Date published

Nov 18, 2019

What we've been up to

The Background

Following on from our work with The Gadget Show earlier in the year, our friends at Channel 5 approached us again with an equally interesting suggestion - and as ever, we were up for the challenge!

They were about to celebrate their 400th episode and 15th birthday, an impressive milestone, and they wanted us to create something that could be presented as part of their celebration during the broadcast.

It was the perfect opportunity for us to flex our creative muscles and showcase our ability to create something visually interesting. The real challenge wasn’t whether we could do it from a technical perspective, but whether or not we could deliver it within the small window of time that the production company had set.

The setup

  • Essentially, what we wanted to use was a collection of mobiles phones all synchronising together to play sounds and display images.
  • After a short testing period with different devices, we settled on 35 phones to play and work together.
  • The format of the cake stand emerged shortly after, following discussions about its presentation with show host Georgie Barrat.
  • Just to up the difficulty level, all of this was required to be shot in a limited number of takes, before the handover to a robotic arm which would light a candle on a 3D printed cupcake!

Our solution

  • We made a system that could scale from a single phone to several thousand, depending on the bandwidth and connectivity. The server part itself, ran from a single laptop.
  • This was achieved by using a real-time server and client technologies, to create an app-less browser based connection with the phones in the installation.
  • In short, we effectively turned each phone into a node, a media playing device that can be controlled by a central server.
  • This meant the phones used in the installation became a mesmerising light and audio show that were capable of displaying and synchronising any content. In this case, it played “Happy Birthday” to the presenters, crew and watching audience at home.

The result?

  • Everything worked as expected! Our synchronisation and timing all went to plan which was essential in any installation project like this.
  • It was all delivered in a matter of days, from start to finish, including filming.
  • It goes without saying that it was an absolute honour to be part of this unique milestone for such a prestigious and long-running show. We even got to sample a few of the delicious cupcakes afterwards.
  • If you’ve not seen our clip in the show, you can watch it on demand here!

If you’d like a conversation about interesting stunts, or creative ways of engaging people with your brand, then get in touch with a member of our team today.