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Dynamism, Nostalgia and Magic: Looking Back on OTB’s Year in Sound


Stellar spots for Hinge, Squarespace, Bose and many more were brought to life thanks to the studio’s quality-first approach to audio

Dynamism, Nostalgia and Magic: Looking Back on OTB’s Year in Sound

After another turbulent twelve months in the world of creativity, one thing at least is certain: we’re all one year wiser. And as we wave goodbye to 2022, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the trends which defined the industry - and what they tell us about where we’re headed in the near future. 

For One Thousand Birds (OTB), the audio design studio, 2022 proved to be particularly memorable. Amidst head-turning work for the likes of Tanqueray, Lexus, and more, OTB also enjoyed a front-row seat to many of the creative themes which are setting the tone for industry, and perhaps even culture more widely, as we head into 2023. 

“We’ve seen big brands partnering with celebrity talent as spokespeople more frequently, making the most of existing parasocial relationships between certain consumer sectors and celebrities”, notes EP Alex Berner-Coe. “There were plenty of examples of this in 2022, from Doja Cat x JBL to Bad Bunny x Adidas. In our own work, we saw this in Tanqueray x Stanley Tucci, as well as in Chanel’s partnerships with young Hollywood stars Margaret Qualley, Whitney Peak and Lily-Rose Depp”. 

Moreover, the macro trend towards a more ethical approach to capitalism continued to build momentum. For the creative and communications industries, that underscored an important trend which looks set to continue dominating the agenda in 2023. “More brands are responding to a societal shift towards conscious consumerism, with people being more considerate of the impact of their dollar spent and acting on their values via products they choose to buy”, says Alex. “We definitely expect to see brands continue to market towards this shift in 2023”. 

And, specifically in the world of audio, 2022 saw other trends from previous years gain momentum and crystalize - as OTB witnessed through their own work. “There has been a large uptick in narrative podcasting throughout the past couple of years that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon”, notes Alex. “Increasingly big studios like Marvel are creating original audio content, and talent with household names are getting attached to those projects”. 

More subtly, it’s also been interesting to see how creative aesthetics have evolved over the past twelve months. “We did a lot of work in the lifestyle space this year and saw some colourful, fantastical creative with an emphasis on consumers’ personal expression”, recalls Alex. “The Ugg, Hinge, Tanqueray, and Sonos ads we worked on are great examples of these spirited and artistic campaigns. Brands are finding increasingly unique and exciting ways to show their products elevating lifestyles”. 

To get a better sense of OTB’s highlights from the past year (and to see these trends in action), we asked their team to share some examples of work which really stood out. The results, from Stanley Tucci to outer space via some hilariously nosy neighbours, are immensely watchable. 

Hinge: The Dating App Designed to Be Deleted 

“Creating the track for this job was an exciting challenge; we needed to create h a romantic feel that would also emphasise the humorous moments with the ‘Hingie’ character”, recalls music creative director Andres Velasquez. “The direction we ended up landing on has a bit of a retro, throwback movie feel with enough modern elements to appeal to younger audiences”. 

Tanqueray x Stanley Tucci: Make it a Martini Night 

“The Tanqueray campaign is lush and dynamic, with fine attention to detail; we did a lot of work to capture and distinguish the martini pouring sounds against the bar soundscape and our original music track”, says sound designer Bassel Al-Rahim. “Tucci has a phenomenal voice, which serves as a useful mix device to accentuate the sophistication and musicality of the scene”.

Lexus: The Lexus RZ-80

“Given that the focus of this spot is listening, this piece was particularly special for us. We knew from the beginning that we would have to hone in on details while still making sure every sound we created was bespoke and unexpected”, says Andres. “There was a lot of trial and error involved, layering different sounds and approaches until we got to this final result”. 

Ugg: Feels Like Ugg

“The ‘Feels Like Ugg’ campaigns have been so much fun for us. Embracing eccentric visuals and dynamic editing, this spot has a nostalgic, mixed media sensibility that we played with in the sound design”, says executive producer Guin Frehling. “Each portrait blends soundscapes, from satisfying analog sounds to ASMR-like flourishes, to highlight the mixtape feel of the spot. Each ‘track’ has its own approach, celebrating the momentum and variety of the collection”. 

Sonos: Feel More With Sonos

“This ad takes us on a multi-sensory journey, reminding us that sound is magic. We leaned into highlighting the dynamic of the visual with the sound design and mix— low whooshes and shimmery high textures paired with organic sounds found in nature to create a rich, elegant soundscape”, explains sound designer Jackie! Zhou. “We had the opportunity to mix this spot in Atmos, which always takes the experience to the next level”. 

Bose: For Your Ears Only 

“The mosaic of characters in this spot each exist in their own dense soundscapes: trying to focus in a busy cafe, running in the rain, and mowing the lawn on a hot day, but they’re unified by the great needle drop track in this spot”, notes sound designer Torin Geller. “A good song can transform any headspace, and the song is our driving force in the mix, taking on subtly different qualities as we weave through each different space”. 

Squarespace: The Neighbours Will Talk 

“These Squarespace spots were unique and funny, and it was important for the sound design to add to its quirky, humorous nature without being overly distracting from the creative”, says sound designer Hayley Livingston. “The genuine comedic value provided opportunities for us to emphasise the humour in subtle ways, bringing to life the personalities of each character”.

Taken as a whole, 2022 has been quite the year for OTB’s team - one which they can collectively look back on with pride. “One of our main goals for the year was to land more music campaigns - it’s exciting to have composed original tracks for two of the projects singled out here (Hinge and Tanqueray)”, says Alex. “We love opportunities to spearhead all aspects of audio, so getting to create the music, sound design and do the final mixing for Tanqueray was especially a dream come true”. 

And so, whether it be exploring new worlds, working with household name talent, or simply cracking up with contagious laughter; Here’s to another year of audio excellence in 2023. 

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One Thousand Birds, Mon, 19 Dec 2022 09:23:00 GMT