As Christmas draws closer, the audio department at Smoke and Mirrors decided to take a look back on their body of work from 2017 and discuss their highlights.
The audio team is comprised of three sound designers, Nick Olsouzidis, Gurdeep Singh and Scott Little.
Read on to discover what their favourite projects were this year and why.
Nick Olsouzidis - Sound Designer
"My most memorable piece of work of 2017 would be the music composition for the latest Rolls-Royce Black Badge campaign.
We were approached by agency Beth Wightman and director John Windsor-Williams to re-work an existing cover of the original classic "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. The latest model of the Black Badge is ‘The Dawn’, and it's all about indulging in the darkest pleasures of life. It was shot in Lanzarote's volcanic landscape, which conveys the dystopian world within the piece.
The challenge was to maintain the vocals performed by Shadow Royale and rebuild the music track with fresh instrumentation to match the dark and amorous feel of the visuals. I added percussive parts to add movement, distorted synths to match the dark tones and composed an entirely new bridge for cello and violin ensembles to add tension and drama.
Although the setting is by definition vast and desolate, the visuals are very detailed and stylised. Similarly, I wanted the music to be layered and dense in my effort to strengthen the intense effect of the photography.
The online campaign, handled by AKQA, included trailer cut-downs, teasers and print. Our content was also the opening intro for the main Rolls-Royce Motor Cars website for the duration of the release phase of the car".
Gurdeep Singh - Sound Designer
"One of the stand-out projects of the year for me was the ‘SOLSKINØENS’ job, brought to us by Andrew Telling, who’s characteristic cinematography makes this a uniquely intense piece.
The film in question looks into Jessica and Christian Skovdal Anderson’s journey starting a brewery on the remote island of Bornholm, off the south coast of Sweden. The story focuses on how the island and landscape have impacted the unique way they work at their brewery, Penyllan.
I started with just the dialogue and the score, then set about recreating all of the background sounds and ambiences. The landscape, being an integral part of the narrative of this film, required special attention. Each scene is multi-layered with recorded Foley and audio sourced from our extensive sound effects library, to ensure it fits with the content at any given time, re-creating the natural environment of Bornholm with an added degree of intensity.
Multiple shots of beer bubbling provided me with an opportunity to experiment. I chose to play with sub-frequencies blending with underwater bubbles; I aimed to heighten the sensation of being submerged in the vats with the liquid. The score, also by Andrew Telling, grows in intensity as the film progresses.Therefore, we agreed the Foley and the sound design should work in close conjunction, and not hinder this process.
Once all of the content was in place, I enjoyed doing several passes of mixing the different components together.
In conclusion, a lovely film to be involved with".
Scott Little - Sound Designer
"One of the highlights of this past year was working with Publicis World Wide on their Heineken spot 'Final Excuse', featuring Jose Mourinho.
The 2-minute film for the EUFA Champions League Final was created by production company Outsider, with edit and VFX from Big Buoy, and grade and audio at Smoke & Mirrors. Commercials and music video director Pedro Romhanyi tasked us all with bringing to life a grandiose spot, which combined both VFX and another classic performance from Jose Mourinho, shot on a stage.
There’s no excuse Jose will accept for missing the Champions League Final. Therefore, he proceeds to rescue, and subsequently, swap places, with a football fan stuck working alone on the peak of an Arctic mountain. He’s traded the frenzied stadium atmosphere for the quiet, tranquil mountaintop cabin, which contains only a TV, an armchair, his dog, and of course Heineken.
The majority of the film was created with VFX, leaving me to start with a silent film, apart from a few lines of sync dialogue and a short piece of music. Making the music edit work was vital as there was little to cut in terms of duration and dynamics. Along with time stretching to hit key edit points, I added synths, drones and strings, to pad out the score and transitions, and used percussion to highlight the impacts, creating more drama building to the crescendo. Once the score was working well, I continued to track lay the spot. Building upon a blank canvas I brought life back to the natural shots and added realism to the VFX shots. More texture and depth was then added with a fair amount of Foley, which I shot both in studio and at home.
The spot was featured online and was also broadcast before and during the Champions League Final, at Millennium Stadium, Wales".