NISSAN PLAY FUTURE:TODAY VIRTUAL ORGAN

THE CHALLENGE

Nissan LEAF, Nissan’s 100% electric vehicle (EV) has been a huge hit in Norway. With around 2000 cars sold thus far, the Nissan LEAF is one of Norway's most sold cars, not just EVs, in 2012. To acknowledge Norway's position as a forerunner in personal commuting, Nissan Europe started the European NISSAN FUTURE:TODAY tour event in the center of Oslo, with live music, light artists, and a LEAF exhibition on the future of driving.

The mission of TBWA\Helsinki was to create an engaging and entertaining event to celebrate the Norwegian LEAF owners, the true pioneers. The objective was set to have 200 owners sign in and have 50 owners arrive in their own LEAF. The timeline was tight with only a few days between the brief and the presentation.

THE SOLUTION

Our solution was to create a VIP-event called share#futuretoday starting with an owners' seminar with Nissan’s vision of the future of mobility, a panel discussion involving Norway’s top authorities in cars and technology, as well as an opportunity to contribute to Nissan’s EV development efforts. The seminar was followed by VIP guest status at the FUTURE:TODAY night. But what we did with their cars was in many ways the most significant feature of the whole event. Instead of setting up 50 Nissan LEAFs for a photo/video shoot, we wanted to make things a bit more interesting. As the FUTURE:TODAY event was about music and light installations, we decided to play with the theme, engage the LEAF owners – and also give the audience on-site something to remember.

Drawing inspiration from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Daft Punk’s live gigs and Guitar Hero games, we built a custom instrument and light show – the World’s biggest electric organ – from the 50 LEAFs that our LEAF owners had brought with them. The instrument was controlled via a multi-touch screen and featured an auto-arpeggiator, user-controlled chordal progressions and other special effects, giving the artists, the LEAF owners, freedom to experiment and play around while still creating something that sounded extremely cool.

The LEAFs lined up on the side of Youngstorget market square were the stars of the show. A rotating and color-changing LED floodlight was installed inside each LEAF – 200 in total. In addition to controlling the music, our touchscreen instrument also controlled all the lights in the cars, making it all a thrilling spectacle on a grand scale. The songs to be played, one synth pop and the other dubstep, were in part sourced from Audiodraft, a crowdsourcing service for producing music and sound – and in part finalized by Roberto Rodriguez, a Finnish DJ / Producer.

THE ACTUAL EVENT AT YOUNGSTORGET IN OSLO, NORWAY

Here's the footage filmed at the actual event with 200 LEAF owners and a market square full of curious osloites. The highlight of the event was when two LEAF owners played songs with our virtual organ for the whole market square, booming through the huge PA with lights blazing through the dark Oslo sky.

THE ONLINE VERSION

In order for everybody to be able to experience the world's largest virtual organ, we also built a minimized online version of the app. The actual LEAFs were shot from about 30ft high to allow users to get a birds-eye view of all the cars. The online app lights the cars up just the same as the live event version so this is as close you can get to actually being there!

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THE RESULTS

Our event registrations page needed to be closed in 2 hours from the campaign start due to receiving the maximum 200 registrations in record time. Although the FUTURE:TODAY event was marketed and communicated as a whole and the electric instrument footage wasn’t intended as a standalone viral video, it got picked up by tens if not hundreds of amateur and professional media outlets read by a huge Worldwide audience.

The video was posted to YouTube multiple times by also people outside Nissan or TBWA\, amassing thousands of views. This having been an activation towards the Nissan and especially LEAF owners, the most important result was that the LEAF owners were praising Nissan on Norwegian car forums, stating that they had ‘never experienced anything like this after having bought a new car’.

BEHIND THE SCENES

FIRST TESTING WITH OUR MIDI OUTPUT - EARTH TO GRANDMA-2

After researching a couple of different methods of communicating with the grandMA-2 lights console, we decided to use MIDI as our means of sending data from our AIR app to the console. When we finally managed to get everything setup and got the grandMA-2 to receive our signal, we knew we were on our way.

PROTOTYPING WITH OUR 32" FLATFROG TOUCHSCREEN

Part of the concept was a futuristic command post for controlling the organ and lights. For this we used a 32" FlatFrog Multitouch 3200 touchscreen display, sponsored by FlatFrog Ltd from Sweden. For our purposes we needed as little latency as possible between the display and our app since any lag would have effectively killed off a large chunk of fun from playing the organ.

After much experimentation, we finally settled on using the TUIO protocol to receive touch events from the display over Ethernet.

TESTING OUR APP'S LIGHT CONTROLS VIA MOCK-UP 3D RENDERS

As the event was being held at a public market square in Oslo, it would be set up at the very same day, giving us no time to actually test our complete setup. From our app's point of view, we knew there was going to be some lag from the moment the user touches the screen to the moment that event has been received by our app via Ethernet and dispatched through MIDI to the lights console. We needed to test it to be sure everything would be smooth.

We already knew that the MIDI events could generate some lag, so we actually built a MIDI relaying system where one computer was running our app and another was receiving the MIDI signals and then flashing our mock-up 3D scene lights according to it. This video was our first test (with one computer) and also the first time we kind of realised how cool the end result would look like.

THE FINAL PRODUCT AND LIGHTS SETTINGS

These are the final tests and polishing with the finalized app. The screen on the left displays a simulation of the actual lights, designed by our lighting consultant. These simulated lights are being driven by the grandMA-2 console via MIDI. At this point we were already pretty sure the live event would be killer.