VirtualCop was part of the New Zealand Police’s recruitment marketing activity designed as a vehicle to attract people to come and talk to the police at on the ground events. The organisation has always found to have a greater conversion if people have the opportunity to ask questions directly of the cops. “It’s like a recruitment maintenance vehicle.”
The primary audience for VirtualCop were women and the both the client and Wrestler came at the experience from a female perspective. A key insight was that experience, even a virtual one, can help women make a more informed decision around whether or not being a cop was something that they might want to explore.
We chose to create VirtualCop for Virtual Reality and Mobile release, to align with our gaming-literate target audience and their preferred content platforms. VR was also the best possible way to convey a more visceral and realistic feeling of the experience, short of being a cop. Authenticity was paramount so we focussed on the community aspect of policing, rather than the cliche of car chases and Michael Bay style pyrotechnics.
Virtual Cop was designed to be modular, this allows us an ongoing flexibility to build on and expand it as time goes on. Check out the below behind the scenes video for the whole story.
The art direction of VirtualCop merged two different styles and blended them seamlessly together. A realistic approach was taken for the environments, something that felt immersive and would resonate truth to a kiwi audience - Heat pumps and wheelie bins anyone? While the character designs took a more stylised execution. Although based on real life cops, features were exaggerated enough to keep our artists out of the uncanny valley.
The script writing was done collaboratively with the New Zealand Police and had to be authentic so that it was perceived as a serious opportunity and a possible career path while being fun and engaging. Important recruitment messages of, caring, commitment to diversity, team work and community work were also woven into the narrative. Our experience in gaming and animation was invaluable when approaching the non-linear structure of the multiple storylines.
This entire experience was built in-house at our Wellington Studio. Our team of creatives and developers built the entire experience in Unreal Engine, combining live action film, motion capture, character creation, custom environments and sound design to bring this project to life.
A production like this draws on many disciplines, including software developers, technical artists, animators, concept artists, designers, writers, creatives, sound artists, and talent.We worked with real officers to record all of the motion capture for the characters, as well as voice overs. Our two main characters are even modelled after real officers, Clarke and Hamish.
This project has a cross platform approach, building in Unreal allows us to output to various platforms, from VR, to mobile, 2D video content, even print. The idea here was to build out assets that would stretch over multiple mediums, giving the client a truly flexible marketing resource.
If you want to chat about a project then we're happy to catch up over a coffee, or a whisky.