The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Wildbytes!
Locations: New York and Madrid.
Year Founded: 2010
Specialties: Creating never-before-seen experiences through cutting-edge technology. Innovation based events, interactive billboards and storefronts, projection mapping, physical-digital installations, interactive retail, immersive experiences.
What inspired you to start your company?
The same thing that keeps us working and wanting to do more projects: people’s reactions when they find an interactive experience that wows them. We actually just created a tiny video purely showing reactions of people at events and experiences we’ve produced. It’s the most rewarding part and what builds stronger connections between brands and people. It is what inspired us to start Wildbytes, and what keeps us moving forward.
Why New York?
New York is a city where you can “feel” innovation and a great place to be when it comes to find like-minded professionals that seek challenge after challenge. The concentration of brands who look for innovators and the amount of creative minds with technological hearts is so big that it’s a perfect fit for Wildbytes.
What was the most technically challenging work you’ve created?
The cinematic augmented reality event we produced for Fox International Channels to promote the season premieres of The Walking Dead, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Homeland, and Sleepy Hollow. As far as we know, it is the largest and most film-like augmented reality experience produced to date.
The challenge was to push augmented reality to a cinematic level. Augmented reality usually blends virtual elements into the real world. In this case, the challenge was quite the opposite: to fully immerse people in cinematic scenes, where they could coexist with the main characters of the shows in an environment fully transformed (a public square) to make it feel as if they were in the universe of the shows.
The experience let the passersby star alongside their favorite actors and get involved in the action. TV characters would emerge from the crowd naturally on-screen, making it seem as though they were right there with you. To make this happen, we used the rotoscoping technique, which traces an actor’s silhouette frame by frame, to “extract” the actors from the shows and “insert” them in the live feed. More than 6,000 frames were
rotoscoped to believably bring these fictional characters into the real world.
But probably the most complicated challenge as far as technology was that creating a film-like experience required the use of a cinematic language: camera movements, cuts, different viewpoints… and augmented reality billboards usually use a single static camera (for technical reasons). We developed a technique to analyze and extract the camera movements from the original shots from the shows, producing the same movements and cuts with the live cameras that captured the audience in real time. So we had multiple cameras that were moving in real time with the augmented reality content integrated seamlessly with the live feed.
As there were four experiences (one per TV show), we ended up producing several videos of it (one per show, plus a recap of the whole event, and a small making of teaser). They can be found here.
Which work or brand are you best known for?
Probably our project Superhero, with which we have transformed already more than 3000 people in flying superheroes in different cities. It has been covered by The Huffington Post, Forbes, The Creators Project and many others, and I believe it’s because it is a project that taps into a very basic and fun desire: who doesn’t want to be superhero and fly or throw light balls? The intensity of the smiles we see in people when they are flying over the buildings with this project is just priceless. Now the project is naturally turning into a product based on demand.
Which project is your most underrated?
I think it is one of the latest projects we did for Hendrick’s gin, called Neuro Botanics. It was a rare combination of a cool science experiment with an intimate experience that had an amazing response at the events where it was showcased (and a really tight connection with the brand’s DNA). People got out wondering if it was actually true.
Neuro Botanics featured a series of lab flasks filled with botanical essences; those used to create Hendrick’s gin. Using a brain sensor, the event guests were able to experiment with their minds, controlling the amount bubbling on these flasks, with their brains. The goal was to understand the person’s brain in order to design the perfect cocktail for her. The brain doesn’t lie, so all the cocktails designed were spot on!
How has the business changed since you started?
We live in the era of experience gatherers, and today more and more brands understand this and embrace it, but it was not the case a few years ago. The main change we perceive is that now brands look for the type of interactive experiences we create: experiences with the goal to connect with people and make them feel something they have not felt before. When we started we had to push harder to convince our clients that brand experiences should revolve around the people, not around the brand. Now many brands know that the value of an interactive experience is that it creates a memory, a personal connection between the brand and the person. So now we find it “easier” than when we started, to create experiences we and other people enjoy.
What emerging tech trend will have the biggest impact on your business?
Emerging tech world is so active that it is quite tricky to name a single one. More than a specific technology, we think the personalization of experiences is going to huge (in physical experiences). Be it through beacons, computer vision, smart billboards, or the connection of social media channels with physical spaces… however you do it, personalization will lead the way, and there are new technologies to achieve this almost every day. Wildbytes’ DNA is based on constantly embracing new technologies, so these definitely impact the ideas we propose to our clients.
What advice do you have for agency producers or creatives?
Pretty straightforward: 1 interaction is worth more than 1000 impressions, specially in the physical world. People are tired of watching cat videos… they want to play with them instead. That’s why interactive experiences, even if they are more expensive, are definitely more valuable for brands and the people that experience them. They create memories. So our advice would be: interactive first.
What do you make of the trend where brands are skipping their agency of record to work directly with production partners?
Well, we think it makes sense and it’s actually where we fit in (in between both). For brands it makes sense, as they want to optimize the dollars they punt into a campaign or event (and we know large agencies are not the best way to achieve this). On the other hand, a pure production studio might lack the higher strategic vision that an agency provides, which could be key to a project’s success. For these reasons we’re actually in between a production studio and a digital innovation agency: we consider ourselves “doers” with strategic vision. We are a nimble agency, therefore being closer to a production studio as far as effectiveness and capabilities, but with higher level strategy as the driving force behind our work. So in short, this is a good trend for Wildbytes.
What is the best thing about working at Wildbytes?
The fact that each project is a whole new world, and we work on it as if it was our last. This means that we exhaust all of our resources to make each project unique, which sometimes is not the best approach as far as making Wildbytes a profitable company, but I think it pays off as far as the quality and more importantly the freshness of our work. If a project is not a challenge, we’re probably doing something wrong. So it is really intense, but extremely rewarding to be a Wildbyter.
The other key element in our culture is that we don’t differentiate creative vs non-creative positions. Everybody at Wildbytes is part of the brainstorming process for a new project, as we believe the best ideas come from combining minds that think in very different ways. This fosters collaboration and the search for new ideas ideas in everyone of us.
What does the future look like for Wildbytes?
It looks intense. The short term future for Wildbytes has three avenues: Omniexperience retail, experiential technology products and innovative experiences for brands. The latter is what have been doing so far and our strongest field at this point. Here we are starting a few Oculus Rift projects, of which we’ll see tons more this year. The other two are areas where we are currently expanding based on demand and our own interest. Omniexperience retail is our short term focus: creating unique experiences that are also useful, in retail spaces. Smart interactive storefronts and beacon-powered stores are the highlights here. The third avenue, experiential technology products, comes from the fact that we have a huge amount of in-house technology that we can productize: Augmented reality, computer vision, gesture interaction and brain sensing are probably the hottest areas for us. And at this point we’re ready to license some of them. So yes, future looks intense but really exciting.