer, the client, the owner of the IP for final approval, and one to be kept internally. Once the sample is completed and confirmed, at that point the project is treated like a recipe to ensure total consistency and transparency amongst all parties.
“The better that we can create this dimensional environment and the experience, the easier is is to transport you out of your day-to-day stressors and into something else.”
From a pencil sketch through the final deliverable, Nate shares the excitement of being able to bring immersive projects to life. To ensure minimal disruption to the client’s operation, which is often a theme park or shopping mall, much of the work is done overnight after the venue has closed. Then, the next day when guests walk in, it’s as if it effortlessly came to life.
By using architectural visuals, you can hide seams or partitions that are necessary when transporting pieces onsite. Nate shares that you use what you have, along with creativity, such as placing snow on a rooftop or using dental molding in a brick wall.
So much of the information and content we consume in our lives in 2-dimensional, whether on screens, television, or at movies, yet 3dx focuses on creating immersive, dimensional environments that let people escape the stressors of everything going on in our daily lives. The more immersive the environment, the more likely people are to a) enjoy the experience, and b) spend more money on food & beverage, retail, and ancillary experiences.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Audio and video editing by Abigail Giganan
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Branding and design by Fabiana Fonseca
- Email marketing by Sam Bercik
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