GDX Studios Activates Your Imagination

Original Article here by Eric Fuller:

There is a certain creative madness which allows for the idea you can transport a fictional universe into a temporary reality. This blend of artistic vision and disregard for “the rules” is how GDX Studios transforms ordinary cityscapes into worlds which only exist in fantasy. GDX allowed Forbes behind the curtain at Comic-Con San Diego to see just how they turned the entire façade of a hotel into an overscale television promotion, and the ways in which they could activate characters and stage design to bring to life scenes which hitherto existed only on screen.

For the uninitiated, Comic-Con is the O.G. festival for comic book fans, and subsequently fans of almost any storylines which interact with fictional characters. It is a convention center filled trade show open to the public and filled beyond capacity with displays and merchandise related to cartoon characters, science fiction, anime and any other item you could imagine related to characters which originated in the mind of a creative.

The convention center floor is a temporary amusement park constructed for the moment to represent at massive scale these characters, some as familiar as Darth Vader or Homer Simpson, and others which are debuting to this massive influx of collectors and fans.

Comic-Con sells out the capacity of its event annually, and tickets are in extremely high demand. However, as this is a primary marketing opportunity for the rights holders who produce television, film and products related to these characters, the exterior space surrounding the convention center for several city blocks are also overtaken with themed displays, worlds and exhibits which are open to the public.

Seth Bardake is the president of GDX studios, and the lead mischief maker. Their team of creative engineers are tasked to design and produce these sharable moments. We toured both the convention floor where their designs were in place within a Star Wars display and outside where GDX had people wearing massive “Dr. Squatch” furry backpacks filled with a branded soap giveaways walking throughout the streets nearby.

We also looked at their conversion of the Hard Rock hotel, which sat directly across the street from the convention center. It became a custom-built display for Severance, a new television series, by covering every element of the hotel’s façade to create a single unified billboard image. This process required measuring each window, and exterior element so that the design pieces applied to the exterior fit with precision. A quick look at the building registered as a cool way to promote a show. A closer look revealed the engineering puzzle which had to be solved in a way that would not interfere with the operations of a fully occupied hotel whose occupants would like to see out their windows, and not have a view of construction workers peering into their window while applying the overlay. Inside the hotel was a fully built out display for Apple + which created and broadcasts the show.

The team has built such diverse activations as Wrecked Island in the Embarcadero Marina, mobilizing dozens of Charlize Theron doubles in support of the film Atomic Blonde, creating Mr. Robot pop-ups, and even arranging for Impractical Jokers events with a baseball stadium. There is a lot you can do when your primary tool kit includes the ability to think beyond boundaries and build impermanent representations of that which does not normally exist in 3-D space.

The world of the creative and inventive is narrow. It is a place ruled by the limits of three things: physics, imagination, and budget. GDX Studios, under the leadership of Seth Bardake has a growing body of delivered work. This work is as delicate as a restaurant meal. It’s not good enough to get it right often. These activations embody the persona of characters which exist on screens and in imagination. When the fans come face to face with the living embodiments of these fictional characters, they must meet up to the expectations of their imagination. That’s a tall order. But, then again, a company which can wrap a hotel is used to working in tall space. It is a big project to marry reality with that which to date was only within the imagination of the viewer. GDX Studios continues to succeed. It will be extremely interesting to see what they do next.