Text and Photos by David Nakayama, DET Corp Comms
Bangkok, Thailand, June 8, 2020-With OEM/ODM business being the bread and butter of our revenue, many of us Deltans quietly go about our daily work as unsung heroes supporting our world-famous customers. But in September of 2019, Delta Thailand (DET) got the rare chance to feature as Google’s responsible supplier and valued partner.
Here’s an inside look at what went on inside Google’s production of the first-ever virtual reality (VR) film at DET-Powered by Me (If viewing from your phone, please play it in the YouTube App to use the 360 feature) also available to download as a VR app experience on Android or iOS.
What does sustainability mean for Delta, and why does it matter to Google’s audience?
Alyssa (front) from Google and Kyle (back) from the creative team at DET5 solar rooftop
It all began when our DET CDBU head Sherry requested DET Corporate Communications to support Google in the making of a VR film at DET headquarters. The film was part of a Google Responsible Supply Chain project with sustainable suppliers. Google and DET Corp Comms held an international con-call meeting to discuss the project objectives, basic outline and timeframe.
“So what does sustainability mean for Delta, and what are you doing to become sustainable?“ the Google team asked us these questions and more as we briefly outlined our company and our core values. They also shared their project’s VR films including the Journey of Gold VR film, which explores an artisanal gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the issue of sustainable metal supply for electronics, and the Made by Me VR film, which shows the everyday life of migrant workers at the Zhuhai China factory of top global EMS and Google device producer-Flex.
In my follow-up meetings and communications with the Google team leads and their creative team, we narrowed down the sustainability values we share and then we worked out the story of how our people make the energy-efficient power products that help Google, our communities and the world. With our 75% female workforce, DET has a large pool of empowered women to feature as the main characters in our unique story of life at a green factory amid Thailand’s culturally rich and inclusive society.
Putting in the legwork before shooting
Pornsuda (far right) with the Google team outside Bangkok’s Pak Khlong Market Flower
Once we had a general idea of where the project was heading, I could scout and propose the film characters, scenes and locations.
- For casting, I worked with DET Training to interview production supervisors from DET’s women in STEM workplace training program, DET volunteers in the Delta Energy Education Program (DEEP) and some LGBT engineers I found during lunch break.
- For DET shooting locations, I worked with our CDBU production to determine the parts of the Google production lines open for filming. I also worked with the Energy Management team and Facility to decide on film locations on the solar rooftop, water purification station. HR helped me arrange scenes at a health seminar in the conference hall, activity at the canteen and our DEEP energy education class in a local primary school.
- For outside shooting locations, I spent my weekends driving around DET to scout locations for scenes of local culture and life after work. This included the Ancient City Muang Boran, Bangpu Recreation Center, and the Srinakarin Night Market. My Thai colleague Pornsuda helped arrange for us to film a scene at Wat Asokram Buddhist temple.
The final step was to compile and sent a report of the data, links and photos from my interviews and onsite scouting to Google for their selection and addition to the storyboard.
Once they chose their scenes, I got approvals from each department and supervisor, arranged our base of operations and locked down the film schedule with everyone. DET CDBU helped to arrange transportation, food and entertainment for the entire project team.
Lights, cameras aaaand ACTION!
Google team shooting at the DET production line
With so many scenes to shoot in only four days, Google and their film team were all about action. And although their long-haul flights arrived late on Saturday night, they were at DET and ready to shoot early the next morning!
- Day 1: We began with 360-degree camera and drone shooting of the DET solar rooftop with the Energy Management team’s support. We then drove one hour to the Pak Khlong Market Flower Market in Bangkok to shoot and then went to the Srinakarin Night Market for more 360-degree shooting.
- Day 2: On the second day, we started 360-degree filming on the Google production line and shot interviews with the characters DET production supervisors Ms. Parichart Wonglacon, Ms. Kanthima Phimpanop. Then we filmed some interviews and scenes at the DET garden, canteen activity and at a seminar in the conference hall. In the afternoon we filmed PMM Ms. Chutima riding her Kawasaki Z300 street bike around the industrial zone.
- Day 3: On the third day, we went back in the morning to the Google production line for more 360-degree filming and an interview with Patrick from Google’s Global Commodity Management. In the afternoon, we went to film a Delta Energy Education Program class by Delta volunteers at Watklongkao School with HR’s support.
- Day 4: On the fourth and final day, we met early in the morning at Wat Asokram to film our characters doing a traditional Thai merit-making ceremony of feeding monks. Finally, we filmed interviews with two LGBT employees, senior supervisor Ms. Kesnapa and R&D engineer Thanwarath.
The mechanics behind making a VR film
Google team preparing the drone for shooting at a Bangkok sky train station
Google project manager Alyssa directed the entire project and made sure all the scenes and messages were on point. Her colleague Serena helped make sure the team always got the right sustainability messages during each interview and the scene.
In each scene, VR film expert Jen chose and set up the 360-degree shooting on a special camera that looks like a black ball on a tripod. Once the camera is set up in the middle of the scene, everyone runs off and hides behind the nearest wall while Jen controlled the wireless camera on her pad. Multiple lenses at different positions on the ball shot at the same time to get an all-round view of each scene.
Photography prodigy Kyle did the drone shooting by duct tapping a GoPro camera to a small drone and constantly adjusting controls to counter the drone’s auto stabilization (and fly with the weight of the hanging GoPro) during flights. When their drone crashed mid-flight, we lent them a bigger company drone for the remainder of the project.
Kyle also took camera still shots for the 2019 Google Responsible Supply Chain Report, using body language to coach our giggling female workers into perfect poses. He even attached the GoPro to a helmet worn by our female motorcyclist for an exciting street-level view.
Sound master Annarose was in charge of all the sound recordings for interviews and scenes. Each interview was recorded a couple of times in a quiet room and then again during the filming. She even composed an original soundtrack for the film (playing in the opening and closing credits) with all the hissing, whirring, beeps and buzz sounds recorded on our factory lines.
Key takeaways from working with Google
Google team wraps up interviews with DET’s LGBT employees
Although it was a short project, it was an amazing learning experience for me and a perfect example of how collaboration, inclusiveness, optimism and plain old hard work can create something meaningful and artistic.
Throughout the whole process, Alyssa and her Google team welcomed our input about Thai culture and what DET does for our people and communities. Their openness to all feedback encouraged me to go the extra mile to prepare the most detailed character and location profiles as I could and suggest as many interesting b-roll opportunities as possible.
I also saw firsthand how innovative companies like Google empower anyone to contribute with their unique skills. They respect the potential of the individual and aren’t held back by reactionary culture, tradition or hierarchy. Instead, they focus on unleashing a high level of innovation from people with vastly different worldviews and experiences which puts them ahead of the pack.
Their expert film team were all in their early twenties, some were still students, and they were all creative professionals who worked from morning to night to get everything perfect.
When faced with setbacks, they improvised with characteristic American can-do attitude and grit. At some locations outside of DET, we were challenged by the bureaucratic and obstructionist attitude of site management, but we worked together to overcome it.
Another time we were caught in a flash tropical rainstorm. Instead of getting angry, they wrapped up the cameras with plastic sheeting and ran laughing to our van through the pouring rain.
Enjoy the show
Google team drone lifts off at a Bangkok sky train station
Thanks to the hard work of Google and their creative team there is now a beautiful Google platform to show the world what DET and Thailand are all about. You can now experience just how powerful and immersive VR is when you put on your goggles and step into the DET factory right from your living room.
The Google VR app lets you take an AR elevator up to the Thailand level to experience DET. In the Youtube version, you can use VR goggles or just watch and touch your screen or click on the gray arrow ball to move around 360 degrees.
Every time you watch the VR film, you can find new fun details like people walking in the background, photos of our characters during the closing credits, the drone propellers and even funny bloopers.
So enjoy the experience, with its ultra-cool soundtrack, and remember you can check out all the key people involved in this project in the closing credits:)
Annarose (right front) and Jen (center back) record the beautiful roar of the Kawasaki Z300
Finally, I’d like to say a special thank you to all our employees who volunteered to be our DET VR film stars, Sherry and her CDBU production team led by Watcharin and my colleague Pornsuda who supported me the entire time with translation and onsite assistance.
Ultimately, the success of this entire project wouldn’t have been possible without the day-in-day-out hard work of everyone at CDBU and at DET’s OEM/ODM and Delta branded businesses.
Whether you’re in sales/marketing, PMM, R&D, product teams, production, QA/QC or logistics your work is what helps us drive sustainability and power the world!
About the Author (Editorial Team)
If content is king, there must be a kingmaker. And the universal theme in my favorite stories is our innate human desire for freedom. I have a master’s degree in Chinese education and experience spanning industries and countries. As the Comms guy at DET, I’m obsessed with the stories behind our products and people. Share your stories with me @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/yushi-david-nakayama/