- Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016
They’re moving to the beat at the international music and sound studio Yessian, which just wrapped one of its busiest summers ever. The company is moving into fall with an expansive slate of new projects that has it working around the world on a variety of advertising, entertainment and media platforms.
Recent high-profile projects include a major new arrangement of George Gershwin’s classic “Rhapsody in Blue” for United Airlines and the New York office of mcgarrybowen that broke during NBC’s coverage of the Summer Games (https://youtu.be/nwzAfjprorI). The spot presented audiences with an anthemic new Brazilian twist on this iconic tune that’s been associated with the airline for decades.
In Europe, Yessian’s Hamburg studio recently created a sweetly cinematic score for the first-ever-TV spot for grocery chain Aldi (https://youtu.be/J5OLRM_-kFE). The studio partnered with Ogilvy Germany, directors Dorian & Daniel and Bigfish Filmproduktion on the ad, which is built around a series of vignettes capturing the innocence of childhood.
On the awards front, Yessian had a standout year. Its work for Macy’s and Buick swept the audio categories of the 2016 AICE Awards, winning for both Sound Design and Original Music, and won Best Original Music and Best Original Score at the AMP Awards.
But its big winner was “Clear The Pitch” for Dan Church Aid, a Danish non-profit. A powerful public service message (https://youtu.be/w5E07JHd2ks), it features a tracking shot of soccer balls from around the world, against a new Yessian arrangement of the fan favorite “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Created by the Singapore office of Grey, it was produced by Great Guns and directed by James Teh, with editing by Ryan McGuire Cutters in Tokyo.
“Pitch” took home a number of awards at the Spikes Asia Festival in Singapore last month: In addition to winning a Gold for Film, it also won a Music Spike for Music Rearrangement and a Bronze in the Craft category of Music Rearrangement. And earlier this year it won a Silver Lion in Cannes Entertainment Lions in the Music Category.
Yessian’s been busy with work for theme parks and experiential design installations as well. Company President Brian Yessian says this category now represents 20 percent of overall revenue and is growing steadily, with projects in production or already launched in China, Korea, Malaysia, the US and the Middle East. Most recently they created original orchestral scores, recorded with the Seattle Sinfonia Orchestra, for the new “Wings Over Washington” 4D Flying Theatre experience that opened late summer at Seattle’s Pier 57. A state-of-the-art attraction, the VR film takes viewers on an aerial ride over the state of Washington and is backed by an innovative new surround sound system (https://youtu.be/PAWcDTEKlDk).
The studio is also partnering again with Wanda, the Chinese developer and cinema operator, on another theme park attraction, creating the music and sound design for a 4D fly theatre that will debut as a new attraction opening in the Chinese city of Harbin next year. Earlier they created music and sound for a Wanda park in Nanchang, for which Yessian staffers travelled to Europe to record with the Bratislava Symphony. Coming up are four new attractions for Dubai Parks and Resorts, three of which will appear in its new Bollywood Dubai park and one in its new Motiongate film park, being developed in association with DreamWorks and Sony.
The culmination of much of what Yessian has been doing – from its work with agencies and brands to its entertainment work scoring feature films and particularly its work with theme park developers – is reflected in its inroads with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Brian Yessian says the crossover between forms and technologies is happening with increased frequency.
“For the past several projects we’ve worked on, production companies and themed attraction development companies have been doing all of their mockups in VR, so the end client can preview it properly,” he explains. “This has enabled us to get involved from an audio aspect at a very early stage. And the project creators are designing standalone VR versions of these experiential venues, so they can extend them to new platforms.
“This has given us the chance to apply our experience with VR to our agency and brand clients, who are embracing this technology more and more,” Yessian continues. “Brands are also very interested in creating memorable location-based experiences, whether for one-time events or travelling installations. We’ve built a team with deep credentials when it comes to creating spatial interactive audio, from the start of the music or sound design creative to the final location mix, and that gives our clients a great advantage when getting involved in these new forms.”
While its experiential work takes Yessian composers and mixers all over the world, its feature film work remains centered in L.A. and New York. On the West Coast, Yessian Creative Director Andy Grush continues his ongoing collaboration with studios, producers and directors, providing scoring and sound design for a bevy of thrillers.
Grush’s most recent project, “Before I Wake,” opened right after Labor Day, followed by “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” which opens in theatres right before Halloween. In December, in time for the holiday movie season, Grush’s latest film debuts: “The Bye Bye Man” is a supernatural thriller about an unseen force that propels people to commit horrible acts of murder and mayhem.
Yessian’s work on features isn’t limited to major studio releases. In New York, Mixer/Sound Designer Weston Fonger has collaborated with several independent filmmakers on critically acclaimed movies. For example, director Amy Nicholson worked with Fonger on the sound design for her recent short film, “Pickle,” which was a winner at the recent Traverse City Film Festival. This is Fonger’s second project with the director; he also created the sound design for her award-winning documentary “Zipper – Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride.”
Fonger is also working on the latest feature from the iconic animator Bill Plympton, “Revengeance,” a dark comedy about a biker out for payback. It marks the latest effort in a six-year collaboration between he and the director that includes both award-winning features and shorts.