Ashwini Gangal and Suraj Ramnath
Advertising

"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film

Are musicians replacing copywriters? No. But, sound-only ads are becoming popular in Indian ad-land. The most recent example is Siemens India's #SoundOfWork digital film produced by Thought Process Films.

Sound-only ads seem to have become a favourite in Indian ad-land. Recent examples include ad films by handset brand Xiaomi and car brand Hyundai. And, of course, there's the endearing effort by Siemens India - a digital film called #SoundOfWork that has no dialogues, just a soundtrack that's an amalgamation of sounds generated in Siemens' factories. The video, around 20 seconds shy of three whole minutes, has fetched over 35,660 views in about two weeks. Thought Process Films is the production house.

Memorable international examples of sound-based brand films include the not-so-recent ads by Honda (Cog) and Apple.

"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
Ramya Rajagopalan, head, communications and government affairs, Siemens India, tells afaqs! that it took the team four weeks to put this piece of communication together. "This included 40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, creating scratches and layering the sounds, 50 hours of brainstorming, and another 50 hours of shooting the visual elements, and subsequently stitching the audio and the video together," she says.
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
She adds about the process of capturing a variety of common 'factory sounds', "We used uni-directional microphones to record the individual sounds, and in the process, recorded over 60 different sounds from the factory. We then decided the tempo for the music, which was based on the tempo of the machines - this formed the backbone of our soundtrack. We added a layer of melody on top of the soundtrack, to depict human emotions."

The most challenging part of this process, she admits, was "isolating an individual sound in a factory environment." All the people in the film are members of Siemens' actual work force. "The film has been shot in various Siemens factories across the country. The video was shot in the natural setting of the factories and care was taken to not affect the productivity of the factories. That was a huge challenge," she adds.

Din, din din...

What does this trend say about our brands and their custodians?

"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
Prashanth Challapalli, executive vice-president and digital head, iContract, the digital arm of Contract Advertising, says, "The intention is commendable, but the execution eventually ends up looking like a corporate AV. It starts off great with the sounds of machines, but then digresses to people shots, people working or eating, the canteen... the focus is lost after a really good beginning."

He thinks the film is too long. "It looks like it was inspired from online videos of machines doing repetitive things that are hypnotic to watch," he says, adding, "The challenge with industrial films like these is the photography and flow... when you say it's the 'sound of work', don't get music into the film."

He cites GE's Vine account as a great example of a company that "romances it machines", and an old video by Channel V, made using the sound of vehicles, as a good example of a sound-only film.

"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film

Conceding that the film starts on a great note, K V Sridhar, aka Pops, chief creative officer, SapientNitro, a marketing communications firm, says, "The video is quite boring. It goes on and on without any purpose. The management standing on a staircase and clapping doesn't make me feeling anything. Why should you applaud when people are doing their job? Yes, factory workers are the underdogs of a company, so the intention is noble, but the execution makes it look like a documentary. It won't pass the '15 seconds on YouTube' test."

"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film
"40 hours of recording, 150 hours of composing, 50 hours of shooting": Siemens India on creating the #SoundOfWork digital film

During his Leo Burnett days, Pops created a sounds-only ad for McDonalds that was all about the making of a burger.