A few things are true of city life in a place like London. It’s busy, it’s loud, it can be quite annoying; it makes many of us wish we could have a literal and figurative ‘time out’. Capturing and transmitting these feelings was the task of Jungle Studios, a sound design and creative audio company, for Cadbury’s latest spot for its TimeOut chocolate bar.
In collaboration with VCCP, Jungle Studios’ sound designers Sean Mahoney, Luke Isom, and Chris Southwell worked on Time Out’s first spot in three decades with the aim of targeting a new cohort of 24-45 year olds. One of the strategies was making use of London’s new Outernet space in Tottenham Court Road where audiences can be immersed in both sounds and visuals.
The spot, ‘Call TimeOut’, was developed to be hyper-relevant to the Outernet’s environment, flanked as it is by busy streets, an underground station, and multiple restaurants and shops. The sound design layers different strains of potential city life annoyances, creating a sense of overwhelment and general busyness. The team at Jungle Studios achieved this by using an “annoying” AI voice and distorting daily life’s sounds. Most importantly was ensuring that the sounds of the spot were distinct enough from the general noisiness of the area - the team had an opportunity to go to the Outernet and test the mix so that it passed everyone’s quality standards.
Today LBB spoke to Sean, Luke, and Chris about how they captured the feeling of being overwhelmed in a city, using the sounds of Tottenham Court Road to inspire (but not overshadow) the spot’s sounds, and why it’s so exciting to walk by your own sound mix on the way to work.
LBB> What was the brief from the client like and what was your initial response?
Sean, Luke, Chris> The initial brief and idea behind the campaign was to create a manic noisy soundscape of everyday life to then be resolved by the tranquillity of TimeOut. What made this campaign even more interesting from a sound perspective was that this would not only be for socials but there would be a film shown at Outernet. Working on a project like this in a space like Outernet is every sound designer's dream so we were all very excited.
LBB> When creating the sound for the campaign’s Outernet location, what were your main considerations when working with this multi-media and outdoor location?
Sean, Luke, Chris> We wanted it to be as immersive as possible so utilising the space and surround speakers as much as we could was going to be crucial. There were a few factors that we needed to consider; for instance, the size of the space and the fact that the doors would be open to the public. This meant we had to be bold with our sound design. We were lucky enough to run some tests at Outernet to see how our mix from the studio transpired to the space which was really useful.
LBB> Immersing the viewers/listeners and getting them to feel like they want to ‘Call TimeOut’ was one of the goals - how did you achieve that?
Sean, Luke, Chris> Making sure we really caught the viewers attention was critical and to do this it needed to be almost irritating. We used a combination of an annoying AI voice which coincided with the text on screen along with SFXs which related to what was being said. It was also important to make sure there was a certain dynamic to the mix and how we built our sounds towards the tranquil TimeOut moment.
LBB> Tell us what techniques you used to create the sound design.
Sean, Luke, Chris> We manipulated a lot of recorded sounds like pitch shifting, delay and distortion to try and make the sounds as distinctive and unusual as possible. There was a lot of layering and movement with panning around the room which helped create that madness we were after.
LBB> Did you use any references or inspirations for the sound, like the sounds of the local area for example?
Sean, Luke, Chris> The sounds of the area certainly had a big part to play and it was important to get these sounds in to the film. Our studio is just down the road so we are very familiar with the noisiness of Tottenham Court Road. However, we didn't want to just use stock SFXs we set out to create more of a dreamlike soundscape so every sound was processed in one way or another.
LBB> What was the most challenging part of working on this project? How did you overcome the challenges?
Sean, Luke, Chris> Given the indoor/outdoor setting of Outernet we had to ensure the mix had the appropriate dynamic range so that softer sounds weren't lost in the ambient noise of TCR. The outdoor environment also had an impact on how the sound was going to be perceived. We had to make sure our sounds were unique enough to differentiate from the traffic sounds of TCR. Another factor was the reverberation of the space. Adjusting the levels and reverb was crucial to achieving the desired sound and clarity.
LBB> Have you visited the Outernet to experience the campaign for yourself? How did you find it?
Sean, Luke, Chris> Yes, we have, it's great to see something you have worked on in such an amazing space like the Outernet. It's also really interesting to see everyone's reaction first hand. I think we certainly managed to do what we set out to achieve as I could see a few people getting disoriented when watching the film.
LBB> What was your highlight of working on this?
Sean, Luke, Chris> I think seeing your work in such a non-conventional space in the heart of London is pretty special. However, it was the collaboration of the great team working on this project both from Jungle and VCCP that made this project really enjoyable. It really was a team effort, everyone just wanted to make the work as good as it could be and you really felt everyone was open to every idea.