If your office is anything like ours, your lunchroom conversation topic of choice is: “what are you watching on Netflix right now” (or who would win a fight between Justin and all the ants in the world, a hotly debated topic I won’t get into). Like everyone else this year, we were watching Stranger Things, the Netflix retro horror series that’s Freaks and Geeks meets E.T.’s mean older brother in evil Narnia. If you haven’t watched it yet, stop what you’re doing right now and do so, we’ll wait.
So, naturally, our theme for this year’s Halloween party had to be Stranger Things. Christmas lights were hung, a Demogorgon was sighted, a Barb memorial was erected, and we were ready to party in The Upside Down. It goes without saying that we do Halloween BIG here at Grafik. It is, without a doubt, the most creative holiday and we embrace it with everything we’ve got.
A highlight of the series is a wall of Christmas lights and letters that Winona Ryder’s character, Joyce, a mother who’s missing son is trapped in a parallel universe, uses to communicate with her lost boy. We knew that to really put our party on the map, this important communication device had to be created in real life. Assembling a crack team of developer dwarfs, social media wizards, a tech-guru aptly named The Father of Robots, and a pair of elven designers we set out to make an interactive Stranger Things light wall.
We started by soldering together a row of addressable LED lights, allowing us to communicate directly with each light, and above them hot glued bulbs from a strand of Christmas lights to create the right look. We then used an Arduino board based on the ESP8266 which gave us the ability to communicate with the lights via wifi.
After that, our developers created a web-based interface that would allow us to activate the lights in order to spell out messages. To bring it all together, we sewed the perfect ugly-wallpaper fabric and painted letters under each bulb in the strand of lights.
After completing the functioning wall we knew we had to share it and decided to host Grafik’s first Facebook live event. We accepted wall messages via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, translating those messages to the wall, spelling them out one blinking letter at a time. During the event, our Facebook reach and engagement peaked. We reached over 2,600 people and engaged with over 299.
Not only did this project make for a killer Halloween party and social media engagement campaign, it also taught us a lot and allowed us to stretch our creative wings on something we might have never tried on our own. Fun, little, refreshing projects like this helped to break up the monotony that sometimes develops in all work life and allowed us to dabble in something new. All-in-all it was a great team building project and I’m grateful to work for a company whose atmosphere allows for spontaneous creativity.
Sound like something you want to be a part of? We’re hiring!