The ING New York City Marathon is one of the world’s greatest road races, drawing more than 47,000 entrants and millions of spectators. For the 2010 event, one of the marathon’s sponsors, athletic products company ASICS, wanted to create a large interactive campaign to support the runners.
Veteran creative agency Vitro lent their artistic talents and the idea for www.supportyourmarathoner.com was born. Friends and family of marathon participants would upload videos, photos and text messages expressing support for their runners, which were then displayed as the runners passed electronic screens along the marathon route.
The firm had just three weeks to deliver a video sharing application and a website capable of registering over 47,000 marathon participants. Vitro approached interactive agency Gauged2 to develop the backend video infrastructure for the campaign.
Gauged2 co-founder Brian Burridge deployed the application on Heroku, eliminating the need for cumbersome server setup and configuration. Reliability was essential; video was coming from a range of input sources, including cameras and cellphones, but had to be transcoded to a precise output: an FLV with the proper playback ratio of 1366×768. Burridge chose Zencoder to process and compress video submissions from users.
Burridge also wanted the flexibility to create multiple thumbnails in order to visually represent video on the campaign website. “We uploaded the videos to the Zencoder service, and then had them converted to our specs. We implemented the callback so we could get the thumbnail file name and know if they completed O.K.”, said Burridge.
A cloud-based service allowed the agency to process thousands of videos without requiring any up-front investment in transcoding infrastructure, making the ambitious campaign vision a financial reality. “Working with Zencoder API was a very simple process and I would definitely use the service again”, continued Burridge.
The hard work paid off on marathon day, when thousands of participants got to see their friends and family cheer them on along the way. The site was hugely popular and was used again for the 2011 ING NYC Marathon and the 2012 Honda LA Marathon. Check out www.supportyourmarathoner.com to see the final results.