Call on the GW Group to guide and assist you through the creation of an outstanding, experiential guest experience for your museum, theme park, heritage center, science center, visitor center, themed retail, expo pavilion, FEC, planetarium or other visitor attraction. GW Group is headed by George Wiktor, who has 25 years' experience working with top companies in production and project management, on both the creative and the business side.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

George Wiktor, director of attraction management at Hero Ventures, to play a creative role developing "The Marvel Experience"

George Wiktor announced his new role as Director of Project Management at Hero Ventures, which is developing "The Marvel Experience" 4D touring attraction in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment. 

  • Read about the project in The Hollywood Reporter at this link.
  • See the official press release, below.

MARVEL AND HERO VENTURES ANNOUNCE A NEW SUPER HERO THEMED ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE

4D Motion Ride Is Centerpiece of Interactive National Tour Launching in 2014 by World Class Investor and Production Teams

August 22, 2013, Los Angeles, CA – Hero Ventures, a Los Angeles based entertainment company, announced today that it is teaming up with Marvel Entertainment to create “The Marvel Experience,” an innovative, traveling experience, featuring dozens of Marvel’s iconic Super Heroes. This attraction will appeal to a multi-generational audience and will leverage state-of-the-art interactive and multimedia technology, including a 4D motion ride and original 3D animated features, allowing fans to be a part of the action. The tour comes to life in 2014.

Founded by sports and entertainment industry entrepreneurs Rick Licht and Doug Schaer, Hero Ventures is dedicated to producing unique themed entertainment experiences. Solidifying the management team are Michael Cohl, former Live Nation Chairman and legendary live event impresario, along with his Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark co-producer and PRG founder Jeremiah “Jere” Harris, who will serve as lead producers. The team is rounded out by co-founding partner Jason Rosen.

Initial “A” round investors include Oscar winning film producer and co-owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, Steve Tisch; Roy P. Disney and Shamrock Holdings; Guess Jeans co-Founders Maurice & Paul Marciano; WWE®; Vista Equity Partners President Brian Sheth; Ross Hilton Kemper and Enlight Media, among others. In addition, Tisch, Shamrock’s Stanley Gold, Maurice Marciano, WWE’s Basil V. DeVito, Jr. and Enlight’s David B. Miller will serve alongside Licht, Schaer, Cohl and Harris on Hero Ventures Board of Directors.

The Marvel Experience is a “first-person” Super Hero adventure in which audiences step into the Marvel Universe to become a part of the story and the action. Innovative tour elements include a one-of-a-kind, traveling dome complex the size of two football fields developed exclusively by Hero Ventures. In addition to the 4D motion ride and 3D animated features, other components will include digitally projected animation, motion-comic origin stories, virtual reality and holographic simulations, original merchandise and integrated social media touch points all carefully woven into the rich narrative story line.

“Hero Ventures is developing a themed entertainment concept that we expect will be a transformative, traveling destination that will deliver to fans and families an exciting, groundbreaking and unique experience,” says Marvel’s VP of Business Development, Sean Haran.

The characters and stories of the Marvel Universe are beloved around the world by ages young and old as seen with the recent global box office records for Marvel’s The Avengers and Marvel’s Iron Man 3.

“The dynamic creative elements we’re developing are going to enable anyone to feel like a Super Hero like Spider-Man or Captain America,” says Hero Ventures’ CEO Rick Licht. “We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Marvel. Kids and adults are going to be absolutely inspired, empowered and thrilled from start to finish, with an immersive experience that is not just memorable, but unforgettable!”

Among the creative visionaries behind this $30+ million production is an elite team of creative award winners of Oscars, Emmys, CLIOs, Thea Awards and other technical and animation awards to their collective credit.

“The Marvel Universe just keeps getting hotter, as seen by the massive world-wide box office and merchandise success of their characters,” says Michael Cohl. “We can’t wait to bring our Marvel vision to life in this first-of-its-kind event.”

The law firm of Sklar Kirsh served as corporate counsel for Hero Ventures.

ABOUT HERO VENTURES
Hero Ventures, LLC develops and produces live entertainment experiences that delight and surprise consumers through innovative technology. The Company has brought together the best creative and business minds in animation, interactive technology and the live event space to create unparalleled productions to share in new and unprecedented ways with audiences around the world. For more information visit www.hero-ventures.com.

ABOUT MARVEL
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit www.marvel.com.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Multimedia producer George Wiktor to speak at IMERSA Summit Feb 14-17 in Denver

At the IMERSA 2013 Fulldome Summit in Denver (Feb 14-17), George Wiktor of The GW Group joins the panel discussion, “Playing Together under the Dome,” addressing the creative potential of digital dome cinema. Wiktor, a past president of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), is an accomplished producer of media-based attractions that employ storytelling to educate and entertain at museums, world expos and amusement parks.

Los Angeles, Calif. USA – “Digital dome cinema [aka 'fulldome'] is just about the most exciting, sophisticated and malleable medium yet for telling stories that meet the goals of institutions in a fun, compelling and contemporary way,” says George Wiktor of The GW Group, who will speak at the 2013 IMERSA Fulldome Summit in Denver, Feb 14-17. “On behalf of TEA, I'm honored to represent the themed entertainment community and participate in this dialog with IMERSA, which grew out of the planetarium community.”

Wiktor will take part in the panel discussion “Playing Together under the Dome,” which will examine how fulldome can leverage common ground between intersecting industries in digital multimedia. The discussion will be moderated by IMERSA Board member Michael Daut of Evans & Sutherland. Registration and more information on the 2013 IMERSA Summit are at www.imersa.org.

Wiktor says, “My core interest, and the message I look forward to reinforcing at the IMERSA Summit – is how theater owners can provide awesome guest experiences in the realm of places that tell stories. Dome theaters literally surround you with imagery. And now, being digital, fulldome supports elements such as audience participation, customization and multiple storylines along with great imagery. This gives us so many more ways to tell stories and create compelling guest experiences that keep audiences coming back and generate revenue, especially when combined with other elements of good attraction design.”

Joining George Wiktor and Michael Daut on the “Playing Together under the Dome” panel discussion at IMERSA Summit 2013 are Dr Jeffrey Kirsch, executive director at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center; Thomas Kraupe, director of Planetarium Hamburg and producer Jay Williams of Super 78 – participating respectively on behalf of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA), the International Planetarium Society (IPS) and the Producers Guild of America (PGA). IMERSA has, since its founding in 2008, made a point of cultivating synergy with affiliate business communities and organizations.

More about George Wiktor and The GW Group
Throughout a career that began in the 1980s, working with such design companies as BRC Imagination Arts, The Hettema Group and now his own firm, The GW Group, George Wiktor has operated somewhere on the bleeding edge of experiential storytelling - mostly for world expos, museums and corporate visitor centers – learning to combine media, technology and architecture in ever-more seamless ways that are today taken for granted as a benchmark of quality attractions. He served as president of the Themed Entertainment Association, and continues to play an advisory role within TEA.


His award-honored projects include: Barnas Brannstasjon [Children’s Fire Station] at Kongeparken, Norway (Thea Award, 2012); “Beyond All Boundaries,” National World War II Museum, New Orleans (Thea Award, 2010); Volkswagen Glaserne Manufaktur, Dresden (Thea Award, 2002); and “World Song” for the USA Pavilion at Seville Expo 92.


About IMERSA and the 2013 Fulldome Summit in Denver, Feb 14-17
IMERSA - Immersive Media, Entertainment, Research, Science & Arts - is an international non-profit professional organization that celebrates and promotes immersive and fulldome media for education and entertainment in planetariums, schools, museums, cinemas, events and attractions. Mandated to raise the profile and professionalism of its members, IMERSA bridges many disciplines including researchers, artists and technicians. IMERSA is a driver and nexus for communication, collaboration, experimentation, education and promotion of digital immersive media in a variety of formats and functions. Visit www.imersa.org

"Innovations in Immersive Storytelling" is the theme of the IMERSA Fulldome Summit, 14-17 February at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The event is attended by operators, content creators and distributors, producers and vendors serving planetariums, giant screen cinema and themed attractions - all converging markets because of digital cinema. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will be the setting for the annual IMERSA Summit, preceded by two and a half days of fulldome (digital dome video) professional development sessions.

Areas of focus will include sound design and audio, cross-platforming from fulldome to giant screen and vice versa, designing a fulldome curriculum in schools, scripting and story for fulldome shows, and setting up fulldome theaters as multipurpose spaces. There will be a series of curated screenings, a Fulldome Innovation Salon for networking, product demonstrations and content sharing and a Creative Video Lab. More information: www.imersa.org/summit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

George Wiktor of The GW Group to speak at SATE 2012 Experience Design conference 19-21 at Disneyland Paris


SATE is the annual Experience Design conference of the Themed Entertainment Association. 19-21 September at Disneyland Paris, SATE 2012 addresses "Cultural diversity in Themed Entertainment: Obstacle or Opportunity?" Yves Pépin & Joe Rohde co-chair.

At the SATE 2012 conference, George Wiktor will lead Segment 4, the Participatory Wrapup on Friday, Sept 21 in the afternoon:

Participatory Wrap-up / Réunion de synthèse:
Moderator: George Wiktor, The GW Group

Join an open discussion centered on the ideas, trends and questions that have emerged from the previous SATE2012 sessions, and how those concepts can be taken forward into the future of the industry. The conversation will be facilitated by TEA past president George Wiktor of the GW Group. Throughout the conference, George will be working to capture important thoughts and remarks, which will be shared on the TEA_SATE Twitter feed to help inform the conversation.

Partagez votre point de vue en participant aux échanges menées autour des principales idées, tendances et questions posées tout au long des sessions de SATE 2012. Au cours de la séance de synthèse, nous identifierons ons les concepts qui émergent et évaluons leur potentiel et leur capacité à changer les paramètres de notre secteur dans l’avenir. Cet exercice de synthèse sera animé par George Viktor du groupe GW, un des anciens présidents de TEA. Pour cette édition, Georges s’attachera à recueillir les idées et remarques innovantes. Il les partagera ensuite avec nous via le TEA_SATE Twitter, afin de nourrir nos propres réflexions et nous permettre de faire un travail de synthèse transversal.

More information about SATE 2012, including registration, program and complete speaker list, is available at this link.

About George Wiktor
George Wiktor is a creative producer with over twenty five years experience in developing and producing places that entertain, inform and thrill the public.

While navigating the convergence of theater, architecture and media, George has been instrumental in the creation of world-class projects such as museums, corporate information centers, world’s fair pavilions and theme park attractions.

Prior to founding the GW Group, George was senior producer at The Hettema Group, an experiential design and production firm. While at THG his projects included the Russian Jewish Museum in Moscow, Russia; The National WWII Museum Theater presentation in New Orleans and several major projects in the Middle East. And for 18 years prior to that, George was a principal at BRC Imagination Arts where he lead the creative development and production of major projects for entertainment companies, museums and corporations including Disney, Warner Bros, Volkswagen, Toshiba and NASA.

George Wiktor is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and also a past President of the TEA, an international organization representing the creators of attractions, places and events.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Barnas Brannstasjon named for a Thea Award!

Thea Awards logo
The Themed Entertainment Association announced the recipients of the 18th Annual Thea Awards today from the TEA booth at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. Among the awardees: Barnas Brannstasjon (Children's Fire Station) at Kongeparken, Norway. GW Group provided special effects production and concept development consultation to this attraction. We offer our sincere congratulations to Haakon Lund, owner of Kongeparken and everyone on the team who helped make this a unique and successful guest experience. The Thea Award is a huge industry honor - it's considered the "Oscar" of themed entertainment.

Here's what the Thea Awards Nominating Committee had to say about Barnas Brannstasjon: "This adorable, free-standing attraction combines playful fun with a serious and important educational experience. Although created on a limited budget, the artistry and craftsmanship of Barnas Brannstasjon is both excellent and charming on a world class level. And yet it conveys deadly serious information about fire safety with fantasy play in a way that treats children with respect, by giving them adult responsibility. The experience transforms its young participants into empowered leaders and authorities on fire safety. And in the process, they had a ton of fun. This experience, combining serious education with world-class entertainment, exemplifies the highest standards of themed entertainment."

Read more about it in the press release from the GW Group at this link.

To find out about all the Thea Awards projects, see the TEA press release at this link.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Participation Culture: What I Learned from Burning Man

Photos: George Wiktor and Burning Man. (c) all rights reserved.
George Wiktor discusses Burning Man in the context of the themed entertainment industry and the evolving Participation Culture:

"Seen first-hand, Burning Man turns out to be a highly structured, well-organized, law abiding, civil society: A society that encourages self expression and self reliance in an incredibly inhospitable physical environment. Commercial activity is prohibited and, refreshingly, there are no corporate sponsors. The place operates on gifting with no expectation of return.

"And most importantly, participation is the key to the success of this event because participation is a form of gifting. Everyone is focused on adding to the success of everyone else’s experience. Whether it be creating an art installation, volunteering in the café, building a lounge in your camp, or providing entertainment for everyone, all the participants add to the overall experience.

Photos: George Wiktor and Burning Man. (c) all rights reserved.
"Who knows where the participation will lead?"

Read the complete article on the InPark Editors' Blog.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Park World magazine's "smokin' hot" coverage of Barnas Brannstasjon at Norway's Kongeparken

The September 2011 issue of Park World magazine includes an article about the new Barnas Brannstasjon (Children's Fire Station) attraction that opened this year at Kongeparken in Stavanger, Norway and was very successful in its first season.

From the article:
"We used five years of research on this project," reveals Kongeparken owner Haakon Lund. "...we wanted to make the next generation of immersive experience, in line with our park's six values: learn, play, share, explore, magic and excitement."

The GW Group is proud to have been part of this project as consultant and special effects producer.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GW Group produces special effects for Kongeparken's new children's attraction

Los Angeles, USA, 17 August 2011 – The GW Group produced a complement of special effects for Barnas Brannstasjon (Children’s Fire Station), the newest attraction at regional theme park Kongeparken, in Stavanger, Norway. Barnas Brannstasjon immerses children ages 4-9 in meaningful role-play while teaching principles of fire safety and teamwork in an authentic setting. The attraction opened for the 2011 season. It was completed on a budget of $2.75 million.
The simulated fire
“I was very pleased when Haakon Lund, proprietor of Kongeparken, asked me to contribute to this project,” says GW Group principal George Wiktor, who has been a story design consultant for Kongeparken and for Lund since the park opened about 15 years ago. “Haakon understands the family market. He has a clever and interesting way of creating attractions that blend entertainment, education and storytelling, and has built a successful business drawing about 350,000 annual visits. With Barnas Brannstasjon, Kongeparken has again set a brilliant example of how much can be accomplished on a modest budget with a resourceful team that cares about quality.”
Young firefighting team

Sliding down the pole at the firehouse
The 20-minute experience begins as a home fire safety briefing that quickly becomes an adventure when a fire emergency call is received and the young park visitors are enlisted to respond. They run across the bridge to the fire station, don firefighter jackets, slide down the pole and then board bright red trucks that rush them to the scene of a simulated fire. There, the children work as a team to pump the water, man the hoses and extinguish the fire. Their success earns them certificates of accomplishment and a home fire safety checklist (which can be submitted later for a gift from the attraction sponsor, a local insurance company). 

Young firefighter in training

Putting on their firefighter jackets
Parents watch as their children take on their roles with gusto. “For the parents it’s powerful – even cathartic - to observe their children’s earnest participation,” says Wiktor. “The kids are very focused on the ‘grown-up’ tasks at hand.” Barnas Brannstasjon accommodates 30 children at a time.

GW Group’s main role was to design and deliver the lighting, smoke, fire and water effects that help make Barnas Brannstasjon feel authentic, and to provide a control system that would be robust and simple for park staff to operate and maintain. It was a cross-continental endeavor: GW Group designed the effects and control package in the US with creative technical partners Visual Terrain (Lisa Green and Steve Young), Kool Fog (Brian Rowe), Sigma Services and Alcorn McBride (Tommy Bridges). Wiktor traveled to Kongeparken to manage installation and commissioning of the system. The $2.75 million budget included everything except land costs; Kongeparken used its in-house resources for facility design, construction, fabrication, AV and purchasing, with Lund as project manager and Wiktor providing some additional consulting.

Taking their jobs seriously

Attraction exterior
About Kongeparken
Kongeparken (www.kongeparken.no) is a seasonal, family-owned and -operated theme park  in Stavanger, Norway. Among the 50-odd attractions at Kongeparken are a chocolate factory, numerous rides and shows, and 4 different themed areas. The park’s signature characters are Bamsekongen, the king (“konge”), Brumle the mischievous bear and Brumle’s girlfriend Brumleline. Kongeparken re-opens in winter for a popular series of Christmas events for families.