Sky 3D DNA

When Sky Creative told us about the new series of Sky 3D Channel idents they were making to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of Sky 3D channel and offered us free rein to create the soundtrack, we were really excited to get involved. Director Jon Yeo talked about the real life stereoscopic action shoot they would opt for in preference to creating all the effects digitally, using vibrant, colourful powders subjected to various physical stressors and shot in midair action, to showcase in the finest and most beautifully rendered detail the enhanced spatial depth and movement, and vivid, tangible and immersive experience of 3DTV – expressing, in effect Sky 3D’s “DNA”.

When we attended the actual shoot and observed the process right from all the logistical challenges of creating the original visuals through to the rough cuts of the onscreen rendering, we began to understand that much like the visual piece, the sound would need to evolve organically, underpinning, wrapping round and swelling out of the journey we see the DNA particles take onscreen, like an explosion into being of a newborn galaxy of sound, music and colour.

We immediately thought of small sound particles twinkling and sparkling, akin to the “music of the spheres” starting with the tiniest elements to sonically express the DNA particles, and building and layering our soundtrack from there. Glass was to play a major part in the creation of this piece – as we decided in the end to use it to express both the microscopic and the more expansive elements in the sound design. We designed and constructed an eight foot wind chime from wood and high spec scientific glass which we had cut to exact measurements to produce the timbres we needed for the project. Then we obtained a variety of instrumental beaters to experiment with the sound colours we could make from the chimes, and had fun playing until we found the right tonal hits to layer into the piece. Additionally, we brought in specially selected scientific glass offcuts and purchased glass beads to record and manipulate with the software we’ve written inhouse for exactly that purpose, to be sonically sprinkled throughout the piece, dancing and shimmering across the soundscape.

When it came to creating the original score we chose to start with a simple yet uplifting piano melody line, to emotionally connect the viewer to the 3D universe and draw them into the unfolding vision. After that we began to layer in vocals, then strings, then more vocals and even more strings over a couple of recording sessions to build up to a “waterfall of sound” feeling. Originally we experimented with a kora harp to bring angelic elements to the work, however given the majesty of the piece we decided nothing less than a full sized harp recorded live would do justice, and so another recording session later, we had all the elements in hand to bring to life the sonic vision which had been evolving. After some finely judged crafting in mix and production, our sonic vision for “Sky 3D DNA” takes flight …

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