Adweek’s Project Isaac Awards: A Virtual, Human Experience

What was the insight that led to this invention?

There were various insights that led to this invention. The first was that we were working with many different hardware, software and service companies all on the development of consumer-facing VR. We felt that to help the industry progress and to have VR become more widely accepted, a demonstration of content that set a new bar was needed. We worked to achieve something that blended artistic expression with photo realism and social connections because those things were lacking in existing VR experiences.

Secondly, we felt that we could do something big in terms of content production and workflow / pipeline. The challenge that many companies have faced with VR/AR was that creating great content was too expensive or complicated. A lot of the work that went into Aeronaut was to turn the content production model on its head and take illustrated content and animate it, along with capturing the artist in volumetric video – something that had been done before in small bits, not to the extent that we were able to do with Viacom, Microsoft and Billy Corgan.


How did it perform compared to expectations?

We exceeded our own expectations honestly. We were able to use a single team of 7 people to go from initial storyboard to released music video in 6.5 weeks and output a fully interactive experience in just a bit more time. The user reactions have been the most amazing part – people experience Aeronaut and afterwards often find themselves amazed, and sometimes in tears. It is very moving. What began as technical exploration has become a very emotional and meaningful experience that taps something very human.


What was the most interesting/surprising element of it (whether part of the creative or development process, consumer reaction etc)?

I think that the biggest surprise that our team has had has been the emotional reactions people have had to it. We wanted to make something that was interesting and meaningful, but we ended up with something with the added bonus of it being really emotionally fulfilling and very human.


Can you please update/provide any statistics related to the success of this initiative?

The project continues to be featured at events and through release by Viacom. We are currently in discussions to modify the experience to run on the new, more portable VR headsets. The reinvention of the Billy Corgan brand has been very successful as his reunification of the Smashing Pumpkins has been very successful, and this project was part of the overall attempt to kickstart that prior to the big reunion tour (in its second leg now).


Anything else you’d like me to know about this project?

 It was just a joy to work on and it always thrills us to see people use it. We hope to make some more improvements to it over time as we never considered it to be a “one and done” type of experience. It is meant to evolve, and we plan to continue to add to it over time when we can.