Saturday 21 July 2018
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Richards Group uses New Technology “VR Puppeting” for GameStop’s Destiny 2

Richards Group uses New Technology “VR Puppeting” for GameStop’s Destiny 2

Instant Gratification for GameStop’s Destiny 2 Spot

The Richards Group honed in on the main reason that motivates video game players in the first place; to be thrown into strange, wonderful and sometimes alien worlds. For the simple yet versatile social media spot for GameStop‘s new game Destiny 2, the creative team decided to use virtual reality to show the instantaneous nature of video games. They put their own actors into the gaming world through a new technique called VR character puppeting.

We asked Sam Langford, Brand Creative/Art Director at TRG a few questions about this technology and the production process.

AdChat DFW: Is technology “VR character puppeting” new and how did you decide to use it for this campaign?

Langford:  VR character puppeting” is brand new. As far as we can tell, we’re the first to use it in an advertising setting. It uses a mixture of off-the-shelf and developer-level VR hardware to record the movements of actors and translate that into digitally-animated avatars. It’s essentially a motion capture like you’d see in a major motion picture, albeit a much simplified, accessible, and time-efficient evolution. I discovered the technology through the entrepreneurial journey of Will Smith as he left to found FOO VR. I watched the first episode of his “virtual reality talk show” where he interviews game devs inside the games that they’ve built and knew that this would be an awesome technology to leverage for our campaign.

AdChat DFW:  The main idea is about “instant gratification” in the spot, how does that work into the product’s campaign.

Langford: Instant gratification” is the name of our :15 social spot for Destiny 2. Our brief was to show the convenience that a digital pre-load of a game (rather than a physical copy) provides on release day. However, in a way, “instant gratification” is also embodied in our process, as we are able to see our digital avatars roughly composited into the game worlds on monitors on set as our actors perform live. It’s really cool to see the actors movements translated to the digital avatars in one to one.

Our team at The Richards Group has been doing Machinima-style spots for GameStop for a long time. For those not in the know, machinima is essentially playing a video game to us game characters as actors to tell a story. These spots have been very successful; however, we’ve encountered problems in keeping our edgy, humorous tone while also respecting the intentions of the game developers and publishers. The “In the Game” campaign with the Brooks and Kyle characters was a win-win solution to this problem. Our characters explore the gaming worlds and provide humorous commentary without interfering with the game worlds or putting words in the game characters mouths.

AdChat DFW:  Can you walk us through the production process?

Langford: For the spots in our campaign, we follow a very specific workflow.  After writing and storyboarding the spots, we perform a machinima capture within the video game. We capture the scenes that our digital avatars will inhabit, controlling for camera angle and framing, as well as puppeting the video game characters to perform the action for our digital avatars to narrate and react to. Once we have all of this together, we move into something that resembles an actual shoot. On set, our actors wear their VR gear and do their thing to bring the digital avatars to life. Digitally, the avatars move around within a virtual set with controlled lighting and camera angles that match the video game scene. The computers capture the action in 2D on a digital green screen and everything is polished and married together in VFX post processing.

AdChat DFW:  Were the actors for the spot cast from a local talent agency or are they TRG creatives?

Langford:  In the process of developing the characters of Brooks and Kyle, we knew that we needed physical actors to control the nuanced actions of the digital avatars. We also knew that the comedy of our spots would come across much better if our actors had improv talent. We went through casting and call backs in NYC and discovered Brian Morabito (Brooks) and Camrus Johnson (Kyle). When we brought them in to read together, we saw that they were a perfect embodiment of Brooks and Kyle. Fun side note—since many people experience nausea and disorientation while in VR and our actors would be required to act in the world of VR for extended periods, we brought a VR rig to the call backs and let the talent play in VR games to make sure they would be comfortable with it.

Shot by VOO VR and composited by Moontower VFX, the technique instantaneously captures and animates the movements of live actors. Greg Omelchuck, animator for Moontower VR stated, “We enjoyed compositing the two mediums of VR live capture and Destiny 2 game footage together. It was fun to be a part of such an interesting project.”

Here’s a little behind the scenes video about how it works…

Here’s the spot…

Here’s another GameStop spot from TRG using the same technique…



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