In order to sell a product well, you need to understand the manufacturing process. The entire manufacturing process. GP Studios was tasked with creating an immersive experience to showcase how Dixie products are made to the internal sales teams. Originally it was planned to start with the papermaking process, however I proposed starting at the very beginning, in the forest. That segment introduced a vital message to the sales team, the sustainability of forests is first and foremost in everything Georgia-Pacific does. Sustainability is a buzzword that can be tossed around, but to visually be reminded that this is more than just a word, turned out to be a key takeaway from the presentation.
Before the scripting even began, I followed my normal plan of attack, working backwards from the end. How the film would be displayed influences how the project would be produced. Video framing, camera movement, sound design, graphics design and more are all affected by how the viewer will experience the presentation. Because the idea was to immerse the audience into the presentation, I proposed filming in a super wide format, akin to the original 1960’s CinemaScope 2,55:1 aspect ratio. We would film in standard 4k 23.98 and then crop the image vertically to create the ultra-widescreen effect. This was important to decide before production because the videographers had to frame correctly for the center 1/3 of the image.
I originally proposed an over-sized, wraparound screen for the ballroom. Something that would fill the field of vision vertically and wrap out from the wall at least 25 degrees to create that ‘you are there’ feeling. The viewers would have to turn their heads a little side to side in order to see everything. That was going to require a screen over 75 feet wide and 8 feet tall and proved to be too expensive for the budget. Then Director of Studio Operations, Brad Hinton discovered a ‘virtual theater’ concept whereby the viewer would be immersed in a 360 virtual theater with the CinemaScope widescreen at the front. VR goggles using a Samsung smartphone, all triggered simultaneously so the audience experiences the film together. Straight ahead would be the big screen, wide enough that they would have to turn their heads a bit to see everything. If they looked all around, they would see the rest of the movie theater. So we could create a ‘traditional flat’ presentation and our audience would be immersed into a VR theater. It was a brilliant discovery and knowing that delivery mechanism up front was vital to the rest of production.
Since the viewers would be wearing the headsets, we had to be conscious of camera movement. This presentation was not designed to be an entertainment attraction so we didn’t want to have fast camera moves that could be distracting or worse, make our viewers motion sick. All camera movement was designed to be horizontal (left to right or right to left) and it would be done slowly and deliberately. For the motion shots, we went with an OSMO rig with x5 camera to stabilize the camera moves and all other videography was done with the Sony FS7, both shooting in 4k, 23.98.
The scripting process involved many stakeholders including the Sustainability department in Atlanta, research and development in Wisconsin, Dixie brand in Atlanta, paper making facility in Alabama and the Dixie plant in Kentucky. What I discovered was that there was no way for me to script the intricacies of the entire manufacturing process. The better way to tell the story would be through the people who actually know the process at the facilities. They can speak freely in their own words because they live it every day which creates a more natural piece. So the scripting process was more of an outline and key bullet point process. In order to keep the running time reasonable, I worked with the stakeholders to identify the key elements of each step of the process. Then created an outline so each person would focus on only those key areas. I designed the presentation to go from start to finish of the process with each segment handing off the process to the next step. The two areas that were fully scripted was the opening segment on Sustainability and the close featuring the head of the Dixie brand. I Directed the opening scene in the forest while the filming in the Naheola and Bowling Green facilities was Directed by Doug Congleton.
Once filming was completed, I pulled together the storyline from transcripts and worked with Editor Scott Franklin to assemble the story. Ultimately we ended up with a frame size around 4096 x 1605. It created that ultra-widescreen look and really forced your eye to look at what we wanted you to see. Because the screen was so big in the viewers eyes, we chose a small, minimalist graphics package that would not detract from the visuals and break the ‘you are there’ feeling. Because the audience would all be wearing individual headphones, we ensured that there was good stereo separation and sound placement to further reinforce the ‘you are there’ experience.
Ultimately the presentation far exceeded what was requested from the client and multiple divisions from GP have come back to request a public facing version be created. Understanding the delivery mechanism of the message and working backwards from the end is how you achieve engagement results for your message.