Wonder Williams

Serena taking on an army of ball blasting enemies in this epic spot for Direct TV. Culum reveals the sonic goodness that lie within.

Ever since she first graced a Grand Slam in the US Open; losing in the second round to her sister (oh how times have changed) Serena Williams has been somewhat of a legend. Rising to stratospheric success both on and off the court; she has comfortably held the title of 'Greatest of all Time' for as long as she's been playing the game. Fending off wave after wave of world class opponents culminating in her latest battle against a swarm of mega death robots, ditching the tennis whites for the red blue and gold of DCs Wonder Woman.

The overarching goal of this action packed spot was...fun. It needed to be as silly as humanly possible whilst living in both of its worlds. It needed to be, entirely fantastical, in terms of the robots and rooted in the hyperreal when dealing with the tennis shots.

I started with the sound of the mechanics of the robots. Using a car electric window for the moves and the firing of an empty paintball gun for the feet. I pitched and stretched to make each move unique whilst keeping them rigid and in keeping with the meticulous accuracy of a machine. Then it was a case of rolling them out across all the robots...quite a job, and panning them so they felt realistic in the space as well as simply getting them out of the way of each other so they can all be heard individually. Then the robots cannons, made from a mix of grenade launchers and banging on the end of a tube to make that 'thunk' sound to give them a bit of a comedy, cartoony vibe.

The soundscape couldn't be all fantasy. There were some more ordinary sounds I needed too, mainly tennis hits...and lots of them. A big thanks to Adam Smyth who helped me bounce countless balls around studio 4 to make up the lion share of the atmos, and the production team who provided all the character screams!

The next idea was to try and vocalise the Robots. We wanted to make the silly if a little threatening. We ended up recording everyone in the building and used Izotope's vocal synth to robotify them. It's an amazing piece of kit, if you haven't used it, give it a go.

The last piece of the puzzle was to give the larger robot some real weight. No real trick here...just an awful lot of samples from a sound library called 'robotic lifeforms' and some diligent use of dynamics to make them hit as hard as possible. I spread each frequency band over several busses, so we could process and control each separately for maximum impact.

Mixed by the wizards at Lime Studios over in LA the finished article is...well...ace...sorry.

Sound Design: Culum Simpson // Audio Producer: Laura-Leigh Smith // Mix: Matt Miller at Lime Studios // Music: SOUTH Music & Sound, Search Party Music // Director: Traktor, Stink Films // EP: Mungo Maclagan // Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles // Renato Fernandez: Chief Creative Officer // Ariel Abramovici: Creative Director // Bruno Acanfora: Creative Director // Mark Winters: Associate Creative Director // Ryan Buckley: Associate Creative Director // Will Holmes: Art Director // Tyler Archibald: Copywriter // VFX: JAMM