Creating an Online Monument to Sound - Sennheiser’s Reshaping Excellence campaign creates a WebGL-powered, immersive audio-visual experience to tease the launch of a mystery milestone product
This November Sennheiser will be launching its “next big thing”: an exclusive audiophile product that will be a new milestone in the history of high-end audio. To build anticipation for the release, Sennheiser and creative agency Philipp und Keuntje have launched a unique WebGL-powered website as a focal point of the campaign, which will deliver an immersive experience that involves fans in the process of unveiling Sennheiser’s mystery milestone product. The website has already received leading industry accolades including “Site of the Day” (SOTD) and “Site of the Month” (SOTM) from the “Favorite Website Awards” and an Awwwards ” “Site of the Month” Ribbon.
Visitors to the site are immediately swept on a cinematic flight through clouds into a vividly realized fantasy landscape. Audio is at the heart of the experience, with complex shifting soundscapes blending realistic wind noises with mysterious ambient music. Visitors are then invited to help create the “new monument to sound” – building a titanic sculpture of the new product by making their own unique sound sculpture that will form a stone in the emerging monument. Gameplay elements involve striking at rocks to shape their sculpture with each blow making a different sound, thereby forming a completely individual pattern of sounds. Each visitor is invited to share their own sound sculpture on Facebook encouraging others to join in the process of the reveal.
“Reshaping Excellence is Sennheiser’s biggest ever campaign and will launch an innovative flagship product,” said Uwe Greunke, Director Global Marketing at Sennheiser. “This product exists in a dimension entirely of its own and we wanted to create a website that reflects this otherworldly quality.”
“Working with Hamburg-based agency, Philipp und Keuntje we decided to dramatize the process of the launch by taking users on a journey that creates a sense of mystery and of a mythical, legendary product. As myths are shaped through collective storytelling, participation was vital: Each visitor is invited to craft their own part of the legend, and go on a ‘quest’ to discover the source of the mystery.”
Alongside Philipp und Keuntje, which served as creative lead agency, website concept, design and programming was executed by Artificial Rome, with film elements delivered by Sehsucht Berlin.
“A key part of this brief was to ensure that the end result would be as innovative and high quality as the product itself,” said Mike John Otto, Unit Director Digital at Philipp und Keuntje. “With an experience that includes both film elements and 3D graphics, one of our key objectives was to ensure these transitions were seamlessly executed. We adopted an agile workflow, with many workshops focused on getting the visuals just right. We were constantly testing new technologies and incorporating the results into the concept. From a very early stage it was clear that the website was supposed to have high reach and at the same time the highest possible visual quality. WebGL was the logical choice. Interestingly, while WebGL has been seen in many experimental projects, “Reshaping Excellence” is one of the first websites to incorporate storytelling to the impressive visual effects.”
Developing monumental sound effects
Alongside the striking visuals, the “Monument to Sound” theme meant that developing audio had to take equal priority in the project. This task was the responsibility of Torsten Sperling, Technology Lead and Partner at Artificial Rome, who drew on his own experience as a musician to create a resonant and emotive soundscape for the site.
“It was very important to create an interactive sound that reacted very accurately to the atmosphere and user interactions,” explained Sperling. “Using a combination of very small sound elements, both generated live and pre-recorded, each user can create sound IDs based precisely on the spot that they hit onscreen when shaping the stone. Thus a virtually unlimited number of individual sound IDs can be created, and each person’s contribution to the sound sculpture is entirely unique.”
Using state-of-the-art resources
Tools used during the planning process included Axure and Adobe InDesign to create the overall concept, with the look perfected with Adobe Creative Suite, which was used by both Artificial Rome and Sehsucht. Unity3D and Three.js were used for prototyping, while development tools included coffee script, node.js, grunt, three.js, CSS, and PHP for the backend.
“Creating the visual effects was a very exacting project that required a very broad range of tools and techniques,” explained Mate Steinforth, Creative Director and CEO Sehsucht Berlin. “We used Maxon Cinema 4D, Autodesk Maya, Z Brush, and Side for 3D Modeling & Animation; Houdini and Turbulence FD for effects, with Adobe After Effects for compositing and finishing. We also found OctaneRender to be a perfect and invaluable choice for this project.”
The Reshaping Excellence website has received several awards from two of the world’s most highly respected web industry authorities. It has been named “Site of the Day” (SOTD) and already twice “Site of the Month” (SOTM) by the “Favorite Website Awards”, an industry recognized internet award program, which was the first online award program to receive over 200,000,000 site visitors. The Sennheiser site has also received a “Site of the Month” Award from Awwwards, a global awards program that recognizes the talent and effort of the world’s best web designers, developers and agencies.
Only a few more days visitors to the site can build their individual sound sculptures until the start of the second phase of the campaign on November 3rd when the new milestone product will be completely unveiled at www.sennheiser-reshapingexcellence.com.