Parsons’ Interactive Installation, Online Website + Video Initiative Raises Awareness Of Design’s Impact On Our Lives
was called upon by
to bring its fresh aesthetic to the editing, color correction and graphics for
, Parsons The New School for Design’s multi-platform exploration of the relationship between music, design and technology. Conceived by mono, a Minneapolis-based advertising agency known for its forward-thinking creative solutions, the physical installation, online experiment and media content are driven by Parsons’ mission to raise people’s awareness of design’s relevance and impact on their lives.
The first phase of the experiment began with the installation of an interactive wall on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The structure housed a series of monitors and a complex network of sensors, each assigned a specific sound and color, enabling it to cull data about elements in its environment – from traffic and people to weather and movement – and then musically visualize them to show their correlation to sound and color. Pedestrians could plug earphones into jacks in the wall and listen to how their surroundings were influencing the music. CRASH+SUES collaborated with mono on the crafting of visually captivating and thought-provoking media content designed to break down the complex premise behind the experiment and present Parson’s unique perspective on how they interpret design’s role in the world. (“
). Featured on the SoundAffects website, the creative communications tool delivers an elegantly simple message in a way that engages and intrigues everyday people.
CRASH+SUES’ editor Carrie Shanahan cut the piece on Final Cut Pro, marrying footage of the installation wall with images of cityscapes, traffic and people moving to the pulse of lights and the rhythm of the music they generate – along with by-passers who stop to put on headphones and plug into the wall and share their thoughts about it. The video opens with the voiceover posing a simple question: What if, instead of just looking at the world, we also listened?
It goes on to explain the premise behind the project: We listened to the light,
the temperature, the connective, the movement, the noise and the colors of a city block in New York. We built a wall on Fifth Avenue that housed sensors, which allowed us to gather inputs that created a musical composition that responded directly to the environment around them. In addition to the music, we created a ‘visualizer’ that interpreted the sensor data and let us see our environment from a new point of view. Then we watched and we listened.
Shanahan began the editorial process by roughing out the visuals to fit with the story as it unfolded, incorporating text as needed and drawing from multiple sources to create sound design tailored to the imagery. Working with over two-dozen tracks of video concurrently, as well as intricately layered video, the potentially overwhelming story was woven into a tapestry of dynamic visuals driven by the script’s clear message.
“Editorial decisions had to be well thought out in order to ensure that we captured the essence of the journey, and used interviews, text and audio most effectively,” says Shanahan. “I cut a number of different versions and we experimented with many incarnations until we found just the right balance. What’s amazing is mono’s ability to communicate the essence of this complex experiment about a seemingly abstract hypothesis with a simply engaging story – without getting technical or heady,” says Shanahan.
“They’re artists at CRASH+SUES, and we always love working with them,” said Tracy Tabery-Weller, mono producer. “Carrie is a smart editor who dives in and can digest parts into a cohesive story. She helped us take a heady technological experiment and tell it so simply that even my grandmother could understand it.”
“I love getting the opportunity to dig into heavy sound design, and this was a project that was begging for it,” said Shanahan. “The SoundAffects website had a timeline spanning days of audio data from which to draw; I layered that with ambient city sounds collected in the doc footage. I wanted the experience of viewing the video’s content to echo the experience of being on a city street, at times cluttered and cacophonous, then cresting into stillness and calm.”
SUE, CRASH+SUES’ senior colorist utilized the Digital Vision Nucoda Film Master’s features to create an urban color pallet and a consistent feel for footage from multiple sources.
“We weren’t trying to create a “look” on this project – just something natural while also reflecting what was happening with the audio and sound effects,” said SUE. “ I was able to help out some of the darker scenes by opening them up and applying noise reduction.”
“This project was a welcome opportunity to collaborate with the pioneering creatives over at mono,” added Shanahan. “It’s the type of work that I love – extending beyond just a spot to a cutting-edge experiential ‘happening. In a sense, the experiment itself was like an edit session – writ large – an invitation to the public to take a moment for reflection on how what they’re seeing relates to what they’re hearing,” adds Carrie Shanahan. “The relationship between moving pictures and sound, which is what drew me into editing in the first place.”
mono creative co-chair Travis Olson noted, “CRASH+SUES was great at combining a really diverse set of assets including audio, digital and film into a great story. It was a complex project with lots of components and C+S helped craft a simple story about Parsons that they can now use to help define who they are and how they approach design’s role in this world.”
Parsons, a pioneer in art and design education, initially approached mono after seeing the internationally acclaimed ‘Real Good Experiment,’ which its team conceived and orchestrated for the furniture designer and manufacturer, Blu Dot (
.) Both projects showcase the agency’s signature talent for translating complex concepts into straightforward yet unconventional messages.
SoundAffects was conceived by mono and engineered by Tellart in collaboration with Parsons and The New School’s communications and external affairs team.
CRASH+SUES is a seamlessly integrated creative editorial, animation, FX, motion design, color correction, finishing and multi-media company. Its collaborative team of talent is dedicated to providing advertising agencies, brands and filmmakers with fresh, innovate and cost-effective creative content. For additional information about CRASH+SUES, contact executive producer Sven Shelgren at 612.338.7947 or visit
About mono: mono is a creative branding agency that believes in the power of simplicity. Founded in 2004 by Michael Hart, Chris Lange and Jim Scott, today mono creates inventive, idea-centric communications that earned them Agency of the Year in 2010 from both Advertising Age and the 4A’s. mono works with some of the nation’s leading brands including Apple, MSNBC, Harvard Business School, Prairie Organic Vodka, Revel Stoke Whiskey, Blu Dot, Angie’s Kettle Corn, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Check out more of their work at
CLIENT: Parsons The New School for Design
TITLE: SoundAffects (2 ½ minute)
CATEGORY: Concept video
AD AGENCY: mono/MN
EDITORIAL COMPANY: CRASH+SUES/MN
Executive Producer: Sven Shelgren
Editor: Carrie Shanahan (Final Cut Pro)
Assistant Editor: Matthew Kroese
POST | FX | ANIMATION: CRASH+SUES
Executive Producer: Sven Shelgren
Colorist: SUE (Digital Vision Nucoda Film Master)
Online Editor: Ryan Wheeler (Autodesk Smoke Mac Autodesk Maya)
Flame Artist: Adam Celt (Autodesk Flame)