SCAD-stranauts: SCAD Day’s Destination Imagination
By Marie Defreitas
This weekend Crites Hall welcomed SCAD Day visitors with a unique experience. Game design and themed entertainment majors presented their collaborative work to create a virtual reality, or VR, experience of boarding a SCAD rocket lifting into space.
Debriefed by Star Trek-esque greeters, you enter through the theater doors into the dark, cluttered room–something like a futuristic haunted house. Walking towards your destination through green laser lights, smoke and nets hanging from the ceiling, the mission is explained by a cheerful, futuristic host.
After your hand is scanned by a technician to ensure approval for the SCAD mission, you are allowed up the stairs to your color coordinated base. With the aid of the lead SCAD-stranaut (wearing a space suit, helmet and all) you step into the ship.
Once in your seat, encapsulated by the glowing blue light and metallic details of the control room, your headset is secured and take off is underway. Countdown begins. The metal walls peel open, dust flies upwards around you and you are blasted fast and high above the city of Savannah.
Making your way through the Earth’s atmosphere, you can look down at our blue-green planet. Then a voice comes on your headset, but not just any voice. Narrating the trip was the voice of South African actress Alice Krige, popularly known as the Borg Queen from “Star Trek: First Contact”.
Krige’s voice guides you through an inspirational narrative of what connects us as humans: “Imagination and creativity are the forces that unite us,” she says, “…we are unique and united in our creative community, that is the power of art and design. We are meant to move humanity forward, to inspire, to make the world a better place.” As you listen, the earth, stemming from SCAD’s campus, is lit up by golden lights that halo around the planet’s edge. Comet-like strips of light wrap around the globe and disperse like millions of fireflies, ending in a burst of light.
After this, the ship gently descends back down over and into Savannah–the mission is complete. As you are guided out, greeters scan you one last time and assure you your creativity levels are high.
This amazing VR experience was made possible by the hard working, talented students of the game design and themed entertainment departments. Months of working on this project in programs like Maya, Substance Painter, and Headus UV, created the flight. Each detail, from the metallic shine of the ship, to the leather of the seat, to the glow of the planets and stars, was created by these student hands.
Coding this project was alone was a massive undertaking. The rocket that launches you out of the atmosphere, transitioning from a clear blue sky to the starry night of space and timing each headset to work in sync were two major aspects. Animating consisted of things like triggering the smoke and sound effects, and moving the rocket through space, while things like particle effects, done in the Unreal Engine, made the shimmering light around the earth and the diffusion of smoke come to life around you.
The event made SCAD day a little more exciting for visitors and “future” students.