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Jude Senese, art director/associate creative director
Rick McHugh, writer/creative director
Kyle Mitchell, user experience designer
Rachel Clancy/Jacqueline Hull, design
Kevin Daley, group creative director
David Banta, executive creative director
Lance Jensen, chief creative officer
Michelle McCudden/Cory Tucker, strategists
Allie Pirolli, strategic planner
Linda Lewi, senior brand strategist
Carolyn Dowd, art buyer
Andrew Barnett/Tracy Brady/Rob Gilcrest/Mike Rubenstein, agency producers
Mark Duffy/Elizabeth Dunbar/Liane Nadeau/Katie Thompson, senior media producers
Julie Heger/Jenn O'Neil/Matt Villone, project managers
Dan Goldstein/Ryan Healey, researchers
Framestore, digital effects company
MKG, production company
Hill Holliday, project design and development/ad agency
Merrell, client

“This was one of my favorite entries. Virtual reality doesn’t always live up to the promise to bring you to another place, but this project clearly did.” —juror Drew Ungvarsky

“It’s rare to be transported into a virtual world simulating real life in a real way. The added experience of walking a great distance with sensitivity to motion makes a lifelike virtual reality experience a pretty good substitute for the real thing… especially when needing to test a real product in an extreme situation.” —juror Megan Meeker

Overview: Hikers were taken on a beautiful, sometimes terrifying trek through Italy’s Dolomites mountain range—all from the safety of an indoor space in Utah. To launch Merrell’s Capra boot, Hill Holliday went to the Sundance Film Festival to present Merrell TrailScape, the very first commercial walk-around virtual reality (VR) experience. Users could explore the space at their own pace as a guide talked to them via a walkie-talkie heard in their Oculus Rift helmet. Crossing a rope bridge, avoiding a rockslide and traversing a harrowing ridge felt even more lifelike thanks to 4-D elements like an actual rope bridge, rumbling floor and rock wall. At the top of the summit, a stunning view greeted the courageous virtual hikers.

•The project took ten months to produce.
•Hill Holliday worked with visual effects company Framestore.
•The VR aspect of the project was developed in Unreal, using C++ as the main coding language. For motion capture, it featured the OptiTrack motion-capture system, which uses Motive to translate the camera captures into usable data.

Comments by Framestore, Rick McHugh and Mike Rubenstein:
What do you think are the project’s core features? “The 4-D elements that we incorporated were critical in bringing the experience to life. The physical environment was mapped exactly to match the virtual layout—you felt wind in your face, you touched rope when you saw rope, you felt rock when you saw rock—thus amplifying the feeling of immersion.”

Are there any other technical features you’d like to call attention to? “The unique aspect of this project was the development of a proprietary system that enables the data from the motion-capture system to be translated in real time to the machine running the VR experience. This enabled us to host the first-ever public VR experience in which you can explore the space by fully walking around an area at your own pace.”

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The largest obstacle came during the final days of installation. The headset we used incorporates a suite of sensors that included an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer, all of which worked perfectly in New York City at sea level—and none of which had been tested in the mountains around Park City, Utah. On site, something—probably a combination of the altitude and the mineral makeup of the mountains—began wreaking havoc with the magnetic sensors in the headset. The team had to pull an all-nighter the evening before we opened our doors to recalibrate everything.”


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