21 July 2021 // News

Designing from Across the Globe

Designing from Across the Globe

全球团队协作的FEC项目设计

Innovating with an all-virtual process

通过线上工作模式打造创新设计

As featured in the July issue of Funworld Magazine

Funworld 杂志 7 月刊中的报道

By Michael Switow

撰文:Michael Switow

Late one night in December 2020, Kate Batt, Colin Cronin, and Matthew Wheeler of attraction design company JRA hopped on an urgent Zoom call with their client. China Leisure was in the midst of installing lighting inside a new family entertainment center (FEC) named Nickelodeon Playtime in Shenzhen, China.

2020年12月的一天深夜,景点设计公司JRA的工作人员Kate Batt、Colin Cronin和Matthew Wheeler突然接到了客户通过Zoom发起的紧急通话请求。中国文旅开发有限公司(CLDC)正在为于深圳筹建的家庭娱乐中心——尼克欢乐时光(Nickelodeon Playtime)安装照明设施。

With the launch date nearing, unwanted shadows were creeping into the picture. JRA’s lighting team would typically be on-site toward the end of a project like this to handle focus issues, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, travel was out of the question. Instead, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based team had to provide instructions remotely.

随着开业日的临近,照明设施却出现了一些意外问题。JRA公司的照明团队通常会驻守在这类项目的现场,处理对焦问题,直到项目结束。但受新冠疫情的影响,团队无法出行。因此,这个驻守在俄亥俄州辛辛那提市的团队不得不远程指挥操作。

“Our client literally walked around the site with a laptop, pointing the camera at problematic areas,” recounts Batt, JRA project manager. “They also described what it looked and felt like because sometimes the camera doesn’t translate colors correctly, and you can’t really see the issue due to glaring.”

JRA公司的项目经理Batt回忆道:“我们的客户真的就是托着手提电脑在现场走来走去,用摄像头对着有问题的区域。他们还要描述外观和显示效果,因为有时摄像头无法准确显示颜色,而且受眩光影响,我们无法看出存在的问题。”

“They would move the ladder 4 feet one way, climb up, and focus the fixture, while we watched remotely. If it worked, we’d move on; if not, they’d move the ladder and try again, and by the way, it was 11 p.m. our time,” adds Wheeler, senior project director at JRA.

“他们会把梯子朝一边移动1.2米左右,然后爬上去,对准有问题的设备,让我们远程查看。如果我们成功发现了此处存在的问题,那么就可以继续查看下一个问题;如果没有,他们会移动梯子,换个位置,再次尝试,而且当时我们这里已是晚上11点。”JRA公司高级项目总监Wheeler补充道。

“I was taking photos on my iPhone, then putting it in front of the laptop camera because the iPhone filter was better than the Zoom filter,” recounts China Leisure President Linda Dong. “They were actually viewing the whole thing through a camera lens, which ultimately was a plus for the marketing photography.”

中国文旅的董事长董伶回忆道:“我当时用iPhone拍照,然后在电脑摄像头前展示照片,因为iPhone的镜头比Zoom的要好。他们确实全程都通过摄像头查看问题,这样的做法最终帮助我们呈现出了精美的营销照片。”

Adjusting the lights from halfway across the globe was just one of the unusual challenges JRA faced during the design and install of Nickelodeon Playtime.

在设计和安装尼克欢乐时光的各项设施期间,隔着半个地球的距离调试灯光只是JRA面临的众多艰难挑战之一。

Nickelodeon Playtime Exterior

(Credit: JRA)(图片来源:JRA)

Closing the Distance

拉近距离

Located in shopping and leisure destination OCT Harbour, the $4.6 million project is Nickelodeon’s first branded FEC in Asia. It features four Nickelodeon brands: SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol, Dora the Explorer, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Spread across two floors, the attraction’s scale and complexity accentuated the challenge of completing it virtually.

尼克欢乐时光 (Nickelodeon Playtime) 耗资460万美元,选址于中国深圳的购物和休闲目的地—欢乐海岸,该项目是尼克儿童频道在亚洲建立的首个尼克品牌家庭娱乐中心。尼克欢乐时光引入了四大尼克儿童频道品牌:海绵宝宝、汪汪队立大功、爱探险的朵拉和忍者神龟。项目为两层楼,规模大,复杂度高,这些因素都增加了通过线上协作完成此项目的难度。

China Leisure had engaged JRA pre-pandemic, following an initial discussion at IAAPA Expo 2019. By the time the paperwork was signed, though, travel was no longer an option.

中国文旅与JRA公司早在2019年奥兰多的IAAPA博览会上便进行了初步商讨,但等到合约签署时,全球的出行已开始受限。

The attractions developer tasked JRA to produce master plans, design fully immersive galleries featuring unique play styles for each intellectual property (IP), and see the project through to completion. An undertaking of this scope would normally require at least half a dozen face-to-face meetings, possibly more, including one at each major milestone plus the project kickoff and completion.

该景点开发商委托JRA公司制定总体规划,为每个IP形象设计别具一格、趣味十足的沉浸式空间,并全程负责项目监督工作。要完成这些工作任务,通常需要在各个关键的里程碑节点、项目启动,以及结束时各召开一次面对面的会议,如此一来整个项目过程中就至少需要举行六次,甚至更多次的面对面会议。

Instead, the design house leveraged no less than 10 different video conferencing and collaboration platforms, from BlueJeans to Webex, to conduct virtual meetings with China Leisure in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, as well as Nickelodeon’s team in Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, and Beijing.

但事实上,这家设计公司却利用BlueJeans、Webex等十余种视频会议协作平台,与远在中国香港和深圳的中国文旅团队以及在奥兰多、纽约、洛杉矶和北京的尼克儿童频道团队举办了多次虚拟会议。

Despite the unprecedented nature of the job, JRA would complete the project in less than one year, on time and on budget, without a single in-person project meeting or site visit.

尽管这是一项史无前例的工作任务,但JRA公司要按照既定的时间和预算规划在一年内完成项目,而且整个过程中不会召开任何面对面的项目会议或对项目进行实地考察。

“Ironically, we ended up with more communication because we got into a new mindset. Instead of waiting for a meeting, everybody immediately reached out,” adds Cronin, senior project director at JRA.

“令我们倍感意外的是,最后我们之间的交流变多了,因为彼此都形成了一种新的思维模式。所有人都不会等到开会时再提出问题,而是会在发现问题时即刻开始联系。”JRA公司高级项目总监Cronin补充道。

Nickelodeon Playtime SpongeBob

(Credit: JRA)(图片来源:JRA)

How to Win Back Time

如何赢回时间

The time difference between China and the U.S. meant that design work could take place around the clock. China Leisure’s team members provided feedback to the plans during their workday. JRA would then deliver refinements in time for the Chinese team to start work again in the morning.

中美之间的时差意味着可以全天候不间断地开展设计工作。业主方的工作人员会在其工作时段针对计划提出相应的反馈。然后,JRA公司会及时提供修改意见,让对方能在第二天一早继续推进工作。

Cronin credits the virtual process with helping JRA meet an ambitious timeline set by their client. Initially, though, he found the “‘Brady Bunch’-style grid” of video meetings to be intimidating. Pre-pandemic, there might be three people in the room—the designer, the client, and the IP representative—but with Zoom, the attendance list could easily stretch to more than 25 people.

Cronin认为虚拟流程非常有助于JRA配合客户紧凑的时间安排。然而,一开始他却十分恐惧这种“脱线家族”式的网格状视频会议。疫情爆发前,现场开会时会议室里可能只坐着三个人:设计师、客户和IP方代表,但使用Zoom之后,与会人员可轻松增加到25人以上。

As he and his teammates adjusted to the new format, Cronin realized it works well for junior team members, who can attend a meeting to learn and stay up to date on a project, even if they aren’t required to be on the call. Sharing documents becomes increasingly seamless as well. If the latest drawings were on a colleague’s computer, for example, Cronin previously would have needed to contact the designer to ask for the files over email, then forward to the client. With video calls, his teammates could pull up a required document and directly share their screen.

在Cronin和他的团队成员适应这种全新会议形式的过程中,Cronin还发现这种形式很适合资历较浅的团队成员,即便他们无需参加项目召开的视频会议,但也可以作为与会人员了解项目的最新进展。与此同时,视频会议还让文档共享变得更加顺畅。按照以往的情况,如果最新的设计稿储存在某位设计师的电脑里,那么Cronin则需要邮件联系这位设计师索取设计稿,然后转发给客户。但现在,他只需在视频通话时,请求队友调出所需文档并直接在屏幕上共享即可。

“The virtual design process is actually quite painless,” reflects Dong, “because everything is still on paper. When construction begins, that’s when it gets trickier. There are always discrepancies between drawings and real conditions. We had to make a lot of adjustments on-site.”

董伶表示:“事实上,整个虚拟设计过程还算顺利,因为一切都还停留在图纸上。当施工开始后,问题才变得棘手起来。因为图纸和实际情况总是有出入的。我们必须在现场做出大量调整。”

Conveying a full picture of the FEC to Nickelodeon—which played an integral role through the design process—for final approval presented another opportunity for collaborating long distance. It is one thing to share photographs of an individual piece, Dong notes, but quite another to provide a comprehensive view of a 3D environment with 2D images.

尼克儿童频道团队在整个设计过程中扮演着重要的角色。中国文旅需要将尼克欢乐时光的完整设计稿传送给该团队,供其做出最终审批,而这又是一个需要开展远程协作的环节。董伶表示,分享单个作品的照片是一回事,但要借助二维图像展示三维环境的全貌则是另一回事。

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking at times,” she recalls. Before the project was completed, though, a Beijing-based representative from Nickelodeon visited Shenzhen and went through the necessary two-week quarantine in order to visit the attraction.

她回忆道:“这有时挺伤脑筋的。不过在项目竣工前,一名驻北京的尼克儿童频道代表来到了深圳,在经过了两周的隔离之后,参观了景点。”

The Future of Collaborative Design

协同设计的未来

Once travel constraints are lifted, design and production processes are unlikely to return entirely to the way they were before the pandemic, but neither will they be 100% virtual.  Like many other facets of the workplace, the most likely outcome is a hybrid.

即使出行限制取消,设计和生产流程也不太可能完全变回疫情前的模式,但也不会完全采用虚拟形式。与其他各类工作流程一样,最有可能的结果是采用混合模式。

Sharing photos and installing virtual 3D cameras on-site, for example, are a great aid to design teams.

通过虚拟网络共享照片并在现场安装虚拟3D摄像头,这些做法都对设计团队的工作大有助益。

“Even when everything goes back to normal, people should still do all this stuff,” says Cronin.

Cronin表示:“即使一切恢复正常,人们还是会继续沿用这些做法。如今每个人都了解了虚拟协作流程,今后很可能会出现更多这样的项目。”

Keeping travel costs in mind as part of design and construction budgets, some facets of a project may still be best handled in person.

设计和施工预算中其实已包含了差旅费用,所以某些项目工作还是相关人员亲自到场处理比较好。

“Once it is safe and responsible to do so, my preference would be to return to a hybrid model of virtual and in-person development work. Nothing can fully replace the true collaborative spirit of a multiday, in-person, creative charette,” says Ron Hines, senior vice president of creative development and global experience design at Nickelodeon. “Do not underestimate the time required for proper development. Not everything can be compressed into a nice, tidy one-hour video conference.”

“一旦条件许可,我能够在保障自己和他人安全的情况下前往项目现场,那么我会更倾向于采用虚拟和现场开发结合的工作模式。如果团队成员能够经常面对面的开会,共同探讨创意设计,便会形成强大的协作精神,这是无可替代的。”尼克儿童频道创意发展和全球体验设计高级副总裁Ron Hines如此说道,“不要低估按标准推进开发工作所需的时间。并非所有事项都能压缩到简短的一小时视频会议中。”

“Once travel restrictions ease, I wouldn’t want to do something completely virtual again,” agrees Dong. “There are a lot of advantages to being able to work through problems with the various project stakeholders on-site. It would definitely make my job easier.”

董伶表示赞同,她说道:“一旦出行限制放宽,我再也不想完全借助虚拟网络推进某些事项了。在现场与多方利益相关者一起探讨问题有诸多好处,这必然会使我的工作变得更轻松。”

Still, China Leisure’s next project, an FEC in Beijing, is slated to open in the fourth quarter of this year, and it is working with another international IP holder, as well as JRA. So, Dong and her team find themselves once again amid an all-virtual process.

然而,中国文旅计划于今年第四季度开启的新项目,仍是与另一个国际IP持有方以及JRA展开合作,这个项目是在北京建立一个家庭娱乐中心。因此,董伶和她的团队将再次开启全虚拟工作流程。

Michael Switow is a Singapore-based writer who covers the Asia-Pacific attractions industry for Funworld.

Michael Switow是一位居住在新加坡的作家,负责为Funworld杂志撰写亚太地区景点行业资讯。