Alex Meader & Connor Hair

Perception Squared

About Alex Meader & Connor Hair

These two self proclaimed "super nerds" met in film school and have been working together ever since. Passionate about storytelling and the power it has to change the world, they enjoy geeking out about art, film, science fiction and space travel. Motto: "We believe life is complicated, and doesn't always have easy answers, and that stories should be the same way."

Alex Meader & Connor Hair

Alex Meader & Connor Hair

How did you guys get into VR marketing?

– We come from a filmmaking background. We went to film school together and we’ve worked in a wide variety of different types of platforms from feature films to branded content, to TV commercials, to music videos. We’ve always been interested in experimentation and pushing the boundaries of what can be done with visual storytelling. About two years ago we both started to get very interested in Virtual Reality and we decided to split the cost of the original Oculus Rift developer kit so we could try it out and see what the experience was like. We were immediately impressed by how powerful and immediate the impact of VR was when we tried it. It gave us a feeling we’d never really experienced before, the feeling of actually being in a place that wasn’t real. This really piqued our interest and we starting researching VR and learning about how to capture and playback video for VR. This lead to Connor creating the outline to a short script called Real, which would become the first piece of content we created for VR. The process of creating Real really showed us how much potential VR has as a visual medium and got us excited to explore all of the unique ways it could be used for storytelling.

What is your company’s core expertise?

– Our core expertise is in storytelling. Storytelling is at the heart of all good advertising regardless of the medium. Stories are what inspire us and shape the way we look at the world. Our range of experience across many different media platforms has given us a rich understanding of the fundamental elements of storytelling. We use this understanding to try to make sure we are focusing every VR experience we create to tell a unique and compelling story that creates a connection to the viewer.

How would you describe your company culture?

– We are big believers in a creative, low stress environment. We work extremely hard to make every project we create the best it can be, but we also put a high value on keeping our work environment relaxed and making sure that we are all enjoying the work we do. We’ve found that this approach allows us to be more creative in the way we approach projects and allows for a strong sense of team collaboration.

What can I as a customer expect in terms of communication and collaboration? Take me through the process!

– Good communication with clients is one of our top goals going into every project we take on. We think that strong, collaborative communication with the client is the most important part of making effective and powerful content and is often the most overlooked part of the process. We start our process by asking a lot of questions and trying to figure out what kind of approach will be the best fit for each individual brand. By learning as much as we can about the brand’s position in the market, how they view themselves, and what their story is we start to get a deeper understanding of their needs and the kind of approach that will work best for them. After getting a sense the essence of the brand we start to brainstorm different approaches that will allow us to add a unique spin to the brand while still staying true to their identity and core customers. Once we have a few different approaches we’re happy with, we bring these ideas to the client and begin discussing which approach they think will be most effective for them and why. We make a point of keeping this kind of collaborative open dialogue with clients going throughout all stages of the production process. This helps us to make sure we’re always on the same page with out clients and allows us to customize our creative approach to fit their individual needs.

Can you handle campaign volume production?

– Our company is capable of scaling up depending on the project’s needs. We are comfortable handling all creative aspects of an advertising campaign and we have a large network of creative professionals to draw on to fill the needs of the client and project.

Can you show me something you’ve done that you are extra proud of?

– Our first VR project was a 12 minute short film titled “Real”. It was selected to be part of Kaleidoscopes 2016 World Tour. It has gotten a great response from viewers and represents our vision for how VR storytelling can affect people on a different level than traditional cinema.

See Real here:

What area, geographically speaking, are you available to work in?

– We are based out of the Los Angeles area. For any work outside of Los Angeles/Orange County we will require travel expenses. We’ve done a lot of work across the world and always enjoy the opportunity to travel and experience new cities and cultures as part of our work.

Do you offer revisions of completed work?

– As a general rule we always accommodate our clients needs throughout the post production process to make sure they’re 100% happy with the final results we deliver them. Making sure our clients are completely satisfied with the project before we lock and deliver the finals is very important to us. In the rare case where a client decides after final approval and delivery that they want to make additional changes to the project we always do our best to accommodate them.

Money is a big issue. Can you give some examples of what you can do for a small company with limited resouces? 

– VR production can be a very expensive undertaking. We try to make sure that we keep budget level in mind when we are creating concepts for a client. By scaling the scope of our productions and finding creative ways of approaching budget limitations we are able to create high quality work for small and large clients depending on their needs and the resources they have available. A good example of a smaller scale VR production we’ve done was a recent shoot we did with YouTube as part of their Brand Partners Program. We knew that our budget was fairly limited from the beginning of the project, but we also knew we had access to an awesome location in YouTube Space LA so we decided to leverage this location to its maximum potential in our creative approach.

After in depth conversation with the clients to nail down the tone and feel of the piece, we decided to take a comedic approach where YouTube Space LA is attacked by a pack of  people wearing inflatable T-rex costumes. This approach allowed us to capture the fun, playful aspect of the YouTube brand while also creating interesting visuals without the need for costly camera movement solutions or motion graphics. By making the best use of the resources we had available we were able to deliver a piece of fun, engaging content that the client was extremely happy while keeping the production on budget.

I own a bike factory and want to promote our latest BMX model. What sort of VR experience would you suggest for me? Money is not an issue. Go crazy!

– For something like this we think a self contained app that showcases both the engineering quality of the new BMX model as well as the experience of riding it would be the strongest approach. Once inside the app the viewer would have the ability to walk around a floating version of the BMX and select individual parts to examine. After selecting a part, a short piece of 360 video would begin showing the viewer how that part is made and assembled onto the bike. This video would be accompanied by voiceover explaining the process and how that part helps improve the rider’s experience.

Each of these short 360 vignettes would tell the viewer a small piece of the story of how this bike was designed and built as well as telling them about the story of the brand behind it. While inside the app, the viewer would also have the option to take the bike for a ride. Activating this feature would then bring up a menu of three different ride environments that the viewer can choose from. These could have a range of different tones to them such as a relaxing ride down the Pacific Coast, an intense freestyle BMX course in the desert, or an epic cinematic race through the rain. Each of these rides would play out as 360 videos with music and rich, binaural sound design to accompany the experience.

By giving the viewer an in depth look at the design and craftsmanship that went into this bike and allowing them to experience what that design and craftsmanship feels like when riding it, we would be creating a rich and dynamic experience that is customized to each viewer depending on how they interact with the app. This level of interactivity and customization  would create a strong connection with the viewer and give this new BMX model a premium, high tech feel.

I’ve been living in van down by the river the last few years and just got back to work at the marketing department, can you explain to me why I should invest in a VR marketing campaign?

– VR marketing offers an entirely new and innovative way to bring your products and your brand to customers. By creating immersive experiences that allow potential customers to explore and experience your brand you’ll be able to create a deep sense of connection that has a lasting impact, something very rare in today’s fast paced, sensory overload world. In addition, creating marketing content in VR shows the world that your brand is tech savvy and not afraid to innovate and lead the way into the future. This kind of statement is a very powerful one for almost any brand, and has the potential to have a huge impact on sales and public perception.

If you were to speculate freely, what sort of VR experiences do you think we will see in the future, in terms of marketing?

– We don’t think there are any limits to what we might see from VR marketing in the future. VR has such an incredible potential for creating unique and different experiences and we’re super excited to see all of the different ways brands and creators choose to use it.

One type of experience we think will be utilized for marketing a lot in the near future are mixed media VR experiences that showcase events such as concerts, parties, theme parks, and restaurants. VR has such an innate ability to put the viewer into a place that it is a very natural fit for brands that are trying to showcase an establishment or an event. In particular we think this kind of VR marketing will be very prevalent for large events like music festivals, sporting events, and conventions.

VR is a no doubt powerful tool that and the industry is young. What are the risks and pitfalls with VR marketing?

– One of the biggest pitfalls we’ve seen with VR marketing is a reliance on visual “wow” factor at the expense of good storytelling. Since the technology is so new, and so novel, there are a lot of people who are creating content that is visually flashy, but ultimately rather shallow and unfulfilling. While visual appeal and “wow” factor is a very important part of marketing pure visuals by themselves won’t create a lasting connection with a brand the way a compelling story can. The other big pitfall we see a lot of people falling into with VR content is a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the camera technology and the way that VR affects people’s brains. There are a lot of VR experiences out there that are have very distracting technical problems like obvious stitch lines, or shaky cameras and forced camera motion. Unfortunately not only do these kind of things distract from the quality of the experience, but if they’re severe enough, they can actually make viewers feel ill.

Pick a brand and product that you like and tell me what sort of campaign you would create, given total freedom.

– There are so many brands to choose from, but one that comes to mind is Johnnie Walker Whiskey. An approach for a campaign that we think would be really dynamic and interesting is an interactive mystery story with a classic film noir tone where the viewer is placed into the shoes of a former hitman, turned private detective who is trying to unravel a complex mystery revolving around the disappearance of the daughter of a wealthy politician. As the story progresses the viewer would make choices that shape the way things unfold. Throughout the story there could be key conversations with different characters that take place over a glass of Johnnie Walker. The label of the whiskey could even play into the nature of the character that the conversation is with, red label for a love interest, black label for a character with a dark backstory, blue label for a very important person. By tying the product into this interactive story in a subtle way like this, the campaign would create be able to create a strong brand connection while still feeling stylish and cool.

How big can VR marketing get and what will it take for it to get there?

– There really isn’t any limit to how big VR marketing can become. For the moment, the primary limitation is the number of headsets on the market, but as the technology becomes cheaper to manufacture and public interest continues to grow that limitation will quickly fade away. We feel pretty confident that VR and AR marketing will be one of the top platforms for marketing in the next 5-10 years, but exactly what that platform will look like and how it will work, that’s still up for viewers to decide.

How would you define a successful VR marketing experience?

– For us, a successful VR marketing experience is one that leaves the viewer feeling connected to the brand and the experience they just had in a meaningful way. This can be achieved in a lot different ways but the ultimate goal, in our opinion, should be making them feel like they just went to another place and came back with an emotional experience they didn’t have before they put the headset on. Whether it’s laughter, sadness, excitement, or curiosity, creating an emotional impact and a sense of connection is they key to making a lasting impression with VR marketing.

What is it about VR that gets you excited?

– If we had to pick one element of VR that is the most exciting, it would probably be how utterly unexplored it is as a creative medium. There aren’t a lot of points in history where you get to see a fully unique artistic medium emerge within society and every time it’s happened in the past it’s made a lasting impact on the world. The potential for creative expression that comes with VR is massive, and because it’s such a new medium, there really are no rules. As creators, that’s really exciting to us because it means we have the opportunity to experiment and create experiences that truly and completely unique.

Any final words?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and let us know what your project’s needs are. We would love to have the opportunity to create a compelling VR experience for you and your brand!

STUDIO: Perception Squared

By | March 28, 2018