Challenge: Establish an identity for a band and create a real, tangible example of an incusion-focused “If you can’t join us, we’ll bring it to you” experience
Role: Creative Director, executive producer
Developer- Edgaras Artemciukas
Audio- Scot Michael at Titan Recording Studio
End result (mobile):
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Personal projects are important. If it weren’t for the whole “paying bills thing,” one could make a legitimate case for personal projects being more important than standard client/agency work. Nearly my entire career, I’ve had steady personal programs that gave me the space to explore almost unfettered. The "almost" is important because I think it’s necessary to approach these programs and individual projects with the same obedience to structure that one would approach a traditional client.
Plan your schedule, research styles and audience, establish visual/language guidance and appropriate channels, then determine an appropriate collection of deliverables that exemplify those parameters…cycle repeats.
Hopefully, as “personal project” hopefully implies, I’m deeply involved on both sides, client and agency, as I’m generally the client-side evolved from something I’m a part of. Storm Boy is my current passion focus- it’s a band I play guitar, sing, and write the songs for. As the band bio states:
Storm Boy is a US based project that is focused
leading with joy and doing so with enthusiasm,
bravado, and emotion. By bringing together elements
of nearly 50 years of punk rock n roll tradition- the
swagger of the New York Dolls, the energy of the
Sex Pistols, the emotional awareness of Fugazi,
and the energy of IDLES, Storm Boy is focused on
creating, as one critic called it, “confident, indulgent,
fist throwing, beer cheers-ing, movie climax moment”
experiences for listeners and attendees. The hope is to create a series of connected promotional assets that bring these elements to life which will help the audience “let it rise.”
As you can see in the guidance, this bio was a big part is establishing the voice and look- ideas that span the influence pie- gritty yet playful counter-culture elements mixed with unifying and inspiring voices that inspires an engaged audience to participate…to do it all together.
This identity has begun evolving to the next phase which can be described as an incusion-focused “If you can’t join us, we’ll bring it to you.” Of course the first piece of this is in the live shows- pushing the band to travel further, more often. But what about those who still can’t make it out? Underage fans, people that avoid bars, and those who just have conflicts.
I started thinking about Augmented Reality- we carry portals to the world in our pockets, how can the be utilized to allow the experience to be more interactive beyond the passive interaction of videos and music?
This started by building on platforms I was most comfortable with, like 2.5D animation in After Effects, and taking them into what I already had access to, Adobe Aero.
What I wanted, was a game. I wanted users to be able to bring the band into their space, and participate by controlling the actions of the band members, and have the volume of the music change as they got closer or backed away… I wanted complete interaction where I was. Enter: Unity.
I have never used Unity. I’ve watched tutorials, and as the base level it made sense, but as a visual person, the code required to really make something shine, was literally a whole new language, and that language was C#. So I dove into tutorial after tutorial and pushed myself to learn what I needed as I went, which also meant I needed to clean up and focus. What exactly did I need and…what was I willing to let go of? One thing I had learned from working with websites and some app concepts earlier on in my career, was the value of a good wireframe in lending forcus. So I put my wireframes together, which also guided what I’d need for the most simple, clean UI possible- 3 buttons for the individual band members, 4 buttons representing 4 actions per member, and two more buttons that would serve double duty as identifiers for each group as well as resets. I also realized during this process that if one will have the ability to select that bandmember, or Storm Boy, they should be able to also solo that Storm Boy and, if they can solo that Storm Boy, they should also be able to solo the music. And I wanted it to work on both iOS and Android devices. That’s a lot of code, and that’s a lot of code that isn’t easily accessible by tutorials. I needed help.
I went over to Upwork to hire an expert and connected with Edgaras Artemciukas. He didn’t even flinch at the concept and was able to provide extra guidance I hadn’t thought of, specifically file size. My project was running over a gigabyte with millions of polygons contributing to that scale…this scale was especially prohibitive of my desire to be accessible to as many users as possible in that it’s way too large for WebAR to even handle, and would take too long for download from an app store.
So, back to the modeling board to make the characters, keyframes, and assets much more manageable. After a couple days of tweaking, I was able to get them down from 1.3GB to 150MB. Yes, the actions were more simple, the clothing textures are a little glitchy, and there are some silly physical features to the models, but I think the end result is very very fun and a great example of what can be done in the space the create value beyond just doing “something cool.”
The next time I do this, there are definitely some things I’d like to make sure are included, like instructions, and an end call-to-action (visit linktr.ee/StormBoyOly), but it’s impossible to not have a great time with this…which at the end of the day, is exactly what I wanted.