Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Ben Callner Made His Super Bowl Commercial

Tunewelders Ben Holst and Jeremy Gilbertson.

Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" winner Ben Callner's "Goat 4 Sale" commercial began with an idea about a ravenous Doritos-eating goat. Culminating the narrative he envisioned relied heavily on sound to sell the authenticity, dramatic tension and humor at play in his 30-second spot. He tapped longtime collaborators Tunewelder Music Group of Atlanta to make it work. Led by Music & Audio Post Supervisor Ben Holst, Tunewelders worked closely with Callner to hone the spot through sound design & editing, foley, voice-over, mixing and mastering.

To view "Goat 4 Sale," please visit:

"Ben Holst and Tunewelders put the project first," Callner said. "Other than being just really down-to-earth, excellent people, they go above and beyond to make sure that you're not only happy, but that everyone – including them – is proud of the final product. In something like the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest, I wouldn't think of going anywhere else. I know they're going to make whatever I give them, in whatever condition, sound absolutely fantastic."

"Ben has a way of theatrically pushing the envelope and making the absurd believable and not too cartoony," added Holst, who has collaborated with Callner on numerous film, commercial and interactive projects since the two first met on set during a film production in Atlanta in 2007. "A big part of that comes from his care for detail across the production, and with his deep musical background, that certainly extends to sound and creative where he's very hands-on. Even inside all the tedious work of syncing goat crunches, which fly by you in a matter of milliseconds, there's always an element of fun and general silliness working with him."

Capturing sounds unique to Callner's story required more than the SFX package and pre-cleared music that Doritos made available to all of its contestants. Greg Linton, location sound, provided a library of real goat crunches recorded on site. The tedious process of syncing the crunch sounds with the goat's chewing gestures needed to demonstrate both believability and comedic timing.

For the comedic payoff when the goat screams from apparent Doritos withdrawal, the challenge was finding the best voiceover performance for the scream, and then realistically syncing it. The solution involved Callner's childhood friend Keith Bahun and an iPhone.

"Goats actually have a distinct scream, so mimicking it with the human mouth was tough to cheat," Holst recalls. "We explored it all the way to the final delivery because it was so crucial to the punchline. A bunch of us had recorded some takes, but Ben still wasn't sold. Keith was known for this great scream, but he was all the way in Savannah, Ga. I said, 'iPhones make great recordings, just have him do a lot of takes and make sure he stands far enough away from the phone so it's similar in distance to the goat in the shot.' We managed to pull it off last-minute and it came out perfect."

Holst and Callner went beyond the obvious visual cues using Doritos' trademark mixed bag of crunch samples. For example, to intensify the goat owner's growing insanity as his pet incessantly snacks into the wee-hours, their sound design incorporated building several layers of different crunch sounds to embellish the moment.

For the final scene depicting the goat ominously hoofing it towards the owner in hiding, the team also enlisted foley work using the same prop hooves shot in the scene.

For Tunewelders, the project offered the opportunity to showcase what they have quietly been doing since launching four years ago: developing long-term relationships with national brands, production companies and agencies, and translating their ideas through sound and music.

"We love working with Ben," concludes Tunewelders Partner Jeremy Gilbertson. "When he has an idea, we generally don't say no because we believe in his talent and the longevity of his career. I'm sure everyone in our community who contributed their support and resources share the same belief, and we're honored to be among all the exceptional local talent who rallied behind him to help make the spot such a huge success. Great things are happening here in the music, film and entertainment sectors, so we're proud to represent Georgia and the City of Atlanta on the national stage."

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