What is “Cozmo: Lost in Reddit” ?!
Well, to put it succinctly: a live streaming crowdsourced interactive gameplay commercial brand activation experience in which participants navigated Cozmo the robot through a series of tasks in miniaturized virtual subreddit-based rooms IRL in order to win the game by helping Cozmo escape from the internet. Simple…right?
“Cozmo: Lost in Reddit” was the brainchild of forward thinking robotics company Anki and the advertising mavericks at Wieden+Kennedy’s creative technology arm W+K Lodge. Their concept was to (brazenly, yet with a healthy dose of self-awareness) engage the traditionally advertising averse Reddit community to spread the word about Anki’s flagship robot. The whole thing took place live over 6 hours with 2 million people watching. It was an event, it was a video game, it was reality TV, it was advertising…and most of all it was a whole lot of fun!
HOW DID PEOPLE PLAY THE GAME?
By using up-votes or down-votes players directed Cozmo through tasks to gain Karma Points and complete the Challenge Rooms. In the Challenge Rooms, Cozmo worked to gain power cubes. Once the three golden key cubes were successfully unlocked, Cozmo was free from the clutches of his Reddit prison.
WHAT WERE THE ROOMS ALL ABOUT?
The seven rooms were doll house scale replicas of some of Reddit’s most popular subreddits, complete with referential silliness:
Hail Corporate: An “all in good fun” parody of Reddit’s brand hater central complete with post-apocalyptic billboards strewn across the desolate landscape. This room acted as the hub for Cozmo’s adventures, housing six doors leading to different Karma and Challenge Rooms.
Shitty Robots: Cozmo knows about shitty robots because he is NOT one. So naturally the objective of this room was to manipulate a shitty robotic shark with wildly swinging arms to inflict optimum damage and gain Karma in the process.
Rare Puppers: Cozmo gained valuable Karma Points by petting cute puppers and doggos (and other animols!), giving them toys and feeding them some heckin’ good schmackos.
Shower Thoughts: Cozmo relaxed in the spa atmosphere to find the perfect water temp to achieve shower thoughts and gain Karma.
Gaming: A replica geeky gamer's basement Challenge Room. Cozmo completed the vintage Zork-style text based game, “Cube Quest ‘85”, to gain the golden key cube.
Meme Economy: Players constructed the perfect meme portfolio through intense Wall Street style trading to gain the golden key cube.
What Could Go Wrong: Participants launched Cozmo from a trebuchet successfully into his hammock to win the golden key cube. But mostly a bunch of joyous destruction ensued.
SO WHERE DID HELIO SOUND FIT INTO ALL THIS?
W+K Lodge reached out to Helio Sound to compose and perform the soundtrack for the “Cozmo: Lost in Reddit” experience. We worked closely with brilliant Musical Director Ryan Wesley Peterson and amazing Producer Lily Darby to create 8 pieces including “Cozmo’s Theme” and a soundtrack for each of the seven rooms. Our goal was to reinforce the playfulness of the gaming experience and at the same time provide music with a cinematic weight so the event felt like more than “just a game or an ad”. We composed across a wide variety of styles from chip-tune to ambient to full-on orchestral scoring.
Cozmo’s Theme served as the intro and outro to the event and was the backbone of the musical experience. The melody was integrated into all the pieces as a vamp section used to accompany gameplay action and all pieces were geared towards long term performance and improvisation.
What?! YOU PERFORMED A 6-HOUR LIVE IMPROVISED SOUNDTRACK?!
Yeah, that’s right. We performed as “The 1/24’s: A Tiny Helio Sequence Project”. Dressed in white, red trimmed jumpsuits to complement Cozmos aesthetic, we scored the event in real-time in front a green screen as our miniature likeness was projected onto the announcers’ desk.
Through the magic of MIDI and electronics we created a compact and silent set up that allowed us to work onset with minimal sound bleed or disturbance. We used Ableton Live and their remarkably intuitive Push 2 controller to cue and create song structure and arrangements on the fly. Songs could be broken down to bass vamps or built up with full instrumentation and improvised melody lines in a matter of seconds to react to gameplay cues. An electronic drum set up triggered everything from distorted 808’s to realistic orchestral snare and tympani parts and the guitar was fitted with a MIDI pickup to play synth and violin lines. A combination of in-ear fed directions from a producer and live video feed provided cues to interact with Cozmo’s every move.
Some performances were as short as 2 minutes and others over an hour long depending on the flow of gameplay. It was a freewheeling and adventurous exercise in improvisation and musical integration. Much more than just background music composers…we were truly part of the show!
What was the music like?
Here’s a run down of the musical vibe for each room. Listen to the pieces in the videos below!
Cozmo’s Theme: Electronic with a human feel. Upbeat and smart. Busy and lovable. Just like Cozmo.
Shitty Robots: Angular, upbeat bleep-bloop grooviness. Definitely the right accompaniment to shitty shark induced destruction.
Rare Puppers: A bouncy, cute, and willfully cheesy strut harkening back to your fav 90’s cartoon themes.
Gaming: A chip tune romp referencing the RPG days of yore.
Shower Thoughts: Ambient New Age free float music for fully realized shower time mindfulness.
What Could Go Wrong: A dopey, warped, lo-fi soundtrack to trebuchet trials.
Meme Economy: Intense news theme orchestral drama taken to it’s parody max.
Hail Corporate: Ominous Bernard Herrmann-esque orchestral scoring brings just the right chill to the corporate wasteland hub.
I'm Still not sure I get it?
OK, if you've got a spare 6 hours on your hands and feel like disappearing into the black hole of Reddit, you can check out the full live stream here:
If you're diggin' the tunes you can listen to the entire soundtrack and
download it for FREE on Soundcloud here:
And you can read up in more detail on these fine media sources:
wait, wait, wait...did cozmo escape the internet?