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The “Ballooning to Paris” experience was part of the Tour du Monde en 8 minutes (Around the World in 8 minutes) project produced in 3 weeks between April and September 2016. I had the chance to collaborate with two excellent mates: Marion Laillé and Paul Le Texier. We then had the opportunity to show the experience during the Nantes Digital Week event, where more than a thousand-people enjoyed the travel! The event included 3 other projects produced by classmates, covering India, Asia and America and completing the travel around the world.
This project is a virtual reality contemplative experience taking place on board of a hot air balloon and freely inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the world in 80 days. The user is given the chance to fly as Phileas Fogg and his famous valet Jean Passepartout as they leave London. Their flight in Europe might not be as straight as expected, but they will eventually reach Paris to pursue their journey.
To offer an original flying experience without spending thousands of euros in it, we chose to build a fake hot air balloon basket in wood. The user wore an HTC Vive headset tracking the head and body movements aboard of the basket, and immerging him into the experience. Some fans placed at the bottom of the basket gave a bit of a windy effect, and the four guide-bars were fully synchronized with the one in the VR, allowing people to grab them and even to lean over. Although the whole setup looked a bit quick and dirty, it worked surprisingly well and people loved it!
The overall design and the user experience part of the project were really a team effort. We planned the assets production and I then mainly worked on 3D modeling for the two urban areas of the experience (London and Paris), reproducing with a cartoony style the most iconic elements. I also designed a quick style guide and built the fake basket with Paul Le Texier. We then had the whole package to experiment with prototypes.
The prototyping phase was done in the Unity game engine.
We presented the experience during 8 days for the Nantes Digital Week, a local tech industry festival. In order to promote the project, I designed a few posters to decorate and communicate. We did a quick setup to welcome people in a warm atmosphere, and we had some excellent feedbacks from more than a thousand users !