The Moon Experience

Graduate Researcher - MFA Thesis Project
Cheng Zhang, MFA Design | DAIM and PhD Candidate, Computer Science & Engineering

Faculty Advisors
Alan Price, Associate Professor, Design | ACCAD
Richard Parent, Professor, Computer Science & Engineering
Maria Palazzi, Professor, Design | ACCAD

Student Collaborators
Thomas Heban, Design | DAIM, MFA Candidate (Motion-Capture & Voice Contributor)
Trent Rowland, Theatre Department (Voice)
Samantha Kuhn, Theatre, MFA Candidate (Costume Design)

Summary
The Moon Experience is an interactive and immersive virtual reality system based on the historic events of the Apollo Program (1961-1972). The goal of this thesis project is to demonstrate a solution to the design challenge of framing and creating an effective learning experience in a virtual space that would otherwise be impossible to realize in the real world. I employ technologies and approaches from multiple disciplines in the design and implementation of the system. Through the technology of virtual reality I establish the virtual lunar world, which provides participants with immersive firsthand experiences. Computer game technology reinforces the effectiveness of the learning environment, lending The Moon Experience the qualities of entertainment, deep thought, and knowledge retention. Motion capture and computer animation facilitate real-time interactions between users and the system to sustain the sensation of being on the Moon. I take into account related learning principles and narrative storytelling to give a participant the proper situated learning content. Providing a framework of narrative helps heighten the audience’s perception, trigger their imagination, and transcend the virtual reality’s current limitations. For more information about this project see The Moon Experience.