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The Power of Sound Design: Using Audio to Save Koalas

When it comes to raising awareness for a cause as crucial as saving Australia's Koala population from extinction, creative approaches can make all the difference. 

Recently, our client, concerned about the devastating effects of deforestation and habitat loss on these iconic animals, embarked on a mission to capture hearts and inspire action through a powerful TV commercial.

To amplify the emotional impact, our team was tasked with the sound design component to help engage, shock, and ultimately, galvanize the audience into taking action.

Click here to see the video.

Setting the Scene with Realism

The heart of any great animation lies not only in its visuals but also in its ability to immerse the audience in a believable world. Our goal was to create a journey that not only enhanced the viewer's emotional connection with the narrative but also brought the very cute 3D-animated Koala to life. 

To do this, we started by recording a voiceover that would provide the emotional core of the narrative, allowing the audience to connect with the hero Koala on a personal level. (He’s a cute little fella!)

Nature's Symphony

One of the key aspects of our approach was to ensure that the sound design felt realistic and authentic, reflecting the natural Australian environment that Koalas inhabit. To achieve this, we drew inspiration from the rich tapestry of Australian wildlife and bushland. Our team used native Australian sounds, that captured the subtle nuances of the ecosystem in which Koalas live.

We also utilised our extensive sound effects libraries, selecting sounds including the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the distant murmur of a river. These elements were seamlessly integrated into the animation, creating an audio experience that transported the viewer to the heart of the Koala's natural habitat.

Building Tension

Great sound design isn't just about creating a pleasant soundscape. It's about using sound to guide the viewer's emotions and reinforce the narrative arc. In this case, we needed to build a sense of connection and empathy with the hero Koala before delivering the shocking blow of his demise.

We used subtle cues in the sound design to slowly draw the viewer in, aligning the soundscape with the Koala's journey. The chirping birds and gentle breeze painted a serene and beautiful picture, inviting the audience into the Koala's world. 

As the story unfolded, we gradually introduced elements of tension, hinting at the impending crisis. This carefully crafted buildup sets the stage for the shocking (and jarring) moment when the viewer comes face to face with the Koala's lifeless form in a museum.

A Call to Action

The power of sound design came to the forefront in the final moments of the animation. As the audience grappled with the harsh reality of a world without wild Koalas, we used the sounds of silence and stillness to amplify the impact. It was in this silence that the call to action resounded with a clear message delivered by the voiceover talent, urging viewers to make a difference and contribute to the cause.

In the end, the soundscape for this video didn't just serve as a backdrop; it became an integral part of the storytelling. It took the viewer on an emotional journey, from love and empathy to shock and a desire to make a change. By amplifying the message through sound, we created a powerful and unforgettable experience that encouraged people to get involved and support the mission to save Australia's Koalas.

In the words of one animator, ‘with animation, what we’re seeing doesn't really exist, but the soundtrack makes us believe that it does.’

Sound design is an often-underappreciated aspect of storytelling in animation, but in the case of this campaign, the audio played a pivotal role in driving awareness and action. By crafting a realistic yet emotionally charged soundscape, we brought a 3D-animated koala to life and brought the urgent need for conservation into sharp focus. 

With a compelling narrative, clever animation and a very cute Koala, the sound design in this spot will hopefully inspire lasting change, ensuring a future where wild Koalas continue to thrive in Australia's forests.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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