VMLY&R and Defence Force Recruiting have collaborated with Squeak E Clean Studios to hide a secret image in sound. ‘The Audio Ad You Can See’ is designed to connect a tech audience to Navy intelligence roles and can be streamed here.
To reveal the message, the audio must be processed in a spectrogram, a tool that analyses frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s used in sound production to repair background noise, crackle, hums and glitches. It’s also used by the Australian Navy to intercept, analyse and identify threats at sea.
Says Paul Le Couteur, head of sound, Squeak E Clean Studios: “This idea really pushed my audio engineering brain to places it hasn’t gone before. Every audio signal produces an image in a spectrogram, but we found a way to reverse that process and produce audio from an image. Essentially, we were painting with sound.”
Creating the hidden image was a unique collaboration between audio production and design. While the audio needed to be crafted for an image, the image needed to be crafted for audio.
First, a designer created a poster. It was then converted into audio signals using an image synthesizer, before the voice and further soundscape elements were added. Extensive use of additive EQ, subtractive EQ, compression and the micro-automation of volume ensured each sound its own sonic space in the frequency spectrum.
Says James Wills, creative director, VMLY&R: “Every element was tweaked with meticulous precision to make sure we struck a balance between clarity of the audio and clarity of the image. We were essentially manipulating the electromagnetic spectrum, which is exactly what some of the Navy’s intelligence personnel do every day.”
Defence Force Recruiting
Brand Portfolio Manager – Navy: Anjali Bakaya
Senior Marketing Officer – Liam Walford
VMLY&R Australia and New Zealand
Chief Creative Officer: Paul Nagy
Group Executive Creative Director: Jake Barrow
Creative Director: James Wills
Creative Director: Robyn Bergmann
Designer: Simon Gray
Producer: Fiona Norman Producer: Annie Thiele
Editor: Leigh Cooke
Account Director: Meaghan de Laurier
Account Manager: Madeleine Moorhead
Account Executive: Jess Osrin
Squeak E Clean
Head of Sound: Paul Le Couteur
Executive Producer: Ceri Davies