The Most Awesome Project
How Akamai leveled up its video marketing with long-form video storytelling
The idea was so exciting we could hardly wait to start:
“Like No Reservations, but for Gaming. With Nelson instead of Anthony Bourdain.”
The Nelson in question is Nelson Rodriguez. Nelson is Global Director, Media Industry and Campaign Marketing, for Akamai.
He’s a lifelong gamer. And, in a previous life, he was also an award-winning games marketer in his own right. If you’ve ever heard of Halo 3, Tekken 5, or Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, you have Nelson to thank.
At least in part.
Nelson’s Akamai responsibilities take him to major gaming conferences around the world to meet with customers, evangelize Akamai solutions, and to keep current with the trends and technologies that shape an industry that’s worth more than movies and music combined.
Watch the Trailer | Duration: 45 seconds
One topic, many perspectives
The idea was to accompany him on an upcoming trip, camera crew in tow, to film a video documentary about – and for – the online gaming industry. We’d look at gaming culture to learn what motivates people to enter an exciting, but incredibly challenging, industry.
We’d explore game development to learn about the tradeoffs that developers must make when turning ideas into code. Finally, we’d dive deeply into the technology infrastructure that delivers great (and secure) gaming experiences to players around the globe.
Long-form video storytelling more creative, cost-effective
Long-form video storytelling was an area that both Nelson and our team were eager to explore. Not only would it give us the opportunity to present a topic from various perspectives, it would be a more cost-effective way of creating video content. In addition to the full-length piece, we anticipated being able to create numerous derivative assets from the same shoot.
Still, timelines were tight. It was unlike anything Akamai had done before. It was unlike anything we’d done before.
Naturally, we dove right in.
“No one on the creative team cares how many copies we sell. They want to hear, ‘Thanks, I loved your game’.” — James Berg, Electronic Arts
Recruiting the speakers
We started with the interviewees. We wanted to be sure they were energetic, passionate, authentic, and most importantly, sold on what we were doing. We recruited them the-old fashioned way. Armed with LinkedIn Premium accounts, names in-hand, we knocked on as many digital doors as possible with personalized invitations to each candidate.
Dozens of emails, phone calls, and gallons of coffee later, we had secured interviews with luminaries from such industry giants as Epic Games, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Harebrained Schemes, Bandai Namco, and ADVR. We had also landed an interview with GamesBeat reporter Dean Takahashi, also a lifelong gamer and long-time chronicler of the industry.
Lots of logistics and San Francisco scenery
The shoot would take us to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, which is among the largest gatherings of its kind in North America. We had reached out to the GDC coordinators to secure the rights to film b-roll on the show floor to make sure all of our content was legal.
We’d also sourced some great exterior locations. Googling “the coolest spots in San Francisco” was one way; another was using breather.com to secure interview spaces with modern backdrops. We secured beautiful co-working spaces, hip restaurants with great decor, and even dug up permits to shoot b-roll in Chinatown and the famed Musee Mecanique.
“Everyone’s heard of San Francisco’s high tech industry but a lot of people don’t know that this city plays an important role in North America’s gaming industry as well. It’s where Pong began.”— Nelson Rodriguez, Akamai
The Most Awesome Game - Behind the Scenes
Run-and-gun production with professional production values
We knew there would be a lot of moving around for this shoot, several daily setups and teardowns, and an audience that would demand extremely high production values. We used a run-and-gun lighting kit, audio mixers using lav mics, and 3 separate 4K camera angles to make sure we could use as many sound bites as possible. In the editing suite, we used the latest and greatest video editing trends and motion graphics to give this a long-lasting shelf life.
“The production was fast, the production was run-and-gun, the production was professional. We made sure the pacing, the atmosphere, and the quality all intertwined to create an amazing piece of content,” says Brendan McCrann, Demand Spring Video Marketing Manager. “We knew that every detail would count on this, and we needed to have the right team and motivation to execute.”
“As humans, what are the things that cause us to form attachments to things, and how do we facilitate those attachments within our games?”— Jim Brown, Epic Games
One shoot, 13 video assets
All told, the four-day shoot yielded in excess of 30 hours of footage. When transferred to the editing suite, these efforts yielded no fewer than 13 distinct video assets. In addition to the full-length (14-minute) documentary, we were also able to produce two trailers, three self-contained chapter excerpts, and eight pre-roll “quick hit” videos featuring high-impact clips from our interviewees.
Leveling up our game
“Whether you’re talking to a veteran of the industry or a young CEO who’s trying to disrupt it in exciting ways, the one thing that keeps coming across is passion,” says Nelson. “Every industry requires commitment and skill if you want to be successful, but in games it feels like you also have to love it.”
In the end, making a full-length documentary was very much like making a video game: long hours, unforeseen challenges, and things we would have done differently. But, just like those thousands of developers pouring their commitment, skills, and love into their games, our entire crew poured these same attributes into producing The Most Awesome Game.
“Starting tournaments out of my house was my passion…I never really thought it would go anywhere.” — Robb Chiarini, Ubisoft
We hope those attributes come through when you watch it.