EXPEDITION SPACE

Climb aboard the spaceship and blast off to discover the wonders of the universe, and find out what it’s really like on the Red Planet. See all your favourite landmarks on the way, from the observation deck, as you fly by the moon and the Milky Way. Have your boarding passes ready; the crew are waiting to meet you in the departure lounge!

After the success of our previous work with The Eden Project, we were invited to co-design their latest space-themed exhibition, which will run every day throughout the 2018 summer holidays. The Eden Project attracts a million visitors a year.

https://www.edenproject.com/visit/whats-on/expedition-space

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THE STORY

Holidays can be a big pain in the butt:  lost luggage, lousy weather, crooked taxi drivers.  When you go with Eden Galactic, everything’s perfect. The Space Mission to Mars package will run you just eight hundred and ninety-nine credits.

Mission to Mars is set in the 2080’s, a time when it’s possible to traverse the universe, when we have colonised Mars and Martian tourism is a day-to-day industry.

“The vision was to create a shared immersive experience that fuses great set design, large scale projection, in-character tour guides and the wonders of the cosmos into a 30 minute spectacle for all the family.”

Aaron Bradbury, Creative Director 

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As we step into the departure lounge and feel the excitement for the holiday of a lifetime build, its not long before we realise that this holiday doesn’t seem quite as perfect as the adverts would suggest. The departure lounge is a reminder of how limiting life is on Mars. The food, the entertainment, the exercise, the work… Even in the golden era of space tourism, a vacation to Mars means letting go of the luxuries of Earth and succumbing to the constraints of an inhumane and far away habitat.

On our way into space we learn all about the red planet and the dangers that we face; the poisonous soil, the extreme cold, the suffocating environment. Suddenly we are wondering if this was such a great idea!

We pass the Moon and venture beyond our solar system into the wider Universe. Our tour guide shows us some of the most spectacular views, all from the safety of the spaceship. On returning we begin our descent to Mars. The dangers of Mars continue to emerge as we experience radiation and temperature warnings, even the freeze-dried soup dispenser nozzle is clogged.

Finally, we touch down; a sigh of relief. Walking into the induction hall we look out over a stunning vista of Mars. We see the beautiful land formations and futuristic settlements across the landscape. Other passenger ships arrive in the distance and dune buggies are out on their daily excursion. We meet our resident Mars expert who tells about living on Mars, what we’re expected to do, and all the things that we can’t do. Again things take a turn for the worse as dust devils build outside. The experience reaches its climax as a dust storm engulfs the settlement.

The final message we are given is that the dangers of Mars are very real and its going to take some very brave and smart individuals to overcome the challenges if we ever want to get there for real.

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“The premise behind Mission to Mars Project enthralled us by presenting some exciting yet problematic creative and technical challenges. Up to the last minute before public opening green-light, the Set, AV Hardware and live-actor interactions were still in creative and technical flux but our multi-talented and versatile team have extensive and expert experience in dealing with these complexities in a calm and always ambitious way – the end results representing maximum creative agency for both the visitor and client”

Ben Squires, Producer

EDUCATION

Josh Barker from the education team at the National Space Centre advised on the kinds of information he usually presents to a family audience. Although we only expected to get a few of these points across, we managed to get most of them into the final experience.

  • Martian dust devils can be up to fifty times as wide and ten times as high as terrestrial dust devils, and large ones may pose a threat to terrestrial technology sent to Mars
  • Martian surface gravity is only 37% of the Earth’s (meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars).
  • The largest mountain on Mars and any planet in the solar system in Olympus Mons. It is also the largest Volcano in the Solar System.
  • Mars is usually pretty cold; its average temperature is -55 degrees Celsius
  • Early tourism will require tourists to be play active role on the mission
  • Martian settlers will have to drink recycled urine
  • Mars is very dry
  • Dust Storms are common on Mars
  • Mars used to have liquid water including rivers and oceans on the surface
  • Winds on Mars reach 60mph which is half the speed of a hurricane on Earth and feel less intense than winds of comparable speed on Earth
  • The soil on Mars is poisonous
  • Mars receives dangerous amounts of radiation due to the lack of atmosphere
  • Space vehicles will most likely reuse all waste products as radiation protection for journeys to mars

These facts are delivered within the context of human spaceflight and colonisation rather than dry facts.

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LOOK AND FEEL

The overall look and feel of the attraction is ’1980’s sci-fi vacation’. It has the vivid colour palette of cyberpunk films from the 1980’s but feels closer to a current-day vacation abroad (in other words, it has neon electric feel but is grounded in more realistic real-world design). For example, the Mars base looks like something you would expect to see from NASA but the lighting setup is Miami pink and neon electric blue. Neon light strips are used as boundary markers.

Mission to Mars draws upon the style and design of sci-fi futuristic movies from the eighties. It also uses aesthetic tropes from that era, computer games, films, technology and advertising.

Below is our moodboard for the five rooms and overall feel of the experience that we would be producing media for.

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IMMERSIVE DIRECTION

Our in-house Dev Team used the model from the Eden Project set design team to build a VR Portal of the exhibition space. This allowed the production team to continually test media throughout the course of the project and develop the immersive direction for the experience. Every room within the experience had it’s own unique challenges and constraints. Understanding how the audience would move through the space and the limitations of movement and visual field directly impacted how we designed the media. We had to strike a balance between the action from the actors in the rooms and the action on the media, making sure the viewers felt transported by both the narrative and experiential moments.

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Below is an overview of our immersive pipeline as we take a project from concept, through to installation continually developing the experience and story alongside each other. We early VR visualisation we made for each room. These videos also helped the client understand how the media would work within the complex mapped environments.

We worked with Hannah from Story Juice to finalise the script and work with the actors on-site to refine the timings between media and performance.

AV DESIGN

We worked on the initial AV design to help inform the immersive experience. Developing this early in the schedule helped us understand the scope of the project, what the AV requirements should be and what specification would be required for the media. We worked within very tight budgetary and technical constraints; re-purposing pre-owned AV where possible. This initial design was then handed off to Tom at Jolt Media to do the final design and integration.

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THE EXPERIENCE

The final experience is phenomenal. The excitement is tangible. When experienced as part of a huge group it absolutely comes alive and the buzz is infectious. When there is no full size mock-up until just before opening you have to rely on VR and years of collective immersive storytelling experience to get an accurate sense for the final thing. When it all comes crashing out of the virtual world and into the real one there is always a small sense of relief when it hits all the marks and exceeds your hopes.

People emerge from the exhibition feeling surprised to be back at The Eden Project, the kids get their passports stamped to say they were there and everyone goes away feeling as though they had been completely transported to another place.

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“The kids were mesmerised on the rocket experience to Mars”

Visitor comment

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“It was out of this world! Highly recommended”

Cornwall Today

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TECHNICAL SPECS

Media was created for 5 different zones with guests being phased through each area with a 7 minutes of visuals and audio in each area with synchronized playback across 15 screens and 7 projectors in total. That’s about 47 million pixels rendered across 63 thousand frames. Quite a lot of media produced within a tight deadline but the end result is one where the technology disappears and people enjoy an out if this world, once in a lifetime holiday experience to Mars!

ABOUT THE EDEN PROJECT

We believe in:

Transformation ‒ it’s in our nature. We demonstrate that regeneration and positive change are possible.

Connection. We connect people with each other and the living world that we all depend on for resources (such as food, medicines, materials) and services (such as climate regulation, air conditioning, water recycling). We provoke people to think about the challenges that are faced in balancing the cultivation of the land for resources with conservation of the land for services.

Commonality. What we share is greater than that which separates us. We share 80% of our needs. We hope to inspire people to engage and explore their commonalities because by working together we can achieve more. All of our stories pick up threads from this overarching narrative. It demonstrates hope and connects us before any challenges are posed. A positive approach showing that challenges can be overcome. A symbol of hope.

Find out more about The Eden Project: https://www.edenproject.com/eden-story

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ABOUT NSC CREATIVE

NSC Creative is an award-winning studio that specialises in immersive content for XR, Fulldome, Theme Parks and Museums with over 18 years of experience. Heralded globally as innovators of immersion, they have installed immersive experiences in a 1000+ venues across 70 countries in 25 languages. The studio has a wide range of expertise from pre to post production and are able to tackle the immense challenges of any immersive project. Situated at the National Space Centre, UK the studio has extensive experience of producing meaningful media, location based experiential design and captivating diverse, cross-generational audiences via immersive storytelling.

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