Commentary: The Greatness Of 4D Storytelling

by Frank Martin

Stories can be created and crafted for many different reasons and purposes. Sometimes storytellers seek to create an experience. In these instances, it helps not just to have the story exist as a flat representation of the medium. It might expand beyond the screen or the page to include audio or other multimedia facets. So far, the culmination of this idea is what producers called “4D technology” — a fancy way of saying that the theater in which a film is playing is rigged with live action or real-world elements to take the story off of the screen and into the audience’s world.

Many have tried to accomplish experiences like this, but perhaps no venue does it better than Disney Parks. They have several attractions utilizing this concept, one of which is the fantastic Tough to be a Bug show, based on the Pixar film A Bug’s Life. It’s so intense, in fact, that the show offers multiple warnings for viewers who are squeamish. The plot of the short film is relatively inconsequential. What matters is that the attraction uses a wide range of different features to keep the audience guessing as to what will come next. Beyond the simple 3D film, the theater is rigged with air blowers, water sprayers, and a host of animatronics and puppets that creates a fully rounded experience from beginning to end.

Of course, this won’t be the end-state for storytellers attempting to create a real-word show. As technology advances, creators will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible through storytelling while creating a full-fledged experience with their work. This might include VR or even enhanced sensory systems. It’s up to the engineers of the world to design it and then the storytellers of the world to utilize it. Whatever it may be though, it’s sure to be a boon for audiences around the world.

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