From Skype video chats that break up more than your favorite celebrity couples, to choppy phone calls, audio and video lags are typically the worst.
But, for 2018 Webby Agency of the Year BBDO New York, the time lag on Facebook Live broadcasts was a gift. And they used that gift alongside Downtown Records and band The Academic to create Live Looper: a mesmerizing, visually looped music video for the band’s latest single “Bear Claws.” The project took home two Webby Awards for Experimental & Weird (Film & Video) and Best Use of Video or Moving Image (Advertising, Media & PR).
We chatted with the BBDO New York team on the precision that went into this project, leveraging Facebook Live for work, and more.
“ We knew that if one little thing would go wrong it would be repeated loop after loop, a nerve-wracking thought.”
Downtown Records – Live Looper takes advantage of Facebook Live’s short delay. How did the idea of a one-take, live-on-Facebook music video come about?
It started out with some good old bummin’ around on the internet. We’re always playing around with new features when they come out to see how we can abuse them. We were playing around and filming our own Facebook page and we saw the infinite loop appear in front of our eyes we both felt we had found something magical.
This was just before Downtown Records contacted us, and it all fell into place. The Academic was the perfect partner to do something wild with. They are super tight live performers. We spent some very confusing time with them in a rehearsal space and crossed our fingers when we finally hit the “go live” button. Those guys really nailed a near-impossible thing in one take.
It would be easy for a project of this magnitude to become messy. What went into ensuring that everything—audio quality, band placement, etc.—was executed flawlessly?
Practice, practice, practice, and some luck. We knew that if one little thing would go wrong it would be repeated loop after loop, a nerve-wracking thought.
So rehearsing was the name of the game. Music, performance, sound, the live stream projection in the background, and the lights all had to be in sync.
The live stream execution itself was really a collaboration between three different departments: camera (lighting, grip); media (streaming); and audio (engineers mixed live and managed musician playback). What is interesting about this project is that we didn’t have to create or fabricate anything new to make it happen—we had to push existing “off-the-shelf” tools and engineers to their limits to execute without error for 6-minutes.
Inside Downtown Records - Live Looper
Facebook Live is a useful feature for marketers, but many companies struggle to use it. What made this the right tool for your project?
Facebook is a natural place for bands to connect with their fans and share their music. Where a lot of companies struggle is finding a genuine voice on a platform on which people are surrounded by friends. With a band that felt a lot more natural.
Besides that, people love to watch and share movies where music and skill come together. A big part of this is proving you did something extremely complicated for real, while it’s much easier to just fake it. So in the end it was a combination of things that made it just right.
What were the challenges with executing a project like this?
It was incredibly difficult to explain the exact idea, you basically have to see it to get it. In every meeting there was at least one person confused about what we were talking about. It felt like we were constantly talking about two different “live” experiences. What we see on set when we go live. And what people see when they’re watching the performance online.
Downtown Records - Live Looper: 5-Word Speech
What does your Webby Win mean to you?
Our wins feel amazing! We love The Webby Awards because it transcends advertising and is a real cultural prize, it means a lot. And especially the category, if there is one thing the Internet is great at it’s being weird. Therefore, winning in the category “Experiential & Weird” was an even bigger honor. And of course, bringing home Agency of the Year was the icing on the cake.