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Music/Sound Design Highlight Two Sides of NFL Star Terrell Owens' Personality
NFL star receiver Terrell Owens has two sides: good-natured, happy-go-lucky Terrell and the cocky, brash superstar who prefers to go simply by his initials T.O. Both personalities are on view in VH1's new reality series The T.O. Show, and thanks to Explosion Robinson, the custom music and sound design shop founded by Stephen Hermann, you hear them equally well in the show's open.
The series chronicles Owens' public and private life, and the obstacles he encounters as he attempts to reconcile his two sides and find success in both arenas. Explosion Robinson embraced this dualistic concept and created a seamless blend of music and sound design as considered and powerful as the athlete himself. Crafted by composer/engineer Eddie Cooper, the composition and sound design cue one another and synchronize to develop a narrative that parallels the visuals and script. "The sound design is complementary to the music cues -- both build to tell the story," says Hermann. Though these elements are strictly tied to picture, the piece still sounds authentic as a stand-alone hip-hop track.
The show opens with the dramatic sound of stadium applause as Owens introduces himself. From there we see Terrell playing chess against himself, as a bell echoes and strings begin to swell. Sweeping camera moves reveal the dichotomy between ëTerrell' and ëT.O.' and are punctuated by a deliberate beat and a collage of sound design. Each visual -- the scrape of a chess piece, the frenzied snapping of paparazzi cameras, T.O.'s fists pounding in frustration -- are all synchronized with musical elements, merging with the downbeat or a stroke of a violin.
"Our goal for the sound design was to cue the visual shifts and transitions between Owens' two sides," Cooper says. "The client really wanted the audio to tell the story as much as the visuals do, which opened the door to a lot of creative musical ideas."
In addition to the series open, VH1 also requested a separate original track for the show's promo campaign. While the visuals remain near identical to those of the open, this second track is a real departure from the first. Although still scored to picture, the new music is less dramatic and more uplifting and captures Owens' aspiration and focus. "It's interesting how much music can affect video," says Hermann, "The visuals and script were almost exactly the same, but they feel so different from one another because of the music."
About Explosion Robinson
Take his obsession with music, add an intuitive grasp of sound and picture combined, and you begin to see what makes Stephen Hermann and his custom music, sound design and audio post house Explosion Robinson so successful. Clients as diverse as MTV, Spike, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners have long recognized the company's talents, with collaborators, such as Periscope and VH1, recently joining the fan base. They're attracted to Hermann's credentials as a former member of recording artists Sukpatch (listed on the label Slabco), as well as his talent as a producer of indie outfits, such as Australian sensation The Cannanes. That background helps Explosion Robinson craft original music and sound design that's a rare mix of fearless experimentation, bold thinking, and sensitive fidelity to the client's ultimate goals and creative objectives. To find out more, please visit www.explosionrobinson.com or email [email protected].
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