New York, NY (March 18, 2004)–HBO recently called upon Wonderland Productions’ editorial, music, sound design and audio post services to help them create the promo, “Watercooler.” Since producer/editor/composer Bill McCullough launched Wonderland in 2001, HBO has called upon him to execute the creative vision of promo campaigns through the post production process for a prestigious line up of shows, including Six Feet Under and Angels In America. “Watercooler” is the most recent HBO project to take advantage of the Soho-based boutique’s collaborative, full-service approach to post production.
Director Noam Murro of LA’s Biscuit Filmworks provided HBO creative services with the idea for “Watercooler.” The footage was then turned over to Wonderland, where McCullough and Joanne Belonsky used their editing skills to craft the spots. McCullough simultaneously scored the promo along with composer John Wiggins (his partner in No Wonder Music). Three distinctive parts in the spots triggered changes of mood in the score. McCullough and Wiggins considered what mood and pacing would best support the footage as they scored the project. As a concept jelled, Wiggins mixed the tracks against McCullough’s rough cuts on Wonderland Sound’s Digidesign Pro Tools Mix 3 system with Focusrite Control 24 surface.
“Our shared storage system was key to a smooth workflow,” said McCullough. “John and I approach each job as a team. The music, pacing and visuals influence each other as each frame of film is married to the score. We can respond quickly as the job evolves and explore different options as the synergy between the cut and the music reveals itself.”
“Composing the track during the edit session is a totally organic process,” added Wiggins. “Bill was a musician long before he was an editor. Editing and music are both driven by rhythm and tempo, so it’s only natural that he’d find a way to fuse the two disciplines.”
HBO producer Rachel Salazar wanted music “that would build to sound heroic, with a sense of accomplishment,” recalled McCullough. “We listened to NFL Films-type cuts and asked ourselves what kind of instruments make a piece of music sound heroic? We had just gotten expansion orchestral boards for our Korg Karma which have very authentic-sounding French horns, snare drums and cymbals.” Wiggins and McCullough used the new Karma cards to craft a score that begins on a sober note, becomes lighter and brighter with the dawn of the water cooler renaissance and gathers steam at the busy factory. “In the ‘dawning’ segment we used some cuts from our custom No Wonder Music library, which was also featured in the Sex & The City farewell tribute,” says Wiggins. “Then we piled it on, including Karma choir sounds, to make the score sound huge for the end.”
Wiggins also was sound designer for the campaign, creating a sound bed that “enriched the feel of everything while remaining very subtle.” He added signature water cooler burbles at the start of the spot and covered visuals with sound effects such as a factory lunch bell, water-bottle caps being hammered on and the workers’ grateful applause for HBO’s contributions to their booming business. It was essential, however, that both the music and sound design “not overpower the dialogue,” says Wiggins. “The jokes about Tony Soprano, Larry David and others had to be clearly heard.”
“There’s a lot of really nice sound design and tonal work going on underneath,” said HBO’s Chris Spencer. “Everyone should be so lucky to work with a Wiggins,” he continued. “What he adds to the tone and texture of a mix, and just as importantly, what he leaves out, is just fantastic.”