Field Trip to Mars The Best Group VR Experience

In one of the best implementations of VR I’ve ever seen, Framestore, a creative VFX house involved in some pretty famous projects – shows off their “shared VR Experience” in this virtual trip to Mars – in a regular old (but modified) schoolbus.

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The aforementioned famous projects include Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange, as well as Beauty and the Beast. This “side project” is entitled “Field Trip to Mars”, and involves the mentioned bus, a lot of computing hardware, some newly developed screens, and a bunch of excited schoolkids.

Also heavily involved in the project is Unreal Engine, which was instrumental in creating the “view” out of the schoolbus windows. The whole enterprise started with Lockheed Martin’s sponsorship of the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival. This project is especially fascinating for me since you can actually see how much of an impact this kind of experience is for kids, and even adults.

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This project can kindle interest in the hardware required to create the experience (of which there is a lot), interest in space and exploration, or in VR itself and the possibilities it brings. Based on the video, bringing together all of the technology was a huge undertaking, with specialized glass that starts out clear and becomes opaque when projecting images of mars as the bus drove by, a GPS system that superimposed the streets of New York onto the surface of Mars, a method of correlating the buses movement to what the kids would see while the bus was moving.

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Just based on the video, they were able to accomplish this with panache, with slack-jawed kids and proud-looking adults the end result of the undertaking. This is like the wonder created by the Nickelodeon show “The Magic School Bus”, but better.

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