Janimation’s Incredible Virtual Reality Hot Air Balloon | Sky is Limit for Branding Opportunities
VR is a Must Have Experience for Marketers and Agency Creatives
For over two decades, Janimation Studios has been known as a leading animation company in Dallas-Ft. Worth, working on commercials, feature films and AAA video games. Now they have surged upwards into new horizons with their virtual reality hot air balloon ride.
Steve Gaconnier, President and CEO for Janimation, invited me to experience the ride first hand at their new studios to see if it would make a good story for AdChat DFW. I thought to myself that this should be interesting considering the high-caliber of work Janimation regularly punches out. Also, I’ve always wanted take a hot air balloon ride.
I seriously had no expectations other than I thought it would be me in a basket floating above the trees. How calming, I thought and was looking forward to a peaceful ride. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
When I arrived, Steve had his “flight crew” ready to assist me. They wore jump suits branded with Janimation’s logo. (Branding opp #1) I noted. The actual rig was compiled of authentic hot air balloon basket and burners as well as a hefty system of cables and pulleys which were designed to mechanically interact directly with the virtual reality animation. I was instructed that I could move the hot air lever to control how high the basket lifted off the ground. The VR headgear and headphones were placed on my head and I heard my “flight captain” loud and clear. A 360-degree desert landscape surrounded me including sand dunes, buttes, a four-wheel drive vehicle and a buzzard-like bird I later learned was a Harpy Eagle. How very cool!
I was ready to go! Or so I thought.
When I moved the lever, the balloon lurched upward only a foot or so physically, but visually I lifted 30 feet in one second. I felt it in my stomach and also felt the warmth from the balloon burners…whoa!
What a rush!
I moved the lever again and lifted another 30 feet, then another! I was getting brave. Looking down the balloon floated over a babbling stream, which I also heard in my headset, and the bird joined me in the air, close enough to touch and hear. I waved to people in another hot air balloon a short distance away and thought (Branding opp #2.)
Then the fun began. The ride started taking me dangerously close to the rocks, so close I was seriously scared. That happened two or three more times and each time, I mentally knew I would not crash, but physically I truly thought I would.
It was that real!
Within a few minutes, my flight captain brought me in for a soft and safe landing next to another grounded balloon. (Branding opp #3)
After I took off my headgear, Steve and I chatted about how Janimation created the ride. It includes programming the 3D animation to interact with the actual person. It’s not just an animation, it’s a combination of mechanical and software engineering that adds that third dimension that makes all the difference to the experience.
With the recent launch of the Oculus Rift, and other readily available headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR, Sony PS VR and many others, it won’t be long till this technology goes mainstream. Estimates currently predict the VR market to top $30 billion by 2020. Some of the most obvious applications for virtual reality already include:
- Live events: VR would be a great for a company party.
- Product Launches: You could realistically show your product before it’s manufactured to get relevant audience feedback
- Real Estate : Imaging being able to do a VR walk through of a high-end property.
- Medicine: Surgical training to see an actual operation through the eyes of a surgeon.
- Military: Training armed forces for battlefield situations.
Attention marketers and agencies!
Virtual reality is a branding experience you must explore as an opportunity to offer your target audience something way beyond what can ever be offered in 2D. You now have the power to create any scenario for your product, programming total emotional immersion with multiple levels of realistic interaction with your brand identity. I’m here to tell you first hand, that unless you have actually experienced VR at this level, you will have no idea what I’m talking about. Reach out to Steve Gaconnier with Janimation and I’m sure they will be happy fill in the details on how to get started. Remember the sky is the limit!
Watch some highlights from my ride…