CASE STUDY - "TIFF: Love is the Answer"

~ THE BRIEF ~
 

This is the second of a series of animated short films, made in collaboration with Polyester and TIFF.  These films take excerpts of narration from directors, producers, and actors that were recorded at the Toronto International Film Festival, and bring them to life with animation, music, and sound design.

I was approached by Polyester to create the music and sound design for this film, featuring an excerpt of Guillermo Del Toro, director of such films as The Shape of Water, The Hobbit, Pacific Rim, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, and much more.   In this clip, recorded in 2017 during a Q+A for his film, "The Shape of Water", he talks about how we all must choose love over fear.

Let's start with the final film to give the breakdowns context:

~ APPROACH ~
 

After initial discussions with the team at Polyester, I was sent the voiceover clip of Guillermo Del Toro in its raw state so that I could start working and get a feel for the subject matter.  Right away, it became clear that this would be a truly meaningful and impactful video.  Quite timely, considering all of the recent events in the news.

When Polyester sent me the first rough animation, I began cutting the track up and taking specific notes from the ambient track, and editing them to the video to create a solid progression that lined up with the visuals, while still keeping the mood.

~ EXECUTION ~
 

With this approach in mind, I set aside a couple days to solely focus on finding sounds, creating ambient layers, and working with different chords to create the right mood for the film.  Tracking hours of sounds and ideas to come back to.

Here’s a small clip of the mood and main sound I decided to go with:

After receiving the first rough animation, I began cutting the track up and taking specific notes from the ambient track, and editing them to the video to create a solid progression that lined up with the visuals, while still keeping the mood.

You’ll notice that the film has a definitive change at 32 seconds in - Del Toro says, “Love is the answer.”  A shift in the score had to happen here to underscore that statement. Up until this point, the score was ambient, and floated along, creating a sense of indecision as it followed the back and forth nature of the visuals.  I added in a quiet piano, accented with a subtle pulsing synth to help bring the “exhale moment” we were looking for and lead the viewer into the ending credits.

When it came time to start creating the sound design, it was a bit of a back and forth in terms of what to add and what to leave out.  Typically, I would try to make sure that if it moves on screen, it has a sound to match. As I was adding in more and more, the sound effects started to call too much attention in the mix.  I started muting a lot of the sounds that had been laid in, and immediately it felt better. Subtle. Sticking with the original approach, the bulk of the sounds that were left in were made using recordings of wind and quiet foley textures using blankets and other fabrics to underscore visual movements.  That paired with synth accents, it meshed well with the ambient score.

Here’s a clip with music and sound design, then the same clip with only sound design:

~ THE RESULT ~

Thank you!

Depth Of Field Podcast

I recently had a great conversation with Adrian Thompson, founder of Plot and Modio, to chat about working in Sound Design and Composing for video.  The Depth Of Field podcast is where film/video professionals chat about their craft and the realities of the industry - It was such an honour to be invited on to the show!  

Check it out below, and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast.

Source: https://theplot.io/podcast/