Friday, January 21, 2011

Little Mermaid at Disney Inspires 5D Design

Disney is adding a new ride based on the popular The Little Mermaid movie. The ride is called "The Little Mermaid: Airel's Undersea Adventure" and is an expansion of Disney California Adventure. The creation of a new immersive experience at Disneyland provides a nice opportunity to have students learn the process of creating a 5D immersive experience and try their hand at creating their own immersive environment.

4D spatial design and 5D experience design are not taught in most art schools where they usually stop with 2D images and 3D objects. 5D experience design means the viewer becomes part of the experience. The design is interactive and immersive. Students can learn to design spaces and experiences by applying the design process in their room, school or community.

The process begins with "Ideation" - coming up with the ideas for what kind of an immersive environment to create. Disney is doing a simulation of an underwater environment. What kind of environment would be best for your school or community? What story do you want to tell? Where would it be placed?

The next step is "Visualization" - doing lots of drawings of what the environment might look like. Disney calls this "blue skying" because at this point anything is possible and far-out ideas should be encouraged.

Then you need to get a bit more realistic and start making small models or prototypes based on the Visualization work. This step is called "Prototyping" and usually involves making small scale models using inexpensive materials.

Finally, you arrive at "Implementation" where you actually make the environment. This stage usually involves lots of people, community members, help from design experts, donations of materials, volunteer workers and everything else that goes into creating any 5D immersive experience. The success of this stage depends on how inspiring the results are from the first three stages. If the designs and prototypes are inspiring enough people will want to help make it a reality.

Click on the heading above to see a video showing all these steps in the creation of the new Little Mermaid ride at Disneyland due to open later this year.

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