Jungle sound designer Chris Turner and krow London Executive Creative Director Nick Hastings on pulling together 28 voices at two metres apart for the charity’s first fundraising appeal

Founded in 2019 to serve as a single point of appeal and fund distribution for future national emergencies, independent charity The National Emergencies Trust has collaborated with krow London on its first ever fundraising appeal.

The pro bono project includes a radio ad written and directed by Nick Hastings Executive Creative Director from krow London and mixed by Chris Turner, Sound Designer at Jungle Studios. The 30 second ad involved remotely recording 28 voices, each calling out ‘mayday’ in a cry for help at this difficult time. Known for his work with the National Theatre, Oliver Chris provides the main voiceover, stressing that together through this fundraising appeal we can deliver help swiftly and effectively to those that need it most. 

The remaining cast was pulled from Chris Turner’s diverse circle of family, friends and colleagues. Using recordings taken on smartphones and over video chat, Chris treated each individual voice through 360 degree audio plugins, spacing each at least two metres apart in order to create an immersive sound experience.

In this interview, we dive behind the scenes with Nick and Chris to learn how they overcame the challenge of packing so many different voices into just 30 seconds and how each voice was designed to be heard as an individual.

Above: Executive Creative Director Nick Hastings, krow London

LBB> What was the initial brief that you received and what were your thoughts when you first saw it?

Nick Hastings, ECD, krow London> One of the characteristics of this lockdown has been that everything has to be done really really quickly because the situation is always changing – plus with May Day coming up not long after we started, we had quite a short time period to complete everything in. But we were lucky in that we collaborate with Jungle a lot, especially with Chris himself, and we’ve always worked really well together which helped the process run very smoothly.

Chris Turner, Sound Designer, Jungle Studios> The script was basically a series of different people saying “mayday” in a 30 second commercial so my first thought was that I’d need to record quite a lot of people to make it work. I thought the brief would be best with real people so it was really just a conversation about who to source and how to do it. My number one challenge given that everyone is in lockdown was whether it would be ok to record people on devices they would have lying around the house such as iPhones, voice memos or via Zoom.

LBB> Nick, can you tell us a little bit more about the creative thinking behind the script?

Nick> It was a very simply structured, uncomplicated script so it fell into place quite easily. As May Day was coming up we were able to tie it in to gain maximum impact. The word itself is also emblematic of distress, so by putting those two things together it was relevant on two fronts. 

LBB> And Chris, what led the decision for casting friends and family for the voiceovers? 

Chris> The main voice was provided by Oliver Chris who does a lot of work for the National Theatre and he’s worked with krow over the years for many campaigns. For the rest of the voiceovers, because they were all going to say the same thing, there was a danger that it would just sound lifeless so we wanted to use a wide range of people from all over the UK. 

For accessibility and speed, I reached out to friends, family and colleagues from across the country who have distinctive accents to get a cross section. They all video called me and I recorded them in my home studio. I didn’t give them too much direction as I wanted them to deliver it as naturally as possible and it’s actually very hard to direct one word – the shorter the script the harder it becomes. You need the authenticity to come through their personality. 

LBB> Have any of your friends and family done voiceovers for you before?

Chris> Both of my kids are always helping with projects, they love it! They usually feature as vocal background sounds of kids just being kids. Quite often they come out with me and do location and ambient recordings too. I went out with my daughter last week to record the local duck pond when nobody was around. She’s recently got her own iPhone and it’s already full of recordings she’s done – she’s really into it and catalogues them like I do. 

LBB> How does working on radio compare with working on TV, what are some of the different things you need to consider?

Chris> On TV you judge the visuals but radio can take you wherever you want it to take you. Radio has to be visual in an audio way by painting a picture. 

With this project, there isn’t an awful lot going on in the script – no sound effects, no music – it’s all led by the voice. And if voice is the only instrument you’re going to use, you need the diversity of accents to bring it alive. The idea was that they are all individuals who need help somewhere in the country so I didn’t want the audio to sound like they were all in the same place. By mixing it binaurally I was able to give it more of an immersive feel. 

As you move people away from the listener, the volume of what you hear from them changes like it would in real life. I positioned all the different voices in a 360 degree angle and made sure they were two metres apart at least! Because there are so many voices in the ad and they’re all saying the same word, it would be hard for the listener to hear in mono and it would stop sounding like the word “mayday”. So this way, you can really hear the different voices come through.

LBB> What was it like to record this remotely?

Nick> Usually you’d be in the room with the sound designer and you’d be able to hear a recording back as often as you need to deliver instant feedback but remotely you don’t have the same degree of flexibility. It was a more complicated process at first but because we’ve all worked together so much before, it was quite relaxed and everybody was willing to give it that extra time and be more patient. I think it’d be much more difficult if we were working with people for the first time. Once we got over the fact that we weren’t in the same room, it wasn’t that difficult – Oliver Chris even set up his own home studio in a cupboard!

Chris> For me, I obviously don’t have a full mixing desk here and there’s only so much you can do through a computer. If I open multiple applications, getting all the different bits of audio to stream to people at the right time has proved the trickiest bit. But during lockdown people’s expectations of how audio should sound has changed. A lot of the adverts I have worked on have been filmed on iPhones in people’s houses and edited together. Each recording lent a different audio quality to the project and gave each one its own characteristics to help you differentiate between the different people. 

LBB> How quickly did you have to turn this around?

Chris> It took an hour to record with Oliver Chris who recorded from home on his own microphone but we were all on the same call to help direct, including the agency producer and the ECD. Once we were happy with the takes I cut it together in another couple of hours – probably around four hours altogether.

If we were to have brought in 28 individuals to the studio to record them we probably would have spent a lot longer recording each voice and trying to get the right meaning from each person. I got it done quicker from home than what we traditionally would have done in the studio. Not because less care and thought went into it, only because if you’re in a critical listening environment and the sole purpose of the job is to get the right performance, you’re going to spend longer deliberating it. But what we got from this is something very natural  with people’s tonality, accent and personality coming through. 

LBB> What are your highlights from the project?

Nick> The fact that all four of us involved – myself, Chris, Oliver in his cupboard, and krow producer Emma Rookledge – had such a level of commitment to make it as good as it can be is a really heartening feeling and made it very fun and satisfying to do. It can be easy to start worrying about how you’re going to achieve things in lockdown where it can even seem impossible at first. But actually, when enough people have a mind to do something, it is possible. And that’s the encouraging thing.

Chris> My personal highlight was getting it to work binaurally. It really gives space for all those people to come through – 28 different voices in the space of a 30 second commercial doesn’t come around every day. The immersive aspect is what brings it to life. 

But the most special thing of all was having my entire family and friends in one radio commercial. They were quite amazed at how I could just take their voice from a video chat and turn it into a radio ad where they’re all featured. Having all my family in a radio ad together I don’t think could have happened other than in lockdown because the whole approach to this project would have been different. I wouldn’t have been reaching out to my family. It’s been fun, different and really memorable.

When you think about sound design or audio post facilities, you know them for three things; the quality of their sound designers, the quality of the campaigns they work on and the quality, style and high spec of their studios. The best have spent years finessing these areas of their business.
Audio post relies heavily on the best quality hardware – microphones, speakers, consoles, booths, servers, and more. With the entire creative industries adapting to new challenges around working from home, sound designers are facing one of the toughest logistical challenges yet. So, how do you take this work remote? We speak to Jungle sound designers Ben Leeves and Alex Wilson-Thames to see how their team have reacted to one of the biggest challenges facing audio post production…

Sound Design: Super Easy if Connected to High Speed Servers

What you may not know is that the majority of sound design can be completed if you have access to high-speed servers. “By linking up to our system remotely we can run sessions with clients and talent from anywhere, the same as if we were in the studio”, explains Sound Designer Alex Wilson-Thame. “Of course, before we were advised to close our doors we had already begun a contingency plan – starting to move the best transportable equipment safely into our homes.”
Microphones, consoles and computers have all been moved into engineers’ homes allowing them to continue sound design work as normal. Many producers and filmmakers are used to working remotely with their preference of sound studio and other post production facilities wherever they are in the world, so the process is not new. But for those who are new to remote working with sound, Alex advises, “It’s just about thinking differently. This is no different to the myriad of creative challenges that producers come up against daily. I think the key is recognising that this work is still possible and ensuring you are working with your sound designer as early on in the process as possible, so that they can guide you on the best process and timeline.”   

Voice Overs : They Won’t Have a Sound Booth in the Lounge but they May Have A Good Mic and Heaps of Experience 

Voiceover work and ADR perhaps present the biggest challenge in audio post when working remotely. When recording a voiceover it is crucial that there is no background noise, that the audio engineer can work with the talent remotely, and that they can get a clear recording on a good microphone.“Obviously, most voiceover artists and actors don’t have a sound booth in their living room,” says Sound Designer Ben Leeves. “Our preference would always be to have our talent working in a proper studio BUT that doesn’t mean it is not possible. Some voiceover artists have enough technical know-how and are talented enough that they can provide top quality recordings from anywhere.”
As many agencies and brands pivot their strategies to produce content remotely – using alternative production methods including animation, found footage or even repurposing content, the demand for good voiceover work is rising.“The important thing to do now is look at the talent who can deliver,” adds Ben. “Many experienced voiceover artists do their work on the move, from hotel rooms or with their own setups. The best will even own a portable ISDN and a good quality microphone. They will also know how to minimise background noise when recording. These are the type of artists you want to be working with right now.”
“Once we have secured that talent, then we work via video link to ensure they are recording themselves correctly with the equipment that is available to them. We’re currently developing a remote system that will even allow us to control their home set up in real time.”

Foley: No Need to Blow Up the Garden Shed 

“Every house and garden is the ultimate foley workshop! If you have ever seen a foley room, you will know that it is mainly full of funny old household nic nacs,” says Alex. 
Sound designers will still be able to record their own foley from home, in fact a lot of specialised effects tend to get recorded that way on weekends and evenings. And for the more extreme sound effects – you can’t be setting off fireworks, or exploding the shed – the Jungle team can still remotely access their main server containing one of the most comprehensive sound effects libraries available.
“What we don’t have in the house or garden we do have in our sound effects library. It has every sound imaginable and it is something we have always worked with on a day-to-day basis,” adds Ben. 

We understand you might not be able to come in for your audio session…

As the virus situation continues to develop, we’ve had a lot of questions regarding our ability to continue to operate in the event that we have to close our studios in Soho.

Jungle is lucky in that we were originally situated across 3 separate buildings on Wardour St and Dean Street.  To make this work seamlessly we built our own internal data network connected to mirrored servers  – which means we have always, in effect, worked remotely.

This means that all our staff, both technical and admin, can connect to this network from home and have exactly the same access to our studios, files and backups that they have from within the office.  By combining this ability with our engineer’s remote studio set ups we are confident we can continue to meet our clients needs for the foreseeable future.

As always, if you have any concerns, queries or questions please just ask – we can normally find a solution to most things!

While Jungle remains open, to keep Jungle as protected as possible for clients and staff who do come to the studios, we can continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer:

  • If you are feeling unwell, especially if you have symptoms of a high temperature, cough, and shortness of breath, you should not come to the studios. 
  • If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. 
  • If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. 
  • For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • If you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • If you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • If you have coronavirus symptoms:
    • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
    • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
    • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home

May we wish you all the best during this challenging time!

Today, Jungle Studios has launched Sister Sound. The sound design studio, which will be based on the terrace level of Jungle Studios’ building on Wardour Street, seeks to answer the growing demand for high quality alternative content, including commercials, showreels, corporate films, social content and more. Sister Sound, which has been devised entirely by Jungle’s young sound engineers and booking producers and supported by the senior team at Jungle, will embody all the experience and creative excellence of one of London’s oldest audio post companies but will offer services at a cost inline with contemporary budgets for content.

This year, Jungle Studios celebrates its 25th Anniversary in Soho and managing director Graham Ebbs says it’s long been their ambition to allow the next generation of audio talent to be the decision makers on the future ventures of the business: “We’ve all seen how growing numbers of media channels and platforms have facilitated the explosion of new content. It means the business of production and post production – in film, audio and beyond – has fundamentally changed. And it’s not the older generation making this stuff, its young cutting-edge filmmakers, directors and editors. It’s people who have multiple soft skills, who have grown through an era where they have the tools available to them to make engaging viral content just for the fun of it. They are the future of commercial filmmaking and we wanted to look at how Jungle could nurture the next generation of talent. After 25 years we believe that is by harnessing the creativity of our young engineers. They can be counted amongst these amazingly talented people, so it only seemed right to us that they had the opportunity to shape Sister Sound from the ground up.”

Behind the new studio are audio engineers Hannah Webster, Sean Mahoney and Luke Isom alongside producer Olivia Endersby. Between them, they have been working over the past six months to bring Sister Sound’s studios to life; including remodelling the physical studio space and its equipment, designing the look and feel of the brand, growing a new client base and developing its offering and workflows. The studio describes itself as ‘all the quality, just less of the frills’ and will provide services that can be more easily adapted depending on a project and its budget.

“Essentially, there are thousands of projects that don’t need all the same bolt-ons that are needed on audio post production on big advertising campaigns. What many filmmakers and content creators really need is the best talent offered to them in the most flexibly-costed way. We believe we’ve built a model that can deliver that,” says sound designer Hannah Webster.

Audio engineer and designer of the studios original new look, Luke Isom, created the logo, colour scheme and branding alongside Hannah, Sean and Olivia. Commenting on its aesthetic he says: “It was important for us that Sister Sound appeals to the next generation of film and content creators. Originally my idea came from the labels you get in the centre of a record. Many of the more traditional businesses in the production and post production world have rebranded in a minimalist style, so we wanted our design to stand out.”

Commenting on what this opportunity means to the team, Sean Mahoney concludes: “It’s not everyday that you get the chance to open a new company in the heart of Soho and with the full support of one of the most well-respected sound studios in London. We hope we can entice anyone who is making content to come and say hello. We’d love to see how we could help.”

Sister Sound is now open for business and accepting enquiries.

Global foundation, Education Above All, has commissioned a film and exhibition that premiered at the United Nations General Assembly to promote the protection of education as a fundamental human right. Shot by award-winning portrait photographer Paddy Dowling, the film, ‘Dreamers in Doorways’, takes viewers to Uganda, Cambodia, Haiti, and other war-torn countries, bringing to light the real stories of children and teens who have been denied schooling on a long-term basis.

The global foundation, which works to improve access to high quality education for vulnerable and marginalised people in the developing world, takes viewers on a journey into some of the world’s most hostile, remote, and disadvantaged places – highlighting the importance of education on the lives of children. Torn apart by conflict, many children are confined to shelters, camps, makeshift homes and destroyed cities, dreaming ‘about an education whilst the world ignores [them]’. The cinematic piece captures intimate, heart-breaking portraits of these children, each telling their own story of lost education. Striking a balance between the subtle and impactful, the film also includes a brief flash of violence and terror – real life footage of a bombed school in Yemen.

Jungle Studios’ Jim Griffin was brought in on the project to provide the sound design. Working with Josh and Luke from edit company Exell Post and Niall from Revolt, Jim created a sound design that demonstrated the haunting reality of the war-torn towns and villages that these children come from. With the purpose of the film being to inspire worldwide action, it was important that the stories encapsulated a sound that would make viewers realise the uncomfortable facts – that the world isn’t doing enough.

The final scene of the film shows real footage from the aftermath of a bombing in Yemen. Commenting on his approach to this scene, Jim says: “The bombing scene is pretty harrowing and watching it over and over for the edit was upsetting to say the least. I used this energy to create as harrowing an experience sound wise as I could, using children crying and screaming to underpin the action. I then heavily filtered the whole scene to recreate the feeling of bombed-out tinnitus and used two different high-pitched frequencies hard-panned to make it as uncomfortable as possible on the ear.”

The film premiered on September 25th at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The screening preceded Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai’s keynote speech which asked world leaders to promise that every child will have the right to safe, free, and quality primary and secondary education.

My obsession with immersive sound began before it became ‘cool’, before every gamer had immersive sound embedded into their virtual worlds and multi-directional sound had infiltrated pop-culture. But now, from ASMR to Christmas-gifted VR headsets, immersive sound is undoubtedly having a moment. So how is this audio manipulated to make listeners feel part of the action, what exactly does this mean for the future of audio and why does it matter?

Audio is the ‘thing’ that makes us spatially aware – without it, our experience is based solely on visual cues, which simply put, is just not enough. Sound designers have found that the quality of the visual content can be substantially reduced when paired with well made immersive audio and the result will still be a believable environment for players. Reversed, average audio with great video – not so much.

Immersive sound can infer a number of things. There’s ‘binaural’ which is a method of recording sound in the same way humans hear – often recorded using omnidirectional microphones that mimic human ears. Yet binaural, whilst a giant step up in immersive quality and realistic feel is not the most immersive method of recording sound. To feel completely enveloped by the sound – as if the audio was a sphere surrounding you above, below, left, right, forward, behind and on every angle – ambisonics is the key.

Technically speaking, ambisonics makes a sound field perfect at a very small point in space, by breaking it down into “spherical harmonics”. The more harmonics that are recorded, the bigger the reconstruction of the space. These are then easily manipulated; soundfields can be rotated, sounds can be moved up or down within the space, and zoomed to and from.

Imagine for a moment a busy pub. You’re speaking to a friend whilst other conversations at the surrounding tables are occurring. You can hear your drinking partner just fine in person but had the event been recorded it would be impossible to discern one conversation from another, the general din drowning out all identifiability. However, recorded ambisonically, each conversation could be zoomed in on – to the same quality as if you were sat next to them, eavesdropping on their discussion. Kind of incredible, right?

With ambisonics, the sound surrounds you completely. For comparison, a stereo recording works with one plane of sound – left and right. Binaural recordings are static, mimicking human ear canals and as such are wedded to the use of headphones to experience the full effect. But with ambisonics, the full sphere of possible audio direction is condensed into one single output – placing the listener at the centre. And which industry is largely hinged on the centralization of the listener? Yep, virtual reality and the gaming industry.

Video games and virtual reality require the addition of immersive sound to keep the illusion of reality alive. Head tracking – the phenomenon of sound moving counter to you in immersive environments – is at the core of what makes VR, well, VR. The ‘responding’ of sound to your movements is the core of what makes an immersive environment. Take a fire pit for example; crackling and sparking, the insistent hisses and pops of burning kindling filling your ears. If you’re facing the fire, the sound will be in front of you. The moment you turn to walk away from the fire the sound will move around and settle behind you. This change is the subtle but crucial difference between a realistic virtual environment and one that jars with the player and feels fake.

I approach all my mixes ambisonically – no matter what the required final format is. iT

So how can ambisonics and immersive sound be used commercially? Is there scope for brands to harness the power of ambisonics too?

Absolutely! VR and Game audio is leading the field, but audio mixed for TV and Radio has a lot of catching up to do.

Unsurprisingly, the big players are already using the format. Google and Facebook pair their 360-degree videos with ambisonic audio, enabling users to pan around an image with responsive sound. As a key development in our ability to build convincing and enveloping words, ambisonics is the sound of the future, but there’s still so much more that could be transformed. If live concerts, club nights, performances and shows could be experienced remotely, if listeners and revellers could feel as if the music was wholly surrounding and including them with immersive audio – the music industry could expand its reach with a new level of experience hierarchy.

So, maybe I can’t make it to a Hans Zimmer show in Sydney, but if I could don a pair of headphones in London, open my laptop and virtually transport myself to being sat in the Harbour-side location – well that would be incredible, wouldn’t it?


Jungle Studios has welcomed Olivia Endersby to the bookings team as booking producer.

Prior to her new position at Jungle Studios, Olivia was an advertising and digital manager for Deep East Music where she worked closely with brand clients on finding the perfect track with their production music library. Before joining Deep East, Olivia cut her teeth in PR and communications at Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

Olivia comments: “I’m chuffed Jungle have given me the opportunity to join their team and work in producing. My previous role was slightly different but there are a lot of happy crossovers with what I do now. Working for a music production library at Deep East Music meant I got to work across a wide range of projects from searching and supplying music for advertising, broadcast, trailers and more. This would typically include supplying music for big brands such as Amazon and Samsung, as well as meeting and working with people from across the advertising and music industries on a regular basis. My new role sits between the clients and the lovely lot at Jungle, it means I get to work with everyone here from the engineers to the Transfer team (and, so far, everyone’s putting up with all my terrible attempts at jokes so I can’t complain!)”

Day-to-day, Olivia will be helping run the schedules of all the studios, including scheduling time for clients with engineers, supplying quotes and arranging any additional elements needed for sessions. In addition to this, Olivia will also be working with the wider bookings team to create marketing and promotional strategies which seek to build new business.

Managing director Graham Ebbs says: “We’re delighted to have Olivia joining us. Her experience working with commercial clients and production music gives her a unique perspective on the sound world. We are passionate about audio design and passionate about the future of our business and we can see that Olivia has huge potential to bring new ideas and fresh thinking to the team.”

Full-service audio post-production company, Jungle Studios, has unveiled Studio 7, a brand-new high-end audio suite at its Soho facility on Wardour Street.

The large space, which replaces two smaller rooms, will be helmed by senior sound designer Ben Leeves to provide a premium, multi-use studio for broadcast, commercial and feature film work.

Ben Leeves explains the creative and practical inspirations for remodelling the space and what it means for clients

Expanding upon Jungle’s award-winning facilities, the new studio is beautifully crafted throughout and the stylish suite will be used for ADR, music recording, mixing, sound design and voiceover work.

Since the two-month expansion was completed, clients including VCCP, Engine and Pulse Creative have utilised the studio’s meticulous finish – including industry-leading Genelec speakers, Fairlight console and spacious voiceover booth.

The impressive, modern space houses up to 10 creatives, clients, directors and musicians per session and include a private soundproof area. Perfect for account handler and client discussions, the area is divided from the main room by a glass partition, which can be frosted at the click of a button.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and money into the creation of a bespoke, state-of-the-art space in which our clients feel comfortable,” explains director Chris Turner. “This new studio showcases the premium service and versatility that we offer all of our clients.”

For enquiries about the new space contact: bookings@junglestudios.co.uk

Last week a radio script arrived in my inbox. A straightforward, beautifully constructed ad that communicated an idea perfectly, in just 30 seconds.

SFX: Sounds of a moped being stolen, mechanical noises, cars going past, street sounds.

Male Voice Over: Cocky sounding thief
This one shouldn’t take long.
‘course if it had a cover, I might not be bothered.
Can’t see what’s under there.
And they’d chained the back wheel, it would’ve taken me much longer
‘specially if the chain’s off the ground, makes it harder to cut.
This one doesn’t even have a lock on the front.
So in the time I’ve been talking to you, I’ve nicked it.

SFX: Moped revving off

Metropolitan Police Voice Over: Over 9,000 scooters and bikes were stolen in London last year.
Lock your bike, chain the rear wheel and cover it to make it harder to steal.
Lock, chain, cover. The Met Police.

Every word is expertly crafted to conjure the dialogue and image of a very believable thief.

It sounds really simplistic; like anyone in any studio could make this ad and produce a decently good job.

But I’m bored of good. Far too many ads I hear on commercial radio are undermining the astonishing power of the medium. It’s sad that I feel part of a minority that truly loves the power of radio advertising, so please allow me to evangelise.

I wanted to make this ad great, the script was fantastic and the creative team are the finest people in the business. The last time I worked on scripts for the MET Police they won a bucketful of awards and with the opportunity to do it again, I wanted to go all out.

So how do you take an ad anyone could do and make it better?

70% of people now listen to radio on headphones and because of this I’ve developed a new obsession – recording all my own sound effects binaurally (3D audio for headphones) when I have the script in advance. Binaural recording creates the sensation of actually being in the same room or space as the performer or event, generating a truly immersive experience for the listener.

Here are two versions of the ad: the first, the immersive binaural experience we chose for the official ad and the second, a standard stereo version I mocked up to show the difference in energy and immersion. Have a listen. Does one feel closer, perhaps more lifelike?

Perfume ads are infamous for their – well, ridiculousness. From outlandish narratives to nonsensical events, the fragrance world has a rich history of self-important silliness. Yet, the ads work. They identify one product from another, address the target audience and create a demand for an un-sampled product – a difficult feat considering smell is currently impossible to transmit through a television. So, perhaps the outlandishness can be forgiven – maybe even lovingly poked fun at?

Jungle Studios produced the sound design on Uncommon and Ecover’s brilliant spoof fragrance ad, L’Eau de Bébé – created to promote the launch of a scentless hypoallergenic detergent range – whilst simultaneously satirising the perfume trope.

In this interview, Jungle Studios sound designer Ben Leeves, shares key insights into what exactly makes a perfume ad so identifiable and why, spoof or not, creative excellence is imperative.

Q> L’eau de Bébé, we all know what it smells like, but how did you evoke those smells with sound design?

Ben Leeves> Using the joyous sounds of happy babies – coupled with liberal amounts of sniffing, of course!

Q> How did you approach the spoof element? Obviously, there are the tropes to follow, but how did you accentuate them without making it totally ridiculous?

Ben> Well, with any spoof, you have to approach it as if it were the real thing. So the sound design was akin to any high end perfume commercial. We also tried to keep the ‘rug-pull’ as late as possible. Then, when the ‘rug-pull’ moment comes, we lift the viewer away from the sound for a few seconds, to then bring them back to a perfume ad sound finale.

Q> Did you face any creative challenges along the way?

Ben> Getting the right balance from the voice performance was key. Christopher and Tom had very strong ideas on how it should sound. Kemah [the voice actor] was a perfect fit!

Q> Are there any integral subtleties to making it sound like a perfume ad that a casual listener might not expect?

Ben> I suppose it’s that slightly aloof, maybe even mystical, feel. So, using delays and counterpoint whispers to nail the key messages was essential. If you read the satirical tweets from @PerfumeAds, you almost do the reverbs and delays internally as you read them!

Q> What are some common requests when being briefed for a ‘real’ perfume brand?

Ben> They usually pay for an expensive piece of music sync – so getting the music edit right is especially important.

Q> Are there any other ‘spoofed’ ads out there that you admire?

Ben> The Australian Carlton Draught ad, ‘It’s a Big Ad’ was an absolutely brilliant spoof of Hugh Hudson’s British Airways Epic ‘24 Million’. Awesome!

Q> And finally, what’s the best and worst perfume ads you’ve experienced?

Ben> My favourite perfume ads would be Gucci by Chris Cunningham and Kenzo by Spike Jonez – they’re amazing. But, are they too good? Do they have that slightly mad quality of say, Brad Pitt’s Calvin Klein? Or the ads for Davidoff Cool Water that made us all want to swim butterfly? I do think that I prefer my perfume ads to be the slightly mad, esoteric, art house ones.

Check out the work here: https://vimeo.com/333360372