Sound Q&A: Welcome to the Fun Factory

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The application of human emotion gives a certain warmth to inanimate objects, as exemplified by the giddy sounds of the Skoda assembly line as seen in "Giggle," a spot for a car called the Roomster. Sound engineer Parv Thind at London's Wave Studio explains how the machines found their voice.

How was this experience different from a typical project?
Parv Thind: I got involved at an early stage, when it was just an idea on paper. We went down to the Skoda factory in the Czech Republic to have a look at the machines and start thinking about the sort of sounds we could put to them. I took a DV camera along and some sound recording equipment and filmed some of the machines, then used some of that footage and experimented with sounds. How did you narrow down the factory process and select specific motions to fit your needs?
It was very useful to see the factory beforehand. In theory, you wouldn't think matching human sounds with these machines would work. We thought as long as we could get the movement of the human sounds to fit the machine, it could work.

Did you record specific sounds for particular visuals?
No, we didn't record any of the sounds to the visuals. We spent days and days recording people and we wouldn't tell them what it was for. We used extras and other people passing through the studio. It was around Christmas, so people were passing through; someone brought a baby in, and a group of school kids came by. So we'd get them to give us some sounds until we had a bank of options. Then we'd watch the visuals and find sounds that could match up, rather than make something to fit the film.

Why not record to the film?
It was to keep the sounds as natural as possible so it didn't sound forced. For example, we had two days of recording all extras, and it was a wide range of people, from a young black person to an old Chinese person to a 70-year-old smoker, doing all kinds of sounds. We'd get them in the studio and tell them to sit there for 10 minutes and do whatever they like while we record. And they thought that was quite strange. If we told them to laugh, they'd laugh, but it would sound fake. But after they'd done the fake laugh, they'd start to feel silly and it would make them laugh for real, and we'd be recording the entire time. So the best sounds were what happened in those accidental moments.

What was an example of one of those candid moments you used?
We had some little kids in who were passing through while Christmas shopping with their parents. But when we put them in the studio one at a time, they weren't sure what to do and would be a bit shy and embarrassed. But once we put them in there together they came to life, laughing and giggling, and that's when we'd get some good stuff.

Which sound was your favorite?
One is the one that happens behind the big yellow door, with the machine that moves to a sort of "Heeey! Whoaaa!" sweeping sound. I like it because it gives some perspective to the machine's movement. I also like the laughing drill at the end.
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