How I Work: Amanda Johnstone-Batt, Framestore Rides

Rollercoasters are no longer all about the corkscrew and loop-the-loop. They’ve become rich interactive experiences that use AR, VR and CGI to immerse riders in the story. Amanda Johnstone-Batt, CGI Supervisor on Framestore’s Rides team, tells CR what it takes to make them work

As part of Framestore’s Rides team, Amanda Johnstone-Batt works on some of their more unconventional projects – bringing a background in movie VFX to theme park attractions. Acting as a ‘foreman’ for the creative team, Johnstone-Batt works with artists and creative directors to bring rollercoasters of all kinds to life, using VR, AR and CGI to create immersive experiences. Here she tells CR what makes the job so fascinating, how storytelling is changing and why narrative still trumps technology.

Realism vs the story I disagree that you need to have something super realistic. It really comes down to the creative as a whole. You need to have an interesting story. Something that I mentioned in a recent V&A talk is that there’s a couple of story types, or narrative outlines, that we see over and over again. There’s a reimagining of an existing story – so for example if you went to Universal and went on one of the Harry Potter rides, that could be going through and seeing dioramas of your favourite scenes form the movie. There’s other where they’re world experiences, so maybe you get to see similar diorama, CGI or sets. Then there’s more of a spinoff story, and we’re starting to see more and more of those. It doesn’t necessarily fit into a movie canon, so it can exist between sequels, but it could be a side story adventure that only happens at the theme park. It’s a lot eaier to refresh those, because if a new character comes along you can just change out one of the screens with some new media.