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Toddlers recreate Dexy's Come on Eileen

Cow &Gate’s new Supergroup ad is all about the sounds made by toddlers experimenting with instruments in a recording studio, with the haphazard sounds magically culminating in a reversioned Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Sound engineer Adam Smyth at Soho Square Studios had to create all the sound other than the specially created version of the single from composer Lester Barnes.

Supergroup has been described as ‘category re-defining,’ as it uses minimal branding and no product information, ending on the brand’s new strapline, Feed their personalities.

The two-minute film was directed by RSA’s Jim Field Smith, who directed sitcom Episodes and recently-released feature film Butter and is now working on new BBC comedy The Wrong Mans with James Corden.

The shoot involved two cameras in a studio with toddlers. Field Smith described it as being like “a wildlife documentary."

At Soho Square Studios, Smyth began working with the edits as a rough guide to how the sound should be built, with the brief to create a sound track that was realistic and which would gradually merge with the soundtrack from the composer.

He then started with the two minute video and no sound. The first move was to go back to the rushes from the shoot where he managed to find some sounds, including drums and a dropped guitar. But this had been a shoot with parents on set and there was the noise of concerned mothers and fathers encouraging their child to rattle the tambourine, hit the drum and blow into the saxophone, on most of the sync sound making it almost unusable.

Some library sound effects were effective at replacing the more unusable sync sound, including a saxophone and the hum of a guitar amp feedback which gave  depth and realism to the instruments being played. But, the sound design needed more than just library sound effects and sync sound, so Smyth headed to Denmark Street, famous for its music shops and just down the road from Soho Square Studios.

“To build on the sound from the rushes I needed to add in the actual sounds of instruments being played, for example a keyboard being struck or a drum pedal being kicked,” he says. “But in order to get these effects, I had to spend an afternoon loitering around the music shops of Denmark Street, playing the instruments and recording the sounds with a location recording kit.”

Smyth also needed to reinstate imperfections to make the sound realistic, such as a child’s hand on the keyboard, the detuning of guitars and tambourines being dropped.

“I’ve never done sound design which was so musically intense,” says Smyth. “I’ve usually built sound design from library effects, but this was a type of foley, the foleying of instruments in a very different way.”

The soundtrack of Come on Eileen, arranged by Lester Barnes, was broken down so he could work with the individual elements.

“One of the great things for me was the chance to collaborate with the composer and really begin work on bringing the sound and the ad to life, which rarely happens in the audio post stages of an ad campaign,” says Smyth. “Usually I receive a full mix of the music, but in this instance I had all the elements which enabled me to ensure the  sound is of a much better quality and has a nicer feel to it.”

Drawing on his training as a drummer, he was able to build in the tempo and get the right timing for the crescendo effect as the toddlers appear to be doing their own cover version of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

The ad launched last week with a 40-second version; there is also a 30-second version. A two-minute extended ad is launching in cinema and available on YouTube.

Ad agency BETC London
Exec creative director Neil Dawson
Copywriter Clive Pickering
Art director Paul Copeland
Designer Louise Sloper
Agency producer Nikki Cramphorn
Director Jim Field Smith
Production company RSA Films
DoP Rob Kitzmann
Producer Debbie Garvey
Editor Dave Webb
Editing company Final Cut
Post production Unit TV
Sound design Adam Smyth @ Soho Square Studios

Posted 16 October 2012 by Pippa Considine

Self-financed sitcom goes from YouTube to hit show in South Africa

British sitcom Meet the Adebanjos is an example of how, in 2012, a show can get off the ground without a UK commissioner.

Meet the Adebanjos
was made with money raised by a former city trader from Croydon. It started out on YouTube, went to DVD and has been sold internationally. In the last few weeks, it has become South Africa’s third most popular comedy.

The audience for the sitcom about a Nigerian family living in London doubled to 1.4 million after the first week on South Africa’s SABC2.

Osayemi raised £175,000 to make the first eight episodes through production company MTA Productions, after becoming frustrated with meetings with UK commissioners.

The first three episodes, which were produced by former trader Andrew Osayemi and the show's creator Debra Odutoyo, were put online as a taster for the eight episodes on DVD. They got over a million views on YouTube.

Meet the Adebanios
, which stars stand-up Lateef Lovejoy, has also been bought by Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. It currently runs on The African Channel in the UK.

The second series will begin filming early next year.

The show has also been adapted as a stage play and will play at London’s Hackney Empire in November.

Posted 15 October 2012 by Pippa Considine

The Secret of Crickley Hall: the post production story

Deluxe 142 worked on the visual and audio post and created the titles for the BBC’s three-part adaptation of James Herbert’s best selling 2006 novel The Secret of Crickley Hall, which will be broadcast this Halloween.
Produced by BBC Drama Production North, it is directed by Joe Ahearne (Dr Who) and stars Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis as Eve and Gabe Caleigh, a young couple who decide to move into Crickley Hall, a former orphanage in a Devonshire ravine named Devil's Cleave, following  the disappearance of their own child.
The Deluxe 142 team included Paul Staples (colourist), Simon Brook (online editor), Nick Timms (online editor and title design), Chris Roberts (dialogue editor), Richard Fordham (sound effects editor) and David Old (sound mixer).  Harriet Dale, head of Production at 142, supervised the project
The online for The Secret of Crickley Hall was completed in an Avid DS Nitris suites. Director Joe Ahearne wanted a significant amount of picture re-sizing and camera zoom modifications to improve the tension or dynamic of a scene and online editor Simon Brook was asked to recreate a ‘mesmeriser’ look which is normally achieved using a modified camera lens.
In addition to the removal of modern artefacts for the period scenes, other VFX challenges included making sure ‘dead’ people did not appear to breath or twitch, whilst hand held shots were stabilized and rain added to storm scenes.
For the title sequence, Ahearne and colourist Paul Staples came up with two looks for the panning shot used. In order to integrate the credits into the foreground and use both of the looks supplied, online editor Nick Timms tracked the credits to trees and branches in the foreground, then moved them forward in Z-space to give a sense of independence. He used a slightly gothic font which was given a glow for all the credits and main title. The main body of the work (tracking and credit placement) was done in After Effects, with the final compositing completed in the Avid DS Nitris.
Sound effects editor Richard Fordham was provided with a clear brief from Ahearne. Crickley Hall itself was to have neutral, almost lifeless background atmosphere, this allowed nothing to distract from the narrative as it was revealed, yet left space for the more subtle and disconcerting sound effects. It also provided scope for the bigger sound scares to be all the more shocking.
As The Secret of Crickley Hall is told in a dual timeframe, there was also the opportunity to use sound to support how these eras were presented in the frame. The sound effects and backgrounds for the contemporary scenes were quite straightforward to establish, but the scenes set during the Second World War were emphasised by elements such as a Spitfire passing over head, or a distant motor engine of the period.
For the portrayal of a London Street the morning after it has been bombed in the Blitz, dialogue editor Chris Roberts recorded additional voices and off-screen activity, such as firemen and ARP wardens searching for survivors in a bomb damaged house, a doctor and ambulance men carrying the wounded and the reactions of people.
The orchestral score was balanced by dubbing mixer David Old with all the other elements to create a soundtrack that draws the audience into the tale of loss at the heart of the story, but delivers plenty of chills and excitement.

Posted 15 October 2012 by Pippa Considine
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