On the Set with VIKINGS

Experiential Activation Design + Development

Client: History Channel | Agency: CIVIC

The show Vikings, airing on the HISTORY Channel, hosted one of the most immersive exhibitions at San Diego’s Comic-Con in 2014. To promote their upcoming third season and garner excitement from both the media and potential fans, the HISTORY Channel asked us to create a four-part activation for the Vikings fan base. The intention? To give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what a day on the set of Vikings would be like.


Comic-Con attendees lined up early each day for a chance to see what the buzz surrounding the experience was all about. It began with a sleek iPad registration where fans created their own Vikings actor profile. Users then received a “special access pass” complete with a QR code (which captured their info and media for the duration of the experience); this fit directly into the Comic-Con lanyards everyone was already wearing.


Once registration was finished, visitors were ushered through four Vikings stages: hair and makeup, a green-screen photo shoot, a high-seas battle and the village scene. Photo and video was taken at each station and linked to specific visitors when they scanned their unique passes. Following the green-screen portion, attendees received a real-time print-out of their very own Vikings poster.


Inphantry was able to weave together personalized, 30-second Vikings teaser trailers for each user based on the three scenes they completed. These trailers spliced in footage from the attendees along with special effects and rendered automatically, so they were available to preview from iPads during the experience. We also had a jumbotron cycling between the actual Season 3 trailer, a custom-built Vikings social wall featuring posts happening during the event, and the most recent custom trailers.


As expected, the technology necessary to automate this experience was quite complex—especially since the turnaround from concepting to on-site activation was only five weeks. We had rendering servers present in San Diego, as well as remote servers and computers in Boston and San Jose all serving a different purpose in this logistical puzzle.

With situations like the Vikings project, we sometimes use freeform mindmapping, as traditional universal markup language used by engineers doesn’t communicate the entire picture of how to get things done. Below is an example that marries technical detail with our creative vision. We welcome the chance to use modern-age paradigms in planning and thinking, rather than the standard (often outdated) practices employed by most.


As an added bonus, the Vikings characters that attendees created during the Comic-Con experience appeared on History.com, and were given pages designed to match the real actors’ profiles! All the behind-the-scenes photos, custom trailers and posters were available and shareable online. Each visitor was texted or emailed a link to their History.com cast page upon completion of the experience.


In the end, the one-of-a-kind activation attracted 2,200+ participants over four days. On the Set with Vikings was named one of the Top 5 Things to Do at San Diego Comic-Con by adage.com, adweek.com and businessinsider.com.