Ident and TV composer team Brains & Hunch explain the process of rebranding a channel’s ident music. Scroll down to read.
What Was The Job?
Tom: The brief was to write and produce a new music/sound identity for Sony Pictures Television’s children’s strand Tiny Pop. “A channel ident refresh” in TV-speak.
Specifically, Tiny Pop wanted a catchy 10-second tune (mnemonic) – a Tiny Pop theme if you like – and lots of derivates emanating from it.
The new music and sound design would then be used on brand new channels idents and ‘now and next’ place holders every day across Tiny Pop from September 1st.
The Result In a Nutshell?
Chris: From what started with a kick-off meeting with the creative team from Tiny Pop and Blue Zoo, the company which directed and animated the new ident package (led by awesome Blue Zoo director Joe Kinch!), we delivered:-
- A main 10-second tune (ident);
- 9 versions / arrangements of the main ident;
- Each version came with 8 cut-downs, ranging from 10 seconds down to 2 seconds;
- Over 70 pieces of music in all!
Each of the 9 versions has a different feel, and musical treatment arrangement of the new main Tiny Pop theme.
How Did The Project Start?
Tom: Day 1:
Me, Chris, Tiny Pop and Blue Zoo were in a room at Sony Pictures TV in Soho sat around a rather large table to discuss music.
We started talking about properties that the music should have – and as importantly things to steer clear of!
A list of words was compiled… cheeky, uplifting, exciting, simple, positive, memorable etc… and then a list of words that the music should not be… not too digital, too busy, cheesy or overtly childish.
One of the main things that was talked about was the need to take the channel seriously, and not just think of Tiny Pop as a ‘kids’ channel.
I’m a great believer in treating character-led, quirky briefs with great respect. Invest in it as you would a serious string quartet. If you don’t take fun really seriously, the listener can tell in an instant!
Chris: By the end of the meeting we had agreed some buzz words. A good start, but when making music and sound the best thing to do is get back into our studio and play around with some ideas, play it to the team and then the conversation can really begin…
So that’s what we did.
Day 2 onwards
Tom: At this early point in the process, there wasn’t really an animated sequence to work to, apart from a short test of one of the new ‘Tiny Pop characters’ with a top hat on jumping up and down (and some pictures which were useful). So I started writing music inspired by this little Tiny Pop chap.
After a couple of days I’d written four sketches, each a different direction musically.
Chris: It was our turn to invite the various creatives to our crib for a listen to our ideas over an iced tea (we’re based just off Old Street).
This was a useful exercise: there were a few things everyone agreed on including favouring tracks with moving – rather than static – harmony and short percussive noises that seemed to work very well with the movement and shape of the Tiny Pop characters and universe.
Did the final track come from these first sketches?
Tom: No, far from it!
We worked on 9 tracks no less before a final direction was decided on (we knew from our work on other channel idents that it takes time before a ‘sound’ is found and liked by all). Exploring ideas is a really important part of the process with work like this.
Quite a lot of elements and ideas were shared between the various tracks which helped us find the right sound in the end. But there were quite a few rounds of demos before we got somewhere everyone was happy with.
How did sound design play its part?
Chris: The sound design element of the idents grew organically out of the music. So once the direction had been settled on, cutting the sound design to the picture was fun.
What specifically were the other versions of the music which you produced?
Chris: Once the main 10 second ident was settled on, we then started to make the other versions to the various animations, everything from a ‘Wakey Wakey’ super energised version to a calming ‘sleepy time’ version.
What instruments did you use?
Tom: We wrote the main track around a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments, some analogue synths and some live percussion, guitars, tuned percussion, harps and a few notes of trumpet here and there. The synths and electric percussion are all original sounds, modular and synthi A.
The music actually turned out to be more ‘electric’ than originally envisaged, although the elements or real instrumental recordings in them help to keep the grounded and real sounding.
How long did the whole job take – and are jobs like this satisfying to do?
Tom: Good question, two and a half months from start to end, and probably 30 days’ actual studio time.
Each track (including all the demos) probably took between 1 and 3 days. Then the remixes / arrangements probably took 2 days each. Then all the versions and cut-downs take a day per track.
Satisfying? Without any doubt it’s worth the hard graft – you can see the finished product above.