The UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) mission in Somalia primarily focuses around counter IED (improvised explosive device) training for soldiers in the AMSOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) with a view to reopening MSR (Main supply routes) to FOBs (Forward operating bases).
Our first challenge was to work out how best to immerse people in this story. How could we show people, both inside and outside Somalia, the challenges and dangers faced by these soldiers every day as they go about this very dangerous, and dare we say, heroic work? It seemed an obvious use-case for VR to us – by putting the participant in the soldier’s boots they could see, hear and feel what the soldiers face on a daily basis.
We set out to make our most cinematic VR experience to date. The overall concept was to employ our technique of mixing real footage with computer-generated imagery in a game engine to maximise the believability and therefore the emotional impact of the experience. Filming took place in Mogadishu in March as it was important to us that we fully understood the terrain and wanted to experience first-hand what these UNMAS workers do, which is why we travelled in a convoy through Mogadishu to one of AMISOMs Forward Operating Bases about 30Km from the city. The end result is a tension-filled experience that tests the observation skills, patience and leadership of those willing to take the challenge.