Thea Blog

18 September 2020

Thea Awards Digital Case Studies report - Session 4: Connected Immersion

Thea Awards Digital Case Studies are presented by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), the global nonprofit membership association for the creators of compelling experiences and places. The case studies sessions explore and celebrate the recipients of TEA's prestigious, annual Thea Awards. Click for more info about Thea Awards Digital Case Studies and how to buy tickets. #TEAtheas #TEAdigital

We have now reached the midpoint of the seven sessions or blocks of Thea Awards Digital Case Studies. The series continues through early November 2020. One ticket buys the full package, and each session becomes available on-demand immediately after the initial presentation, so it is possible to experience the full series by purchasing a ticket at any time during the run. Each session is followed by live Q&A with the presenters (which is recorded and also becomes available on-demand) as well as networking mixers. The virtual meeting space is available 24/7 for ticketholders to meet and network informally at any time or to review the recorded sessions. TICKETS/MORE INFO      

Report for TEA by Judith Rubin

"The new language of storytelling is about surprise - you’re having the guest make the transition
for you in part," said Luc Mayrand of WDI as moderator of Thea Awards Digital Case Studies,
Block 4: Connected Immersion, first presented on Sept. 17, 2020 and now available on-demand.

The next Thea Awards Digital Case Studies sessions (Blocks 5, 6 & 7) will be:



Report on TEA Thea Awards Case Studies 2020 - Block 4: Connected Immersion

The three projects featured in this case study session - Poverty Encounter, Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience, and The Google Assistant Ride at CES - are all part of the slate of 26th annual TEA Thea Awards recipients, with each jointly presented by the project owner and a member or members of the creative team. The moderator was Luc Mayrand of Walt Disney Imagineering

The Connected Immersion category was added to the Thea Awards in 2017, recognizing that tremendous advances in technology, social behavior and connectivity are reinventing our notion of storytelling and the possibilities of guest experience.


Poverty Encounter, Children’s Hunger Fund, Sylmar, CA, USA - Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Connected Immersion on a Limited Budget

Poverty Encounter


The Poverty Encounter team created a 90-minute, guided walk-through immersive experience with the purpose of educating children and their parents about the millions of children living in extreme poverty around the world. Guests explore a series of environments representing scenes of extreme poverty in Guatemala, Haiti, Nepal and Romania. At the end of the tour, guests have the opportunity to engage in a concrete activity, such as packing bags of food to help feed a family of four.

More photos here


Building on the success of Poverty Encounter, Dave Phillips of the Childrens Hunger Fund said
that the nonprofit is in the process of developing virtual tours and more online content as well as
helping create curriculum for educators, and the team is in the early stages of creating another tour
to complement the first one, in Dallas. He said, "The big takeaway for me was how important
the human element is." Michael Vanderhorst of IDF Studio Scenery talked about practical storytelling
challengessuch as finding the right, fire-retardant materials to simulate a garbage dump,
and cutting a bus into sections in order to get it into the building.


Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience, London, England - Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Connected Immersion

This feature-length, walk-through experience effectively combines physical and virtual environments with live performance, guest interaction and effects to an unprecedented extent, keeping the audience engaged for 110 minutes. This novel and highly ambitious re-imagining of the classic story pushes past previous limits into the future of seamless multimedia storytelling. It is outstanding beyond its many technical achievements, in particular its sheer ambition and duration.

See more photos and screenshots here


"We dared to do something different something that hadn’t been done before - and people reward you for it.
It’s a great privilege. Take that risk. People are looking for new and different experiences. 
It’s a fantastic way of making a living," said Andrew McGuinness of Ellipsis Entertainment. He noted
that the experience is designed for small groups pulsed through "so we’re very positive
about being able to adapt to a post-covid world," and that the group is producing a new experience
to open beneath the tower of London, themed on the historic 1605 gunpowder plot  to blow up Parliament. 
Carl Guyenette's presentation began with a whirlwind summary of the 2-hour adventure
which includes experiencing the annihilation of England, being captured by aliens,
taking refuge underground and traveling to Mars - in addition to bar breaks where guests can mingle
and collect their thoughts.


The Google Assistant Ride, 2019 CES Trade Show, Las Vegas, NV, USA - Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Connected Immersion

The Google Assistant Ride at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas

It's no small task to punch through the clutter at CES. Google's challenge was to create an experience where audience members left the ride understanding how Google Assistant can help navigate life’s twists and turns. Their concept worked, and the CNBC survey of CES proclaimed it “The most impressive experience ever seen at any trade show.” From a TEA perspective, this achievement signals a gateway into a previously untapped market and expands the realm of possibiilities.


More photos! Click here


"We wrote a story, we composed a song, we engineered character animatronics, we built a facility.
All of it had to come together in the ride. We had to do it in 12 weeks. And it included an entire first floor
experience that had to get designed, and a preshow and post show experience. None of this felt possible
at all," said Google's Anne Kelly, who took the team on a "two-day crash course" to Disneyland.
Her colleague, Marcelo Alba, said, "Being ourselves was one of the most important things
we could do. We brought a little bit of analog feel to a very digital environment. It had to be uniquely us -
everything had to feel uniquely ours. It had to have a self-referential feel, the winks and nods we talk about
at Google marketing - being OK being yourself, actually owning that,
knowing what that is and living up to it."


See all speakers, sponsors and production credits for TEA Thea Awards Digital Case Studies


Production Credits for TEA Corporate Sponsors

  • Joe Fox, Alcorn McBride - Technical Manager
  • Ian McDaniel, Good Theory Studios - Associate Technical Manager
  • Dave Martin, DemoDave Production - Sponsorship Video Production
  • Chris Crowe, VCI Event Technology - Producer
  • Jeff Killian, VCI Event Technology - Editor
  • Nick Davies, VCI Event Technology - Editor
  • Dave DaCosta, VCI Event Technology - Technical Director
  • Jack Byers, VCI Event Technology - Event Technology Engineer
  • Becky Moore, VCI Event Technology - Event Technology Engineer

TEA Production Staff

  • Jennie Nevin - COO & Executive Producer
  • Tammie Richards - Director of Events
  • Erica Schwehr - Director of Operations, Art Direction
  • Judy Rubin - PR, Publications & Social Media
  • Christine Mack - Associate Event Producer, Help Desk
  • Christy Nakada - Marketing Associate, Help Desk
  • Alexa Esparza - Member Services, Help Desk


Posted by Judith Rubin



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