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Virtual Theater

A VR powered movie viewing experience powered by Atom that allows people to simultaneously watch movies with the ones that matter to them most, no matter the distance

 My Role: Ideation, UX/UI Design, Visual Design, Branding, Prototyping, Testing

Introduction

The Mission

For people in long distance relationships, the distance is a barrier that prevents people from doing regular activities.

The Opportunity

Atom Tickets is a challenger movie ticketing service, that's goal is to bring people together to watch films.​

The Idea

What if there was a way to be able to watch a movie with people that are thousands of miles apart?

Virtual Theater by Atom Tickets

A VR experience that connects distanced people through virtual movie-going.

Virtual Theater by Atom

The virtual theater is a VR  and real world experience that creates private virtual rooms for people to enjoy screenings of new or current films. Moviegoers select the movie desired, schedule a time that works best for all parties, choose the snacks they want, and purchase virtual seats to movies. Before the screening begins, Atom Tickets sends each party a Movie Box that is filled with movie essentials and VR glasses to recreate the experience of being in the actual movie theater.

Setting Up a Party

Setting up a party for Virtual Theater is simple. Through the Atom Tickets app, moviegoers select a movie they want to see,  schedule a future date that works best for their party,  select their favorite snacks, and purchase. Everything else is handled by Atom Tickets.

The setup process includes:

  • Movie Box Size Selection​

  • Feature Film Selection

  • Movie Party Details

  • Time Selection

  • Concessions

Movie Box

The Movie Box is the core of the Virtual Theater experience. The Movie Box is a branded box that arrives before your scheduled movie premiere and includes all of the best parts of a movie theater.

The box includes:

Setup Instructions

VR Cardboard Headsets

Popcorn, Drinks, and Candy 

Movie Paraphernalia (ie: movie posters, small items, etc)

Small samples of treats from the other member's Movie Box

The Virtual Theater

The Virtual Theater is where the movie viewing takes place. The Virtual Theater is modeled after a living room, but other special treatments can be accessed as well.

A little bit before the movie's scheduled start time, and all the popcorn is popped, virtual moviegoers can access the dedicated virtual theater site and setup their phones to access the movie.

 

This experience is best used with headphones to not only hear the movie better, but because live-chat features are built in so that moviegoers can talk with the people in their parties while watching the film.

Virtual Theater Renderings in Unity

Virtual Theater Renderings in Unity

Exploration

Inspiration from the military

When I was born, my dad was deployed overseas. For majority of my life, my dad was away and he always wanted ways to connect with my brother and I. The best way we found was enjoying movies and them talking about them on the phone, or writing letters about the films we had both seen.

As I grew up, and moved to college, my family became even more spread out, and we longer for ways to interact with each other. Taking inspiration from my own experience, I wanted to create an experience that could fill the void for people that are in long distance relationships. Relationships here being any type of connection that someone may have with another person.

Why Atom Tickets?

Atom Tickets was founded in 2012 and has since been a challenger brand to ticketing services such as Fandango. However, a key difference with Atom Tickets is their understanding of movie going being a social experience that is often shared with another person(s). Atom takes this into consideration by including options in their ticketing interface to add a friend to a movie ticket, pick out seats before hand, and even pre-select your snacks so they are ready when you arrive.

Atom Tickets branding matched the sentiment that I wanted to incorporate into this new experience.

Ideation

Dissecting Movie Theaters

At first I wanted to understand the theater experience. This was no hard task, as I love going to the movies. One Saturday, I went to a couple of local theaters and documented all of the touch-points between selecting a movie and throwing your popcorn bucket away at the end.

These trips allowed me to a greater look into into the foundations of the movie theater experience. The two main components of a theater that I knew I needed to incorporate where: the concessions & the auditorium's vibe.

Dissecting Atom Tickets Brand

Though I had used Atom Tickets in the past, I knew that I needed to do a deep dive into their branding to better understand their current brand and current user interface & experience.

This mainly included creating a design palette from their existing mobile app and conducting desktop research on their brand values.

Selecting a Technology Medium

The main obstacle in a long distance relationship is the distance. To overcome this challenge, I knew that I needed to incorporate some sort of technology that could seemingly erase the feeling of distance.

The first idea was to use video calling, to create a co-watching experience. Though this may be cost effect, and easy to use across multiple people. Video calling would hinder the ability to re-create the feeling of being in a movie theater.

Pushing this idea further, Virtual Reality (VR) was capable of recreating the vibe of being in a movie theater. The drawbacks to this solution are the feasibility of VR (ie: what to do about headsets) and the lack of being able to see the person. However, VR was the more viable option because of the experience that could be crafted within the virtual world that otherwise not of been afforded through other mediums.

DESIGNING & TESTING

Concept Validation

Before moving ahead with the idea, I tested the concept with some of my classmates. Overall feedback was positive, with some critique on the selection of Atom Tickets and the overall experience. With this feedback, I was able to iterate on the design in order to further enhance the feeling of movie going and strengthen the connection to the concept and Atom Tickets.

Crafting the Experience

The aesthetics of the experience was a combination of Atom Ticket's branding, colors & vibes from movie theaters, movies & filmography, and the experience of long distance relationships.

The colors and type were derived from Atom Tickets branding. The overall inclusion of the movie box and other movie centered addition, such as rooms Themed after movies were derived from movies themselves.

Color Scheme from Atom Tickets

Building the Experience

In order to build on this experience I wanted to think through the experience in totality. The initial party scheduling and selection designs were created in Sketch. With colors and type derived from the current Atom Tickets brand, I conducted an audit of the current app to make note of new components that would be essential to this experience. Those components including, movie selection, adding members to the group, interface for selecting concessions, and the VR experience onboarding.

Current Atom Tickets UI

Examples of new UI Created

Explorations with VR Onboarding

Next, I wanted to prototype the Movie Box to understand the items that would go inside and the overall experience of receiving the box. This was primarily done by finding & buying supplies and then making the box. From there, I created another mock of the box using Photoshop. 

Movie Box Prototype

Finally, I wanted to create a VR experience to bring to life the Virtual Theater. To create this experience, I first made a simple layout to think through the spacing and placement of the virtual objects. After, I built the virtual space using Unity. Using Unity allowed me to virtual go in the space and test out the overall vibe of the experience. Once the space was created, I had random classmates test out the VR experience to provide feedback on the overall experience.

Virtual Theater Layout Plan

Virtual Theater Scene in Unity

Reflection

Dear Diary...

This project was a great insight into how my own experiences can inform design solutions for a wider audience. I enjoyed getting to touch all types of mediums with this project, including, digital, physical creating, and then learn VR production to create a working prototype of a VR experience.

Tools Used:

Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop,  Unity, My Bare Hands