Field Trip to Mars

Cannes Lions Winner, Experience, Game Engine, Virtual Reality

World's first group VR

The first people who will visit Mars are sitting in a school today. In fact, the first astronauts will arrive before today’s kindergarteners graduate college. To help inspire these students, Lockheed Martin with their advertising agency McCann New York and BAFTA and Academy Award-winning VFX production company Framestore, created a one-of-a-kind bus that will transport students to the surface of Mars to see what it looks like and learn about its weather patterns. It made its first run at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of VR


As sponsor of the 2016 U.S.A. Science and Engineering Festival, Lockheed Martin launched a wider initiative, Generation Beyond, to inspire and engage the scientists and technologists of tomorrow. Through providing such a dazzling experience within the comfort of a school bus, the young attendees of the Festival couldn’t help but look to the future. “Our children — the elementary, middle and high school students of today — make up a generation that will change our universe forever. This is the generation that will walk on Mars, explore deep space and unlock mysteries that we can’t yet imagine,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “They won’t get there alone. It is our job to prepare, inspire and equip them to build the future – and that’s exactly what Generation Beyond is designed to do.”

Technology Stack

Custom built 80 inch 4K transparent displays

Networked Unreal Engine game PCs

200 square miles of real streets in game engine

Custom built control system to enable physical movement of bus to control the experience

The Innovation

To be able to look out of the windows then have them turn into 4K screens, Framestore built custom display cases which were comprised of switchable security film and a 4K display panel. The windows are transparent to start then the switchable film went opaque which blocked the outside image and helped reflect added light elements. The 4K panel dissolves from transparent white to the experience.

Using the Unreal game engine as the platform for the experience, Framestore created a 200-square-mile “worldspace” based on the real street map of D.C. The team programmatically covered the area with geological features and painted objects along the bus’s route, and created a system that would allow real bus speed, GPS and accelerometer to be translated into Unreal, creating a real school bus that would exist inside the realm of a video game.

The bus itself became the headset: transparent 4K screens enabled passengers to look outside to D.C., before being transported to the rocky terrain of Mars. Framestore created a control system using a real vehicle which captures the movement of the vehicle and translates it into the game engine. The user – rider – feels the real motion of the bus and the content on the screens is synced. There are no false 4D physical created to simulate movements.

Field Trip to Mars has won over 100 industry awards (listed below). The single most awarded campaign at at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity with 19 Lions across 11 categories. It was also nominated for a Titanium Lion amongst only 22 out of 43,101 entries across all categories from around the world. The project also won top honor at ADWEEK’s Project Isaac’s, wining three awards including the highest award, the Gravity. The project has also won seven Clios including a Grand Clio, three IAB MIXX awards, one D&AD Impact pencil and 19 LIAs including two Grand LIAs.

The Reaction

Steve Frick (CAPTAIN, USN, RET.) NASA Astronaut, gave virtual tour two space-suited thumbs up.

“It’s going to be just a great outreach tool,” Frick said, “having something mobile like that, that’s able to go out to where kids are and give them the experience first-hand of what it might be like to be on Mars. Hopefully it’ll get them wanting to learn more and look for other materials,” “which we’re also hoping to provide [by] getting our online curriculum out into the schools.”

“But an even better path forward is McCann New York’s and Framestore’s “Mars Experience Bus” for Lockheed Martin, which Yapp called “one of the best examples I’ve seen of VR.” – Michael Yapp (founder and director of Google Zoo) at C2


AdWeek Project Isaac Top Honor
AdWeek Interview
Creativity (Editor’s Pick)
US News and World Report
Lockheed Martin Press Release

Over 100 Industry Awards

19 Cannes Lions
20 One Show Pencils
20 LIAs
6 Adweek Project Isaac's
6 D&AD Pencils
7 Clios
13 Art Director Club Awards
11 Andys
3 IAB Mixx
3 Webbys
2 Effies
3 Shots Awards
1 AdAge A-List
WSJ Best Ads of the Year
4A's Best Use of Technology
1 Omma
1 Sabre
2 American Business Awards
2 Epica Awards

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