To make customers understand the processes running on the assembly lines, is a great challenge for all manufacturing companies to meet, when developing ways to showcase the creation of their products. Guided tours inside a real factory can be one way, but most of the time this just means watching huge machines build tiny components – nowadays usually hidden away from view in enclosed systems. Also it requires everyone to be on-site, sometimes disturbing the factory’s meticulous workflow.
This, of course, is where CGI and 3D animation can be put through its paces, as you are free to show every step of assembly in any way you can imagine, without the limitation of anything physical or logistical.
So the brief was at heart a 3D animation showing the insights of their factories – but combined with the wish to conceive something more spectacular than just a presentation on a video screen, as our client was looking for something to use as the highlight exhibit in their new museum-like showroom in the UK.
Right from the beginning a 360° or Virtual Reality experience with some kind of HMD (Head Mounted Display) was something our client had in mind when approaching us.
A lot of effort – as always – went into finding the best technical approach to tell the story. In the end we decided on a pre-rendered animation (instead of using a realtime engine) as this gave us the opportunity to use all the techniques and tools available to achieve the photo-realistic look and feel everyone was going for.
To have a mobile solution with the least technical effort for setup and maintenance, we decided on the Samsung Gear VR platform again.
The resulting animation should be implemented into a simple interactive application. To keep the usage during the showroom’s guided tours as user-friendly as possible, minimal user input (using gaze pointing as the method) should be required, basically just a language selection at the beginning. To top of the immersive experience with some easy-to-use „real“ interaction, though, the last sequence of the animation should end in a kitchen with several interactive hotspots showing appliances in movement, activated also via gaze pointing.
(static 360° animation preview, image quality monoscopic and compressed for website display)
The workflow for the project combined all of the services we provide: general media consulting and technical planning, storyline creation/conception, UI design based on the client’s CD, 3D data management, 3D modeling and animation with 3ds Max, rendering and compositing, Unity software development, testing/QA, deployment and hardware testing, as well as general project management and coordination of the involved crafts.
We also chose to use stereoscopic imaging. This more than doubled the amount of work required to produce the 5 minute long animation, but greatly enhanced the optical impression and illusion of depth in the 360° surrounding.
Another specialty of the project was that we had an original music score written for the experience. This score was developed – as well as the 360° spatial sound design – together with listen! Studios, a long-term partner for any kind of audio production, who also recorded the voice-over artists in German and English.
The overall time frame was seven months from initial inquiry to delivery, including an animation and render/compositing phase of four months.
At the end of the project we delivered a software installation package for the smartphones to be used in the headsets, fully tested, signed and prepared.
Even though the principal usage is on seven stationary Gear VR devices within the exhibit in the showroom, the system can be used as a completely mobile plug-and-play unit, as well. Which our client happily does: the 360° experience is by now deployed to 30 additional headsets, bringing information and enjoyment to audiences worldwide on all kinds of events, presentations and exhibitions.
If you’d like to experience the stereoscopic 360° app or any of our VR or HoloLens applications, feel free to get in touch with us, we are happy to show you.