Portland creatives Official Mfg. Co. (OMFGCO) took on branding and consultation for Asakusa, Tokyo based Wired Hotel. We joined forces with them to create "Beyond Tokyo," a promotional mini-documentary telling the story of the cultural history of Asakusa as a blue-collar artisan area and pleasure district and its tie-in with the curated aesthetic of Wired Hotel. Our shared goal was to create something that was at once artistic and informational, communicating Wired Hotel’s cultural rootedness and respect for sense of place. We took on Custom Music Composition, Voice Over and Foley Post-Production and Mastering for the project.
The music brief was broad. Ideas were thrown out referencing shamisen music native to Asakusa, Wabi-Sabi aesthetic, drone instruments, 70’s American Primitive Folk, and a contemporary upbeat track with fuzz guitar and electronic elements. The narrative arc takes the viewer from a mysterious, ethereal intro description of tourism in Japan, to a melancholy yet prideful description of the Asakusa neighborhood’s artisanal history. An optimistic bio montage of modern craftspeople introduces the idea of a burgeoning rebirth of the district and an informational interview section with OMFGCO founders follows describing their contribution to the project. The triumphant assertion of the values of Wired Hotel concludes.
Success is in the details. We researched shamisen music particular to Asakusa and used the traditional Japanese “In” pentatonic scale throughout the piece. A custom designed fuzz pedal based on a vintage Japanese circuit made in-house by Tim Hochstedler of Synapse Audio was used for the melody leads. Subtle bell and keyboard pad cues add a modern feel and interest without distracting. Every section is a development or restatement of the main theme, ultimately building towards the climax of OMFGCO's message of "taking it over the top" and the narrator's final message about introducing viewers to Japan. All composition was completed and recorded in three days.
In the spirit of "going beyond," we provided the technical post-production needed to take the audio quality to the next level: de-noising and de-spacing problematic VO recordings done with on-camera mics in reverberant spaces, compressing and EQ'ing all elements and sub-mixing to add unity. Foley was treated with the correct fades and compression/ EQ to maintain vividness but not disrupt VO narration. The final mix was mastered for optimal loudness and impact.
The final product is a testament to the strengths of Helio Sound: our approach to projects with equally fine tuned creative and technical acumen, our close attention to storytelling through carefully crafted audio that remains sensitive to emotional and narrative cues, our quick intuitive communication, steadfastness in seeing a project through from a rough sketch to a finished product and overarching goal to satisfy and elevate our client's vision.