Oblique Sound

My nephew Milo getting groovy with Nokia ringtones (by henry daw)

We can run all the ringtone user testing we want here within our team, but ultimately you feel there is always a certain unnaturalness in asking people to rate our ringtones straight-up.  Ringtones should ideally be tested in context, i.e., someone would use the ringtone over a period of time, and then discuss their experiences, good or bad.  Looking at it from another perspective however, people ultimately select a ringtone within a matter of seconds, scrolling through the selection until something fits within their criteria upon previewing the first couple of seconds, whether it be ‘discreetness’, ‘character’, ‘traditional ring ring’, ‘cool”, or ‘fun and playful’.  So, asking people to go through the tonelist and rate the ringtones there and then, is perhaps not so out of context.

Maybe the unnaturalness comes more from the testing environment - people are very aware that it’s a testing environment, and they realise that you (the tester) are looking for useful insights, prompting reactions that are not wholly genuine.  

Handing over a phone to a 19-month year-old little boy, and getting them to play through the tonelist, however, most certainly produces a 100% genuine reaction, and judging by this video of my nephew going through some of our latest ringtones, I’d say our ringtones are most definitely endorsed:-) 

I’d urge everyone to check out this short video I took of him recently.  It really will brighten up your day:-) 

It’s good to be home.

BOOM! 

A good week.  Q4 Results not so bad.  Made it to the final shortlist for the Audio Branding Award (http://audio-branding-academy.org/aba/congress/audio-branding-award-2012/finalists-audio-branding-award-2012/)

See you in Oxford on 11th December.  Meanwhile, here’s more of Oblique Sound for your listening. Boom!  A track I composed in light of recent events.

The concept and awareness of Audio Branding is certainly on the rise with an increasing number of companies beginning to seriously take note of how music and sound can significantly enhance their brand.  There is clearly still a very long way to go, which makes this period of time very exciting for sound designers and audio branding specialists alike.  

Nokia can certainly put themselves out there and claim to be one of the companies at the very forefront in this trend – focusing more and more on their audio identity (backed up of course by the most famous audio logo in the world) whilst constantly trying to take audio branding to the next level, beyond the common first steps in establishing an audio brand (audio logo, brand music, brand voice, etc).

Nokia is a regular attendee of the annual Audio Branding congress, hosted by the Audio Branding Academy.  This year it will be held at Oxford University in the UK, on December 11th, and to further commit to the cause Nokia Sound Team will be submitting a case study forward to the Audio Branding Award 2012.  ’Branded Globally – Relevant Locally' will provide an insight into Nokia's approach to localising content for over 10 years, culminating in the recent Crowdsourcing contest, 'Regional Ringtones, Designed By You'.  

Please check out the case study presentation from here.
http://audio-branding-academy.org/aba/congress/audio-branding-award-2012/case-submissions/nokia/
The concept and awareness of Audio Branding is certainly on the rise with an increasing number of companies beginning to seriously take note of how music and sound can significantly enhance their brand.  There is clearly still a very long way to go, which makes this period of time very exciting for sound designers and audio branding specialists alike.  

Nokia can certainly put themselves out there and claim to be one of the companies at the very forefront in this trend – focusing more and more on their audio identity (backed up of course by the most famous audio logo in the world) whilst constantly trying to take audio branding to the next level, beyond the common first steps in establishing an audio brand (audio logo, brand music, brand voice, etc).

Nokia is a regular attendee of the annual Audio Branding congress, hosted by the Audio Branding Academy.  This year it will be held at Oxford University in the UK, on December 11th, and to further commit to the cause Nokia Sound Team will be submitting a case study forward to the Audio Branding Award 2012.  ’Branded Globally – Relevant Locally' will provide an insight into Nokia's approach to localising content for over 10 years, culminating in the recent Crowdsourcing contest, 'Regional Ringtones, Designed By You'.  

Please check out the case study presentation from here.
http://audio-branding-academy.org/aba/congress/audio-branding-award-2012/case-submissions/nokia/

This awesome film was created by my colleagues Lee Irvine and Lianne Christie. Based on the theme magnetism, they produced a time-lapsed capture of various materials and how they interact with each other.  The visuals are incredible, but after watching the (silent) film as it was exhibited within the Nokia Design premises, I couldn’t help but long for some audio accompaniment to the stunning visuals.  I felt inspired, and that’s when I approached Lee and offered to create a soundtrack.  Now here for you to enjoy. A very ambient-like soundscape, subtly reflecting the motions captured within the film.

More information behind Lee and Lianne’s creation can be found from here.

http://schpleep.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/materials-in-motion.html

The war is raging on.  Time to rise from the trenches.  Al ponto!

No doubt, these are tough and uncertain times for my company, a company I have been with for close to 10 years.It’s almost surreal that the company I joined at the top of it’s game, and monumentally on top of the mobile world, can sink to such a place.  No alternative but to face the reality head on, wade through the shit, and hope to get to the other side, a better, brighter side, where the heart still beats and the cash comes in. 

Introducing Turbulenssi; a short musical montage I recently composed, to reflect my own feelings towards this situation — dark undertones, full of immense textures and harmonics, propped up by a soothing beat (before fading away into oblivion). Yep, it’s been a tough week!  Headphones are essential.    

Regional RIngtones, Designed By You - The Winners!

Just over 4 weeks ago we invited everyone to participate in creating ringtones - ringtones that embrace the heart and soul of the music where you live, helping us celebrate and spread the exciting diversity of the world’s music.

Through the audio crowdsourcing platform run by AudioDraft, there was a fantastic response to the five contests, with a total of 1,500 entries spread over the China, India, Middle East & Africa, South East Asia & Pacific, and Latin America contests.  Prizes on offer included a cash reward of USD 1,500 for each winning entry and a chance to get your ringtone into a Nokia handset for the 2013 portfolio in the regions they were created for.  According to Henry Daw, Principal Sound Designer from Nokia, there will be a very “high quality, vibrant, and colourful selection of regional ringtones coming to our Nokia handsets very soon”.  He goes on to add:  “All five contests were very satisfying to run, with high levels of engagement and a great collective spirit throughout the AudioDraft crowdsourcing community.”

All contest winners were clearly delighted to receive the notification from Nokia.  PhRey (Phil) from France won forhis entry in the South East Asia & Pacific contest.  He went on to say:  “This contest was one of the most exciting and one of the most difficult in which I participated, and thank you Nokia for this great adventure.” 

Ikwano from Nigeria was rewarded for his entry in the Middle East & Africa contest. Ikwano explained why he decided to enter the contest: “There are millions of Nokia brand loyalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and I saw an opportunity to give them what I felt they would typically love to hear as an African ringtone.”  

The contests also provided a platform for composers to express their passion for local music that is most relevant for them.  Tony_Gomez won for his entry, based on the classic cumbia of Colombia.  Tony goes on to say: “I wanted to take part because I love the Latin American music!”

Other winners were grateful for the valuable learnings taken from the contests, in which regular feedback was given to each participant’s entries.  Lubiomatic (Antonio), who had a winning entry in the China contest, told us: “I am working in order to improve my abilities as a composer and sound engineer, confronting myself with musicians of all levels and from all over the world was certainly stimulating.”  Ram Sankar who won for his entry in the India contest also said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with my entry… I want to really credit Nokia for giving me specific feedback for improving the piece every time.”

All 25 winning entries will come to our handsets in 2013 for the regions they were designed for, but Henry also plans to make the ringtones available for all to enjoy.  It’s as Henry says, which nicely sums up the spirit of the contest: “It doesn’t matter where you are from, we all really do speak the same language of music.”

In the meantime, all 25 winning entries can be listened and enjoyed via the AudioDraft contest websites: China,IndiaMEASEAP and Latin America

Nokia congratulates all those who participated in making these contests such a success.

For the next step in my collaboration with Angeline Moura, we wanted to introduce animation and enhance the visual experience, all of which would of course be supported by my sound.  Lee Irvine is working as a Visualization Specialist, also at Nokia, and with his mastery we would produce a short video around the latest theme from xfxthemag; ‘E-Motions in Motion’.

The video concept was led by Lee and Angeline, with my music supporting their vision.  Once I delivered the soundtrack Lee would sync visual effects to several key points in the music, enhancing the effect of our combined art.

The link to the xfxthemag article can be found from here.http://xfxthemag.com/2011/10/e-motions-in-motion-2/

Sound and image.  Your ears and your eyes.  Two domains/senses, which, when combined together can produce vastly rich experiences, substantially more than can be achieved if you just use one without the other.  I have often worked in the past with image, although this has more often been a case of adding a layer of sound to the visual.  An after-thought to what you see rather than an integral part of the process or expression. 

I am very keen to further explore the relationship between sound and visuals.  One should not be done after the other, but it should be a truly collaborative process.  I have recently been working closely with Angeline Moura, who works as a Colour and Materials designer for Nokia.  She has also been working for an online magazine, xfxthemag, creating images and text for monthly themes and subjects.  We decided that her images also needed a voice, an extension to the expression perceived simply by showing an image.

As a starting point to our collaboration, I created a short extract of music alongside her latest image, “Dream Experience”.  I would combine the gentle voice of Angeline with various manipulating effects and sounds.  Subtle shades of light, both natural and superficial, fused with an underlying tension.  We hope to develop our collaboration a lot further in the future, working more closely together and introducing animation to our work.


The link to the xfxthemag article can be found from here.
http://xfxthemag.com/2011/09/duo-designers-dream-experience/