SKY Kids

New work | 3 minute read

SKY Kids

Getting Silly for SKY's New Flagship Kids App

Words by Paul Sumpter, Monday 4 Apr 2016


SKY's new app aimed at being the central hub for kids has just launched and we're thrilled to announce we delivered sound design for the job. Working closely with our good friends over at digital product agency UsTwo, we've produced bespoke branded sound and sound effects for the interface, available on Android and iOS.

The app is a kind of YouTube for kids, a one-stop location where children can watch all their favourite shows and tailor their experience based on their favourite characters and channels (the likes of CBeebies, Nickelodeon and Milkshake).

We'll usually begin a project like this, by drawing up a rough shortlist with the client as to what sounds we might need to design. Everything from button presses, boot up sounds, to screen and gesture transitions, error messages, notifications and re-sizes. Once this was done, and more importantly, we discussed with SKY and UsTwo how the sound should make the children feel. The over-arching mood the sound design needed to create was fun, empowering and creative with a noticeably premium edge.

Our approach, as always when time and budget allows, is to create everything from the ground up, fully bespoke from scratch. This way, it allows us to produce work that is 100% tailored to the various sonic and emotional needs of the project and gives us total control over where we want to take the audio and what we're trying to achieve overall. It's all too easy for supposed sound-designers to fall back on the excellent sfx libraries out there and we don't subscribe to that where possible, physically building everything from new instruments, props and raw materials, to getting under the hood with various synths, software and sound design engines.

The Futz Butler London Sound Design UsTwo SKY kids props

We gathered all our props and materials and began pulling, tweaking, pinching, dropping, popping, bouncing and stretching to produce over 3000 raw audio sound performances, which we would then layer together to create multi-dimensional spot effects for the individual tasks and transactions. Again combining the organic with the designed synthesised elements worked particularly well here.

A challenge unique to this brief centred around the client's desire to combine SKY's wider 'glassy' branding with a more fun, fluid almost wobbly character. In practice, this would mean designing sounds that felt both glassy and child-friendly. Inherently, most glass-type sounds sound quite pure, even sophisticated and as any parent will know, children and glass is a bit of a recipe for disaster! So how to combine the wacky kids world with a glassy one, central to the broader SKY brand? As the video above shows, we came up with the idea of using milk bottles, blown bottles and bottle stopper pops. These sounds are far more playful and lent themselves nicely to the overall palette we were trying to create. In conjunction with this, we also pushed various other more fluid, 'wobbly' sounds through glassier tones and convolution effects, imparting a glassy character to an otherwise wobbly one whilst retaining a lot of it's original character. And all the while creating exciting new sonic textures and 'ownable' sounds.

We also were set the challenge to create a fun amorphic language for the Avatars, which again involved not just various voice and vocalised performances but also layering of recorded sounds, including dog toy and bath toy squeaks, wet ceramic plate rubs and synthesised sounds! Below are just a handful of some of the final sounds that you can expect to hear in the app.

The app launches on Android and iOS and is available on the App Store and Google Play here.


Posted by

Paul Sumpter

Founder & Creative Director

Monday 4 Apr 2016