In the world of marketing, work lives or dies within the smallest of details; each piece relying upon the other to sell the story as a whole, and most importantly, get the message across. What many people don’t see is how those little details help to create an overall message, so here’s a sneak peek into what goes into the sound design of a television ad here at Oculus.
When starting a new commercial project, the slate is blank. Animations especially don’t have any sounds to them, so everything you are going to see must be given a voice. Sometimes this seems incredibly daunting, but in the end, the Lexington advertising market deserves it. With each passing year more and more of Kentuckians are opening their eyes to good advertising, and here at Oculus, we intend to raise the bar even further.
Generally, as a television commercial approaches a locked cut, we jump from assembly into finalizing the music and sound design. The first step to any good sounding ad is to create a library specifically for that project. Not to say all new, unique sounds, just a fresh file/project and an open mind. Typically we break down each scene and create folders that contain all the various elements that might be used. The process is long and tedious, but this ultimately saves a tremendous amount of time and mental energy when deadlines are quickly approaching. It can be slightly ambiguous and relies heavily on the imagination. Much of marketing and advertising is about creating worlds, so when laying out what sounds fit best within a scene, you have to not just think in terms of what things actually sound like, but are supposed to sound like.
Many people assume these are one in the same, but lets just use the first scene an example from above to prove this isn’t true. The ad starts out with a vehicle that materializes out of thin air. Now this couldn’t actually happen in real life, so it’s up to us, as the creators, to imagine what that might, moreover should, sound like within the established world of the commercial. In this example, we imagined it would sound like a giant balloon being inflated and then all the metal pieces snapping together before hitting the ground. To achieve this feeling, we used sounds of basketballs inflating, handles latching, and doors slamming closed, with a sprinkle of tire screeches and an alarm chirp to bookend the scene with something familiar and definitive.
As you watch each scene unfold, try to pick out how many different sounds are combined together to create the final mix. In the end, there were a total of 117 sound effects used in this Superbowl commercial, each one helping sell the audience on the story that’s being told. If we’ve done our job, you won’t even notice many of the sounds effects but it will just feel “right.” Making an audience feel enveloped in an ad means they can focus on the message, on the client, and on how it matters to them. In other words, advertising at its very best.