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Flavorlab Scores & Sounds “Just Like Trees”

“Just Like Trees” by KSV for the American Forest Foundation

2020 officially tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record. With that heat, comes climate disasters. In this age of global warming, those disasters are commonplace. While humans are devastated by the fires, floods, storms, and droughts, we are hurt further by the loss of climate change’s other great victim: Trees. Our reliance on our forests, for clean air and fresh water, is as crucial as ever. In the United States, 290 million acres of these forests are owned by families. Much of this acreage is inherited with only around 20% of these land owners ever receiving advice from a professional forester.

Cue the American Forest Foundation (AFF). AFF educates and advocates for foresters to properly care for the land we depend on. Closing out 2020, in a time of heightened social consciousness, the foundation looked to connect with the public. They hired environmental marketing collective, KSV Agency, to create a campaign that would reach environmentalists large and small. Flavorlab Score & Flavorlab Sound teamed up with KSV to provide the sonic landscape for the short PSA.

“The art style was experimental and we’d never done anything quite like this, but the trust was there from past projects. We were told to experiment, and collaboration was key.”

Glenn Schloss, composer, partner

KSV partnered with mixed media artist, Chris Kenny, to create humanoid twig figures, highlighting man’s connection to trees and the danger we both face. The foundation wanted strictly organic sounds, putting the viewer in the woodland space. The main point of view is the trees. Further solidifying our bond with nature, Flavorlab Sound utilized engineer, Ryan Hobler, to create the sound design. The PSA begins with the sounds of a teaming ecosystem. Birds calls and wildlife accompany the swelling synths and strings to underscore a calm, vibrant forest.

The musical direction was traditional and cinematic. Flavorlab partner, Glenn Schloss provided a few ambient and slow building music options. The agency ultimately chose “Unforgiven” by Glenn Schloss and Erik Blicker. As our twig friends are met with disaster, the animal noises subtly fade out and so do the strings and synths. In their place, sound design takes over with fire crackling, wind blowing, and insects buzzing. “It’s easy to throw the kitchen sink at this, but Ryan had a nice, nuanced touch,” said Glenn. “Dropping out the music gave it a sense of loss.” As we return back to our safe, happy forest, the music swells up again. This time, adding a driving, percussive element. To give the track and even more human connection, Hobler added ethereal vocals.

Over top of our journey with the trees is a voice over, detailing the struggles our forests face. Flavorlab Sound provided voice over casting and remote voice over record services for the project. Their main direction was a soft, nature documentary style voice, with a compassionate delivery. The team pitched two actors, one American and one British, ala David Attenborough. In the end, the foundation’s mission is domestic. They chose the American voice over, highlighting this problem here at home.

Find out how to protect out forests with the AFF here
Check out KSV’s Case Study on the visuals here

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