Your Shot: The Elevator Pitch Comes to (Virtual) Life for Startup Fest Europe
The elevator pitch. By definition it’s a short summary to define a product, organisation or service, and gets its name from the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary within the time span of an elevator ride. In this campaign for Startup Fest Europe, MediaMonks, along with agency 72andSunny Amsterdam, has turned the elevator pitch into a Willy Wonka-style transforming elevator, powered by virtual reality. The journey introduces viewers to a range of innovative startups that are active in the rural, urban and water areas, with each new floor of the elevator introducing a new company.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with MediaMonks producer Maarten Breda to find out more.
LBB> What kind of brief did the agency approach you with and what were you thinking when you saw it?
MB> 72andSunny Amsterdam approached us with a very solid idea: create an actual elevator pitch to showcase the Dutch startup scene in virtual reality. This project felt right from the beginning and we instantly started thinking about the best way to make this idea a (virtual) reality. We’ve worked with 72andSunny Amsterdam before on projects like Google’s Night Walk in Marseille and we knew they would expect nothing less than an excellent execution of the idea from us. This inspired a great collaboration in which we worked side by side on developing the idea and perfecting its execution.
LBB> How was it getting to grips with the elevator idea?
MB> For Startup Fest, the idea made perfect sense because this whole industry is built around pitching. For startups it is vital to be able to sell people on their idea in a matter of minutes. Our challenge was to pitch the Netherlands as the perfect incubator for startups in just a few minutes. This also happens to be the ideal length for someone’s first VR experience, so both came together perfectly in this project.
LBB> How did you capture the feeling of being in an elevator? Were there any issues during production of feeling queasy, as if there was no floor below your feet?
MB> The experience starts out with a regular, solid elevator. The experience of stepping into an elevator is very recognisable for viewers but also allowed us to later have a cool reveal when the elevator panels fall off. Unlike Willy Wonka’s glass elevator, we made it a rule to only move vertically to prevent nausea. The elevator itself helps tremendously to prevent any queasiness as it acts as a cockpit that gives viewers a stable point of view that moves in a predictable direction. The three levels of the experience are visually connected through a CG elevator shaft. This creates greater continuity between the transitions of the scenes and was key for creating the sense of immersion that is the basis for VR.
LBB> What kind of research did you have to undertake for this project?
MB> The research was done by ourselves and 72andSunny Amsterdam in collaboration with Startup Fest. We’d looked at interesting startups to feature from different fields of the Dutch startup scene and then looked into each of them to better understand the technological innovations that make them unique in the world. This research allowed us to accurately depict each startup in the animated showcases we created for each scene (agricultural, urban, and water).
We should also give a major shout-out to all of the involved production departments. Our Sound Monks, for example, took this project as an opportunity to look into the latest binaural audio encoding for Unity, GearVR and YouTube. The post production team was responsible for making all of the 3D elements blend in with the physical world around you. We also think the animation guys and girls did a great job at achieving beautiful motion graphics in 360 that work amazing with the rest of the footage.
Besides factual and technical research, we also did some empirical studies by taking numerous joyrides in the elevators of the MediaMonks and 72andSunny offices.
LBB> How was it for you diving into the start up scene like that?
MB> Everybody who worked on this really enjoyed the chance to learn more about all these new technologies and initiatives through this project. We are naturally interested in tech and innovations — including VR itself — but this project allowed us to have a peek at technology that is still in the process of breaking through.
LBB> From a production standpoint, what were biggest challenges with the project and how did you overcome them?
MB> Because you’re dealing with 360 degrees of content, instead of only the section the user is looking at, VR projects are inherently big in nature in terms of file size and resolution. Big videos means big renders which means more render time for every version of the video we made compared to regular film productions. Despite having fast machines and an internal render farm that could compute footage overnight and during the weekends, getting everything right and rendered was quite a challenge. All steps in the production process that take more than what you’re expected to from other projects. You have to be prepared for that.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
MB> It’s interesting to see how VR and the Dutch startup scene are growing and improving rapidly, and how they are quite similar in a way. Both are exploring new technological and creative grounds and this is also where companies like 72andSunny Amsterdam and MediaMonks thrive. We really are only at the start of VR and a whole new wave of technology and it’s cool to see how these fields and industries are already working well together on projects like The Elevator Pitch. We will continue developing this project to showcase Holland at large at Dutch embassies around the world. We believe Virtual Reality will get a key role in the promotion of countries and companies.