FORD RAPTOR // 2017 DIGITAL CAMPAIGN ANTHEM, SIGNATURE MELODY and SONIC LOGO
A Test Case in our Collaborative Process: Another Country Detroit & Flavor
In concert with our fellow designers and animators at Flavor, Another Country Detroit was tapped to create both custom music and sound design for the first official 2017 Ford Raptor digital video – an all-CGI spot punctuated with animated dissections of the truck’s premium mechanical features. Heavy pre-production resulted in detailed storyboards as well as coherent copy and color edicts to guide the animation and graphics teams.
Still, with all of the thought that went into their look book, no one really knew what the Available Torsen Front Differential exploded view should sound like - let alone the sonic architecture of the entire computer generated world.
With a potential overload of SFX and on-screen “see and say” moments, the original composition would need to harmonize with sound design. The goal from the outset was to minimize distractions away from the announcer’s message, yet allow music to pulse with enough energy to drive the one and a half minute sequence.
Even at this early stage, it was evident that the audio portion of this project would be more intricate than most.
Another Country Detroit’s Joe Philips & Jeremy Schemm quickly set out to compile reference materials for group filtering, discussion and unification of sonic direction.
The first step was to playback several excerpts from 6 popular music tracks (QOTSA, Black Keys, etc.) and discuss likes and dislikes with GTB’s creative team. Here, we defined specific, extractable sonic elements (drum track characteristics, guitar processing, etc.) as well as determined the genre & mood that best represented the Raptor brand.
Working in this manner provides clients with the comfort of knowing, upfront, what to expect as deliverables roll in – THIS kind of guitar, THAT kind of sonic treatment, THIS tempo, etc. Taking the guesswork out of the composition process for both creator and commissioner, ensures all parties are happier, faster.
With the common sonic goals outlined, we immediately went to work to provide the animation and editorial teams with a bare-bones drum track that would serve as guidepost for sectional changes. Much like a ruler in the visual arts, Tempo Maps allow the team to easily adjust pacing, which results in the best possible sync – both in terms of impact moments and overall story arc.
COMPOSITION & SOUND DESIGN:
Once we had the feedback from our client’s reference dissection, we set out to compose a minimal Desert Rock track, featuring huge drums and ample rock guitars, yet with adequate space reserved for the coming sound design and VO. Filling in the Tempo Map with expected musical elements as we went, the natural expansion/reduction of scenes could take place with minimal discomfort for all parties, from revision to revision. Successful deployment of this approach circumvented attachment to temporary music and alleviated deadline crunch.
To present the Raptor true to form, Another Country Detroit secured a test-track recording session with a pre-production model, allowing us to capture the unique sound and character of the vehicle. Placing an array of microphones in and around the truck, we gathered a large range of sounds, from engine revs to powerful, Dopplered pass-bys.
One major consideration we had was how to properly capture and reproduce the sound of the Raptor’s new engine. Surprisingly quiet, the efficient Twin Turbo V6 engine didn’t emit the standard sonic hallmarks of your typical truck. Ford engineers knew this and were fine-tuning the heavily debated engine sound; we had to match expectations.
In order to produce additional sound effects – like the shower of gravel kicking up on dirt roads – we mixed traditional field recording know-how with creative, in-studio Foley techniques. The literal sound of tires barreling down back roads, combined with the grinding of rocks between a suitcase and sand lined asphalt, helped us to achieve a complex, highly defined layer of grit that helped take our CGI world to the next level.
The sonic icing on the sound cake came when pairing the CGI-based dissections of the truck’s premium mechanical features with exploratory sound design. Processed beyond recognition, proprietary sounds laid the foundation for the animations’ special atmosphere. For example, we utilized a heavily treated audio clip of Ford stamping plant machinery to help create the feeling of suspended animation during simulated product dissections.
By considering the simultaneous creation of image sequence and composition ahead of time, both teams were able to avoid confusion and quickly navigate revisions with less audio conflict and trickery.
We believe that when you involve your composers & sound designers in creative discussions early on, you ensure the project’s best possible outcome.
At the end of the day, our attention to detail paid off. The same Roush engineer who escorted us during our test track recording also happened to be one of the team members tweaking engine sounds. In an email he affirmed our Raptor “sounds authentic and as good as this truck sounds, under the best possible circumstances”.
With the original composition deemed “beautiful work” by our client, we knew we had formulated an all-encompassing approach that proved effective. We had succeeded in satisfying clients, creatives and engineers alike.
By trusting our collaborative process and systematic sonic approach, clients could rest assured that the intersection of high creativity & high technical capability would yield exciting results, allowing us all to go further with the 2017 Ford Raptor launch.