Dan Brown, ‘Origin’ & the ‘world’s first virtual book signing’

When we teamed up with London-based agency BeeLiked to create a personalised film for Doubleday / Penguin Random House and the launch of Dan Brown’s new novel, we knew it had to be something special. And after a series of creative meetings, we settled on the world’s first virtual book signing.

The campaign began with a competition giving people the opportunity to design a cover for Dan Brown’s new novel, Origin. The competition received hundreds of submissions and Dan Brown himself chose six finalists. The digital team then opened up these covers to a pubic vote to choose the winner. And what better way to incentivise people to vote than with a stunning, personalised film?

We produced a personalised film featuring Dan Brown himself as a personal ‘thank you’ for people voting in the competition. We created this with the help of sophisticated real-time motion tracking software which personalise the video to the person watching it, inserting their name using an automated voice as well as text appearing in the book. The final flourish was personalising the book cover in the film to match the design that the user chooses before watching the video. Here’s the whole process, from entering the user’s name through to the final personalised video:

 

After we agreed on the creative brief with Doubleday, we set about looking for the perfect library in which to shoot the film. But Dan Brown offered for us to film in his own house, which perfectly matched the mysterious and intriguing atmosphere we were hoping to create.

Our London-based crew of two producers, director, camera assistant and sound recordist flew out to Boston in the United States where we prepped for a few days beforehand, scouting the location and securing the perfect equipment and props for the project. We shot the film using a Sony A7S Mk II with a DJI Ronin stabiliser and a Sony FS5.

The personalised elements of the video required key props to be constructed with motion tracking dots, which the software then converted in real-time. These dots were required to be lit and shot in a specific way, so ensuring the personalised elements were subtly incorporated and contributed to a beautiful, compelling film was an exciting technical challenge. The video below shows the difference between the edited video without any colour grading or personalisation, and the final film below it:

Video personalisation is an exciting area of growth in the video industry. It gives viewers a thrilling, immersive way to consume video content. Suzanne Herz, executive vice president at Doubleday, said: “This is hugely exciting for Doubleday as it allows fans to fully immerse themselves in Dan Brown’s world and to receive a personal message from the author himself. We have never been able to offer fans a unique, intimate experience like this before.”

Nothing beats seeing the video in action. You can personalise your own film here.

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