Fonic, those esteemed experts of sound have once again demonstrated their skill by creating a wonderful mix for the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) captivating new animation. Led by Mike Toms, the trust’s head of communications, a small team developed an engaging storyboard outlining the organisations future strategy.
The trust then turned to animator Will Rose, who had recently worked with them on a cover for their book entitled “Into the Red” to design and direct the film. A keen ornithologist himself they knew he would be the perfect choice.
Will states of the animation “Mike Toms at the BTO gave me a list of bird species and habitats that they would like to be used that highlighted their work. I wanted to focus attention on the birds, as most of them are threatened or in decline. Therefore I thought it would be fun for children and adults to spot all the different birds that pop up throughout the animation. Of course I had to ensure they displayed the correct plumage and colouring. I also had some fun with the bird hide scene I made all the heads pop up one by one in a quirky way when the family enters the hide, which I’m sure was influenced by me having worked on children’s shows such as Peppa Pig and Hey Duggee. Other scenes had to be very accurate in particular the way the birds are held while the rings are being fitted. ”
Featuring over twenty different bird species the video beautifully marries the birds to their song. The songs, captured by Geoff Sample in the field, flit in and out of the soundtrack creating the auditory realism of a country walk. The voice of the BTO’s own officer Jenny Donelan clearly presents the trust’s future plans.
All the sound elements were delivered to Fonic’s London based studio, where Rory Hunter working with Christopher Swaine weaved his magic to find the right balance for the perfect mix.
Rory Notes, “Will’s animation was full of colour and joy and captured the positive aspects of the BTO’s future strategy. We therefore proposed a score that reflected that feeling. Acting as a bed for the mix the chosen score, subtle yet powerful, supported the concerns as well as the solutions outlined in BTO’s message. The main aspect throughout the film was marrying the birdsongs to the bird. Will a keen birder had made sure that each bird was identifiable and our task therefore was to ensure each had the correct song. Thankfully, with Wills detailed crib sheet and help from the experts at the BTO we made no mistakes and I’m now capable of identifying the sound of a blackbird from a lapwing. We also had to ensure Jenny’s narration took centre stage and her content was not distracted by other elements in the mix. As Jenny had never done voiceover work before we worked with her to bring out her natural voice. She took to it like a duck to water, if you will excuse the pun. It was great to work with the team at BTO and Will and on something that has such a positive message.”
Fonic was particularly impressed with the clarity of the birdsongs captured by Geoff Sample. “At Fonic we have a lot of experience of capturing sounds in the field. With the problems of the wind and other sounds in the environment it is sometimes very hard to localise a particular element. Geoff’s audio tracks were incredible and speak of a lifetime of specialising in capturing bird songs.”
Mike Tom’s at the BTO was delighted with Fonic’s work noting that “Fonic came highly recommended and they were brilliant throughout. The support that they gave to our voice-over artist was fantastic and the quality of the soundscape is testament to Fonic’s production values and expertise. We were bowled over with the result.” A sentiment echoed by Will who simply stated “Fonic are always great fun to work with”.
The completed animation, which can be viewed on BTO YouTube channel is a joy to watch and shows how sound and narration can align perfectly with beautifully animated sequences and transitions.
Animation : Will Rose
Audio production: Fonic
Narration: Jenny Donelan
Sound editing & Mix: Rory Hunter & Chris Swaine
Bird Sounds: Geoff Sample
Director: Mike Toms