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Machine Creates the Sounds of 'The Next Normal' for Unesco

Sound Design and Music Company machine talks through the process of creating the captivating soundscape for Unesco's latest campaign

Machine Creates the Sounds of 'The Next Normal' for Unesco

As the world starts to emerge from a global pandemic, there is a temptation to return to our former lives and forget all that’s happened, in other words; go back to normal. DDB’s latest film for UNESCO was made to encourage action and mobilise people all over the world to ask the question - what is normal and what should the world of tomorrow look like?

When DDB Paris pitched the film to Machine, it was thrilled to hear the concept revolved around a carefully designed soundscape. The story would be told by numerous voices from real-life interview scenarios including investigative journalists, vox-pops, in-hospital interviews, close-mic confessions, and narrative reflections of past events.

The challenge the team faced was to effectively and quickly record more than forty voices during a nationwide lockdown. It was going to be a challenge, as access to its studios and a professional sound booth was not an option at the time. So they rolled up their sleeves and got to thinking. Machine started at the beginning - the script.

Creatives Mickaël Jacquemin and Benoît Oulhen had already done the ground-work, providing an edit in which titles stated the message. Machine researched official sources and news outlets to script extra material around the information on screen. The team needed additional dialogue to avoid repeating the on-screen captions and enough material to artfully fade in and out of the various soundbites. Once they had scripted all the voices, their assigned characters to each voice so the actors had an idea of the tone and setting, to provide diversity and a more believable delivery. 

With the help of Kate Davie at United Agents in London and their roster of talented professionals, Machine had a lot of our bases covered. They knew that they wanted there to be a selection of recording techniques and qualities, so to broaden its pool of voices it reached out to our global team of 'rent-a-voices’ (friends, family and colleagues) and their iPhones, home studios and recording devices. 

Over the course of a week, Machine sourced over 40 voices from six different countries and seven different languages. The team then made selections to ensure that there was a balance of mediums and performers and that they were coherent for the narrative of the film. This was all done remotely from our sound designers WFH studio set-ups via zoom and a lot of instant messaging. An initial edit was completed within a couple of days with only minor tweaks once the WIP mix was presented with sound design and music.  

When Machine had an edit of the voices it liked it treated and effected them to feel authentic and work stylistically within the soundscape. The voices needed to intertwine and float in and out like memories, the overlapping having a cumulative effect, sometimes cacophonous, but clear enough to let you catch the facts. This was supported with sound effects, some giving clues to each scene’s backstory, some tonal melding with the massive pulsing dreamy score, very kindly donated by the great Clint Mansell! 

The end result speaks volumes of how the collaboration of so many people really made a difference for this film. A great example of what happens when people pool together their crafts and talents.

Featured Companies: Machine New York

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Advertiser: UNESCO

Advertiser Supervisors: Matthieu Guevel, Julien RAVALAIS-CASANOVA, Mehdi Benchelah


Agency: DDB Paris


Executive Creative Director: Alexander Kalchev

Art Director: Mickaël Jacquemin

Copywriter: Benoît Oulhen

Agency Supervisors: Vincent Leorat, Mathieu Bliguet, Olivier Guillerot

Strategic Planner: Cédric LEDOUX x


Production: DDB PARIS

Producer: Quentin Moenne-Loccoz

Music and sound

Music: «Faith, Hope, Fear & Falling in Love» by Clint Mansell

Music Supervisor: Charles-Henri de Pierrefeu @ Universal & Andrew Kahn and Erik Sutch @ Good Ear

Sound: Machine London

Sound Design: Alex Bingham, Patch Rowland

Sound Producer: Matej Oreskovic

Press Relation Director: Anne-Marie Gibert