Responses by Jean-François Chainé, vice president, operations, Frédéric Marchand, president/creative director and Quentin Hocdé, front-end developer, Locomotive
Background: Locomotive released its first internal Pilot® R&D project, Moment Zero, an immersive experience inside worldwide seismic activity using USGS Open Data, VR technology and WebGL. This website is aimed at a technology and design-savvy community, as well as anyone with an interest in Mother Earth and its behaviors. It is also a recruitment tool to help us attract the best talent.
Highlights: Moment Zero can be experienced on multiple platforms. Experimenting with VR technology, Open Data Visualization in 360 degrees and WebGL, users can choose a year and experiment earthquakes through a whole 365 days segment.
Challenges: Building a bridge connecting something very raw and a highly immersive concept such as virtual reality in 360 degrees; managing different renderings and controllers so that the experience is seamless on all types of devices; and representing a map-o-sphere using particles and a set of colors. It needed to have enough particles to create a nice rendering, but also light enough to not lag the overall experience and navigation.
Favorite details: About eighteen months ago, Locomotive chose to put their talent at the center of company culture and created Pilot®—a way to empower team members to express their creativity and curiosity through internal projects that they can manage on their own, like Moment Zero. It’s also a great way to develop reflexes and be ready for what’s next in an ever-evolving market.
Navigational structure: We created a fluid storyline around some kind of a dashboard view, focusing most of the action in the center of the screen on a sight-like user interface. While exploring different Open Data options for this project, we also used a time and place, a force (magnitude) and a geoposition (latitude and longitude).
Time constraints: The biggest challenge was investing enough time and resources into Moment Zero while maintaining a regular flow of paid client work. We lost our focus on a few occasions and we ended up taking almost eighteen months to come up with a final product that was satisfactory to the whole team.
Anything new: We went out of our comfort zone and we learned a whole lot. Navigating through the 360 VR technology meant developing 3-D skills in order to be fully immersed in this dimension, and this project had to be web-based to develop the knowhow we were looking for with this Pilot® challenge.