A year without trade shows has been a challenging world for B2B companies to navigate, forcing them to continue to pivot in an attempt to be able to host presentations, roll out new products and directly engage with their audience. Royal Building Products , a Westlake company and leading manufacturer of exterior building products and its long standing AOR, Planit, partnered with the detail-oriented comedy director Matt Pittroff to construct an alternate world: a secret and state-of-the-art underground laboratory beneath Royal’s headquarters, a place where the comedy is real and the experience is virtual. “In the Lab,” a series of 360 videos, provides an immersive and entertaining VR experience.
The lab’s a place where viewers are in on the experiment and primed to be just as entertained as they are educated on a breadth of products. This new world did not come without its own unique set of challenges for Workingstiff and partners to navigate with the Covid-era production. Questions like, “How do you captivate an audience with character-and-product-driven stories from a locked-off camera?” as well as, “How do you expound from a distance on a product family’s many features and benefits?” demanded creative solutions.
“Most of us have been forced to look at our jobs through a different lens over the past year. Not only are the practices different, but so is the messaging. An ever evolving, moving target centered around safety and the prospect of returning to normal? And beyond that, how do you engage people-persons…people that are accustomed to eye contact, shaking hands, being on a first name basis and holding a piece of product in their hands? It’s a tall order but we love a good challenge, be it narrative or technical or budgetary, or timeline and this project offered it all: “Let’s make good old-fashioned character driven comedy films, with charming visual effects, in a 360-world without having viewers wander off from the message. Oh, and let’s do 20 of them. In three days!” Pittroff details.
The result: a new interface developed to arm sales personnel whose day-to-day work is not traditionally conducted virtually, with an immersive playlist of 20 interactive and impactful edutainment online videos.
Pittroff’s team and Planit planned for three months and produced the campaign over the course of a three-day shoot. Constructing a 180-degree set, designed to allow for seamless stitching into a 360 world, a place that has been traditionally leveraged for virtual tours and roller coaster riding captured by ‘flat’ sensors and back-to-back fisheye
“I have told quite a few funny short form stories but never quite this way. The agency wanted to immerse the viewer by way of 360 video, and I wanted to make sure that the viewer kept their eyes on the prize and that the quality of the film supported the brand’s innovation. So we imagined our own iteration of 360, using one cine camera, one spherical lens and a ton of fuzzy math. We tested and tweaked, and tested and tweaked until it worked,” Pittroff relayed.
“Matt and everyone at Working Stiff felt like an extension of our team from the beginning. We had a totally fun yet odd challenge and they made it even smarter and they made it really fun and, better yet, really funny. It was one of the coolest, most innovative things I have ever been a part of and they totally killed it. My creative team was stoked and our clients are super happy and it was just a great experience all around,” relayed Liz Norton, Planit Producer.