VR as Trojan Content
Remember the ADP VR/360 project we shared a couple weeks ago?
In addition to the three-minute visual experience reinforcing ADP’s reputation as a cutting-edge company, the key marketing opportunity was delivering thousands of bold-branded Google cardboard viewers which now shout "ADP" on thousands of HR executive’s desks.
Our team of artists was excited to combine the CGI and VFX components with the live action for the project. We hadn’t yet seen a lot of graphics seamlessly combined with stereo 360/VR video, although it’s quickly becoming our most common request since the fast-adoption of mobileVR and creative agencies looking for innovative twists on media.
Digital agency York and Chapel was tasked with presenting ADP’s newest software update using an innovative technique that would attract the attention of busy HR professionals. The production company, Malka Media, directed by Jeff Frommer asked us at Mechanism Digital to design an eye-catching concept to add a new dimension into 360/VR. After a few days of partnering with the client to learn the goal of the campaign, Mechanism’s lead designer, Fangge Chen, and I developed an idea displaying a virtual array of CGI holograms which would float in space around the viewer and be triggered by actor’s interactions.
As VFX supervisor, I worked closely on set with Ben Schwartz, arguably one of the best 360 DPs in NY, who shot the live action back plates using a Nokia Ozo 360 stereo camera. The camera was mounted at eye level on a remote-control rover giving the ability to drive around ADP’s funky Innovation Lab in Chelsea and visit different rooms. Because the camera traveled about 60 feet we were not able to monitor a live/wired feed from the camera and had to review the footage between each take using the Ozo’s convenient cartridge. With the need for long takes and about 40 actors, I don’t think we could have pulled off the shoot as fast as we did with any other camera.
In post, CGI & VFX my staff at Mechanism digital worked carefully to track and seamlessly composite holographic design elements into the footage. We built and animated elements in After Effects, rendered them into stereo-space using Maya 3D outputting the equirectangular format to be seamlessly composited back into the live action using After Effects with Mocha VR & Mettle’s Skybox and finally laying back the spatial audio in Premiere.
We are proud of the spherical content and attention to detail that went into the project, although it makes me laugh to think the film was a bit of a Trojan Horse. We trust the customers still enjoyed the experience while learning about ADPs products. I expect we’ll see more smart agencies using this content strategy as an excuse to deliver branded desk toys to customers.
Mechanism Digital is a CGI, VFX and New Development studio which collaborates with brand partners to develop strategies with innovative media.