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EAS 2011 – Interview with Benoît Cornet, CEO of

Alterface

Update : 21:12 Published by François Mayné the 26 October 2011, Corporate.

At the Euro Attractions Show in London, we had the opportunity to talk with Benoît Cornet, CEO of Alterface, the Belgian company specialized in interactive multimedia systems with applications ranging from entertainment to educational, for amusement parks but also for museums. Combining innovation and industrial quality, Alterface has developed the Salto™ software driver, a sturdy interactive systems management tool. Born in 2001, the company is celebrating this year its tenth anniversary!

During our visit of the trade show, we were surprised to find Alterface's projects displayed in several booths... ranging from ETF Rides Systems to One World Studios, and from Preston & Barbieri to 3DBA. The reason? Alterface has developped a lot of projects in partnership with other companies, with the aim to make the best of each partners to create outsized attractions.

As a result of these collaborations, Alterface has been this season in front of the European scene by launching three major interactive attractions in France, Germany and Italy. At Futuroscope (Poitiers, France), the company delivered its largest interactive theater of its history "The Eighth Continent - The Game". At Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany), they worked on the 3-D interactive dark ride "Maus au Chocolat". Finally, they developped the interactive game play of the 3-D dark ride "Huntik" at Rainbow Magicland (Valmonte, Italy).

Benoit Cornet, in front of the 5Di at EAS 20115Di is a concept of interactive theater ''in a box''lThere are 12 different contents, including 10 in 3-DThe ''box'' can be installed on a small surface and is suitable for indoor installations, malls, FEC's, etc.This is the future design of the ''box''Customers can choice for several options including a live camera.

All these projects, among others, are born of the cooperation between several companies with complementary technologies and creative resources. As a matter of fact, it seemed logical for us to focus our interview with Benoit Cornet on this subject of partnership between companies.

NewsParcs: With your projects displayed a little bit everywhere on the show floor, it seems it's a great success for you!

Benoit Cornet: Since the beginning of our adventure, I always had the commitment to work with others. In the attractions industry, there are companies trying to remain independent but I think it's a wrong approach for business and for the market, because no one can survive like that... You can not do everything alone and the time of giant companies of more than 300 employees is now over! The industry needs flexibility, ideas, creativity ... and you can not always invent something alone! We are happy with these cooperations and I am even surprised that Alterface is present in so many booths here at EAS 2011!

NP: How was the year 2011 for Alterface?

BC: I should say that we had a good year! As you know, we achieved 3 important projects : we worked on Huntik - a great ride-, on Maus au Chocolat -an amazing project- and on The eight Continent, which is our largest interactive theater to date. And... it's strange to say, but even if we delivered a lots of 3-D interactive rides this year, we found that with this overexposure of 3-D/4-D/5-D concepts, customers come back to us asking for "standard" interactive rides... They don't want 3-D rides anymore, because that's the kind of attractions they already have and they want to bring something new to their visitors. More and more people ask us "I want a fun interactive theater in 2-D with a nice theming".

NP: You mean that your customers want to return to a more "classic" interactivity ?

BC: Exactly! This is why Desperados, the original, will return soon to the front of the stage with a new concept that many people want. I can give the example of one of our customer who owns Desperados 3-D and who tested the original version with its visitors. In the end, they prefer a classic 2-D version because with today's technology, we propose a game of excellent quality with an highly accurate image. 

In fact, people prefer to shoot on a normal screen and have a true appreciation of the interaction,, rather than take 3-D special effects in their eyes! I've heard about 7-D ... a term that explains exactly the stupidity behind the concept! How many dimensions does it take for this to be satisfactory? It seems today that two dimensions are enough! It's like a good movie ... you don't need to put it in 3D or to shake the seats to make it better, because it's already a good movie!

Maus au Chocolat is a major collaboration There was an Alterface space on the 3DBA booth.

NP: And what about your 5Di concept ? Is it in danger?

BC: No, not at all! The 5Di theater has a great career of "gamer" to come. This is an interactive game experience. We now have 12 different contents, including 10 in 3-D and the others 2 in 2-D, not to mention those that are available in both formats as Desperados or Trash Buster (Eighth Continent). Our offer is the best in the market today, and feedbacks from our customers and prospects tell us that we have clearly made the right choice! We have new concepts, and 2012 will be an exciting year for 5Di because we are going to realize things that people don't expect to see at the moment!

NP: So you have a lot of projects under way?

BC: We will have a year that promises to be pretty awesome, yes! Unfortunately, I am still bound by discretion at the moment and I can't reveal you the details of these projects. But I can tell you that we will go far away; both technically and geographically! Maybe the furthest where we can go! (smiling)

NP: Let's return to one of your main achievements of the year: Maus au Chocolat. At EAS 2010 in Rome last year, you could not quote the project, but you've made it clear that this would be a future No. 1. What do you think now?

BC: We hope so! We can't tell it's a No. 1, only visitors can! There is an important thing to say about it, it's that we were not alone in this project of course! Maus au Chocolat was a dream project for us, to the extent that Mr. Löffelhardt - the founder of Phantasialand - trusted us from the beginning, through a whole process that lasted almost 15 months. We worked successfully on this project with ETF Ride System, 3DBA, the designer Eric Daman and Phantasialand's technical teams! 

The coolest thing in a project is when we notice that we keep a modest place in this one, by noting that our partners have as much worked as us. I think our part is about 1/3 of the overall project. We had the chance to sign the interactivity and the images of Maus au Chocolat, which are central for this dark ride. There was an extremely positive emulation, our relationships with ETF are better than ever and we share the success! Maus au Chocolat is not only Alterface... it is also Phantasialand, 3DBA, ETF Ride System, Eric Daman and all those who worked on it!



NP: What about Huntik at Rainbow Magicland?

BC: Again a project that was great fun to make! Huntik is the combination of Alterface's technology with the beautiful content of Rainbow, the amazing theming made by Art Projects, and simulators from Chinese conception. We managed to fit into this "high-technology" attraction although this is not our choice of favor, and even if we don't share a lot together. I think that buying an European ride system would have been more appropriate for them, because there are many very competent companies over here in Europe. But overall, we are very proud of Huntik!



NP: So, a successful project is first of all... a successful partnership?

BC: Yes, of course! And that's why we look for projects everywhere, because we believe in the power of partnership! There are people with whom we were competing at the beginning, and who understand also that a partnership is important ... We shook hands with a former competitor during this EAS for a future project ! A wonderful project with someone with whom we could not speak and who would wanted "our death" a few years ago! And simply by talking, showing that we are reliable partners, and that we could work together, he said it made sense not to invest in a new technology, but to work with a company who control this technology! And that's nice, really nice!

NP: So the best way to go ahead, it's by holding hands?

BC: I totally agree! We need to stop the destructive battle, and start the creative battle! People do not need to buy the "best dark ride" because there is no "best dark ride"! I think this industry is sometimes in the anxiety of the future and start a fruitless competition... that it is time to stop! I see there is a postive movement, I've never seen so many people with whom I want to work, and with whom we try to develop new concepts! I think this is the future of this industry to have collaborations of this magnitude, and that we will be surprised! Alterface can be, thanks to its will and its technology, the engine of new concepts ... coming soon!

NP: This is a beautiful adventure in 10 years, isn't it ?

BC: 10 years is a long time! The real start of Alterface, was in 2006 with the first Desperados theaters. This attraction was the result of various meetings in previous years, especially with the former director of Mini-Europe in Brussels, where was launched our first interactive product at that time. In 2005, I had the concept of Desperados but I didn't know who to sell it. So I went to Bobbejaanland where he was the new general manager at that time and I proposed to him my product. He had the agreement of Parque Reunidos and we delivered it the next season! At the same time, I took my pilgrim's staff and I traveled in east of France to meet another general manager, Patrice Fleurent, who wanted to try the adventure with us at Fraispertuis-City. That was the beginning of Desperados! Succeed, it's not a question of chance, it's find people with whom you get along and people whom are able to support the project.

The Eight Continent is the largest Alterface interactive theater at this time...... with 2 rooms of 40 persons. The movie Trash Buster is also available in 3-D.

NP: Going back to 2011, because your achievements are not limited to the three which we have already discussed!

BC: Yes! Among our major projects, we have developed an interactive theater with a dinosaur content at DinosaurLand in Guangzhou, China and we have opened a Kingdom Quest dark ride with ETF Ride Systems at LEGO Discovery Center Dallas, USA. We have three other projects under production with Legoland division : 2 with ETF and 1 in solo because the ride system already exists. There is also a haunted house under construction at Pigeon Forge, USA.

This year we also opened the dark ride Corsair's Revenge in Moscow, Russia, a haunted house at London Dungeon, UK, several Desperados including Liseberg in Sweden and La Ferme du Far West in France, as well as a range of small interactive theaters everywhere in the world! We have also made updates to Desperados in Singapore (Sentosa CineBlast) and Korea (Lotte World). In Kazakhstan, we will install an interactive walkthrough, several Crazy Circus are also on order ... In 2012, there will be a lot of small dark rides, novelties in the United States and probably in Dubai! In short, a lot of interesting projects!

NP: Next step: the IAAPA Trade Expoin Orlando with some announcements?

BC: Yes, there will be announcements in the coming weeks! The new concept for 5Di will be announce shortly after IAAPA, because we want to prevent people to be inspired by our ideas and destroy our concept. We think it will be pretty cool!

NP: Thank you very much for your answers!

Interview by François Mayné on September 28, 2011
Written by François Mayné François Mayné Publishing Director » Contact Us
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Alterface (Manufacturer)
Belgium Site : www.alterface.com

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