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PlayStation 2

Los Angeles, CA

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The Playstation 2 exhibit at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles may have been one of Mauk Design's most ambitious projects to date. E3 — a three-day event for developers and retailers of computer games — was not open to the public. So only those connected to the industry got a live look at the 44,000-square-foot, multi-themed booth that was designed, constructed, exhibited and dismantled — all within a six-month time frame. Design principal Mitchell Mauk of the San Francisco firm likens the intense experience to “being shot out of a cannon.” Theming was a challenge because “the most important thing to convey to attendees was that everything was new.” The design, therefore, wasn't finalized until eight weeks before the show, when designers were told what games to feature. Mauk says, “The basic architecture had to be like an umbrella — with theater, columns and conference rooms — and then we slotted in the feature areas.” The basic umbrella pays homage to all sorts of technology coming together under a symbolic arch. One facet of this theme is the huge “Jumbotron” screen (reinforcing picture quality) that actually splits open to reveal a monitor-lined tunnel leading to a theater.

Mauk designed the project on a 3D Studio Max computer program and turned the images over to the lead fabricator, Pinnacle Exhibits (Portland, Ore). A total of 18 fabricators and subcontractors contributed to the project, including Dillon Works! (Mukilteo, Wash.), which designed and fabricated five semi-trailers of themed elements ranging from a handcrafted sculpture of a “Crash Bandicoot” character, to 5-foot-high dragon eggs. Mauk designed some 170 computer kiosks with 32-inch screens, integrating them into character environments. Some kiosks were standalone; others were built into the wall. For the new game “Legend of the Dragoon” (half-human and dragon-like characters), bas relief figures were placed in a starfield. In this fast-build scenario that didn't provide designers with a lot of context, Mauk Design learned it had specified the wrong character as “big” (meaning prominent) and had to rework the area. In this kind of scenario, Mauk laughs, “design is the litmus test.” But the design proved a hit with attendees. “The fabrication made people want to walk over and touch the dimensional scenes,” says Mauk. And, of course, they made people want to play the games. Over the three-day show, 100,000 attendees visited the booth to play the new games — and presumably to talk some business.

Client: Sony Computer Entertainment America, Park Ridge, N.J. — Andrew House, vp of marketing; Marilyn Weyant, director of creative services; Lori Chase-Nardi, special events manager Design: Mauk Design, San Francisco — Mitchell Mauk, principal; Adam Brodsley, Laurence Raines and James Pennington-Kent, design team Suppliers: Pinnacle Exhibits, Hillsboro, Ore. (signage and principal fabricator); Richanback & Associates, Millbrae, Calif. (audio/visual); Lonseal Inc., Carlson, Calif. (flooring); Chroma Copy, San Francisco (graphics); Dillion Works! Inc., Mukilteo, Wash. (3-D elements)

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