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Winter Wayfinder

Bringing the magic of Christmas to iconic Melbourne locations

An HTV Vive headset mockup playing a preview video.
The Winter Wayfinder VR Experience joined a collection of Christmas-themed artworks and experiential installations for the City of Melbourne’s 2018 Christmas activation, spreading the holiday spirit far and wide.

Interact with reindeer, snowmen, and dancing Christmas trees to uncover hidden characters. Reveal secrets, find Santa Clause, and watch the snow build as iconic Melbourne locations are transformed into winter wonderlands!

We were presented with

The Challenge

To create photo-realistic 3D environments for Bourke St Mall and Queen Elizabeth Markets, transform these locations into winter wonderlands, and develop efficient ways of achieving a complex array of visual effects on mobile VR devices.

That became

The Solution

360 Photography + Projection Mapping

For the creation of the environments, we worked closely with Traffik to find a technique that would produce assets both believable, and optimised for mobile devices. We advised the client’s in house team on the best technique to achieve the effect: using high resolution 360 photography and projection mapping.
An image of 360 photography and projection mapping being used to create believable imagery
An image of a reindeer being reflected in a puddle in Winter Wayfinder, a mobile VR experience developed by Sydney based Game Development Studio Chaos Theory Games

Optimised for Real-time

Real-time reflections are notoriously performance intensive. We used a technique developed for old Playstation 2 games to fake reflections: Rendering inverted geometry on a separate render layer and using a custom shader to simulate a realistic fade.

We also generated custom particle effects to achieve the various motion blur effect required by the client, as real-time motion blur is very performance intensive and currently not feasible on mobile VR hardware.

Managing Power Consumption

The activation ran for 28 days straight, and needed to consume less power than a 5v charger provides. To reduce battery use, we focused on art asset optimization, effective asset management/culling/batching, and throttled CPU usage when the headset was in standby (which doesn’t happen by default for some reason).

We fine-tuned the experience to use ~80% of the battery charge throughout the day, finely balancing the fidelity and performance of the app.
An image of the Winter Wayfinder VR headsets connected to large battery stations

Which led to

The Results

Stunning Visuals

The final result is a lifelike depiction of Bourke St and Queen Elizabeth Markets which left audiences jumping for joy.
A screenshot from Winter Wayfinder, a mobile VR experience developed by Sydney based Game Development Studio Chaos Theory Games
An image of the Winter Wayfinder mobile VR stand

Successful Activation

The app performed well over the Christmas period, with hundreds experiencing the immersive world within the Winter Wayfinder
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