Dougie, Hit the Beat – The Making Of

This three part article series from the vegas2vegas team takes you behind the scenes of the creation of their innovative video “Dougie, Hit the Beat“.

Part One: A dozen false eureka moments – We knew what we wanted to accomplish but didn’t know how to get there.

It has to be something no one has done before. It has to be unique. And it has to raise awareness of vegas2vegas and Arms Around the Child.

In November 2011, six months after starting the vegas2vegas project, we decided it was time to do something to help raise our profile to make funding for the project more achievable. These days launching a video online is always a good place to start, but we needed to give people a reason to share it.

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on YouTube you’ll know that the videos which get shared the most are those that have crazy hamsters, cute sneezing pandas, or feature the Bieber. We began to see a common trend.

As a good rule of thumb if your video has some or all of the following elements than it has a chance of getting shared:

  • Funny
  • Unique
  • Interesting
  • Is marketed by music video site VEVO
  • Or the person sharing it is part of the video

So with this guideline we got to work.

The first idea was for us to have our heads pop up through a table so that only our ugly mugs were showing and then our heads would move forward past mini landmarks from around the world.

We would make it a little bit quirky with a Stephen Fry “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” style voiceover. But it wasn’t interesting enough.

That idea was then developed a little bit more and we added a marble into the mix that would move along a roller coaster as we moved down the tables, similar to the board game Mouse Trap.

Then it hit us. What if we added people’s tweets to the video?

This was the turning point for the project. It began to open up more possibilities. Soon the ideas were flowing – let’s put people’s tweets on the buildings – let’s make the landmarks from tweets printed onto card – what if tweets were from people doing their own fundraisers.

Pretty soon it became clear that if we were going to have people’s tweets in the video then they will need to be able to search for their tweet afterwards and this opened up a few challenges.

Firstly the video would have to be stop motion so that viewers could pause the video at any point to read the tweets on screen. If you’ve not come across that phrase before, stop motion is the technique used by old school animation and more recently by the likes of Wallace and Gromit. You take hundreds of individual photos of the scene. Each time moving things by tiny increments so that when you piece all the frames together you get a relatively seamless motion.

I can honestly say that I wished somewhere in our heads we thought this through

At this point a question was raised. “How many tweets should we include?”

I can honestly say that I wished somewhere in our heads we thought this through before blurting out the response. “Um…well we want a lot of people in the video so we have a good chance of a few of them sharing it. How about five thousand?”

Although we didn’t know it at the time, in that moment the project went from potentially taking 6-8 weeks to taking 6 months!

With the introduction of stop motion we decided we’d need to scrap the “moving heads” idea and instead we came up with the idea of having a miniature cardboard vegas2vegas van with cut outs of our heads poking out of the windows. The van could then drive around the landmarks.

Around the same time I had been reading an article about the rise of QR (Quick Response) codes. Within the article it was talking about how many businesses were not seeing the potential in QR code marketing and in most cases the technology was limited to being a small black square in the bottom corner of a print ad. But they gave some examples of more creative uses of the codes.

We loved the idea of people being able to interact with our video, being able to scan the code at the end and check if their tweet was in it.

The final addition to the video was Dougie himself. We needed an extra character and the little bird was perfect. He represented the Twitter theme and plus he could be our mascot.

So we had our video. A stop motion video of the vegas2vegas van driving me,Griff and Dougie past many of the world’s most famous landmarks made from cardboard which had over 5,000 unique tweets printed onto them, positioned on a square 3 metre by 3 metre set that when viewed from above displayed a QR code which you could scan and see if your tweet was in the video. Simples.

It had taken us many weeks of brainstorming, late nights, and cups of coffee but the video concept we had on our hands was really exciting. Little did we know that developing the idea from concept to reality would be the hardest piece of work either of us had even undertaken.

Part Two coming soon…

Watch the Video

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