We were extremely happy to work on a BBH project for Audi earlier this year. “Audi Birth” was an introduction to the upcoming launch of the new RS 3 Sportback, featuring the powerful R8 V10 giving birth to the new car. Will Cohen created the sound design while writing the music simultaneously, and talked about the process in a Shots article, which we have edited here.
We were asked to create a voice for the R8 and bed it into a landscape of sound effects that help take the viewer out of their comfort zone.
We were also involved from the beginning in the music direction – testing different references, from electronic to Opera from the 1900s, initially leaning towards something electronic and darker. Through testing different styles and eras, we came round to the idea that something more organic and classic felt right.
I recorded the Audi R8 on two separate occasions, from starting up cold, to stuttering uncontrolled revs, and all out high rpm. I then spent time editing in the studio to get the curve right, from initial ‘contractions’ to final push, and re-pitching and twisting the recordings to get the car to judder and jolt with the animation. We tested different techniques to morph the car, from using phase vocoding to granular sampling. Once we had the right shape, we set about trying to make the car feel more like an animal. We blended it with more organic sounds, morphing it with a gasping exhaling walrus, a snarling bear, a bellowing rhino and a time stretched horse, all to make it sound even more of a beast than it already is.
There was definitely a temptation to go town on all the robotics and technical stuff, but we tried to avoid the obvious servo noises and laboratory bleeps, keeping it more abstract where possible.
The most challenging thing about this project was to hold back on going completely over the top. We didn’t want people to think about really overt animal noises, or overpowering musical themes. Having added in the detail, we tried to pull it back to the point where the story speaks the most. It was a lot fun helping bring BBH’s and The Mill’s incredible work to life.
Update: Audi Birth has picked up Best Original Music Gold at the British Arrrows 2015 Craft awards, Best Use of Sound Design Bronze at SHOTS and Best Sound Design Bronze at the LIA 2015 awards.
Watch the finished film here: