SXSW 2018

Ghostly Whisper: A collaborative production between Universal Creative and Sony




Kimberly Humphreys, Project Director

Kate Duffy, Producer

Akiva Krauthamer, Technical Lead

Rose Heid, Artist

Sony's R&D Team

Ghostly Whisper

A conceptual haunted experience which immerses participants in a series of simulated paranormal events using Sony's audio and haptic technologies.


Sep 2017 - Mar 2018


Universal Creative and Sony

I was on the Advanced Technology Interactive team during my time at Universal Orlando Resort in the Universal Creative Division. As an R&D group, we were introduced to some experimental hardware being developed by Sony such as their directional speakers and haptic plates.

Our groups collaborated together to create an experience unique to that of our partnership resulting in an immersive haunted experience called 'Ghostly Whisper'. The experience did not end up being used at Universal, but was instead showcased at Sony's WOW Studio Warehouse for SXSW 2018.

SXSW 2018 Sony Wow Studio Warehouse

Discovering New Production Skills

I was excited to play a role on this project because I got to experiement with different types of design I was less familiar with. I had never really done anything with theater before, but I used processes from my UX background to help me learn along the way.

Some of my contributions to this project included production graphic design, lighting design, set design, and stage hand. It was also super fun getting involved in the building processes and tinkering with physical experience design techniques like projection mapping!

The entrance to the Ghostly Whisper experience at the Sony WOW Studio.

The entrance to the Ghostly Whisper experience at the Sony WOW Studio.

Production Graphic Design

I followed the lead of our artist, Rose, in her art direction for many of the graphics used for Ghostly Whisper. While she was attentively creating the look and feel of cards used in the experience, I leveraged her art style to produce graphics for the actual execution of the event such as theming binders, email invites, signage to direct participants and more. It was fun to design artistically which is different from what I normally do where the focus is on usability.

Lighting Design

All of the lighting sequences for the experience was created by yours truly! A huge thanks to Akiva, our technical lead, for teaching me how to navigate using QLC+ so I could make all the adjustments I wanted to the lights independently. I enjoyed creating a mood that I felt matched each of the story beats. This was a great introduction into lighting design for me as the spotlights we used were stationary.

QLC+ Lighting Control GUI

I used QLC+ to control the color, intensity, and timing of our spotlights.

Set Design

Prop hunting at the Universal Props Warehouse is surreal. My co-workers and I scavanged throughout the Halloween Horror Nights sections to find the right props to create the look and feel we wanted in the Ghostly Whisper room. Once we had a plethora of props, I helped to physical set up the selected items in areas of the room as directed while also being given the opportunity to give my own artistic input.

A shot from the Ghostly Whisper set

The props in the background were selected by myself and my team. These were infact sitting on top of custom built shelves to house the speakers used for the experience.

Stage Hand

Many hours were spent in our Universal Sound Stage refining and practicing for actual shows. All the show's cues were manually controlled backstage to work with the performing actor. The team was able to refine the active stage hand roles to 2 people during a show which was key in being able to rotate in with breaks while we were running shows back-to-back all day during SXSW.

The Ghostly Whisper Team

The Universal Creative Ghostly Whisper Team.

Out To the World

I was so excited to see participants engage with our experience and hear their feedback. I took away several teachings being from a part of this project into my own immersive works in my other roles at Universal.

After all, nothing really beats being able to see the work you create in highly confidential spaces to finally being shown off to others!

Ghostly Whisper's full description

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