More than a million visitors flocked to the 2016 Paris Motor Show, but cars weren’t the only thing on display this year. Wildbytes, in partnership with Ogilvy One, planned and executed a large-scale hyperreal “VR Theatre,” which allowed visitors to experience Barcelona in 360 degrees. Users flew over Barcelona’s waters, chased a car through the streets, skateboarded in the museum district, and watched a sunset party on a Gaudi rooftop.
The large-scale collective VR theater allowed 50 visitors to simultaneously experience the “4D” film, which is the industry term for 3D films that incorporate a sense of motion, usually using motorized chairs. Though the experience was called a VR theatre, it instead made use of 360 video. As Julio Obelleiro, co-founder of Wildbytes, explains:
” I don’t believe this is VR technically speaking, as you cannot control anything nor intentionally move around the space. It’s definitely a 360 film (although it runs on VR headsets). But the combination of the motorized chairs in perfect sync with the 360 film definitely sets it apart.”
Trade shows are advertising battlefields, and setting one booth apart from others can be a serious challenge. “Created in Barcelona” was built on a bold idea – to step away from talking about cars, and instead give attendees something unique. Though they were advertising SEAT’s Ateca X-Perience car model, the “protagonist” of their booth was the 360 theatre. The car is famously inspired by Barcelona (the city has been described as the DNA of the Ateca X-Perience), so instead of selling the car, they sold its inspiration.
Wildbytes creates unique experiences, from custom made physical-digital experiences to digital smart mirrors for retail experiences. “Created in Barcelona” began with the idea of bringing a 360 experience to a large group, simultaneously. While part of that format was a desire for the theatre to be a focal point of the booth, there was also a practical element to the design – being able to move 50 people through at a time. “People come to trade shows in groups usually, so making it a group experience added many exciting bits to it: like the countdown that you can see before it starts and creates higher expectations, the the fact that everyone is experiencing the same… and of course the “beautiful” moment that happens when they all remove their headsets and look at each other with faces of surprise, laugh, and such,” Obelleiro says.
The movement of the chairs allowed Wildbytes to push the cinematography beyond the usual in terms of motion and movements. Many shots in the film created a high level of dizziness when seen solely with the VR headset, but when the motion of the chairs was added, the brain and inner ear felt motion that connected with the motion in the video, and it entirely eliminated the nausea. That fluidity helped make the installation a success, but it also brought a unique challenge. If the chairs weren’t perfectly synced with the video, the whole thing would fall apart.
Wildbytes discovered there was no software on the market that allows for reliable synchronization of VR content or headsets. So, they built their own. The results were beyond expected, and they now plan to release the software for licensing, targeting VR or 360 cinemas, theaters, theme parks, and trade shows.
Brands are diving deep into virtual reality, and that support allows creatives to test the bounds of what VR can do. “Corporate experiences, as they have become a really fast-paced environment, are perfect to prototype, experiment, and evolve VR experiences. As creators, we can learn from them as we evolve with the medium.”