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The Woolmark Company

Huddersfield, UK

World renowned textile and fashion brand The Woolmark Company commission a seamless integration of 3D and live action to provide a compelling insight into the wool production process. Directed and produced by London boutique creative agency Neon, the short film takes us from farm to fashion and back again as we follow a lone wool staple on it’s perilous quest to rejoin it’s roots. The wool staple encounters all manner of obstacles and in doing so reflects the staged industrial processes involved in modern wool production.

Our involvement began from the outset and this presented the opportunity to attend a scouting trip to some of Huddersfield’s local wool processing plants. Our intention was to gain a feel for the overall operation and where possible record on-site ambience and machinery. As an active industrial setting we went with our expectations fully in check, anticipating substantial noise pollution and limitations. However we found that by close miking some of the more mechanically complicated machinery with shotgun microphones we were able to capture largely successful recordings as the direct sound was loud enough to mask the surrounding ambient noise. As it happened other recordings of the general factory atmosphere proved useful in that the resounding tone harmonised with the opening stages of the musical score. This helped to establish both the mood and setting with naturally occurring audio.

Feedback conveyed a desire for the personality and character of the wool staple to be reinforced with audio. Initial tests saw the movements of the wool as the subject of the sound design, the goal being to implement a recognisable sound for the wool as it travelled through the air. Further discussions found fluttering air too subtle an approach and an identifiable character voice was preferred. The challenge here was to create a voice that did not ‘cheapen’ the cinematic aspect of the film yet match the personality of the wool staple. After some experimentation we settled on a combination of the beating of hummingbird wings for movement and the twittering of bats for vocal elements. By carefully editing the nature of this audio we were able to reflect the character of the wool in certain situations.

The musical score was a narrative led affair and assisted each situation by depicting beauty, raising tension or augmenting action. Alongside this structure we looked to mirror the cyclical nature of the film with a running musical theme that grows and develops throughout and ultimately returns to it’s simplistic piano foundation in the closing stages. The instrumentation was largely maintained as acoustic and orchestral to conform with the organic and traditional subject matter.

The final piece, amongst other events and websites, was featured at the 2014 Campaign for Wool conferences, Premiere Vision in Paris and Woolmark’s own social media. Further insight into Neon’s approach can be found on their Vimeo page

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