Author Archive

What Traditional Sports Can Learn From Esports

I visited the Blizzard Arena in Burbank to watch a live match of the Overwatch League and was blown away by the experience. It had me wondering, could traditional sports learn something from the experiences viewers have in esports arenas? I think so.

Esports arenas are here and they are amazing! They are visually stunning, and they make you feel like you are right there inside the action. With attendance at traditional sports arenas continuing to dwindle, I think that traditional sports could take a page from the esports play book.

From Roman Times to Modern Times

I love the social aspect of watching a traditional sporting event with friends, especially when I get to watch the game in person, at the venue. But when I compare the traditional sports venues to esports venues, I feel like one represents the past, and the other, the future. And let me be clear, I like what the future holds.

This largely comes down to esports arenas’ use of technology and screens. The screens at the Blizzard arena are  mind blowingly awesome, which in all fairness is probably how people reacted to jumbotrons when they first were introduced at traditional sports arenas. The screens at the Blizzard arena have all the real estate to clearly showcase the energy of the match, with SO much left to spare. I could envision more elements like real-time player stats, custom avatar animation celebrating a kill, and data-driven analytics on team strategies being presented on the monitors as I watched the match. I could clearly see the potential, and was completely riveted.

Now maybe I am biased because I love video games, and make graphics for a living. But, I do think that traditional sports need to up there game a bit. They continue to build big glorious stadiums that harken back to the days of chariot races, but they aren’t using technology to its fullest potential to enhance the audience experience.

Let me be fair, though. Traditional sports are doing a great job with their broadcast content. When I watch a football game on TV,  there are stats and tons of engaging shoulder content. Conversely, when I go to the stadium, the visuals feel dated and limited, which makes me feel farther away from the action and looking for engagement… probably on the tiny screen in my pocket. While I can feel the game, I don’t have that nice digital texture that I have come to really appreciate. In fact, that most of us have come to appreciate. If you want to keep people off their phones and in the game, you’ve got to pull them in with engaging visual content.

Here’s The Opportunity

So my question is, why can’t you incorporate all the engaging visuals that screens can now offer into a live sports venue? If esports can pull it off, and do so amazingly well, why can’t traditional sports? Sure the traditional sports arenas are bigger but technology has been advancing leaps and bounds as well. The jumbotron was an example of traditional sports pushing the technological envelope… but that was a while ago.

It’s time for traditional sporting arenas to go big or go home. Audiences’ needs are changing quickly. And I think that sporting teams should take a good look at esports as a guide or template on how to make better use of the screens at any venue. Technology allows you to get closer to the action. Closer to the players. Closer to a modern experience.

Esports Success

Blizzard and Stoke Foundry approached StarBeast to create a graphics package for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. Here’s how we helped Blizzard and Overwatch League bring their vision to life!

How to Create Attention Grabbing Video Content

With video consumption on the rise and attention spans getting shorter, engaging, snackable video content is more popular than ever. Online video content now accounts for about 75% of all online traffic, and nearly 2/3s of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard and said that if your video is too long, half of your audience won’t even give it a try. Again more reason to create short-form video content with a distinct and honest visual style that can grab your audience’s attention right away. But how do you do that?

Here are five things to remember if you’d like to create memorable video content with a distinct visual style:

  1. Be clear about your intentions. There is an abundance of visual media to consume, and if you are asking for someone’s attention, it’s your responsibility to make it worth their while. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them smile. But DON’T waste their time.
  2. Strike an emotional chord. Emotion and memory are inextricably linked. If you want to be remembered, you have to strike the right emotion for your intention.
  3. Choose an HONEST style. Choosing a style that simply market tests well is not enough. It has to resonate with the identity of the brand and the intention behind the content you’re creating. The style should align with and enhance the message you want to convey.
  4. Don’t skimp on design. Invest in exploring the right look for your intentions and your audience. Well-planned and well-developed design will help create a authentic and recognizable visual language for your brand. One that will immediately call up your brand in the mind of your audience.
  5. Be courageous. Have fun and take risks with your visual identity. If that feels like too much for an established brand, then at least try this in the design phase. Explore the absurd, the wild, the creative. You will never know what aligns with your brand if you don’t engage in visual exploration. Again, there is so much visual content to consume, that viewers are easily bored. See if you can stretch and find a visual language that is both true to your brand but also willing to expand.

Two Examples of Successful Visual Branding with Engaging Video Content

A well thought out visual branding strategy that includes short-form video content is no longer a nice to have, rather it’s a necessity for companies that want to successfully attract their ideal audience. Here are two examples of visual branding done right.

1. Old Spice managed to transform itself from your grandfather’s brand to a young and edgy brand seemingly overnight. This was due to their engaging and unique advertising campaign with Terry Cruz.

One could argue that the branding is working because of the comedy, but I would argue that it’s more than that. The current branding has a distinct visual language and style that hits you fast and hard. It commits to absurdity and humor and maintains that visual language throughout.

2. Vox Media is another example of visual branding done right. Vox has a VAST amount of diverse content that it creates across many different subject matters. Using striking motion graphics inspired by the global Vox brand, this media company connected all its sub brands and wrapped them into a singular Vox-style visual language. Vox traditionally uses 2D graphics to accompany its live action, but for this Anthem video they took a visual risk in using 3D.

The animation is visually distinct and maintains the design of the Vox Media brand. The visuals energetically speak to the many different components of Vox that all come together in an organic manner to build the Vox brand.

Both of these brands, while taking different approaches, invested in designing snackable visual content that is honest to their brand and strikes an emotional chord with their audience. They also took a leap of faith by stepping out with unique and edgy styles that make them immediately recognizable and memorable.

Here’s How You Get Started

With the abundance of video content today, it is imperative for brands to take a creative leap of faith and provide visually distinct, easily digestible content. If you take the time to be clear about your intentions, to make an emotional connection with your audience, to be honest about your identity, to invest in design, and to be courageous, you are sure to create successful visual content for your brand.

How To Go From Good to Great With The MAGIC 5%

In my line of work as a Chief Creative Officer, there is nothing more exhilarating than finding what I call the MAGIC 5% on a project.  It’s that last 5% that takes a project from something good to great!  It’s the MAGIC 5% that ultimately creates an extraordinary experience and captivates your audience (and exceeds everyone’s expectations). And who doesn’t want that outcome for every project!

Jurassic Inspiration

My journey to find the MAGIC 5% on every project began years ago after watching Jurassic Park over and over again (nine times to be exact). I give credit to Stan Winston and his incredible special effects as the inspiration for what got me to where I am today. There is a great story that happened during the making of the iconic Jurassic Park T-Rex. One of Stan Winston’s artist, who was responsible for hand sculpting hundreds of thousands of scales on the T-Rex, completely lost his mind in the middle of the project. The artist was fed up and refused to put on one more single scale.  Stan reportedly took the guy outside and said “I know… nobody is going to see the scales, nobody is going to see that one last scale. But everyone is going to feel it.” So to me that is the last 5%– that is the difference between creating something good versus something great. This is what started me on my journey in finding the MAGIC 5% for every project.

Go From Good to Great With The MAGIC 5%

3 Principles For Creating The MAGIC 5%

Every project begins with a VISION.  People often come to StarBeast with a good idea for their Vision, but they aren’t sure what approach to take to achieve it.  We like taking a good idea, finding the right approach and transforming it into a great idea.

At StarBeast, our approach for developing projects includes a blend of 3 principles: ART, TECHNOLOGY, and EMOTION.  Every project has Art, Technology, and Emotion — although sometimes these three principles are not always obvious. It’s maintaining the balance of these 3 principles during a project that ultimately creates the MAGIC 5% and takes a project from good to great! I strongly believe when you lose one of these three principles in a project then you ultimately lose the MAGIC 5%.

Every idea you have for a project needs to fall within this triangle.

Go From Good to Great With The MAGIC 5% - StarBeast

Principle 1: Art

Art is the creative element of a project. It’s when you let your mind go wild with possibilities. You explore a lot different things to capture the vision of a project. Exploring is good, it’s a chance to look for things that other people haven’t thought of doing before. Explore every aspect of every idea. Explore things that don’t make sense.  And some times when you come up with a cool idea, you might need to trash it and decide to explore something even better.

That to me is the alchemy of an idea and you convert it to something that creates an emotional response from your viewer.

Principle 2: Technology

There are so many impressive technical tools and strategies to use in today’s film and production world. This is where it is wise to down the gimmicks and start with the basics: WHO WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW and, most importantly WHY?

The answers to these questions become your filter–the tool through which you pour every decision about the project. If it doesn’t go through the filter, it’s not right for the project. If it does, then you’re on the right track! We filter every decision through the answers to those questions.  Our team thrives on being Artist with Technology in order to apply the right approach to find the MAGIC 5%

Principle 3: Emotion

For me, Emotion is the hardest principle.  Every project has it own way of creating emotion. I used to rely heavily on the art and technology in order to find ‘where’ the emotion lies. I started to change my approach and now often look to people to create emotion.  I love using people to create emotion. People are very emotional for me. So if I can connect ‘people’ to the art and technology then I start to find the emotion. Another place for emotion is the music and sound. I feel that music and sound are the soul of your piece. if you find the right music, then you can apply the right tone and emotion that you’ve never seen before.

Remember, your goal is to maintain the balance of these three principles: ART, TECHNOLOGY, and EMOTION during a project that allows you to find the MAGIC 5%.

Finding The MAGIC 5%

In my travels as an artist, I’ve discovered several different ways to help you find that Magic 5%. Sometimes it’s just rolling up your sleeves to put in those extra 2 hours at 2am. Sometimes it means listening to an idea that is better than the one that you’ve been working on for a long time. It’s understanding, that you might have to take a couple steps back to move forward to greatness. Sometimes it’s going back to evaluating if what you are doing today, this moment on the project is serving the initial core idea and vision.

I admit, it’s not always easy finding the MAGIC 5%, but when you do it certainly makes all the difference and worth it when you create an extraordinary experience that captivates your audience.

The Art of Feeling

If you’re inspired to learn more about  ”The Art of Feeling” — Discover why it’s The MAGIC 5% that creates extraordinary experiences for audiences” — here’s a talk I presented this month’s at the LA GLUG* gathering

*In case you’ve never heard of GLUG, it’s an awesome organization that champions creative communities around the world.

Animation in Advertising

Content Creation That Works Across Digital Platforms

Once upon a time, animation was often deemed inaccessible for many advertising projects due to production costs and schedules. However, in this new, multi-faceted landscape of digital marketing and advertising, animation could be the right choice for your campaign. Why? Two reasons:

Whether it’s a simple stylistic graphic design, contemporary movie-style visuals, or a fully animated character– when done right–animation can measure up to your imagination and engage the attention of your audience. For example, you don’t need stunt doubles, wire removal, a pyro team, expensive props, and special effects to make your animated character fly through the sky and blast things to bits!   

So, When Is Animation The Right Choice For Your Campaign?

Here are some instances in which animated content could boost your marketing campaign:

Multi-Platform Advertising

This is a concept I’m really excited about, and here’s why: In a world where interactive and experiential marketing is driving campaigns and budgets, content creation that can easily be integrated across multiple advertising platforms could save time and money.  

With animation you can leverage your creative assets across all avenues of a brand’s digital ecosystem. Animated digital assets allow much greater control than traditional, live-action photography. And, under the creative guidance of a skilled animation team, those assets can be manipulated to speak to each advertising platform: traditional broadcast, digital advertising, web banner, VR, AR and print.

The beauty of working with an animation team is that once the assets are created, you can plug those assets into all facets of today’s multi-stream media buys. Imagine these scenarios…

With all of these examples, it’s possible to create a set of assets that will work across all of these situations. Using today’s tools, workflows, global workforce, the sky’s the limit when paired with the right animation team. And given a strong vision, you can craft a campaign that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

Content Creativity

In a highly-saturated visual advertising world, it’s hard to capture and keep the attention of an audience. So it’s important to create content that can defy the visual noise. This is where storytelling and forging an emotional connection with consumers can set brands apart. But, maybe you also need to educate and inform your audience. Either way, you need visuals to help tell that story and make it memorable. With animation and design, your brand story and your brand visuals need not be limited.

Animation has the power to help your audience understand a complex concept, or bring awareness to the complex parts of your brand. For example, in this short film about Progeria, animation took a complex concept and helped audiences imagine it in a way that was understandable and visually interesting.   

Animated characters have the power to connect with your audience, sometimes more effectively than a real-life spokesperson. Look at the Little General, the Honey Nut Cheerios bee, or the characters from the Cricket Wireless campaign. While animated spokespeople don’t work for every ad campaign, they can leave an impression that stands out and lasts decades.  

There is also something that to be said about how the whimsical or the out-of-the-ordinary will be a better “face” for your product–it stands out in a crowd. Animation allows you to design this face and it’s personality. Often times, animated faces and characters are more effective than a real people. I mean, let’s be honest, how many animated movies have made you laugh or cry?

Even a simple animation like this can be an effective way of generating brand awareness:

To The Drawing Board!

Animation allows for creativity in both content and strategy for digital marketing campaigns. The key, of course, is to partner with a seasoned animation team starting in the planning phase. Christopher Clyne, our Chief Technical Officer at StarBeast says, “Digital animation is akin to a printing press, because once you invest in creating the original assets, you can apply them over and over again.” A good animation team will have the foresight to help you create animation that works smoothly across different technologies.  

Animation isn’t the answer to every advertising campaign. However, if you’re looking for unique and memorable content that can easily be integrated across your brand’s digital advertising ecosystem, animation could be a solution that saves time and money.

Do Real People in Advertising Equate To A Real Connection With Consumers?

Good advertising will create a connection between a brand and its audience, and there are many affective and creative ways to do this. One current popular method is the use of real people in advertising–but does this method work?

Real people in advertising are intended to establish a personal, emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. It’s a way for the brand to say, “Hey, we get you. You want to hear from people like you, not an actor with lines.” Unfortunately, many brands miss the opportunity to connect with their audience by putting their real people in scripted-reality situations that leave the audience wondering: who are these people and how “real” are they?  In fact, if you search “real people in advertising” you are likely to pull up one of the many parody videos. Side note: if you haven’t seen these, you should watch because they are hilarious!

Rules of Authenticity

I love these parodies in the video because they break down exactly what you SHOULD NOT DO, when using real people as your onscreen talent. Let’s break these things down into the Rules of Authenticity for Real People in Advertising.

Rule number 1: If you use real people don’t try to make a generic commercial just featuring real people. Make sure everything is real. For example, if your spokesperson feels fake so will your real people.

Rule number 2: Real people are not good at lying on camera, don’t feed them things to say. It will feel inauthentic. Let them be themselves, for better or for worse, which leads us into…

Rule number 3: Embrace the unknown. Like a good documentary, you will find unexpected reactions and moments, and in them you may find the heart of the story. USE THEM, as they are authentic and the audience will feel that. Don’t be so locked to a script that it has you throwing away the good stuff.

Rule number 4: Design the desired outcome. Think of it as throwing the best surprise party ever. Find out about your people, what they like, and what they don’t and then design the experience around these details leading them to your desired outcome. If they have any idea walking into the surprise, it will influence their reactions, increasing the fakeness quotient.

Fakeness Quotient

Everything should be put through a filter when producing a commercial featuring real people. I call this filter the Fakeness Quotient. You want to keep this value as low as possible, because once you pass a certain threshold you will not only lose your audience but you will also come across as inauthentic which can be a huge struggle to overcome as a brand.

Real people in advertising can be a powerful tool when done right. The beauty of real people is the grit–a real person is about both the flaws and the beauty. In fact, a lot of times the flaws are what make them beautiful. Casting real people is a nice way to connect with consumers because consumers don’t feel like they are looking at mannequins. But let’s take that a step further, it’s not only the look of real people that audiences respond to, it’s how they are behaving–do we connect with their responses, their reactions, their words? Does it feel like authentic behavior?

Respect Your Audience

In the end, your commercial, your brand, is looking to share a story–even when using real people. In turn, audiences are looking to be understood, not just advertised to. In a world where so much feels contrived, what stands out is authenticity. Brands that are willing to show truth in the form of real reactions and real stories will set themselves apart from the pack.

A lot of our clients come to us and say that they want to tell a surprising story or have a surprising twist in their film. This can be done with real people too, but it requires nontraditional means in designing a surprising, and immersive experience to elicit the desired reaction for the story. The most important thing to keep in mind when creating a video for your consumers is that your audience is the storyteller–you are the designer.

Why Advertisers Should Be Paying Attention to Augmented Reality

And why the world’s biggest company is betting big on AR

Imagine a future not too far in the distance where, with a twitch of an eye, you flip on a television screen to watch you favorite shows – only the screen is not attached to a physical “box” plugged into in the wall.

Through a lense over your eye, you can project a video screen onto a flat surface anywhere in your immediate environment – a wall, a door, the ceiling. You can watch TV  without the TV, and change the channels with your brain.

That’s the world Facebook imagines.

“Think about how many of the things you use [that] don’t actually need to be physical,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with journalists from his office at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters earlier this year.

“You want to watch TV?” he said to reporters. “You don’t need a physical hardware TV, you buy a one-dollar app ‘TV’ and put it on the wall.”

At Facebook’s F8 developer’s summit in April, Zuckerberg described a world where the real and the unreal meet in a parallel universe known as Augmented Reality. (AR, as it’s known, is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view and giving the viewer an experiential blend of the two. It’s the same technology that fueled the Pokémon Go craze.)

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

For a long time VR, or virtual reality, has been the cool, new fad everyone wants in on. But from a social-sharing-experiential standpoint, VR has its limitations. For traditional advertisers, VR has yet to prove its effectiveness in increasing a brand’s market share or getting consumers to buy a product.

Augmented Reality on the other hand, has shown it can catapult a brand into international stardom, as the world saw with Pokémon Go. For brands looking to capture attention, I believe AR is something they should definitely be looking at.

Facebook talks Augmented Reality

The world’s largest social media company, with more than 2 billion users worldwide, is betting big on AR. During Facebook’s first-quarter-2017-earnings call, Zuckerberg explained ways he thought AR could be used in commercial applications.

“One of the examples I showed at F8 was around using object recognition and computer vision to be able to point your camera at something and then tap on it and get a card of information and maybe even a buy button,” he explained.

Let’s play with that idea for a minute.

Point, Tap, Buy

The ability to point your phone – or in Zuckerberg’s world, eyeglasses – at something, tap on it and click on a buy button is revolutionary.

Imagine you’re at a backyard barbecue with friends drinking a Sprite. And let’s say everyone whips out their phone and points it at the bottle in your hands. The camera phones are all equipped with AR technology that everyone can experience. Then let’s imagine a hologram of NBA all-star Kevin Durant pops out of the bottle and says to your friends, “Hey man you really want to drink a Sprite.”

My guess is everyone at the party will be talking about Sprite and Kevin Durant for the rest of the night. And chances are, for your next party, you’ll be buying cases of Sprite.

Augmented Reality Is Interactive

AR speaks directly to consumers on a personal level and does it in a way that’s interactive and fun. Unlike VR, AR allows you to share the experience with others. It allows you to enhance a product in a less intrusive way because you can tag things in the environment you’re already in. It also reinforces the public’s use for a certain product.

In my fictional Sprite example, it’s not hard to imagine people talking around the water cooler saying, “Wow, that Kevin Durant thing is popping up a lot. I should buy a Sprite.”

Let’s look at a more straightforward application. Let’s say you walk by a poster of frozen yogurt on a hot summer day. You tag the poster with your phone and right away a coupon for 20 percent off pops up with a little map showing you where the nearest yogurt shop is.

You didn’t have to log into your laptop and search for frozen yogurt. Or download a coupon. You didn’t have to don kooky goggles to feel like you had an experience. All you had to do was point your phone and there it was, instant gratification. AR feels more woven into the current fiber of society. Anyone can be out and about, and wherever they go, whatever they see, they can just point their phones or their glasses and partake in an experience of their choosing.

What Makes Augmented Reality So Interesting

From a media perspective marketers can customize ads to target a particular demographic in a particular geographic location. AR allows advertisers to take what’s being driven by internet data and put it in a physical location. It’s not just about what they’re browsing on the Internet, but also where they’re going in real life.

StarBeast’s Chief Technical Officer, Christopher Clyne is thrilled about the possibilities of AR. He says, “With AR, the sky’s the limit in terms of application and creativity. Think of it as a personal Heads Up display, that provides instant information about your surroundings. It will enhance how we receive information from and interact with the world around us, as well as have great potential for video gaming.”

And that’s what makes AR so interesting. It blends the virtual world of the internet and the real world of physical space to create an experience that is memorable and can be shared.

Is Virtual Reality Just Frothy Topping In Advertising?

VR is all the rage in tech sectors and elsewhere, but
does it actually live up to the hype? We think not.

The other night, as I was watching Silicon Valley – HBO’s satirical take on tech start-up culture – one of the show’s more memorable characters, the obnoxious Steve Jobs-wannabe Erlich Bachman, said this about the tech world’s latest obsession, Virtual Reality:

“It’s a VR play,” Bachman scoffs. “That’s the frothiest space in the Valley right now. Nobody understands it, but everyone wants in. Any idiot could walk into a f#%king room, utter the letters ‘v’ and ‘r’, and VC’s would hurl bricks of cash at them.”

“By the time they find out it’s vaporware,” Bachman mutters. “It’s too late.”

And just like that, Bachman pretty much summed up my feelings on VR – especially as it relates to traditional advertising.

Virtual Realty Is A Slippery Slope

It’s a conversation I feel is long overdue in an industry infatuated with what’s new and hip and cool, and not always with what makes sense. When it comes to advertising, the topic of VR is a slippery slope: because rather than having an honest conversation about what the client’s goals are – and whether the use of VR technology is the right approach to accomplish those goals – the conversation tends to fixate on the technology itself.

Nobody understands it yet everyone wants in because it’s the new shiny toy in the room. But is that reason enough to use it? My position is: it’s not.

For a while now, I’ve held the belief that Virtual Reality – though effective in certain sectors (namely, video gaming and porn) – is not the right tool to use in traditional advertising. In fact, when it comes to advertising, VR is one of those hip trends that generates lots of excitement for its novelty and potential, but rarely does it move the needle on actual business objectives.

A Few Case Studies

To test my theory, I began looking into examples where Virtual Reality was lauded as a successful tool in a clever advertising campaign.

Straight up, it was hard to find really successful examples of VR in advertising. No doubt, there are many press worthy examples but nothing that links the VR experience with increased sales or brand visibility.

Here are a few “success” stories I found in my preliminary research, which centered around YouTube’s easy-to-see pageview metrics. But as you’ll see, their success appears to center more around execution than number of impressions, at least online.


The luxury spirit maker takes the audience on a journey of how its iconic tequila is made. The VR tour gives the viewer a bee’s eye view of the entire process, from harvesting and distillation to bottling and packaging. It’s beautifully produced and interesting to watch but, after more than a year, has garnered less than 25k pageviews. Hardly a viral sensation.

The same could have been done without the use of Virtual Reality.  See for yourself:

Mountain Dew

Here’s a “more” successful” VR production for Mountain Dew. What this one does is it allows the viewer to be “immersed” in the experience while giving him the ability to rewind, making something that is impossible in the real world, possible in VR. The reason why I feel this is more successful is that it doesn’t just treat VR as a new screen, but it brings in a level of interactivity, which immediately create an emotional experience for the viewer.

Still, as of June 2017, the video’s only amassed around 200k page views.

A Singular Experience

When I started researching brands that were using VR successfully, I was amazed there weren’t a whole lot out there. The “wins” seemed to boil down to how the technology was being used creatively, with little mention to how many customers it reached or how many sales it generated.

I think this may have something to do with the “immersion” aspect of VR, which allows for a certain WOW factor but doesn’t allow the experience to be shared. Immersion is always a good technique to use when you’re looking to create visceral, memorable experiences. But in the case of VR, it’s a very singular experience. No two people can share the moment at the same time. And so you run into the problem of scaling.

The Multiplier Effect

How can you reach the most amount of people in the most authentic and emotional way possible to obtain the most results with the least amount of investment? The answer most likely is not found in VR.

Don’t get me wrong: I think VR is a great technology, in and of itself. But you can’t sell stuff just by using it. And I have zero faith that it’s going to be more than a just stepping stone for Augmented Reality (AR), which we’re already starting to see in the realm of advertising.

As far as Virtual Reality is concerned, I think it’s a great applications for other things, just not for traditional advertising.

Projection Mapping, More Than Just A Technique

How Brands Can Tap Into Consumer Emotions
To Tell a Story Worth Telling Using A
Decades-Old Technology

Projection mapping is not a new technique. It’s a technology that dates back to the 1960s when Disneyland debuted its Haunted Mansion ride and used projection mapping to make fake, disembodied heads come “alive” with life-like human expressions. It was a tool that scared the heck out of riders, and inspired artists and creatives around the world.

Since then, projection mapping has been used by advertisers and brands to create stunning visual displays that evoke curiosity and stoke the imagination.

But beyond that, can a tool as powerful as projection mapping create fun and unexpected experiences that tap into deeper, more primal emotions — the kind of emotions that move people to buy a product or support a cause or tell their friends? Can it be applied to today’s fast-paced world of social sharing, where the endorsements of an online audience (who may not have actually experienced the live event) pack more of a punch than traditional advertising? More explicitly, can a decades-old technology be leveraged in fresh and innovative ways to meet business objectives?

We believe it can.

In today’s crowded and noisy marketplace, what helps brands rise above the fray and get noticed is their ability to elicit a visceral reaction – whether felt or expressed – from their audience.

And the tools used to achieve that should be used with that end in mind.

At the end of the day people buy stuff because it makes their lives better — they feel like it makes their lives better. We use emotion to help convey that. So projection mapping helps us tap into the emotional components using surreal elements.

Any emotional connection to any product is going to be a much better way to talk about it.

Real vs. Fake

Filmmakers, audio-visual experts, advertisers and marketers have all attempted to make the “unreal” real — to bring an element of “realness” to their fictional works, whether it’s a sci-fi film, a Vegas light show or a cosmetics campaign.

No matter how many times it’s tried, though, you can’t fake real. We know the light show – though an engineering feat – is a manufactured event; we know the villains in the movies are not really bad guys but great actors, and we know the gorgeous woman with the flawless skin is a paid model who’s been airbrushed and Photoshopped.

projection mapping emotion


That’s one of the reasons marketers and brands love creating experiential events — because they allow real people to have a real experience that, if done right, elicit real feelings of connection with the product or idea being promoted.

The magic of designing and creating an experiential event is that it gives live participants the ability to feel something that’s real. They’ll never walk away saying, “Oh, that was fake.”

But how do you create those same real feelings with people who didn’t, or couldn’t, participate in the sponsored event?

In the case of the Honda Dream Garage, the answer was to artistically blend experiential marketing and projection mapping with traditional filmmaking and great storytelling to transmit the emotional connection that faithful riders have with their Honda motorcycles.

The emotional connection was elicited with projected imagery of open highways and country roads, then captured in a commercial that let viewers feel the bond each rider had with his or her Honda “toy”.

That commercial was then leveraged on other platforms — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. — to extend the experience to viewers worldwide. It was taken “out of the garage” so to say, and put out into the world.

It’s what StarBeast likes to call ‘using the whole buffalo’.

Using The Whole Buffalo

Using the whole buffalo is when an asset is created and leveraged in such a way that it continues the conversation long after the event it over.

In other words, you’re not just going to let it be an event. Instead, you’re going to film it and give people Instagram moments and shareability and do things that let the thing, the asset, live on somewhere else.

When various technical and creative elements are combined holistically – always keeping clients’ goals and objectives at the forefront – then a campaign is truly successful.

Tools (whether projection mapping, or experiential marketing, or traditional filmmaking) should not be the focal point of the campaign. Rather, they are a means to an end.

Our goal is simple: any tool we use is to create some sort of emotional response.

What’s fun about projections and projection mapping is it allows you to inject that sense of magic in the moments, which creates a visceral reaction from people who are experiencing it.

Every Picture Tells a Story

The Not-So-Modern Marketing Strategy Of Brand Storytelling To Evoke Emotion

Strong brands have an identity and a story. Ad Agencies help link those stories to create compelling advertising campaigns that turn into consumer action. But what makes a consumer respond and choose to take an action after seeing an advertisement? Or rather feel an emotional connection and choose to participate in that brand’s story. It’s all about the Filter you use when creating film for an advertising campaign. I’m not talking about a fancy camera lens or visual graphics technique. Rather something more powerful that can make the difference between a successful advertising campaign and one that flops.

Why Brands Are Like People

Before I explain the filter concept, it’s important to understand why brands are like people and need storytelling. Consider this are you …

PC or Mac?

Bud Light or Stone IPA?

Honda or Ford?

Nintendo or PlayStation?

Tom’s or Nike?

I bet these brands draw a clear picture in your mind of different people and their stories. Why is that?

According to research done by Customer Thermometer, people feel most connected to brands when they feel like the brand

Put another way, brands are like people. Brands are either part of your tribe, your clique, your crew or not. And if they are not, the brand better bring something to the table. Something beyond just features. They have to bring a FEELING that enhances your story.

Connecting with your audience

Storytelling is the ideal method to bridge the gap between brands and people. Storytelling lets brands connect with people’s lives by communicating in an way that touches people emotionally. The brand becomes part of that person’s life –part of their story. But how do you present a story that connects to your audience?

Connecting with your audience starts with capturing emotion and an authentic voice.  

Essentially, your brand wants to be part of the clique. You need the strike the right emotion with your audience that will connect to your brand. How do you know what tools to use to design that emotional response?

Identifying The Right Tools To Tell Your Story

There are so many impressive technical tools and strategies to use in today’s film and advertising world:

This is where it is wise to STOP. Put down the gimmicks and start with the basics: WHO WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW and, most importantly WHY?

The answers to these questions become your filter–the tool through which you pour every decision about the advertising campaign. If it doesn’t go through the filter, it’s not right for this project. If it does, then you’re on the right track!

We filter every decision through the answers to those questions. Some things you might ask yourself as you’re establishing a marketing strategy or an advertising campaign:

Put those questions through the filter, and see what comes out.

Brand Storytelling & Consumer Storytelling –  Shared Stories, Shared Experiences

Here are a few examples of advertising campaigns that I like because they have a clearly established filter. Meaning, the tools they use are the means by which the story is told not the end. In the end, they tell you the story of you, but with the brand as part of the clique.

A. Google Commercial — Parisian Love 2010 (in house)
Filter/Shared Story: That love story you have or want…

B. Mr. Clean: Cleaner of your Dreams 2017 (agency: Leo Burnett Toronto)
Filter/Shared story: That other person that does your dirty work…You gotta love him!

C. Pokemon 20th Anniversary Super Bowl commercial: I can do that (Agencies: Omlete, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Deutsch)
Filter/Shared Story: That epic hero’s tale in your imagination…

D. Old Spice–Terry Crews “Blown Mind” (Agency: Wieden and Kennedy)
Filter/Shared Story: Those stinky pits we all have…  let’s laugh about them!


Your brand is a person. It is part of your consumer’s life, part of their story. If you can tell a story that connects with them emotionally, showing them how you make their life better, you will be part of the clique. And once you are in, you really need to screw up to be thrown back out. Stories are about life, emotion, and people. Take a point of view and show your consumer that you deeply care about these things too.

A Ride Down Memory Lane

How One Brand Used Experiential Marketing and Traditional Filmmaking To Forge An Emotional Connection With Its Customers

Do you dream about the wind in your hair, the freedom of the open road, and the exhilaration of a ride that takes you to places new and unknown?

Most motorcycle lovers remember exactly how they felt the first time they jumped on their bike and took to the open road.

This was the premise for the Honda Dream Garage Commercials. Dailey Ideas needed to help their client Honda create a memorable and emotional connection between Motorcycle and ATV consumers and the Honda brand. The goal was to design a surprising, personalized experience to bring the Honda Dream Garage commercials to life.

Agencies are looking for ways to connect people with brands. In the case of the Honda Dream Garage campaign, the goal was to reawaken that connection by creating an immersive experience. But how do you create such an experience? What tools do you use? StarBeast collaborated with the agency folks at Dailey to find the right tools, and to implement them using the perfect balance of art, technology and storytelling to evoke connection.

Designing the Experience – Let’s Go For A Ride

For the Honda Dream Garage commercials, Starbeast and Dailey concluded that the key to accomplishing Honda’s vision was to design an authentic and unexpected personal experience for the talent/actors that was powerful enough to translate into an experience for the audience.  To do this we combined elements of experiential marketing, virtual reality, and traditional filmmaking.

Under the guise of looking for passionate motorcycle riders for a documentary we invited people who had once owned Honda motorcycles and ATVs to speak to us about their riding passions and dreams. Next we immersed these real riders in a world of wonder and enjoyment to awaken their memories of passion and love for riding. Once immersed, we captured the riders’ reactions to create a film that underscored the intimate and meaningful connections these riders had with their motorcycle or ATV.


The Element of Surprise

At the heart of this production was the actors’ authentic reactions to the product and the imagery projected onto the Honda Dream Garage. These moments would be the bridge that connects the Honda Dream Garage experience to the larger consumer audience. So, creating and maintaining the surprise was paramount.

We listened to the Honda owners’ stories about riding and then, behind the scenes, we combined custom 270-degree virtual reality films, projection mapping, and a clever set-design, to create a personalized experiential dream garage for each rider.

The riders were invited back for one more interview about their riding experiences. This time, they were in for a much bigger surprise!  Instead of an interview, we put each rider in the Dream Garage. Then, with the flip of a switch, the lights went out and the projection screens turned on. At that moment, the rider was instantly transported and immersed into their own riding dreams and memories.

Through traditional filming, we were able to capture their spontaneous emotional reactions and, thus visually reveal their stories. Stories of genuine connection to riding a Honda bike or ATV.  Stories that viewers could feel and perhaps pique their own interest in riding.

Artists With Technology

To achieve the surprise and create a memorable experience that reached beyond the Dream Garage, we utilized a creative and artistically applied combination of film technology, including virtual reality footage, experiential marketing and traditional filmmaking.

One example of this artistic application of technology for the Honda Dream Garage commercials was the use of projection mapping. In reality, memories are infused with filters. We experience our memories and dreams through our feelings and the snapshots in our minds. The projections that brought the walls and floors to life in the Honda Dream Garage commercials mirrored that filter. They gave the moving images a dreamlike, immersive quality. They were the right tool for this experience, because the goal was to evoke memories and dreams.

Another example of an artistic application of a modern technical tool for the Honda Dream Garage commercials was the use of 270 degree virtual reality footage. Yes, you read that right. Not 360. 270. You would think that taking 90 degrees out of 360 footage would be easy, it is not.

Virtual reality footage is often designed to create a 360 degree experience for just one user–think virtual reality goggles. For the Honda Dream Garage, we had to stretch the capabilities of the virtual reality camera array so that we could offer a window into a personal experience for a larger audience. This was imperative because ultimately, we needed to transcend that experience beyond the stage and into the minds and emotions of the consumer.

Connect With The Audience

What makes the consumer feel a personal connection with a product and a brand? Well…it depends. In this case, Dailey and StarBeast agreed that the vehicle for connection was memories and dreams. Riding a motorcycle is a one-person, maybe two-person experience. So, it made sense to utilize the personal elements of experiential marketing to draw out the emotional element of personal stories. But how do you expand that feeling to the larger consumer audience?

Experiential marketing allows the consumer to connect closely with the brand by dropping them in the center of a fun and memorable experience. The goal of experiential marketing is to form a memorable and emotional bond between the consumer and the brand, so that it may generate customer loyalty and influence purchase decisions. For the Honda Dream Garage commercials, that bond was captured in the Dream Garage. Then, with the use of traditional film and visual storytelling the stories could reach beyond the Dream Garage and into the minds and emotions of the viewers.

The Final Cut

Our vehicles are an extension of ourselves. Our stories. Our lives. The more we drive, the more we feel our vehicle’s soul. It’s why we give them names. They allow us to travel beyond our bodies, as we do in our dreams.

For the Honda Dream Garage campaign, Dailey and Honda envisioned a personalized Dream Garage experience that would inspire people to get back on their bikes and enjoy the ride! Or, hop on for the first time and live the dream! By artistically applying the right technical tools for the job, and balancing the use of art, technology and emotion, Dailey and StarBeast worked together to achieve this vision. The result was a stylized blend of experiential marketing and traditional filmmaking that spoke to a shared dream between brand and consumer–the joy of riding!

honda GW Broadcast from StarBeast on Vimeo.

Perhaps connecting brands with an audience is both an art and a science that begins by considering how the two impact each other, and then drawing out the story that they are already co-creating. Asking the question: What is the story you have in common?