Some New Opportunities Go Beyond Ink
While it may seem blasphemous to say this within the printing industry, some of the next great opportunities in the event and display graphics space may not involve ink. In the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview business owners who are looking at new visual opportunities that allow their customers to share their messaging in new ways, or to create mood or spectacle.
Quiet Fireworks, Big Images
Drone arrays, which consist of large fleets of light-equipped flying drones, have become increasingly common at outdoor events. Through a computerized central brain that operates all of the tiny aircraft as a single, shape-shifting unit, drone arrays can be used to provide visual branding in the night sky, provide a heightened visual experience at outdoor music festivals, and even create fireless fireworks in areas where fire danger is exceptionally high. Wide-format and event producer Bluemedia (Tempe, AZ) has presented drone light shows at numerous events including the 2022 Super Bowl, where the sky was filled with images including the NFL logo, a flying football, and tumbling stars.
Not What it Seems to Be
Projection mapping is a display technology were images including colors, patterns, and textures, are projected onto three-dimensional structures, such as buildings, and architectural features including sets for fashion shows and theatre productions. Because the projected images can include animated content, spaces can me made more active: a plain wall can be transformed into an ivy-choked cliff face explored by insects. The next moment, it can easily be transformed to simulate the sepulchral darkness of a pharaoh’s torch-lighted tomb. A3 Visual, a subsidiary of wide-format producer A3 Visual (Los Angeles, CA) added video and projection mapping to its array of events-focused services, and now uses it to create immersive experiences for galas, holiday events, and movie premieres.
A Bridge to Somewhere Else
One of the elements that has been revolutionizing the direct-mail space is the use of a printed piece to serve as one end of a bridge to a digital world – an opportunity that could easily be adapted for the wide-format space. Using QR or other features, that can link printed image to digital content, the experience of the user can then be more deeply activated by providing context, mood, entertainment, and engagement via augmented reality. From a practical standpoint, codes or other media-triggering elements are simply ink on substrate – the bread and butter of wide-format printing. Access to this opportunity, then, may be as simple as possessing a deeper understanding of what bridging from printed to virtual can provide, and conveying to customers and agencies, “we get this.”
The secret to accessing these new opportunities may not be so much in carrying them out yourself, but in knowing enough about them that you can establish strategic partnerships that meet the needs of your customers. It also entails knowing enough about them (and other opportunities) that you can help your customers “dream” with them in mind.