Stella Artois: The Perfect Flight

Horton De Rakoff

Stella Artois: The Perfect Flight

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We partnered with London-based agency Mother to create a Wimbledon-inspired VR experience for Stella Artois, one of the Championships official sponsors. Wanting to attract as many Londoners as possible, we set up a four-day installation in Waterloo station on the first day of the Championships. (Fun fact: Around a quarter of a million people travel through the station on a daily basis).

The Perfect Flight is an Oculus and Google Cardboard 4D VR experience that lets users fly like Rufus the Hawk, Wimbledon’s official pigeon scarer. They immerse themselves in the experience using the Oculus headset and noise-cancelling headphones, all while they are harnessed onto a custom-built surface that rotates from side to side. The user is surrounded by five fans, which simulate wind and make the experience even more immersive.

We ensured that the motion base was programmed to perfectly simulate the turns a bird would make.

After watching a short introduction about Rufus’s tough job at Wimbledon, users fly above the tennis courts and explore the area from a bird’s eye view… literally. As they soar through the air and above the green, the fans and the rotating motion base make the experience even more realistic.

A long table with four Google Cardboards on it was placed next to the main part of the installation, so that passersby could sit and experience The Perfect Flight in 2K. Cardboard VR Headsets were handed out to users who took part in the installation so that they could recreate the experience using their own phones after downloading it.

Users could also relive the experience on the Fly Like Rufus microsite on desktop, mobile and tablet. They could watch the intro video of Rufus describing his experience as a pigeon-scarer or skip past that and go straight to the 360 experience. Using their arrow keys or mouse, users could explore their surroundings and soar through the Wimbledon skies.

On mobile, users could rotate the view using the phone’s gyroscope. If it so happened that their browser didn’t support 360 videos, we played 2D video in a YouTube player as a solution. Users could share the experience on social networks from the microsite as well.

Our main tech challenges had to do with stabilisation. Stabilising 4K video footage to be used in a VR experience is quite a complicated task as none of the standard 2D video tools work. To make the experience motion sickness-proof we had to make sure the orientation of motion was always forward-facing and that the movement of the base aligned with movement of the drone perfectly.

Our challenge was to align a motion base, a drone flight and 3D visuals just right. The Unity build was a crafty mix of programming, dynamic compositing and layering in audio. We overlaid real time CGI 3D visuals, like pigeons and hawk wings, to give users an added level of visual immersion.

Users could follow the conversation about Stella at Wimbledon at #herestoperfection.