St. Louis to Singapore, Sochi to Beijing - JRA's 2014 Year In Design (So Far)

July 31, 2014

2014 has been a great year for JRA thus far.  We witnessed openings of our museum and theme park projects from Sochi to Singapore, and we celebrated the Thea Award for The Mind Museum.  We also enjoyed attending one of the biggest and best IAAPA Asian Attractions Expos ever.

We invite you to read about all this and more in our latest "JRA Studio View". Inside, you can learn about our projects, meet some of our team, and read Keith James' thoughts on the future of the burgeoning China leisure market (many thanks to our friends at Blooloop for publishing this piece on their Bemusement blog this week!).

Just click on the image below to access the newsletter. We'd like to think these announcements are just a taste of great things to come this year, so we hope you'll continue to follow us right here on the blog, on our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages and at @JRAtweets.  Coming soon on JRA + blog, photos from the Dubai launch of Angry Birds Universe and a look at how theatre and themed entertainment really aren't that different.  Thanks for reading!


Tags: Asia , Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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From Ghosts to Shoes to Railway Stations - A Brief History of Projection Mapping

July 24, 2014

As we wrote last week, The Grand Hall Experience at St. Louis’ Union Station incorporates projection mapping to transform an historic venue.  So, we at JRA + blog thought it fitting to step back in time to chronicle the history and mechanics of this increasingly used technology. 

First of all, we need to define what projection mapping (previously known as “video mapping” and “spatial augmented reality”) actually is and how it works.  Simply put, the technology creates projection surfaces from three-dimensional objects.  First, the artist creates a exact virtual replica of the projected surface (be it a building, a car, a bridge, or even just a shoe).  Once the images and video for the projection are chosen, the model is “masked” with the chosen media to map out exactly where and in what sequence the images will be projected onto the surface.   The correct distance between the projector and the object is determined, and the projector orientation, position and lenses are specified.  Finally, it’s showtime!

According to PhD candidate and Projection Mapping Central curator, Brett Jones, the history of projection mapping dates back to 1969.  As with so many breakthroughs in our industry, the new technology sprang from Disney, as the “Grimm Grinning Ghosts” and the disembodied Madame Leota sent chills down the spines of guests to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.  To accomplish the effect, singers were filmed with 16 mm film, and then the images were projected onto busts of their faces, coordinated with the ghosts’ singing.

Flash forward to 1980, and the film installation "Displacements", by Michael Niemark.  As you can tell by the video, Niemark makes it appear as though people are actually walking through the living room and interacting with the objects.  Eleven years later, Disney raises the bar again, securing the first patent for projection mapping, which described the technology as projecting an image onto “a contoured, three-dimensional object.”  General Electric would follow in 1994 with a patent of its own.

Projection mapping received “academic legitimacy” in 1998, when University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill professors Ramesh Raskar, Greg Welch et al published a paper entitled The Office of the Future.   The document foretold the ubiquity of projection technology, rendering anyone capable of experiencing “spatial augmented reality” right from their desks.  According to Jones, the UNC paper predicted that “we could Skype with life-size versions of our office mates, [via] life-size virtual 3D models.”  Throughout the next decade, a variety of scientists would all make their mark in honing the technology, from specialized bulbs and lamps to moveable projectors.  As the technology developed, companies like Nokia, Samsung and BMW adopted projection mapping to advertise their products, and DJs created mapped, synced visuals to accompany their beats. 

  In the last five years, urban environments around the world have incorporated projection mapping to breathe new life into (and onto) their buildings, though mostly through temporary installations.  Since 2010, the Fete des Lumieres in Lyon, France has offered exquisite installations, blanketing its Theatre des Celestins with fanciful masks, twinkling nightscapes and colorful animated characters. In 2012, this blogger had the great pleasure of witnessing a projection mapping show on the façade of the famed Sagrada Familia during Barcelona’s annual La Merce festival.  The show, produced by Canadian multimedia company Moment Factory, exploded Gaudi’s iconic building in a kaleidoscope of color, carefully choreographing the projections to a recorded soundtrack.

One of the most successful urban projection mapping (and community building) experiments in recent years occurred just a few blocks from JRA’s home offices.  Last year, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati May Festival Chorus worked with local firm Landor to design a one-of-a-kind, 40-minute projection mapping experience against the front façade of Cincinnati Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark and local treasure.  The event, Lumenocity, came together in just six months as a way of welcoming incoming CSO conductor, Louis Langree, and was funded entirely by local corporations and foundations.  While roughly 20,000 guests were expected to attend the two free nights of performances, over 35,000 people flocked to Washington Park to witness the multi-sensory event, jamming the park and surrounding streets with awestruck revelers.  This year, to better control capacity, the CSO offered reserved (but still free) tickets via Ticketmaster.  Within 12 minutes of release, tickets were already completely sold out, and scalpers were (illegally) offering tickets for hundreds of dollars on eBay.  The overwhelming demand forced the CSO to offer tickets to its dress rehearsal and satellite locations where the spectacle could be broadcast via closed circuit TV.  Here’s a look at the last year’s blockbuster “Bolero” finale:

The Grand Hall Experience at Union Station is one of the few permanent projection mapping installations in the world (and the first of its kind in the US).  But with leaps and bounds in technology, along with a commitment to compelling storytelling, this history of projection mapping is only just beginning.


Tags: Blog N Learn

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New Grand Hall Experience Transforms St. Louis' Union Station

July 17, 2014

Passengers crowd Union Station's Grand Hall.

By 1894, St. Louis had already been known as the “Gateway to the West” for over a century.  But with the construction of the impressive new Union Station, St. Louis became a gateway to the world.  On the day it opened, Union Station was the world’s largest and busiest train station, and it required a train shed with the largest roof span in the world to accommodate its 42 tracks, which served 100,000 passengers per day.  Union Station’s Grand Hall, with its 65-foot-tall, barrel-vaulted ceiling, would embrace millions of personal stories, from the revelry of visitors celebrating St. Louis’ 1904 World’s Fair to the reunion of soldiers with their families at the end of World War II.

This iconic photograph was taken at Union Station.

But with the aviation industry literally taking flight in the 1950s and 60s, Union Station and its Grand Hall began to fall into disrepair and neglect. In 2012, Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) purchased the property and were tasked with finding unique ways to drive visitation to Union Station’s new hotel, dining, and shopping options while still maintaining the Grand Hall’s historic character.

The solution to this challenge became the largest, permanently installed, indoor immersive projection mapping experience in the US, produced by Technomedia Solutions with initial concepts provided by JRA.  Projected on the Grand Hall’s ceiling, and across the entire space, this 3D presentation is comprised of 30 vignettes, taking guests from the depths of the sea to the Sistine Chapel to Busch Stadium. The 16-projector holographic light show employs 14 high-resolution projectors, digital media servers, consolidated control, 10-channel surround audio, and an LED lighting system to elevate the space and immerse the audience in the media event. Enhancing the vivid animation and music is narration provided by television and film personalities closely connected to St. Louis, including John Goodman, Jon Hamm and Bob Costas. Because the show differs slightly with every hourly evening performance, visitors have reason to experience this kaleidoscope of images again and again.

Since it's opening on May 10, 2014, the new Grand Hall Experience has generated both valuable PR as well as an increase of over 125% in attendance to the Grand Hall.  According to LHM President and COO, Steve O’Loughlin, the Grand Hall Experience has had a profound impact on both LHM’s revitalization efforts and on the historic site as a whole: “the new Grand Hall Experience has exceeded our expectations and has instantly become one of St. Louis’ most popular attractions.”

Tags: Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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Conference World Tour 2014: Chloe James Hausfeld's Asian Adventures

July 10, 2014

Chloe James Hausfeld - Your Tour Guide Through Beijing and The Philippines

Chloe James Hausfeld - Your Tour Guide Through Beijing and The Philippines

Just a few weeks ago, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) held their annual Asian Attractions Expo in Beijing, as well as a post-show "More Fun in the Philippines Tour".  JRA Executive Assistant, Chloe James Hausfeld, graciously offered to chronicle her 12-day trip, so without further ado, here's Chloe's IAAPA Asia Travelogue:


I arrived in Beijing, late in the evening...checked into the hotel, and ordered the safest meal on the "Late Night Room Service Menu": wonton soup.  Gotta be in good shape for a long trip!

Woke up ridiculously early and unpacked.  The only good thing about jet lag on this trip was there was great TV on..."HELLO WORLD CUP!"  I barely missed a game. 

I got my bearings throughout the day and made my way over to the China National Convention Center to check on the process of the booth. Met up with "old industry friend" and former JRA team, Dawn Tong for drinks and dinner. 

Made a new friend, and decided he should come home with Ping Ping has a special spot on my desk!

Ping Ping made it home. :-)

Took an early walk through Tiananmen Square, and then an incredible tour of The Forbidden City.  It truly is an amazing place.

Tiananmen Square - I still can't decide if I'm bummed about not seeing Chairman Mao, or not??

I would have definitely been okay living here!

Got dropped back off at the Convention Center to check on the booth, which looked great!

No issues with the booth = happy Chloe

COO Dan Schultz and JRA Malaysia Director Shah Azmi arrived in the felt great to have some of the JRA family with me at last (and I got to show off my new Chinese dress!). 

Dressed and ready to go!

The Opening Ceremony was a hit, with great "giveaways" as well as phenomenal entertainment.

Opening Ceremony welcome sign

Dan lookin' good in a giveaway!

Only way to open an IAAPA event...have the Chairman start it off with a song!

To top off an extremely successful first show day, I attended the Opening Reception with "The 3 Amigos" for a few cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

My dates for the week - Dan, VP of Marketing & Business Development Shawn McCoy, and Sr. Project Director Matthew Wheeler

We were lucky to be able to enjoy a nice, relaxing dinner with fellow members of the JRA family, Art Director David Ferguson and Senior Project Manager Heather Witt.  They were in town working on the Lao Niu Discovery Museum of CNCC.


Day Two of the show started off with a successful breakfast project meeting at the hotel, followed by another busy day at the booth.  As a member of the IAAPA Young Professionals Subcommittee, I attended the YP Forum, led by Shaun McKeogh of Management Resources, and fellow subcommittee member, Doug Akers of Sentosa

Members of IAAPA's Board of Directors share their stories

The evening was filled with great events such as the TEA Party, as well as the Kingsmen's "Chill Out"...although, I don't believe it is possible to "chill out" in Beijing in June.

JRA's COO, Dan Schultz, along with TEA's Asia Board Members Shahryn Azmi of JRA, Peter Sanderson of The Sanderson Group and Chris Yoshi of AECOM

Proud to see The Mind Museum's Thea Award recognition on the reel at the TEA party

Neat sculptures at the Kingsmen event

Kingsmen welcome sign


Day Three of the Expo began with a panel presentation involving none other than our own Shawn McCoy.

"Protecting Your Intellectual Property"

Always a great speaker!

The day ended, and I had the booth packed up in record time, looking forward to a delicious dinner on the 56th floor of the Grand Hyatt.

Great view, with great people

I was then happy to spend a night on the town with former JRA team member (and Rovio's current Director of Location Based Entertainment and Development), Eric Lee.

Great to see old friends!

World Cup, and ....MUCH NEEDED REST!!  Enough said.

 I found this cutout the previous evening with Eric, but believe it is better suited for this day of events...

I enjoyed my last breakfast in Beijing, ready to head to the Philippines for the IAAPA Post Tour.  Little did I know that we would spend 4 hours sitting on the plane at the gate. When we FINALLY reached the Philippines, we were immediately taken to a warm welcome reception at Enchanted Kingdom.

We FINALLY made it!!!

Welcome sign

Best entertainers around!

The group decided that a nightcap was necessary after our journey, and were happy to find that Raffles' Longbar was open 24/7 due to the World Cup...looks like I knew where I was headed for the USA game in a few hours time. 

After watching the first half of the USA Game, I decided my neighbors probably didn't appreciate the volume levels of yells that were coming from my room.  After taking a three-minute shower, in the dark no less (figured out where the light switch was later...again, it was very early), I rushed down to catch the second half of the heartbreaking game at Raffles.  I think it's safe to say that the 7 people in the bar (including employees) thought that I had lost my mind by the 95th minute.  Needless to say, that was not how I wanted to begin my day. 


After Dan consoled me over breakfast, I was determined to begin the rest of the day on a more positive note.  What better way than to step on US soil at the breathtaking American Cemetery and War Memorial.  They are truly no words for how moving that place is. 

Walls and walls of the names of brave men


The JRA crew, Dan, Matthew and I, were thrilled for our next stop...The Mind Museum.  They really "threw out all the stops" for the IAAPA group, and we were proud to have been a part of that incredible project. 

Adorably themed table decor for lunch at The Mind Museum

Checking out the whale shark with Megan Noland

The tour continued to Bonifacio High Street, Fort Santiago and the Walled City of Itramuros. 

Fort Santiago

Making new friends

Beautiful old church


We finished our tour with a Filipino barrio fiesta filled with great food, music and dancing.

A fantastic welcome

The evening was then topped off with an outing by way of a Jeepsie with great friends! 

As if I weren't already craving American/Cincinnati food enough, they had to have a Frisch's Big Boy...think they have the IP licensing for that??


Our last day in the Philippines started with a scenic journey to the beautiful Taal Lake & Volcano in Tagaytay, Cavite.  I could have taken in that view all day. It was truly a site to behold.

I told you it was beautiful!

Can anyone say, "new profile pic"??

Couldn't leave without taking a selfie

Taking in the view

JRA family portrait

On the way back to Manila, we stopped at Zamperla Asia Pacific Inc., known as "ZAP", which is Antonio Zamperla's manufacturing company in the Philippines. 


Extremely impressive manufacturing factory, filled with wonderful people

What would a trip be like without a little ethnic shopping?  To fill that void, we were then brought to Makati City to do some shopping. Then, to end IAAPA's More Fun in the Philippines tour, we were treated to another enjoyable evening of dinner, music and dancing.  Karaoke might have been involved...

An Italian serenade with a little Filipino flare

We had a ride to the airport at 3:30 a.m. the next morning, so sleep was not a good option for me.  Therefore, I consoled the Zamperla crew while we watched Italy play in their final World Cup match. 


Dan, Matthew and I were en route home!!!  I spent the next 24 hours in cars, planes, and airport lounges, enjoying naps, food, and movies (Despicable Me 1 & 2, Memphis Belle & The Heat). 

HOME SWEET HOME...with Skyline for dinner, or course.  After all, this is Cincinnati. :)


Thanks, Chloe! Next week, we'll be making yet another new project announcement!  It's been a busy summer here at JRA...


Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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