batwin + robin’s immersive storytelling goes big at the First Americans Museum

Layered screens from batwin + robin's projection mapping installation at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma.

The Origins Theater features the genesis stories of the Pawnee, Caddo, Euchee, and Otoe-Missouria tribes. The top two images include stunning artwork by Raven Halfmoon (Caddo Nation), Robin “Bihku” Williams (Caddo, Wichita) and Randy and Rykelle Kemp (Choctaw/Msvkoke-Creek/Euchee/Navajo).

By Lindsay Morris

Posted on 05-25-2021

Whether it’s beautifully curated projection mapping exhibits, thought-provoking 3D installations, or mind-blowing light shows, technology is helping to push the boundaries of experience design. batwin + robin (b+r) productions is a creative studio that has made a practice of combining tech, design, and storytelling to create immersive experiences. Their work is meticulous, both in execution and development.

We recently spoke with the team at batwin + robin to hear about the role Adobe Stock plays in the experiences they create, and how they’ve used their skills and Adobe tools to create a truly immersive educational experience at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.

Don’t rush a good thing

From theater productions like Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy — to environments like Humanity on Holland America Line cruise ships — to events like the Earth’s Call concert, b+r has redefined what immersive can be. The b+r team’s approach is to create multisensory experiences that blend with the architecture of a space, pull the audience in and hold their attention.

“We’re inspired by our clients and their stories, and we use that inspiration to craft memorable experiences,” said Megan Gargagliano, principal/creative director at b+r. “We focus first on the story and thoughtfully select the technologies that best serve the content.”

Creating visuals for the large-scale mediums they work with can take months (if not years) to get right. The b+r team is not shy about taking the time they need to create so that the storytelling never suffers.

One place, many nations

The First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

One of b+r’s latest installations can be found in Oklahoma City at First Americans Museum (FAM), opening on September 18th 2021. FAM’s focus is on educating the public about the collective histories of 39 distinctive First American Nations in what is now the state of Oklahoma. FAM’s exhibitions and installations will be curated to showcase the cultural diversity, history, and resilience of these First Americans.

The b+r team was tasked with crafting four large-scale immersive experiences within the museum. The Origins Theater contains 10 minutes of content featuring four Origin stories for the Pawnee, Yuchi, Caddo, and Otoe-Missouria tribes. Each story expresses the cultural concepts of that tribe and their own Genesis as people from the stars, sky, water, and earth.

Though each tribe has a unique narrative, these four were selected to share brief introductions to diverse cultural philosophies, an important message in the exhibitions. This was a tremendous team effort between FAM and the tribal communities represented, including the writers, narrators, musicians, and visual artists, who are tribal members.

b+r was tasked with uniting all of these voices to create one singular experience that inherently expresses foundational values and creates a framework for visitors to carry with them as they experience the rest of the museum.

Crafting origin stories

Stock media and commissioned art work together to transform the theater into a transportative visual experience.

The b+r team used illustrations from contributors from the different tribes and layered these with Adobe Stock Video assets to create a visual language for each origin story. The producers’ skills with compositing really came into play as they had to design visuals for a projection surface that is nearly 9600 pixels wide and 1200 pixels high.

The screen in the FAM theater is almost 80 feet wide by 10 feet high and is laid out on a 240° axis. As with many of their other installations, the b+r team didn’t design on-site, so they had to go the extra mile to get a sense of the space. “What we do with any complicated or large-scale visual format is create a 3D rendering or previsualization to help us understand how that video content will look once we’re actually in the space,” Gargagliano said.

The previsualizations give the team a better understanding of the visual space so they can design an experience that will encourage the audience to shift their attention to varying portions of the screen at different times in a way that feels natural, comfortable, and engaging.

Pre-visualization is an essential step in better understanding how the media will display on site.

The visuals created by the b+r team contain anywhere from two to twenty stock images blended with the different artists’ original work and other assets, compositing to create a whole new scene. A multitude of techniques like blurring, repetition and blending, transforms the original stock assets and have it fit this 9,600-pixel wide canvas. “I think something that is so exciting to think about is how stock can become unrecognizable from the original source,” says Gargagliano, “the source material is being transformed by color, setting and movement.”

The best part of creating all of this with the usual b+r process, is that the work could be done completely remotely and without needing much specialty equipment. “We worked with hefty local drives, iMacs and even older Apple Mac Pros,” Gargagliano said, “most of our work was done in Adobe After Effects and some light Cinema 4D work.

A powerful story

As exciting as it is to learn about how the Origins installation was made, it’s even more exciting to think about how powerful it will be in the museum itself. The visual storytelling will be combined with soundscapes featuring First American musicians and music, creating a multisensory experience for every museum visitor.

If you’re planning to visit Oklahoma City any time after September 2021, be sure to visit the First Americans Museum. Not only will you get to learn about Oklahoma’s 39 tribal Nations, but you’ll get to enjoy one of batwin + robin’s brilliant immersive installations, created with the help of Adobe Stock Video.

Hear more from batwin + robin and learn what’s new in the world of video by watching this on-demand webinar.

Topics: Customer Stories, Insights & Inspiration, Media & Entertainment, Creative Cloud, Creativity

Products: Creative Cloud, After Effects, Stock,