A virtual reality garden experience for Cancer Research UK. The 'Life Garden' was created by Atomic London and realised by Rushes, to celebrate and thank over 100,000 people who have left a gift in their Will to the charity.
Cancer Research UK will display a virtual reality garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this month. The VR experience has been created by advertising agency Atomic London and realised by creative studio Rushes, to celebrate and thank over 100,000 people who have left a gift in their Will to the charity.
The ‘Life Garden’ will be a physical installation at the flower show, which runs from 5th to 10th July, with people transported to a seemingly endless field of flowers after donning an Oculus Rift headset. The immersive experience will feature more than 100,000 flowers bearing the names of supporters who have remembered the charity by leaving a legacy gift.
The experience, produced by the VR team at Rushes, runs using software platform Unity, which is traditionally used for developing games and interactive content, and has a powerful set of features for controlling, navigating and interacting with objects in real-time 3D environments. This allows for flexibility and control over the whole experience from beginning to end, including when and where certain events occur, and how the user interacts with the experience. It also allows for sound to be positioned in a 3D space to give the user an added level of immersion.
Following its launch at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower show, the virtual garden will be on display at a number of locations around the UK at specially designed ‘Tribute Events’. These events will give family and friends the chance to experience the virtual reality garden as well as the opportunity to come together and celebrate the progress Cancer Research UK has made thanks to these generous gifts.
Guy Bradbury, Founding Partner and Executive Creative Director at Atomic London, said:
“Virtual reality is too often used as a gimmick – to make people feel like they’re on a roller-coaster or walking through a fantasy world. With the Life Garden we’ve created something that emotionally engages and moves people by starting with the idea and using the technology as the most suitable channel, rather than starting with the technology and trying to work backwards.”
Andy McNamara, Rushes Head of CG and Immersive, said:
“It was a pleasure for us at Rushes to work in collaboration with Atomic and Cancer Research UK and push the envelope of what can be achieved with this new medium for a cause that is very close to many of us. It demonstrates how VR and immersive technology, when used effectively, can produce a powerful emotional response from an audience – something we are only now starting to explore fully.”
Caroline Kent, Director of Legacies at Cancer Research UK, said:
“We believe using this exciting technology alongside our bright and beautiful physical garden is a wonderful way to thank and celebrate every generous supporter who has left a gift in their Will to Cancer Research UK. Atomic London has delivered an incredibly moving experience that we hope will demonstrate our huge appreciation to all those who have supported us in the past with a legacy gift.”
How it’s Special:
While VR is still in its infancy, many of the demos and experiences so far released tend towards genres such as 3D games and 360o videos. This experience goes a step further by engaging with the user on a personal and emotional level, using a range of sensory audio and visual triggers. This coupled with total immersion of the site-specific setting, gives a sense of presence in our beautiful garden, to allow the user to contemplate and remember their loved one in a private personalised space.
Rushes utilised a disparate array of technologies to allow us to realise the experience; from the design and realisation of the CG garden, using tech more commonly used for VFX in feature-films and commercials, to integrating cloud based services to enable the various technologies to communicate with each other and relate the stereo 3D imagery with the 3D sound. Custom software was then written and utilised to enable all of the technological facets to combine and produce a seamlessly streamlined experienced.
The main experience runs off a PC (with a high-end graphics card) via the Oculus Rift (DK2). Rushes also developed versions for both the Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard. A pre-rendered web version was also delivered by Rushes to run on the Cancer Research UK website.
Game Engine Utilisation:
The Oculus experience was built in and runs on software platform Unity, which traditionally was used for developing games and interactive content but has recently found favour as a development platform for VR. Unity’s powerful set of features for controlling, navigating and interacting with objects in a real-time 3D environment has been utilised by the games industry for many years and that functionality has now crossed over and been adopted by the exciting new medium of VR.
Primarily, Unity allows us the flexibility to control the whole experience from beginning to end, to control when and where certain events occur and how the user interacts with the experience. It also allows us to do exciting things with audio, i.e. the ability to position sounds in a 3D space to give an added level of immersion.
When a user arrives at the event, to personalise the experience for each individual we ask them prior to putting on the VR headset, to give the name of the loved one they have come to remember. This is then uploaded securely to the cloud via an iPad. When the experience starts, it fetches this data and then displays the name of the loved one above a 'hero' flower as it opens at the climax of the experience - a fitting tribute. The data is then used to send a snapshot image of their personalised experience to the users email at the end of the experience.
The Life Garden campaign will be supported by in-house PR, social media, email marketing and press ads in the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show catalogue.
Client: Sarah Squire, Sarah Hayman (CRUK)
Advertising Agency: Atomic London
Agency Creative Director: Guy Bradbury
Copywriter: Sam Laub
Art Director: Tim Kitell
Planning Director: Richard Hill
Planner: Will Humphrey
Business Director: Kate Mackinnon
Senior Account Manager: Jess Feltham
Agency Producer: Becky Ormrod
Production Company: Rushes
VR Lead Developer/CG Supervisor: Andy McNamara
Exec producer: Chris McKeeman
Producer: Caroline Laing
CG Artists: Adam Lindsey, Nimesh Patel, Craig Travis
Unity Developer: Charles Burt
Compositing: Noel Harmes (Lead), Sarah Breakwell, Guy Hancock
Encodes & Deliverables: Leon Grant (Lead), Jon Kerby
Tech Support: Tim Wharton, Daniel Borg
Audio post-production: Resonate