Amazon Prime Video turned to DEPT® to create hype around the launch Without Remorse, its original film based on the novel by Tom Clancy, among a hard-to-engage audience.
We took on the challenge, and created the world’s first real-life gaming experience, played out live on Twitch.
A live Twitch experience
What started off as an ambitious idea to mirror a key scene in the movie by streaming a kidnap and rescue live on Twitch, grew exponentially. From one streamer to four, from one home location to a multiple space warehouse, from a single POV shooting style to 20 additional cameras.
Staged in a warehouse in the English countryside, we built a ‘covert special forces base’ featuring 20 interior and exterior zones, with 20 objectives. A cast and crew of over 50 people and 20+ cameras covered all of the live action.
We recruited four big name UK streamers, JustaMinx, RTGame, JustCallMeKevin and Anna_Chess, who have over four million followers between them, who took direct control of our action hero ‘Tom’ live on our set in a two hour live stream.
Their mission, to rescue the hostage.
Conferring with each other and deferring to their communities for directions, they solved clues, avoided gunfire, played chess, threw smoke grenades, raided the badguy’s snack fridge, stole hats, hugged, killed with cake, danced and abseiled… without remorse.
Entirely live on-the-fly action, live filming, live editing, live SFX and live graphics, all at the behest of an imaginative Twitch community…what could possibly go wrong?
Setting the stage
Our process began with a storyboard and a narrative that we’d ‘ideally’ want our players to follow that would engage them for an hour of gameplay.
This informed the art department in dressing the isolated warehouse to form multiple areas, and including clever references like in-jokes from the film script and the streamers’ personas.
For the gamers, this meant there were multiple easter eggs for them (and their fans) to spot and keep them engaged. While for us it meant casting bad guys, and arranging training for innocent warehouse workers with a professional stuntman and armory advisor to ensure every aspect was as realistic as possible.
Pushing technology to its limits
The technical requirements of this event were huge, and had never been done before. We came on set with 150m of cable, a large behind the scenes crew, a satellite truck to make sure we didn’t lose our all important stream, and a series of technical pivots under our belts that we’d made in preparation for the event.
For example, as we couldn’t guarantee a silent set and we couldn’t capture audio live, so a multi-part musical score was written to use in the background. On the spot SFX were prepared, which were manually fired off as the action happened. We even recorded and broadcast new sounds in the moment to add detail where we couldn’t have pre-planned.
Behind the scenes, we had a broadcast editing desk (usually used in live TV events), which was being fed the multiple camera outputs and sound feed. And where, to make it feel more akin to a real video game, we overlaid in-game graphics and sequences, as well as graded the footage to mimic CCTV and a night vision head cam. Again, all live.
This combined feed was streamed via satellite truck to each of our streamers’ homes, where they overlaid their PIP and channel graphics which, in turn, was streamed live to Twitch. In their headsets was our hero Tom and his on the ground handlers, ready to take their next order.
Building serious hype
We selected our four streamers based on their big followings for playing games like Rainbow Six Siege, and because they had previously collaborated already, so we could guarantee a fun and competitive atmosphere when they played.
Their strong existing followings enabled us to leverage their social media channels, as well as Amazon Prime’s owned channels, to trailer the event and rally their audiences to help them on their mission.
But to cast the net wider, we turned to paid Twitch, Instagram and Twitter to create more hype among fans about this first-of-its kind event.
stream views within 24 hours
In the process of achieving these impressive numbers for our experience, we also created an internet sensation; ‘Tom’ became an unplanned hero and star of many a meme and declarations of fan love.
At his new fans’ request, he made a surprise appearance at the film’s watch party and to show his enduring popularity with the audience, even at the watch party of Amazon’s subsequent film release!
The experience also went on to win the People’s Voice award for Best Narrative Experience in the Virtual Remote – Immersive category at the 2022 Webby Awards, dubbed the Oscars of the internet.
Executive Creative Director
Tony Blair Institute