Intel, Razorfish launch Digital Drag Race

How do you make a computer microprocessor cool?

Intel and my employer Razorfish tackled that challenge November 17 at Dog Patch Studios in San Francisco with the public launch of Intel’s new Core i7 microprocessor — which is the most significant update to the engine that runs your personal computer since Intel launched the Pentium Pro in 1995.

Intel describes Core i7 as the fastest processor on the planet. Unlike any other processor Intel has produced, the target audience for the Core i7 consists of creative professionals — animators, game developers, videographers, and the like. The creative community represents an untapped audience for Intel. They don’t particularly care about understanding the details of how a computer chip works. So how do you reach them?

Our approach: conduct a “Digital Drag Race” November 17 during an event where the Core i7 was formally launched. We supplied two graphic designers with computer equipment powered by the Core i7 and gave them 70 minutes to create a 17-second movie that expresses the theme of “innovation.”

Getting ready for the event

Our designers, Eric from Brooklyn, New York, and Clint, from Los Angeles, squared off while journalists and industry analysts mingled with Intel executives, played with video games powered by the Core i7, and created their own virtual performance art thanks to a fun little station provided by Organic Motion.

Sitting side by side, Clint and Eric worked feverishly on their design pieces. Eric’s creation borrowed from elements of anime to tell a playful story, whereas Clint relied on a more conceptual, moody approach. After reviewing their submissions, a panel of judges awarded Eric the “judge’s choice” in front of an audience of analysts, media, and bloggers.

Clint and Eric racing

Afterward, both Eric and Clint shared with me the challenge and excitement of participating in the event.

“This was hard!” Clint indicated. “Normally I don’t design movies on a whim. I had to change my mindset to do this Digital Drag Race.”

Intel’s Pat Gelsinger discusses the Core i7

Eric agreed. “The hardest part about the Digital Drag Race was totally changing the way I way I work. Normally a designer figures out an approach to a film well in advance of execution. Making up a design as I went along inside 70 minutes was fun and challenging.”

And this is where the Core i7 came into play — making something fairly impossible happen in about one hour.

“I was impressed,” Eric told me. “The entire experience was snappy, and I could work quickly.”

Added Clint, “This Core i7 system was really good because I was able to make decisions and grab assets immediately.”

Eric and Clint after the Digital Drag Race

Razorfish will host another Digital Drag Race January 9 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Participants will be chosen from candidates who are submitting sample work. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know.

So what makes the Digital Drag Race special?:

* Making something you cannot see — a microprocessor — come to life through an experience.

* The value of tapping into community to reach a new audience for Intel. Intel and Razorfish have employed Facebook to find candidates for the Digital Drag Race, we’ve made assets available to designers on a community site, and we’ve posted submissions on a dedicated YouTube channel. Moreover, Intel and Razorfish employees have been discussing the event on Twitter, Facebook, and in their own blogs.

* The importance of integrating digital and offline.

Check out some of the reaction in the blogosphere here, here, here, and here. So what do you think of the Digital Drag Race?

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