With New Fisheye Camera, Red Bull Involves Fans in Surf Clips

  |  February 22, 2008   |  Comments

360-degree camera technology lets Web users control a video's perspective.

Few surfers in the world will ever be able to ride Tahiti's infamous and dangerous Teahpoo waves, but Red Bull is making it possible to see what its like to ride one of those waves and do so at an angle even surfers themselves can't see.

As part of its Red Bull Surfing team sponsorship, the energy drink company sent its creative agency Taow to film surfing action off the shore of Tahiti using a specially rigged 360 degree video camera from Immersive Media. Team members wore the camera in a backpack that filmed the area around them while they surfed last November. The Teahpoo waves are known to be difficult to ride as they can reach heights of 20 to 30 feet, but only break in few feet of water above the sand. The resulting videos, now available on Redbullsurfing.com, use Flash to allow viewers to click and drag the perspective of the camera in whatever direction they choose. Red Bull quietly launched its site to allow surfers to share the sponsored videos, according to Nate Warner, interactive marketing manager, partnerships for Red Bull.

"Red bull doesn't do things classically like everybody else. For a project like this we can speak to the core of the surfing," Warner said. "It's really one of those things where we spend the extra money to drive a technology forward and hopefully we reap the rewards of the added traffic [given] that no one else has been able to do this and we were first to market."

Marketing agency Taow decided to use the 360 Immersive Media camera with Red Bull not only to experiment with a new means of filming an advertising campaign, but also to create an interactive experience it hopes users will watch repeatedly from different angles, according to Butch Bannon, director of special projects and business development for Taow.

"You watch the video online and it's not a director telling you what to look at. It's you deciding what to look at," he said.

In addition to its use with Red Bull, Taow has also used the camera with Adidas' Brotherhood campaign, which created 11 basketball videos and was launched in October. The sports apparel company is currently looking into developing additional campaigns using the camera, according to Chris Murphy, director of digital marketing for Adidas U.S.

"We're looking at not just basketball but across different categories and other places where we can use this. How can we use this camera to get the consumer closer to our athletes in a participatory manner," said Murphy.

The 360 degree camera was also used by Google to create its Google Maps Street View system, but that project used still shots captured every few yards instead of video. The camera's maker, Immersive Media, intends to market its use for advertising, including delivering ads directly into 360-degree videos of actual locations, according to Myles McGovern, president and CEO of Immersive Media.

"We have a group that is just starting to map 1,000 golf courses. And when you look at the tee it could be sponsored," said McGovern.

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Matthew G. Nelson

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