Every year, ad agencies send around a holiday card that showcases their creativity. Two years ago, we had the idea of a mobile orchestra that synced across multiple devices to play one song. But the technology wasn't there yet: there was too much of a lag in communication between devices - in music, if someone is off by even a second, it ruins the song. And we didn't want to compromise the idea by turning it into an app or fake it by any means. So we tabled the concept, revisiting it every few months to see if technology had caught up. This year, it finally did.

Launch the campaign
Published
February 2013
Topics

The Story

Every year, ad agencies send around a holiday card that showcases their creativity. Two years ago, we had the idea of a mobile orchestra that synced across multiple devices to play one song. But the technology wasn't there yet: there was too much of a lag in communication between devices - in music, if someone is off by even a second, it ruins the song. And we didn't want to compromise the idea by turning it into an app or fake it by any means. So we tabled the concept, revisiting it every few months to see if technology had caught up. This year, it finally did.

Everything was built with speed in mind: communication and asset delivery had to be fast. The two essential platforms are our Node.js-based backend and Pusher, which manages messaging between the server and clients. Akamai handles asset delivery. We chose Node.js because it has a very low latency, which is vital, as our app requires syncing multiple devices within milliseconds. Once the Node.js backend coordinates start times and instrument assignments, the clients begin buffering the videos. The devices are then notified through Pusher to begin playback with start times adjusted for latency.

The Technology

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    Mobile

    Mobile Rich Media

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    Social

    Social Media

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    Video

    YouTube

The Results

The project was a success on multiple levels. Internally, we were all thrilled that we finally achieved the idea that was two years in the making, without compromising the vision or user experience. In the ad world, we received a multitude of shoutouts and accolades: “Winner of best agency holiday card”; “work of the day”; “very, very cool.” And we learned that patience and sticking to your idea pays off. Sometimes it’s better to wait than it is to get something less-than-perfect out the door.

17

mobile devices tested

12

orchestra members

1

leaked orchestra photo

Launch Date Dec. 19, 2012