BAFTA, Oscar and Cannes Lions-winning VFX house Framestore recently took a group of school children on a Field Trip to Mars, courtesy of a one-of-a-kind US school bus, Unreal Engine and a brilliantly conceived shared VR experience.
Our brief from advertising agency McCann, for Lockheed Martin, was to transport young students to the surface of mars, in a school bus, without them realizing what was about the happen.
The school bus would have to drive around Washington D.C., all the while maintaining all the legal requirements of a safe and legal vehicle. The entire experience, including being able to look out of the windows initially, had to be powered by what could fit inside the bus.
Over the course of six months, we designed a group virtual reality vehicle experience. We started by creating 200 square miles of Mars' surface using Unreal 4. We then mapped the Mars surface to the real streets of D.C, and showcased geological features, the Curiosity rover, a realistic base camp and a massive Martian dust storm.And then we bought a school bus.We completely gutted the bus to install our custom-built switchable electric glass screens that transitioned from transparent to opaque, and paired them with 4K transparent LCD displays.
We then re-outfitted the bus to make it look and feel like any other school bus.By integrating our virtual Mars surface, custom screen technology, GPS, 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, and laser surface velocimeter, the bus became our virtual reality "headset". When the bus moved, the surface moved; and when the bus turned, we turned on Mars too.