The Water Treatment Process – 360 Experience



Project Summary

Severn Trent, a state-owned water authority based in the Midlands, is responsible for the waste water treatment and disposal, and water supply management for the Midlands, located in the catchment areas of the Severn and the Trent, two of Britain’s largest rivers.

Educating the local community on this important resource is fundamental to Severn Trent’s community work and we were tasked with creating a fun and engaging VR experience aimed at 7-9 year olds which demonstrated the journey water takes in the complete water treatment cycle.


The Brief

In conjunction with Because xm, Austella was tasked with transforming a dry and technically complex 8-minute video demonstrating the process of water purification and waste treatment into a fun and engaging experience to help convey three key messages to school children:

  • The value of clean water and to not waste it
  • Water is good for your health and the importance of keeping hydrated
  • To not put things down the toilet and drains that block the water/waste treatment process

The experience is featuring in a larger roadshow event whereby branded trucks tour UK schools throughout 2018/19. It was important to Severn Trent that the children were also informed of the complex processes involved to ensure they were comfortable that waste water (once cleaned) is safe and healthy to drink.


The Challenge

The two main challenges to this experience were:

  • The original source material for the experience was an uninspiring 8 minute video which needed to be represented in the VR experience, however 7-9 year olds typically have a short attention span.
  • Realistic imagery of the water treatment process is not particularly appealing and could have the opposite effect on the children i.e. putting them off drinking water, so this needed to be addressed stylistically.

The Execution

Testing demonstrated that 3 minutes was the maximum length of experience that maintained the focus of the target audience, therefore the result was a 3 minute whistle-stop tour of the process cycle. A character was created to act as a visual guide through the experience.

The environment was delivered in a low-poly style – this was an important consideration as tests concluded that children tended to engage with a less realistic, more cartoon style. Fun story elements and characters were added to provide light entertainment – what child doesn’t love poo!




Technical Detail

  • The final experience was a non-interactive, pre-rendered CGI 360 video, which was essential for getting the throughput of children taking the experience. The project was developed in Unity and After Effects with a custom soundtrack.



The Result

The experience was rolled out as part of the bigger Severn Trent education campaign in June 2018 and is set to run for 12 months. The experience will be seen by 3000 children every month.

Following viewing, the children were asked a number of questions to test the effectiveness of the experience and the spontaneous recall rate was way in excess of expectations and needless to say, a major improvement over the previous, standard 8 minute video.

If your business needs help on how to convey technical subject matter to a non-technical audience in a compelling and engaging format, please contact us.