#beforeAlexa - Amazon Superbowl 2020

Lawrence and Eimear chat about creative process on this epic Superbowl advert for Amazon.

Amazon's comical and suitably epic Superbowl spot #beforeAlexa features mega stars Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi, reflecting on what life might have been like before Alexa. The film takes us through various points in history as people find alternative ways to search for jokes, music, facts, news or adjust their temperature settings.

String and Tins’ sound designer, Lawrence Kendrick comments that ‘Creating a sonic world that helped to carry the story, whilst also keeping the comedic performances central was key. It was a brilliantly challenging and creative process that really got us thinking. Moments like the dove getting chomped by the eagle have been meticulously considered and timed to make it as funny and unexpected as possible.'

He comments, ‘There was a genuine feeling of collaboration between myself, Will and the creative team at Droga5. Their clear vision and brief really helped set us on the right path. They gave us the freedom to play around with our ideas before we refined everything together. Because we were involved so early on, we were always on the same page creatively which saved loads of time and made the process super fun and rewarding.’

When it comes to sound in comedy, Lawrence believes that the simpler approach can often land better. 'We had versions of the bottle playing that were a lot more farty or spitty (which was obviously pretty funny in itself) but the simpler direction seemed to work best for the film as a whole and give it a more consistent tone.’

The String and Tins team also worked closely with the editor, Jonnie Scarlett. Lawrence comments ‘We put together a big sound design pack for the editor before anything was shot using the scripts and storyboards. Thinking about the tone and intention of these sounds before anything had even been shot was really helpful in making us consider what the purpose of each element was within the narrative - be it world building, for comedy timing, to shock etc. Loads of these sounds made their way into the final piece and I think having them there to help the editor weave a narrative from the get go really helped.’

Production Manager, Eimear Ní Ghuaire adds, ‘We worked with the actual Alexa who was based in the States. She was really nice and we had a lot of fun during the recordings. Once the recordings were selected, we tested out the mixes on the Alexa devices and got to know them really well. It's funny, almost like they have their own personalities.'

She reflects, ‘The echo dot was super speedy and cheeky - always going off at even the hint of a 'hey...' whereas the echo show was much more relaxed while it's pretty display screen told us about the weather we were missing from our underground studio. We added A LOT of wine and toilet paper to the shopping list during the process, lucky we didn't have the company credit card linked up - what a party that would have been!'