TEA Connect Blog

01 July 2016

TEA Member Spotlight: Jayson Raitt, Quantum Creative Studios

Every building, park, attraction, and venue is more than just architecture or a destination; each should tell a story. Experiences and environments must not only fulfill a functional and physical pre-requisite, but also touch guests emotionally and leave a lasting impression. -- Jayson Raitt, Principal Experience Producer/Storyteller, Quantum Creative Studios.

Jayson Raitt's company Quantum Creative Studios, a member of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), was a valued sponsor of last November's TEA International Mixer that was a key part of the TEA presence at the annual 2015 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. TEA expresses heartfelt thanks to all the TEA member companies whose dedication and support enable our industry to move forward with TEA and TEA members in a leadership role. 

Like many creatives in themed entertainment, Jayson Raitt found his way to the industry via theatre, and there are strong elements of that background in the work his company does today. Cruise ships form a significant clientele. The company is headquartered in Maplewood, New Jersey (USA).

 

How did you get your start in the industry? 

I was always fascinated with amusements and shows. Growing up in Michigan, I frequented Boblo, Cedar Point, and Kings Island – and every carnival that came close to town. My grandmother lived in Florida, so I also spent time at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT during the parks’ early years. And while I never pursued architecture or engineering, I “built” dark rides in the basement, amusement parks out of Lego, and haunted houses in the garage for the neighborhood kids (complete with my mother’s spaghetti and meatballs as brains).

My youthful storytelling experience included creating home movies on Betamax in the backyard, and later on, plays and musicals in high school and at University of Michigan. I studied film producing in graduate school at UCLA. I spent many years working in film and television in Los Angeles for Disney and Sony before defecting to theatre producing. After seven years honing my skills at the Pasadena Playhouse in California, I moved to New York City to produce Broadway (becoming a Tony-nominated producer), Off-Broadway, and Regional theatre.

My experience in live entertainment led to themed entertainment. Quantum designs and creates experiences, environments and attractions for theme parks, cruise ships, casinos, retail centers, venues, televised appearances, corporations, Broadway and the theatrical stage.

Most recently I have produced nighttime spectaculars and complete park-wide lighting for Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America; major press events for Princess Cruises; and Forever Cunard, a light and effects spectacular, from the decks of Queen Mary 2 for spectators in New York Harbor/Lower Manhattan in celebration of Cunard Line’s 175th Anniversary. In a unique partnership with Princess Cruises, I am developing new musicals with creative partner Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell). These shows, developed exclusively for Princess, will feature creative teams made up of top theatre writers, songwriters, designers, and performers.

 

Share a favorite project “war story” with us.

Last year, the venerable Cunard Line was looking for a unique way to commemorate their 175th anniversary as their flagship Queen Mary 2 sailed into its US home port. That evening, a spectacular light and music show, designed by Quantum, illuminated New York harbor and the sky above, bringing viewers on a fantastic journey through Cunard’s history and celebrating a bright future. The show, viewed by spectators gathered in Battery Park, featured 50 moving light fixtures installed along the ship’s promenade deck.

To ensure safe operations, the various entities with which our team collaborated included US and Canadian Customs, the Federal Aviation Administration (which shut down the airspace over the Hudson River for one half hour), the City of New York, the US Coast Guard, and the New York Harbormaster. We also interfaced with Cunard’s UK team to develop specific marine plans detailing the exact location of Queen Mary 2 in New York harbor for ideal viewing. Other details included complex scheduling and installation (during a regular operational cruise), as well as developing custom power distribution systems and cabling to safely power and operate the 50 fixtures aboard Queen Mary 2.

But perhaps the most unique challenges Quantum faced on this project had to do with show control. With the ship’s position located a half-mile into the harbor from the viewing location at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, a solution was needed to ensure that both the lighting and the musical soundtrack on Queen Mary 2 as well as in Battery Park triggered at precisely the same moment. To address this issue, Quantum devised and configured a GPS time clock with custom written software. The clock, when enabled, sent a trigger to each of the control consoles located both on Queen Mary 2 as well as in Battery Park. The results were fantastic - and simultaneous as required. 

 

Tell us about a recent project.

Quantum Creative Studios has worked closely with client Mall of America over the past few years on installations and experiences at the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. In addition to designing a number of holiday light spectaculars for their Universe of Light shows, Quantum also designed attraction effects for the new Shredder’s Mutant Masher revolution ride. Most recently, Quantum designed and programmed elaborately themed park-wide practical lighting generated from lampposts and similar ground level fixtures. All bulbs were replaced by Ketra wirelessly controlled LED color-changing lights with an accompanying control system that now operates individual lights, zones of lights, or all fixture lights… and all within existing park wiring and power. Time triggers optimize the intensity, color, tone, and mood of different areas of the park at different times of day, providing unprecedented ambiance and guest experience. Programming also incorporated the lampposts into the Universe of Light shows.

 

How did you find out about TEA and what are the rewards of being a member?

I was recruited by Traci Klainer Polimeni of Luce Group [Immediate Past President, TEA Eastern North America Division], who has been a friend for many years. We sat on a committee together for the Off-Broadway Alliance. Completely by coincidence, Kelly Easterling, my partner in Quantum Creative Studios, met Traci and began working with her and Luce Group designing lighting and systems for projects at Universal, SeaWorld, the Smithsonian, and others. I find activities such as TEA SATE Academy Days to be very rewarding… seeing amazing work up close, getting to hear about how the experiences were developed and created, and mixing with other like-minded colleagues to share, discuss, and debate.

 

Posted by Judy Rubin

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