For Those About To Milk, We Salute You

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Following Goodby's lead on its latest "White Gold" campaign for the California Milk Processor Board, San Francisco-based interactive firm Odopod gives the initiative's titular rock n' roll character a dynamic, immersive web presence. A cross between Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Spinal Tap, the myth of the milk-loving, flamboyant White Gold is splayed out on the site through several sections that invite user involvement including the centerpiece, a music video for the grandiose rock song "Is It Me, Or Do You Love My Hair?"

"It's really the most substantial piece of the experience," says Odopod creative director Tim Barber. "It's pretty cool in a few ways. As a user, you click on things and get parallel video tracks, which is like controlling the edit in a way. We had to structure that in such a way that it adds entertainment rather than ruin the quality of the linear experience. There are places where you can control the edit and places where you actually can control the outcome of the video. You have to unlock certain scenes. If you were to just watch the video and not participate, you wouldn't get some of the content."

Essentially structured in three levels, the video takes fan on a fantastical odyssey that begins in front of a piano and ends in space. Along the way, one can unlock medallions that serve as tools to navigate through new areas of the site. "As you progress through the video, the things that you can do are pretty different. I'd say in the first third of the video, you're clicking on characters where you can get close-ups of them and you can click on other elements in the scene, some of which trigger videos and some of which trigger animation overlays. That's a simple interactive model with things of interest where you get more detail. It changes a little bit after and what we're doing there is we're switching between takes and doing this real-time motion graphics video kaleidoscope. It's a real-time graphics tool that allows you to manipulate the image of the slow-motion footage in the middle of the video."

But things get trickier and more involved, according to Barber. "In those two sections, which are fairly simple, you're clicking and dragging the mouse and things are happening. By the time we get to the final third, the bar is raised a little for interactivity. You cut to a scene where the band is performing on this epic airship. Your actions are a little more game-like in that scene. You can click and increase the fire that drives the balloon, you can rotate the fans and throw amps off the balloon. The whole point is to get the balloon moving vertically off the ground. If you do enough there, the balloon exits the atmosphere and reaches space. That's the first opportunity you have to extend the video. If you've reached space, you've already unlocked a longer version. Once you're in space, there's the Infinite Guitar Solo, and if you unlock that, you can get the video to play longer and longer."

According to director Rafael Fernandez, "Is it Me" offered a chance to really define what an interactive music video is. "When we first started talking about this, we said there isn't a lot out there to learn from what an interactive music video is. Some we had seen from the few rare examples out there were highly interactive yet low on the music video side of it. Something early on that Tim and I talked about is that we really wanted this to be a music video first and foremost that has interactivity. Me approaching it from the film side and Tim from the interactive side, we were both attracted to the things that we were weaker at. I was really obsessed from the beginning with the interactivity and Tim was really obsessed with how this thing was going to be a music video. It was really tricky to put a piece together that was going to be entertaining as a music video but allow a user at the same time to control that."

Of course, the site has several other areas to navigate, discover content and collect medallions, including a "River of Time"—essentially a journey through a "Behind the Music" of White Gold where users can control the speed of viewing—as well as a photo shoot dubbed "Vanity's Lens." "We shot that footage at the same time we shot the interactive music video," says Barber. "That was really fun in part because of the interaction model and the characters. You can choose outfits and/or characters, pick props and backgrounds and essentially do a photo shoot where you snap the band in all their glamorous, milk-fueled glory and save it on your desktop. It's a creative endeavor but also a way to spend some time with the band."

While Barber does divulge that there is room to expand upon content, with so much to already sort through and unearth, the present goal is to entice repeat visits to the site and especially the music video. "We wanted something that would live for multiple viewings and would hold interest each time you're watching and you'd figure out something new. I think there's a risk there that some viewers won't actually unlock very much but we thought it'd be better for the people that actually did that there was a reward that we felt was fulfilling."

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