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District 9 campaign

From: Creative Inspirations: Trigger, Interactive Design Studio

Video: District 9 campaign

(Music playing) Evan Fisk: In winter of 2007, we talked with Sony Picture Studios. They had a new project, based on a short film, about aliens landing on the planet Earth, and they wanted this big digital campaign to kick off at Comic-Con Festival or Convention in San Diego, California for 2008. So we read an early script treatment of the movie. We figured out what it was about.

District 9 campaign

(Music playing) Evan Fisk: In winter of 2007, we talked with Sony Picture Studios. They had a new project, based on a short film, about aliens landing on the planet Earth, and they wanted this big digital campaign to kick off at Comic-Con Festival or Convention in San Diego, California for 2008. So we read an early script treatment of the movie. We figured out what it was about.

It's about aliens living in slums. They are oppressed and that's about all we knew about the film. From there, we were tasked with coming up with this campaign that would be sort of a teaser campaign for Comic-Con, where we didn't know much about the film. The film hadn't started shooting yet, but we needed to come up with something good and interesting for the ComicCon crowd, the cool, geeky, intriguing type of online marketing campaign for the movie. So, we'll start with the first site that launched, which was D-9.com.

We launched this site in July 2008, and it was meant to be an introduction for people to the world of District 9. So we've got an introduction to the site from this woman speaking out here. (Woman: Welcome to Multi National United's Local Alert System for crime updates and) (Woman: news reports in District 9) So, throughout the campaign, we have this theme of - you can be a human, who works for this giant corporation called MNU, or you can be a non-human, which is what our aliens are called. So when we launched this, there is not a lot of branding about the movie.

It just a place where if you click on some of these things, it says, "A convenience store was looted by a non- human, the MNU is looking for suspects." So there is a lot of different parts of this. It doesn't tell a lot about the film, but there is a lot of content sort of hidden in here. So we launched this site and a few others to go with it to create some interest in the world of District 9, to let people wander around, make up their own stories, see what's there, see what's not there. and introduce the concept of the film even before any footage or any actors had been signed on to play the roles.

So, all this was sort of us guessing what might happen and then we filled in the pieces later once assets and designs and everything became available too. Anthony Palacios: I mean, I think the idea behind this was really to generate more questions than answers, something to get the Comic-Con crowd talking about the film, and wondering what exactly the film was going to be about, and who the aliens were, when they came, and having just various occurrences happening throughout the map, creating something where someone could sit there and actually investigate for 5, 10 minutes.

It did generate a lot of buzz on message boards or stuff for film fans. Male Speaker: Our challenge was creating this company, making them seem real, in the world. I think the whole campaign, itself, really lent itself well in creating questions in the user, like, "What is this?" You know? And that created them to want to go view the film. Evan Fisk: So in 2009, there was a lot of underground buzz, but it was time for people to know this was actually a movie, and to have some idea of what was going on, so the campaign shifted quite a bit.

It was in 2009, early in 2009, in the spring, when we started adding links to every site from every other site. We kept a lot of these sort of parallel universe narrative going. We made it easier for people to access, so if it wasn't just people who happened to be at Convention in San Diego at Comic-Con, there is still a way for people to interact, to start out, to explore, and to get an idea for the context for this all information. We added new blog listings. We also started to do some of the more mainstream campaign elements, the biggest of which was probably our District 9 MNU Alert Game. So this is the game.

You can play, again, either as a MNU officer or as a District 9 alien and you are in the slums of District 9, where these aliens have to live, and it's your job, if you play as an MNU officer, to run around and shoot and arrest everybody. So this lets you, sort of choose how you want to play. You can either be the secretive aliens, sneaking around past curfew or you can be the big, bad, powerful corporation with powerful guns, who goes around shooting harmless little aliens who don't know where they are.

The other thing we launched was the Multi-National United Training Simulation, which was an augmented reality experience, told from the point of view of an MNU officer, who is training you to go in the field and have to deal with these unruly aliens. Tell you how to arrest them, tell you what their behaviors might be, and sort of lets you know what to expect if you are trained as a soldier to complete this type of mission. So, for this, we created a marker image and if you use a webcam, which I have right here, hold up the marker image, 3D models, that we came up with, show up on the screen, and you can interact with them in different ways.

So, one example is you hold it up right now and the MNU officer repels down a wall. You can click it again to replay the animation as many times as you want. So with this, we created these 3D models. We did the full 3D animation for this. There's sound effects. You can also turn it on, so it will narrate to you and tell you more about what you are viewing. Because it's in 3D, as you turn the marker with the augmented reality, you can see around the model, and the closer you hold it to the camera, the larger it gets, the more detail you can see.

So, this was a fun toy, and again this brought us back to Comic-Con 2009. By this time, we had launched a lot of the other campaign elements. People know it's a movie. People are excited about it. They were screening the film at Comic-Con. You could get one of these, and then, when you go home from the convention, you can sit in front of your computer and play with this and learn a little bit more about the back story, but really just sort of immerse yourself in the experience a little bit more, too. This was our first augmented reality project and I think it was very successful, by all of our accounts, and this is also the same image you saw, plastered on bus stops around Los Angeles and other large cities.

They had these on banner ads. They had them on some of the movie posters. So, we used some of this artwork that already existed. We use an image that was familiar. We made it a way to make it interactive with our 3D augmented reality stuff. Anthony Palacios: Everybody here, we're all geeks at heart, so anytime we see something out there or hear about something that's coming out, we'll discuss it informally, in meetings or "Hey, you've got to check this out. "This is something that's coming out for the iPhone, next release, four months from now," or anything like that.

We'll just keep it on our radar as something that we'll definitely want to investigate. Jason has an amazing way of talking to the clients and bringing these types of technologies up in meetings without necessarily, like, just pushing it on them for the sake of pushing it on them, to sell it, but as something that would really make sense for their campaign. And the trust, I think, that we've all built, as a whole, with our clients, that they are willing to say, "Yeah. You guys have at it. "Show us what you can do with it and we'll see what happens." Nine times out of ten, we are able to show them something that's really captivating or that's really interesting to them that they feel, like, "Yeah. This "is something we definitely want to do and push through."

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Creative Inspirations: Trigger, Interactive Design Studio

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Jason Yim
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