Orderly Noise, A Look Behind ‘The Bark Side’
June 17, 2012 by Andrew Schneider
Sometimes our printed magazine has less space than we have stories to tell. That was the case recently during our Extreme Close-Up Section on Music & Sound. Here’s one feature we couldn’t include, an interview with Jeff Elmassian of Endless Noise, the shop behind “The Bark Side.”
When the folks at Deutsch LA were looking to top last year’s Super Bowl favorite “The Force” with its ridiculously cute mini Darth Vader, they had an inspiration: let’s tease the new spot.
Elmassian, a classically-trained chamber musician, had worked with Dick Polumbo on some of his early famous work with Nike “Freestyle” campaign that created music with only the sounds made by basketballs. Now at head of production at Deutsch, he and the team wanted a teaser with dogs barking out the famous John Williams piece, “The Imperial March.” Polumbo turned to Elmassian.
“While the track was very different [from the Nike Freestyle work], the process was very similar,” Elmassian says.
He had to be involved in the filming of the spot and the casting of the dogs.
“This was unlike Freestyle in the sense that, when humans involved in actual filming, I could write a track and it could be choreographed,” he says. “You can teach people in the scene, to learn movements that would be needed to go with the actual track.”
Teaching dogs is possible too, of course, just not in the timeframe everyone had for “The Bark Side.”
Their alternative: film the dogs, record them barking as much as possible and put it all together on the back end.
“I recorded all the dogs and the editor took the original track and began cutting in the dogs,” Elmassian says. “There was a symbiotic relationship between the editing and the audio post. He would tweak, send to me, I would send it back.”
In original track there was a high dog sound for melody, Elmassian says, but in the end they had to use a large dog so that meant moving the melody to a lower tone.
‘I tell clients ahead of time, you’re never sure of how well it’s going to work,” Elmassian says. “You’re essentially creating a new orchestra, a new pallet of sound to work with and until I work with it, won’t know what we have.”
That means that a client needs to be brave, he says.
“It takes a rather brave client to be able to say, I love this idea enough that I’m going to commit to it and we’ll see what happens,” Elmassian says. “Usually for me, I’ll write the track, when I’m happy with the track, when I get that first rough cut back, that’s the moment I’ll know how great it’s going to be.”
When he saw “The Bark Side” he knew it was going to be great.