COVID-19: why true creativity lies within limitation

Article | 5 minute read

COVID-19: why true creativity lies within limitation

working from home can be an opportunity not a restriction

Words by Paul Sumpter, Monday 30 Mar 2020

 

As we move into a new month of lockdown in the UK, most of the creative industries are still adapting to trying to continue to produce great work from home setups, Zoom conferences and teams at arm’s length.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a challenging time, we’re staying unflinchingly positive and instead, seeing this time as an exciting opportunity. And here’s why…

Doing something differently always takes you somewhere new

We can all get used to working in the same way, or approaching creative problems from a routine perspective.

The current restrictions to accessing our usual tools, processes or workflows mean we are forced to look at a solution from a different angle.

Surely, this can only be a good thing if the goal is to create truly original work? Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved by not being challenged.

And yep, things are pretty unique at the moment, but the essence of this mindset isn't anything we don’t already prescribe to day to day anyway, in an attempt to keep our output fresh and varied. We’re always looking for ways to push ourselves out of any comfort zone we might have fallen into.

 

Housebound

I’d been self isolating for ten days or so, feeling unwell (I’m fine now, thanks for asking…). I'd been unable to get into the studio to grab some essentials to aid working from home - cables, a microphone, software, hard drives etc. Typically, even the couple of guitars I usually have at home in South London were in the studio as I’d brought them in for a specific project I’d been working on before everything went crazy.

All I was armed with for the time being was a handheld field recorder, a set of ear buds and a barebones laptop.

This enforced economy lead me to think about how I could make something interesting from what I did have at hand. Stuff around the house.

As a sound designer, part of the gig is looking at objects out of the context they’re intended for, instead focussing purely on what they sound like and how that might be useful. For me, that’s what’s I love about what I do - everything is fair game. Viewed through that lens, the world becomes a studio.

Whilst production has ground to a halt on many projects (we in post-production have felt that acutely) there are still many avenues open to teams to continue to deliver truly engaging work. Especially in light that, unlike ever before in the digital age, there are captive audiences to satiate - audiences spending more time than ever with screens, looking to be engaged and entertained.

So whilst big shoots with huge crews and exotic locations may be off the table for the time being at least, other options absolutely aren’t

Let's look at how music and sound can help negate any perceived compromise and help deliver amazing stories in formats that might not necessarily have been the obvious first choice.

 

Animations, Infographics + CGI

OK, so people can’t get together in the same place, but that doesn’t stop incredible immersive worlds from being created via computer generated graphics, traditional animation, stop motion or even hand drawn doodles.

As technology offers new creative possibilities, these mediums have delivered some of the most visually stunning work in recent years. And these projects all need the perfect soundtrack and detailed sound design to bring them to life.

New Music for Existing Films

We’ve received several enquiries in the last week or so for a new music direction for an existing film previously broadcast. Adding a new fresh soundtrack is a great way to breathe life into a familiar campaign and recontextualise the narrative. After all, music can't be quarantined.

 

Re-Licencing

Likewise, re-licencing is a great way to keep content flowing. Whilst many campaigns have been temporarily shelved (we’ve had our share, believe), we’ve also seen that many existing campaigns, such as Dave's endorsement for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), have taken on a new depth framed in the light of the current climate.

And this new Skoda spot from Dorian and Daniel proves pre-pandemic created content can resonate now moreso than ever.

 

User Generated Content

Harnessing a user base to create something memorable not only creates a sense of inclusivity, it also circumnavigates unavoidable logistical issues at the moment. Likewise, leaning on the odd clip of stock footage to help tell a story could be one way round certain prohibitive shoots.

 

Test Films + Animatics

Many creative teams have passion projects, perpetually on the backburner, parked due to relentless deliverables of day to day working. As the mulishness of those schedules ease, now could be the perfect time to set in action long held ambitions, either client-based or personal.

We will as a creative community emerge out of this crisis eventually and those that have adapted and been productive during this difficult time will no doubt come out ahead of the curve. Strong ideas in the bank, tested and ready to go will be worth their weight in gold on the other side of these unprecedented social restrictions.

We’re well used to delivering music and even sound-design mock-ups to storyboards, animatics and in some cases often little more than a treatment. Having music and sound embedded early undoubtedly helps clients and teams visualise the overall concept more clearly and can often focus the shoot and edit, streamlining the process in the long run.

 

We're not suggesting for a minute that in the current state of things, it's easy to do your best work. It isn't. Working in unfamiliar ways can feel daunting. But yet it's hugely liberating. When we do, we adapt and arrive at results we would unlikely ever have arrived at continuing ‘business as usual’. So this, is one thing at least we can take out of this whole horrendous situation to be a positive.

So it really is time to be anti-obvious. True creativity lies within limitation. 

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Paul Sumpter

Founder & Creative Director

Monday 30 Mar 2020