The application of creative design technology continues to make extraordinary inroads not only through the fundamental practices of architecture and media entertainment, but in virtually every exhibit and attraction now within Roto’s project pipeline. “Creative design technology” refers to the interrelated suite of digital tools for delivering 3D rendered simulation and VFX, mostly in real time, using engines like Unreal and Unity, as well as their various workflow assets and applications. Far from driving Roto projects deeper into the virtual space, these innovations dramatically expand our opportunities to create genuine human connections with our clients and their visitors in the built environment.
Electronic or digital interactives have long been part of the tradition in museums and aquariums, although historically not always what resonates most with visitors. With the overwhelming prevalence of digital applications at home, work, and school, the last thing many audiences hope to find in an exhibit gallery are more touchscreens. However, Roto’s innovations with creative design technology are far more appealing due to their immersive and supersensory qualities.
Take one of our recent installations, the “Digital Reef” installed in 2022 at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. This 36-foot-wide by 18-foot-tall projection environment presents viewers with a glorious high-fidelity recreation of a healthy coral reef, complete with 12 kinds of corals and more than 20 species of fish, sharks, and crustaceans. By design, it is not superior to a real coral reef aquarium exhibit, which Roto also designs to world-class standards, but instead offers an extension to first-hand experiences with authentic living collections.
While visitors cannot touch the fish in a live ocean tank, they have total control over what animals populate the Digital Reef. They pick the species, determine their color and markings, and can even alter their movements once “released” inside the digital world. For a similar application at the Science Museum of Virginia, visitors can even get experience building the computer “code” that programs these looks and behaviors while being inspired by the real thing nearby.
The Roto team responsible for such productions hail from top game studios and related backgrounds, with polished expertise in modeling and environments, visual effects, motion graphics, software development, and interactive engineering, as well as in-house AV and custom hardware engineering and assembly. This “triple threat” of art, software, and hardware integration is what enables Roto to rapidly iterate new concepts based on previous successful models for highly-reliable turnkey solutions without sacrificing leading edge experimentation.
In the near future, Roto will be creating even more 3D real-time content for museum and aquarium projects, using new methods of storytelling and interpretation. Whether a wholesale replacement of classic “Fish ID” labels done with mesmerizing looping animations of high-resolution models, or amazing immersive supersensory installations requiring dozens of projectors in deeply moving and fully interactive adventures, the future of creative design technology at Roto is boundless.