As of this typing, more than 750,000 people have watched the above clip on YouTube, an apparent work of amateur genius — “Guitar Hero” played with bicycle and pavement.
Think that clip is too unreal to be real?
I got on the phone today with an executive from Activision to find out the real history behind that clip. First of all, the company expected some of you to cry foul.
“It’s not meant to be deceptive. It’s meant to be fun.”
The video was made to build excitement around the release of “Guitar Hero: World Tour.” It was not shot by a guy named Kevin in Ft. Wayne, Indiana., as the clip’s profile page indicates on YouTube.
No, “Bike Hero” was shot in North Hollywood by a production team called Droga 5. That team has pulled off other viral stunts like the apparent graffiti-tagging of Air Force Once for Marc Ecko’s clothing company. This time, Activision was working with them.
“We shot all through the night,” Brad Jakeman, Activision’s newly appointed chief creative officer. “We wanted it to feel gritty and of the medium.” The shoot took place about four weeks ago, and while it did involve a real bicyclist, those lights on the handlebars are the product of “some filmic magic.”
I mentioned to Jakeman that this kind of production reminded me of the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games, which were staged to look live but were amplified with computer graphics. He pointed out that people reacted negatively to that because viewers were assuming they were watching live-to-air programming.
The “Bike Hero” video is different from the Beijing Olympics trickery, Jakeman said, because Activision wanted and expected gamers to figure it out. He argued that that’s in the exact spirit of what games are all about. “This was always created and put out there to engage the creativity of our gamers. It didn’t take people very long, as we expected it to, for them to unlock the first of the codes, if you like,” Jakeman said. “We wanted people to first figure out that it was something in the marketing realm and then dig in and have more of the conversation that we’re having about how it was done, have people figure out where all the cutting points were, where there was potentially CGI, and engage with that. It’s not meant to be deceptive. It’s meant to be fun.”
Will there be more things like this surreptitiously sneaking across the media landscape to hype the “Guitar Hero” brand? Jakeman’s short answer: “Yes.”
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