Field Trip to Mars

Cannes Lions Winner, Experiential, Game Engine, Virtual Reality

World's first group VR

The first people who will visit Mars are sitting in 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 transported students to the surface of Mars. It made its first run at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. then continued on to tour the U.S. for two years which ended in October 2018 when it was inducted into the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

“One of the best examples I’ve seen of VR” -Mike Yapp, Founder & Director, Google Zoo at C2 Montréal

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.”

Real Innovation

Custom built 80″ 4K transparent LCDs with switchable electric glass
Bus movement turned into real-time game controller
200 square-miles of real-world roads turned into a video game
One 12kw, 100 amp, 3 cylinder, 27 HP, liquid cooled, diesel generator
Four 1000w audio amplifiers
18 speakers
5100 watts of computer usage
30000 gigaflops of graphics processing power
One 12mW Class B laser


To be able to look out of the windows then have them turn into 4K screens, I designed combination of technology which comprised of switchable security film glass 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, the game devs at Framestore New York 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. We created a control system that used the movement of the bus and translated it into the game engine. The controls combined off-the-shelf Maker community components including an Arduino kit with an industrial laser surface velocimeter. The rider feels the real motion of the bus and the content on the screens is synced. There are no 4D theater tricks created to simulate movements.

Field Trip to Mars has won over 130 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.

After touring the U.S. for two years, and inspiring over 100,000 future explorers, it is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (more below).


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


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 ADC 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



Theo Jones – CG Supervisor
Alexander Rea – Creative Director
Jennifer Siegel – Executive Producer
Sue McNamara – Senior Producer
Graham Dunglinson – Senior Producer
PJ Stegall – Producer
Michael Lenic – Line Producer
Brian Hegedus – Production Manager
Cole Krug – Production Assistant
Ron Fosner – Lead Developer
Gary Marshall – Lead Software Engineer/Tracking Systems
Ben Fox – Lead FX/Lighting TD
Michitaka Inoue – Modeling Lead
Claude Dareau – Game Engine Developer
Joey Hernandez – Sound Developer
Bill Davey – Developer / Game Engine World-space
Bryan Brown – Technical Artist / Game Engine World-space
Jim Hundertmark – Animation Lead
Jack Caron – Developer / VR Pre-vis
Paul Kim – Model/Texture
Joseph Szokoli – Texture/Lookdev
Xiaolai Zheng – Model/Texture
Patrick Ross – Model/Texture/Lookdev
Will Frazier – Animation
Evan Harbuck – Animation
John Burke – Animation
Andrew Salter – Compositing
Martin Lazaro – Compositing
Dan Young – Systems Engineer



DJ Saul – CMO & Managing Director
Lauren Everett – Project Manager / Creative Strategist
Zach Saale – Lead Maker
Ken Marut – Mechanical Engineer
Adam Hughes – Industrial Designer
George Moore – Operations Manager


Zach Goodwin – Creative Director
Amanda Jane Kloos – Associate Creative Director
Natalya Staritskaya – Project Manager / Creative Strategist
Ashley Brooks – Junior Creative Strategist
Maggie Gaudaen – Art Director
Joseph Abrahams – VP of Engineering
Julian Gindi – Lead Infrastructure Engineer
Rodrigo Thauby – Senior Web Developer
Eli Fitch – Web Developer
Ben Schrijnemakers – Intern

Q Department

Sound design & VR Mix Q Department in association with Mach1™
Jacqueline Bosnjak

(Two years later….)

After touring the U.S. for two years, and inspiring over 100,000 future explorers, the bus was added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

After we launched the project with McCann in Washington D.C. in March 2016, the bus became the responsibility of the IPG experiential agency Momentum. They repainted and outfitted the bus for a new role, part of an educational road show. In partnership with Lockheed Martin, Momentum sent the bus around the country. I had the opportunity to see the bus at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In October 2018, the tour ended when the bus was donated to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. A huge honor.

Tour stops

USA Science & Engineering Festival (Debut) 2016-03-15 2016-03-17 Washington D.C.
Space Foundation Discovery Center 2016-08-31 Colorado Springs, CO
Chabot Space and Science Center 2016-09-09 2016-09-11 Oakland, CA
NASA Ames Research Center 2016-09-24 2016-09-25 Mountain View, CA
Orlando Science Center 2017-03-31 Orlando, FL
Walker Middle School 2017-04-06 Orlando, FL
Coca-Cola Orlando Eye 2017-04-08 Orlando, FL
Kennedy Space Center 2017-06 2017-08 Florida
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (Donated) 2018-10 Permanent Collection Washington D.C.

Family visit to Kennedy Space Center to visit the bus in August 2017.

Local news outlets

Award Details

2016 Cannes Lions (19)

Promo – Use of Exhibits/Activations
Promo – Corporate Image
Design – Digital Installation/Events
Creative Data – Data Visualization
Cyber – Live Digital

Direct – Use of New Tech
Promo – Use of New Tech
Outdoor – Use of Ambient
Outdoor – Ambient Experiential & Immersive
Design – Live Events
Cyber – Spatial Tech
Entertainment – Innovation in Brand Experience

Direct – Experience Design
PR – Use of New Tech
Digital Craft – Innovative Use of Tech
Digital Craft – Tech Achievement
Digital Craft– Virtual Reality
Media – Use of Stunts

2016 LIA (20)

The NEW: Branded Entertainment

Branded Entertainment: Experiential/Live
Branded Entertainment: Social Awareness
Branded Entertainment: Virtual Reality
Design: Branded Content
Design: Digital Installations
Design: Experiential Marketing
Digital: Branded Content
Digital: Corporate Image
Digital: Innovative Use of Digital
The NEW: Creative Technology
The NEW: Technology Development
The NEW: Virtual Reality

Digital: Visual Design
Integration: Integration
Non-Traditional: Experiential
The NEW: Brand Experience

Non-Traditional: Interactive Installations
Non-Traditional: Corporate Image

2017 ADC Awards (13)

Client of the Year
Black Cube – Campaign of the Year

Pop-Ups Events
Pop-Ups Immersive
Interactive Augmented/Virtual Reality
Interactive – Innovation
Craft in Digital – Use of Technology
Digital Experiences – Installation
Digital Experiences – Event
Digital Experiences – Responsive Environments

Pop –Ups – Installations
Motion – Innovation

Craft in Digital – Art Direction

2017 Effies (2)

Winner – Brand Experience
Winner – Media Innovation

2016 WSJ

Best Ads of 2016

2016 One Show (20)

Client of the Year
Innovation in Branded Entertainment
VR Entertainment
Augmented Reality
Brand Installations
Immersive Design
Immersive Installations
Use of Digital Tech
Innovation in Direct
Ambient / Immersive
VR Interactive
Digital Installations
Print/Outdoor Installation
Print/Outdoor Use of Tech
PR Events / Experiential
Innovation in PR
VR Responsive Environment
Storytelling Responsive Environment

Responsive Environment Innovation

2016 AdWeek (6)

Gravity Award (Isaac Highest Honor)
Media Plan of the Year – $2-4MM
Arc Award – Best Use of VR
AdWeek Best of 2016

Creative Invention
Event / Experience Invention

2017 D&AD (5)

Direct / Direct Response/Ambient
Direct / Direct Innovation

Digital Design / Digital Installations
Digital Marketing / Innovative Use of Technology

Spatial & Experiential Design / Experiential Design

2016 Clios (6)


Out Of Home
Public Relations

Branded Content
Branded Entertainment
Digital/Mobile Experience

2017 Andy Awards (11)

Campaign of the Year

Events – Creative Tech
Events – VR
Events – Transportation
Branded Content – Creative Tech
Branded Content – VR
Branded Content – Transportation
Innovation – Creative Tech
Innovation – VR
Innovation – Transportation

Branded Content – Special FX

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