Sonixphere recently teamed with Olson Agency, Minneapolis and Optimus/ONE, Chicago, adding complex sound design and music to a pair of slice-of-life spots for U.S. Bank that position the bank as a sure thing in a world rife with risk.
Airing nationally, the campaign depicts two bold U.S. Bank customers who have high-risk jobs, but take no risks when it comes to their banking.
“Sonixphere really helped these spots come to life,” said Vince Beggin, group creative director for Olson. “The sound design is very authentic and layered, and the music brought a whole new edge to the work.”
“The creative team from Olson was very specific with what they wanted,” said Sonixphere CEO and creative director Greg Allan. “Our creative conversations inspired our… sound design team to create a theater of the mind by heightening the sonic reality throughout the spots through digitally-enhanced, authentic sounds that were meticulously detailed out by our lead sound designer David Van Slyke.”
Van Slyke’s sound design includes an assortment of customized explosions for “Concert,” and industrial sounds for “High Rise,” all of which add impact and a sense of reality to the viewer experience.
In “Concert,” a producer pauses during a pyrotechnics rehearsal, looks into the camera and states, “I don’t like excitement” while plumes of flames and geyser-like sparklers detonate behind him. Sonixphere created a series of sonically-enhanced explosions that were synchronized with the fireworks, and then layered in ADR background voices and multiple reverbs.
“When the music kicks in over the slow-mo shot at the end, we combined real sounds with slow-motion sound design to release the tension that builds throughout the spot,” explained Allan.
In “High Rise,” a steel worker strides across an I-beam suspended high in the sky. Sparks from a blow torch sizzle up towards his feet as he says “I don’t like risk,” adding, “U.S. Bank has shown me safe is the real thrill.”
“The creative brief from the agency was to transform the predominantly VFX action of this spot into a super-sized real setting and ramp up the tension through the sound design,” Allan said.
“Using sound design to simulate the feeling of height in the construction scene was very important to our clients,” Van Slyke said. “By layering in city sounds, construction realism and winds, we created the feeling of openness. We also enhanced the industrial sounds – like the pile driver – to make them resonate throughout the city below.”
The sound design team also detailed out many implied off-camera construction sounds to keep the industrial sounds consistent throughout the entire spot.
“We reinforced the sonic branding of the campaign by making the spots musically consistent at the ends using the same melody, but with a different arrangement,” Allan added. “For ‘High Rise,’ we combined industrial sounds layered in with the drums and percussion.”
Allan worked closely with editor Craig Lewandowski at Optimus, conferring in person on pre-mixes, and maintaining an ongoing dialog through the final mixes so that changes could be easily dialed in as post progressed. “The whole process felt very symbiotic,” Lewandowski said.
“With all the pyrotechnics, multiple voices, pile drivers and torque wrenches we delivered for this job, it could have become one pile of noise,” Allan said.
“When we went over to Sonixphere’s studio, we were literally blown away by the sound design that was delivered,” Lewandowski said. “The way it was laid out was so full and so deep, with so many different options and layers we could choose from. And when it came time to do the mixes. Greg actually came over to our place and sat in, walking everyone through how the sound design was laid out.”