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A Foray into Features, Sound Company of the Year and Some of the Most Epic Ads of 2020



String and Tins reflect on an explosive year for the studio, digging in to the sound on Amazon, Just Eat, PS5, Run The Jewels ‘Out of Sight’ and more

A Foray into Features, Sound Company of the Year and Some of the Most Epic Ads of 2020

Having been awarded Ciclope Sound Company of the Year, released an epic Superbowl ad and had their first foray into the film world with Netflix’s Rising Phoenix, String and Tins have proven resilient despite the major challenges of the past year. With an adaptable mindset and willingness to evolve, the team have ensured that any shortcomings that the pandemic presented, did not end up affecting the quality of their work.

“We focus on doing the best work we can - the change in working circumstances hasn’t affected that,” says founding partner, Will Cohen. “To be honest, on some level, working remotely helps sound design with concentrated periods of creation, presentations and reviews, rather than face-to-face all the time.” 

“We have always had home studios so that hasn’t been a problem,” he adds, “but we are continually evolving and improving how we record talent, how we manage linkups with clients and artists, and how we present work. We have a couple of things bubbling away that we are really excited about - a series of music EPs we are releasing as writers and we are keeping our fingers crossed about an amazing new feature on the horizon too.”

Founding partner Mike Bamford says: “The thing that was missing in April 2020 was the work, so we developed a kerb-drop voice record kit for talent without home setups, containing a remote dial-in laptop, Neumann microphone and acoustic panels. This guaranteed us a certain amount of work in the initial weeks of the first lockdown.”

He continues: “String and Tins has grown consistently each year and if we’ve ever felt like the underdog in awards situations, last year’s recognition was confirmation that we’re doing something right. We’re the sum of our parts and I’m incredibly proud of the whole team. Looking ahead, I’m really excited about our second edition of No Fixed Mix, as an online course this year, to encourage women to consider a career in sound design.”

In this round up, we take a look over some of String and Tins’ 2020 highlights and the creative behind the work, from commercials and music videos, to gaming and feature-length film.

Just Eat - Snoop Dogg

“For the Just East jingle adaptation for Snoop Dogg, we collaborated with lyricists, G Funk and West Coast producers,” says sound designer Adam Smyth, who flew out to LA to music supervise the shoot. “Mixing the song was great fun! One of my favourite choices in the whole process was to not auto-tune our backing singers. The vocals needed to stay raw and vibey and therefore not be over produced - it didn’t need to sound like a polished pop single. A different yet welcome challenge to mixing a 60 second TV spot. Overall, I think we really helped to give the Snoop remix of the Just Eat jingle a vibey west coast 90s quality which everyone seems to love!”


Playstation 5 - Immersion

“This commercial is a visualisation of three key PS5 selling points: haptic feedback, 3D sound and adaptive triggers,” explains Will Cohen, sound designer for Playstation. “I spend a lot of time filtering and pushing and pulling on how close or far away sounds are or how hyped up something can be sonically, so it was a brilliant project to work on in terms of exploring that. For the encampment scene, we also used binaural effects where the sound needed to be singular and lead our hero’s moves.”

Pepsi - Play Never Stops

As part of their 2020 international football campaign, Pepsi released a global TVC spot, “Play Never Stops” featuring a star studded football line-up including Mo Salah, Leo Messi, Raheem Sterling and Paul Pogba as they battle it out for the last can of Pepsi. The dynamic spot is set to an exclusive track in collaboration with emerging artist, WOST, and was directed by Henry Scholfield, best known for creating iconic music videos for some of the world’s top artists.

Amazon - Before Alexa (Super Bowl) 

“This spot features Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi reflecting on what life might have been like before Alexa,” comments sound designer, Lawrence Kendrick. “Creating a sonic world that helped to carry the story, whilst also keeping the comedic performances central was key. It was a brilliantly challenging and creative process that really got us thinking. Moments like the dove getting chomped by the eagle have been meticulously considered and timed to make it as funny and unexpected as possible.”

Rising Phoenix - Netflix feature-length documentary

“Rising Phoenix was my personal highlight of the year,” says sound designer Will Cohen. “Irrespective of the craft that we put into it, to be part of telling so many incredible stories of people overcoming the most horrendous injuries and illnesses to become superhuman in their endeavours… it’s a must watch!”

Audio post producer on the project, Eimear Ní Ghuaire says, “This was our first big feature-length film. It seemed like a very natural progression for the company because everyone here is passionate about storytelling. All of these different personalities and stories, combined together by a common thread of determination, not only to get by, but to thrive in the world despite having to overcome terrible hardships - it’s genuinely awe-inspiring.” 

Out of Sight - Run The Jewels ft. 2 Chainz

“After watching his initial treatment on the job and talking through the project over a Zoom call, it was hard not to feed off of director Ninian Doff’s ecstatic energy,” recalls Jim Stewart, sound designer for Out of Sight. “Pulse had connected us just as he was preparing for the release of his debut feature film Get Duked!, and this music video brought together the four mischievous main characters with a key act on the film’s soundtrack - Run The Jewels.”

The National Trust - 125 Years

This film is all about contrast, with sound playing a big part in this. “In the first half, we wanted to create a sense of chaos despite the everyday images to really give a sense of the need for quiet,” says sound designer Joe Wilkinson. “It was also a chance to use some of my personal recordings from London protests and riots from over the years, which was particularly satisfying. For the second half, it was very important to The National Trust that everything here be authentic, so what you hear is by and large the wildlife you would hear in those locations.”

Three 5G - The Future

“For Three 5G, the client’s top line was to make it fun, crank up the energy, and bring it to life with a rich soundtrack of FX and music,” says Will Cohen, sound designer on this spot. “We built the sound from the ground up: recording foley and dialogue at the offline stage, communicating with The Mill about VFX styles, going back and testing scenes with our sound design, then building it up as the VFX developed. I was still creating FX in the final minutes as certain VFX shots came in on the last day! Although I led the project it was a real team effort - every member of the String and Tins team contributed to certain moments.” 

Sky - Harris and The Robots

Debuting its biggest campaign to date, Sky released a series of television spots - ‘The Collector’ - that celebrate the individuality of its viewers as well as Sky Q’s ease of use. In “Harris and The Robots”, 12 year old Harris travels from world to world encountering some of his favourite characters from Ironman and BB8 to Megatron. His reason behind his love for the robots is revealed in a heartwarming twist at the end. 

Rustlers - Fight

Designed to challenge misconceptions surrounding Rustlers microwave burgers, the brand’s campaign ‘Better Than You Think’ includes a comedic TV spot where high school students engage in a dance fight to the sound of 80s techno before enjoying a Rustlers burger together. With the message, “Isn’t it great when things turn out better than expected?”, the ad aims to highlight the surprising quality of their 100% British and Irish beef burgers. 

Amazon Alexa - Opera

“For this script we tested a boat load of tracks with a talented and accommodating opera singer, dialling in the funniest song choice and delivery,” says sound designer Lawrence Kendrick. “Once options were locked down and we orchestrated the song choices, I traveled to Prague to attend the shoot. The orchestra and singer were performing live, synchronised with our prepared material. This gave us the perfect combination of a real performance with all it’s spontaneity, and a controlled piece of music giving us no headaches in post production.”

Sainsburys - Summer

“Our brief was to pair a series of short animations with summery soundscapes that matched in terms of movement-of-sound but not what you actually saw on screen,” explains sound designer Mike Bamford. “We spent a few days brainstorming before settling on client approved scenarios that I could test sound for. It's a great example of what can be achieved by talking about all aspects of the film, sound included, before getting too far down the line with an idea.”

Sports Direct - Sport Starts Here

Launching their first ever Christmas ad, Sports Direct brings in Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson for ‘Sport Starts Here’, a high-energy, musical celebration of sport and fitness. The film follows a teenage girl after being asked the dreaded question, “What do you want for Christmas?’” and explores the realms of sport in every sense of the word. A big, powerful and exhilarating Christmas advert that leaves you energised and ready to move.

Bloom and Wild  - Big Sis

A nostalgic spot following a young woman as she remembers all the special moments she has shared with her big sister over the years. The ad states that it’s not just about sending flowers, it’s about caring wildly for one another.

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String and Tins, Thu, 04 Feb 2021 11:23:15 GMT