This week, Bob Farnsworth, founder and CEO of Nashville’s Hummingbird Productions, will visit five Chicago agencies to demonstrate how they can use “Fusic,” a collaborative production process he’s been consciously and subconsciously developing since he got into the music business in 1978.
With “Fusic,” Hummingbird, which now produces commercials in addition to full service audio, works closely with directors to integrate sound in film before production moves beyond script and storyboard.
Or, as Farnsworth likes to say: “the fusion of film and music.”
“The technology is now here for the director and the sound people to work as a team in the same way that an art director and a copywriter do.”
The presentations, scheduled at Y&R, Tris3ct, Cavalry, Eicoff and Commonground from Dec. 10 to 11, will be a condensed version of “Hearing is Believing,” a TEDx talk that Farnsworth originally presented in May.
Packed with humorous examples demonstrating how different soundtracks affect the same visuals, it features live performances on electric piano by Farnsworth himself and reinforces the importance of “infusing music from the beginning of production.”
Although Farnsworth admits that, “it’s not like this has never been done before,” he’s quick to add, “some people just don’t go through the process.”
“Over a period of time, I realized that certain directors were taking a very serious approach to sound as they developed films,” he says.
Hummingbird regularly collaborates with a handful of the ones who have proven such dedication — including Grant Baird, Jeffrey Berry, David Kiern, Michael Ivey, Casey Cornett, and Garrett Nantz. Collectively, their work encompasses everything from feature length documentaries to IMAX shorts and dozens of commercials for top brands.
The first project completed using the Fusic process is a new promotional video for Dolby Atmos.
Directed by Nantz, the two-minute piece begins by stating that “cinematic audio” has traditionally been “merely a fraction of what it’s potential could be,” before combining a universe of audiovisual effects to create what Dolby calls “extraordinary sound.”
Adding to a body of work that includes sound design for the legendary Budweiser Frogs campaign, a jingle for the Cabbage Patch kids TV show and plans to produce the scheduled sequel to “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the Dolby piece supports Farnsworth’s claim that “the list of stuff that we have not done is much shorter than the list of what we have done.”
But when it comes to naming his favorites, Farnsworth goes back to the classics.
“A great example of audio in a film is the shower scene in ‘Psycho,’” he says.
“Simple sounds: her getting into the shower, hearing the water turn on. When the guy rips that shower curtain open… the violins… it’s just terrifying.”
After a brief pause, he adds, “If you take the soundtrack out and put fun music to it, you almost laugh.”