Exclusive: Academy Award winners want industry creatives to revolutionise the dark ride
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Exclusive: Academy Award winners want industry creatives to revolutionise the dark ride

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Gavin and Jason Fox, creative directors for Oscar award-winning visual effects company Framestore, have said that dark ride creators must step up their game as technology and consumer expectation increases.

Speaking in the latest edition of Attractions Management, the twin brothers, who are currently working together on their own top-secret dark ride project, said that rides are “the pinnacle of creative entertainment”, but that media content being introduced into a ride simply isn’t enough to interest an ever-evolving millennial audience.

“It’s no coincidence that our entry into the theme park industry comes at a time when that world is experiencing a step change in what consumers expect from the experiences on offer,” said the pair.

“Not so long ago people were wowed simply by putting media content into the context of a ride. Physically and seamlessly moving within a creative environment was enough to create a feeling of awe. But this approach is now prolific – and its novelty is waning.”

Formed in 1986, Framestore have earned a number of accolades, winning their first Oscar in 2008 for Best Visual Effects in The Golden Compass, also winning the BAFTA equivalent that same year. The company further won an Oscar for Gravity in 2014, and Guardians of the Galaxy was nominated for both a BAFTA and an Oscar.

“As technology develops, consumer expectations simultaneously increase,” said the brothers, who Gavin and Jason joined the team as creative directors in 2014. “So audiences now expect and demand better quality from media-based attractions. It now has to be better acted, better written and better directed: and in nothing less than the Hollywood-level fidelity they are used to seeing in these worlds portrayed.”

The pair also said that, in their opinion, media rides are sometimes not given the same level of artistic importance as the movie or story they are based on, adding that rides could be “even more incredible” if more time was spent on the finer details such as scripting, acting and CGI at the creative stage.

“Last year, we attended the IAAPA Expo in Orlando and met many theme park and attractions owners and IP developers,” they said.

“We enjoyed a wonderful reception but were surprised to hear a recurring question. They asked us why an Oscar-winning company like Framestore would want to ‘come down to our level’. This suggests an undeserved lack of self-esteem within the theme park community.”

The brothers suggested that the theme park industry can sometimes undervalue itself as an art form, but that a movie coupled with a ride can a far more immersive experience, than the Hollywood big screen.

“From our perspective, working in film and trying to move an audience emotionally via screen at the end of the room is never going to be as visceral as fully immersing someone in the action and technology of a ride,” they said. “Rides are the most exhilarating storytelling medium there is."

For more from Gavin and Jason Fox, see the latest issue of Attractions Management, available now.

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Gavin and Jason Fox, creative directors for Oscar award-winning visual effects company Framestore, have said that dark ride creators must step up their game as technology and consumer expectation increases.
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