Harrods – The Great Outdoors with Oculus

The Challenge

Harrods, the British luxury department store, have partnered with Oculus VR to sell the brand’s Oculus Rift & Gear VR headsets in-store. Harrods asked Visualise to create a VR experience which would not only blow customers’ minds, but which would also underline the Harrods brand & ethos.

The experience begins outside the instantly recognisable Harrods building, before taking the viewer through the main entrance and into the foyer. There, you are presented with a CG (computer generated) menu which allows you to choose from 4 different experiences – the Northern Lights, swimming with sharks, paragliding over Mont Blanc & wingsuit flying in Switzerland. Harrods chose these 4 experiences to tie in with their ‘Great Outdoors’ campaign also running in-store.

Stitching 360° degree footage as the camera moved through such a tight doorway was a challenge

The Opening Shot

The opening tracking shot outside the department store was captured using the Motion Impossible Mantis remote dolly system at 4am in the morning to beat the traffic. Using this dolly allowed us to move the 360° camera smoothly at head height towards the building. One of the big challenges on this shoot was stitching 360° degree footage as the camera moved through such a tight doorway, so the team used advanced optical flow techniques in order to perfect this scene.

The Motion Impossible Mantis remote dolly system

Extreme Experiences

Harrods wanted to showcase VR’s unique ability to transport the viewer to a completely different location, so we chose 4 breathtaking shots from the Blend Media stock library to include in the experience. We added extra stabilisation to some of the clips to increase comfort and our in-house Head of Sound, Henrik, then produced soundscapes and sourced music to maximise the effect of the footage.

Crucially, after each experience has played, the viewer is returned to the Harrods foyer with the main menu in front of them. This brings the experience full circle and lands the viewer back in a location they recognise and are comfortable with.

The interactive menu which allows viewers to choose from 4 experiences