Unlock Your Sherlock – Interactive Film for Warner Bros.

Client: Warner Brothers and MSN B.E.E.T.

Project: Interactive Film

The goal was deceivingly simple: to create on-line buzz for Warner Brother’s big screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. plays the updated Holmes, in part by playing himself. Jude Law is the oddly decisive and suspiciously attractive Watson. Clearly not your grandfather’s book-bound sleuths. There were early talks about complicated Victorian on-line games, ideas tossed around banking on several Phantom cameras shooting 1000 frames per second. It felt too technical. Not sexy enough. But more importantly, not strategically relevant or native to the film it was designed to promote.

Instead we picked up on one unique aspect of the new Holmes — his uncanny, frantic ability to observe. Like a bird on cocaine. We wanted to give the viewer the ability to experience what Sherlock sees. Make the interactive element and our experience directly related to a promise for the feature film. But never try to recreate the film. Or a foggy London anno 1890. This project begged to be a timeless cinematic era mash-up, a world that would have David Lynch feel at home. And because distribution of the on-line film is world wide, we put ourselves to the test and asked: how do we create a visual mystery — without any dialogue — that still delivers a rich mystery narrative.

With a crew and cast of 100 on set every day, 3 brilliant directors of photography working side by side, 7 cameras, 3 capture formats and a costume lead from “Mad Men” set and lots of coffee, we set the stage. One large, timeless, labyrinth of a location. A private club filled with characters from around the world. A formal event: cigar smoke wafts, elevator doors reveal, mirrors disguise, glances distract and seduce. Everyone’s a suspect. We enter, as first person view camera. We are Holmes. Then — a crime takes place right before our eyes. What really happened? Who did it? Why?

Just like the new Holmes, the interactivity lets viewers dive in to the crime-scene to see what others can’t — to suspend time and space. Pick up the smallest of details. The slightest movement. A glance. A sound. These are “Holmes Moments” — each one offering clues that together unveil a bigger and more sinister narrative. We used plenty from our DK arsenal: multiple camera formats, visceral editing, burst-mode, macro-photography, sound design, slow-motion, compositing and some techniques we will never reveal — the individual Holmes Moments catering to what is revealed in each of the 20 clues.

Warner Brother’s partnership with Microsoft’s branded entertainment division and MSN spread the interactive film to millions of viewers over 4 continents. But there’s nothing really mysterious about what happens then.

Gallery

Warner Brothers: Sherlock Teaser from DIGITALKITCHEN on Vimeo.

Warner Brothers: Sherlock Final Reveal from DIGITALKITCHEN on Vimeo.

Warner Bros. “Sherlock Interactive Film Demo” from DIGITALKITCHEN on Vimeo.

Credits

Creative Director/Writer: Johan Liedgren
Interactive Creative Director: Erik Reponen
Senior Creative: Ryan Gagnier
Creative: Morgan Henry
Producers: Morgan Henry, Chezik Walker
Designers: Chris Abbas, John Foreman, Jeremy Stuart, Cody Cobb, Eric Bauer, Russell Hirtzel.
Editors: Brian Cole, Shawn Fedorchuk, Slavka Kolbel
Director of Photography: Martin Ahlgren
Line Producer/Assistant Director: Eugene Mazzola
Camera Operators: Rodney Taylor, Morgan Henry
Steadicam Operator: Kenneth Faro
Exec. Producer/Head of Creative: Mark Bashore
Sound Design/Composition: LUCIT
Color: Lightpress