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Sound Design – The Beauty of Found Sound

It’s like that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when he calls in sick and uses the sampling keyboard with the coughs and sneezes on it – that’s kind of like what I do!   – Jason Begin


Let’s talk about sound design, because it’s so integral to video production! Recently, One Floor Up worked with the DLR Group, an award-winning integrated design firm, to feature the architectural and interior design work they did for Cochlear’s North American Headquarters.



Small Everyday Wonders


Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. They believe that “hearing connects us to our world, to small everyday wonders, and to the people and experiences we love”. 

To create a unique space for Cochlear’s North American Headquarters, the DLR Group used signature interiors, landscape architecture, acoustics, lighting and XGD (Experiential Graphic Design). DLR crafted not just a corporate hub, but a truly multi-sensory experience.

Similarly, the video that One Floor Up produced to feature this project needed to reflect the passion and mission of these two amazing organizations.


Enter, Jason Begin – producer, composer, and sound designer extraordinaire.


Jason was tasked with creating a custom soundtrack for this piece – and here’s the catch – using entirely found sounds, meaning sounds that were recorded on-site at the Cochlear building. 

Jason is a self-proclaimed multi-instrumentalist and sound tinkerer. He releases albums of his own experimental electronic music, remixes well-known artists (i.e. Beck, Mars Volta, sElf), and produces albums for various artists – most recently he produced Krüller, a new album for Author & Punisher.

Jason also creates custom sound design for commercial heavyweights such as Google, Nike, Toyota, and Target.  


Photo credit: Jason Begin


Like any true artist, Jason loves a creative challenge. The DLR/Cochlear project was no exception. It was a pleasure to hear directly from him about what goes into a project like this.


OFU: Can you please tell us about the nature of this project?


For this particular spot, they wanted to use a lot of sounds from the building. Work environment sounds. And I have a tendency to take things to the limit. 

If someone says – can you include some sounds from the building to make this piece of music? My brain says – Okay, I’m ONLY going to use sounds from the building to make this entire piece of music.

So, that’s what I did, minus the sounds of those wooden disks, which I needed to create. 

They sent me all kinds of sounds, sounds of the hallway. So, it’s all essentially created from found sounds. Even the melodic stuff you are hearing, it’s a sample of something that is looped in a way that it becomes melodic.”


Photo credit: Jason Begin


OFU: So, how did you get started?


A lot of times, when you’re given a spot, they say – can you get us close to this new Justin Timberlake song? Then, all of a sudden, you’re working within a creative cap, and you can’t deviate too much. 

But this was pretty open. Sean [of Color Wheel] just said – do your thing. Which is daunting at first, being given essentially a blank canvas, sonically, but then you figure out how to fill all that space.”


OFU: What does your creative process look like?


My daughter and I build these little gadgets.” [He holds up a wooden board mounted with various noise-making devices.] “This is a piece of wood with ratchets on it, springs, tweezers, door bangers.” 


Photo credit: Jason Begin


“I clamp a contact mic to this, which is directly coupled to the wood, so you don’t get any extraneous sounds. You just get the transference of the vibrations into the wood. 

So, I used something like this to create the wood discs. I bolted a bunch of different roofing tiles where I could spin them, and then recorded until I felt like I had enough raw material to work with. 

Then I edit it, and basically parse it out over a keyboard, and play it melodically. It’s like that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when he calls in sick and uses the sampling keyboard with the coughs and sneezes on it – that’s kind of like what I do! It’s fun.

I have a friend who says that when sound design is bad, it’s the first thing you notice. When it’s good, it’s the last thing you talk about. And it’s so true! Sound design is so foundational to the video experience that sometimes it doesn’t even register.”


Collaborative Community Woven Together by Passion


Before work on the Cochlear headquarters began, candid input from a diverse group of stakeholders was gathered. This ultimately informed an aesthetic rooted in Cochlear’s culture: collaborative community woven together by passion. 

I would say that this sentiment comes through loud and clear in the final video due, in no small part, to the artistry and skill with which the musical score is put together. And, once you know the story behind it, you’ll never hear it in quite the same way again. 

Thank you, Jason, for bringing your unique talent and insight to this project!


Photo credit: Jason Begin

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