Advertisements using Kyma


As technically inspiring as they are humorous, Tape Gallery's morphing ads are like nothing you've heard before. Check out their new morphing show reel at and prepare to be amazed (and amused) by Pete Johnston's morphological imagination.

Randy Bobo at Independent Studios in Milwaukee has been using Kyma to produce original music for TV and radio commercials. For instance, in a new Robert W. Baird (investments, stocks and bonds etc...) radio commercial called "Peace & Serenity," Randy used Kyma to morph from chanting Tibetan monks into a bass line at the beginning of the spot and then back into monks at the end. In another Baird radio spot entitled "Dogs," he used a variety of Kyma effects to process dog barks, creating a rhythm bed over which real dog barks build into a cacophony of Kyma-manufactured electric k9's. Similarly, in a Dremel TV commercial, he processed power tools through Kyma to achieve a "slightly different" kind of power tool. This spot is currently airing nationwide in the US for the big Christmas "Sellabration." Kyma was also featured in last year's campaign for Norlight Telecommunication's "Techno Jungle" which mangles wild animals with digital sounds resulting in crazy computer creatures.

Mathis Nitschke used Kyma in creating a German radio ad for the film Vertical Limits from Columbia Pictures. Nitschke used Kyma to morph between a voice and ice-cracking and between a voice and a gamelon gong to give a sense of the coldness, danger, and location of the film.

If you thought you might have hallucinated a Kyma-processed voice when you were up getting a snack during the Super Bowl in January, you were *not* hearing things (that is, you really *were* hearing Kyma). François Blaignan used Kyma to do the sounds for a Mountain Dew commercial that premiered during the Super Bowl and is getting heavy air play on US television. So if you happen to see a flattened space ship full of dudes doing Dew careening off arid cliffs like a skateboard on your TV screen, listen carefully for the unmistakably Kyma-tized voice and space ship sounds.


If you're listening to the radio and happen to notice a fax morphing into a bird, chances are you are hearing the latest Kyma morph done by Pete Johnston at The Tape Gallery in London. Orange, the mobile phone company, has a series of radio ads telling you that you don't actually have to go into the office to get some work done (or is that you can never escape from your office even after you've gone home?) by morphing from the sound of a fax machine to a bird (you can receive faxes on your mobile phone when you are in the park) and the sound of a typewriter into a train (your office goes with you everywhere).

In between playing live drums in his band, and 4 am feedings for his newborn daughter Emma, Bill Rust managed to do all the sound design for the BMG Cannes 2000 Conference video. Rust describes it as "an excellent example of Kyma sound design used to enhance sophisticated CG effects throughout the 2:45 minute spot. I used virtually the whole Sound Library for Doppler FX, Granulations, realtime BPM driven FX, etc."

If you wake up to your clock radio in London and think you are having a surrealistic dream, don't be alarmed; you're probably just hearing one of The Tape Gallery's newest radio spots. Pete Johnston created two morphs in the service of "Magnum" ice cream—a brand of ice cream specifically targeted to men. One ad features a sweet-voiced choir boy morphing into a low-voiced Barry White sound-alike. The other features a vacuous lady with a posh accent morphing into a man with a Cockney accent and surplus of attitude (played by none other than Tape Gallery's managing director Lloyd Billing). The point of the ads? Eating this ice cream will make you more masculine! To complete the irony, actor Steven Fry intones the final slogan "It'll make a man of you."


Heard any radio advertisments for the London Transport recently? If so, then the chances are you were hearing some of Pete Johnston's Kyma-morphing handiwork. Pete & The Tape Gallery have created a series of 13 radio ads encouraging listeners to take the bus by morphing from the sounds of the bus engine, bell, or "hold tight please" into the sounds of exciting locations like the swimming pool, an aerobics class, an open-air market, etc, and including one exquisite 4-part polyphonic morph into the sound track of a romantic movie and a guy sobbing as he watches it ending with the motto, "We make London simple."

In something of a morphing frenzy these days, Pete is also doing several morphing ads for NTL, an internet service provider in the UK whose motto is "technology tamed," hence morphs from lions into kittens, heavy metal thrash into Celtic harp, Vincent-Price-like demonic pipe organ into seaside harmonium, etc.

Bill Rust and Chris Iannuzzi used Kyma to create endlessly falling Shepard tones and vocoding for the promos of the Tom Hanks HBO special From the Earth to the Moon, so if you are "cable-ready" you may have unknowingly heard Kyma on TV.

A series of BP (British Petroleum) radio advertisements played in the UK in 1999 featuring several Kyma morphs done by Pete Johnston at The Tape Gallery. Each of the ads sonifies how you could win a prize from BP (a hot air balloon ride, record vouchers, a helicopter ride, or a sail boat ride in Turkey) by morphing from car sounds to the sound of the prize. Johnston reports that the hot air balloon was the toughest one to do, because not too many people have been up in a hot air balloon to know what it sounds like. The sailboat was pretty difficult as well, since sailing, like ballooning, is a relatively quiet activity. Helicopters and CD vouchers were relatively easy to represent in sound.

Francois Blaignan at Media Venture in Hollywood used Kyma to morph between crickets and birds for a television ad directed by Tim "Edward ScissorHands" Burton. Completely computer-generated, the ad is for a product called Hollywood Gum (sold in France) and has an opening scene where day switches to night and back again (hence the crickets and birds). In addition to film work, Francois has been busy doing sound for US television ads for 7UP and Lincoln-Mercury. When asked the flavor of Hollywood gum, Blaignan admitted that he did not know (but he hopes it was not inspired by the La Brea Tar Pits).

The Tape Gallery won the ILAA award for Best Sound for their Smirnoff radio advertisement—a Tarrantino-esque experience of continuous morphing and movement through space that qualifies as a mini-film in its own right (even without a single visual image). Lloyd Billing, Simon Capes, and Pete Johnston accepted the award at a black-tie affair in London. Pete Johnston used Kyma to do all of the (startling & humorous) audio morphs for the ad.


François Blaignon's ad for Blockbuster Video (done at Media Venture) was rated as the #2 ad in the entire USA the summer of 1998 by Shoot magazine (a trade journal for advertising agencies). So if you happen to see a television ad based on old scary movies, listen closely for Kyma on the sound track!


Pete Johnston, technical manager at Lloyd Billing's Tape Gallery studio in London, recently used Kyma's additive synthesis tools to make a more easily understandable robotic voice for a television spot enumerating all the reasons you might prefer to take the Chunnel rather than flying from London to Paris (perhaps the most convincing of which is, "Fact: The train looks really cool").

Johnston, Billing, and audio engineer Simon Cepes also completed a series of UK radio spots for Walker's Crisps, each of which was based on the theme of various characters morphing into British football hero Gary Linekar in order to steal potato chips (crisps) from little kids.

Johnston also used Kyma to morph from the sounds of an office and various other workplaces into clinking glasses and reggae music in a series of ads for Malibu--a sweet alcoholic drink that can apparently turn the hum-drum workaday world into one big party.

Mike Radentz, sound designer at Technisonic in St. Louis, used Kyma's vocoder in a commercial for Six Flags, and he used the RE tool to cross a human voice and steam whistle in a pilot for an animated children's program.

Sound designer Lance Massey used Kyma on the sound track for a national ad compaign for Nabisco's Oreo Cookies with blue filling. He describes the two Kyma sounds he designed as follows:

The main sound took a drum loop as its input. An amplitude follower was then attached an used to drive the pass frequency of a high pass filter, which of course was filtering the drum loop. It's a subtle, but very useful effect, kind of gave the loop just a little added crunch. The second sound wasn't nearly as important in the mix, but is a lot more interesting from a design perspective. To create a unique "swooping" effect, I sampled the vocal group singing a unison descending line. I used the output of the frequency tracker to drive the formant frequencies of the two formant element (multiplied by 3 and 5 to try and isolate those harmonics). I recorded that to disk, chopped off the end, then used the time/frequency scaler to stretch the final result to the appropriate length.

UK radio audiences were treated to a spooky little 90-second bit of radio theater in the form of a Tape Gallery project: an ad for Smirnoff Vodka. Highly cinematic in character (one could describe it as the 90-second version of Quentin Tarantino's quirkily sinister New Year's 1996 release, Four Rooms), the ad traces the steps of Tom, the hotel bartender as he carries a bottle of Smirnoff and some clinking glasses to a party upstairs. In keeping with Smirnoff's television and print ads, everyone and everything he passes along the way is transformed through the prism of the Smirnoff bottle into something entirely different (and not a little sinister): the tinkling of the higher keys on the cocktail piano turns to raindrops while the bass notes turn into ominous thunder; the sweet-voiced hotel desk receptionist morphs into psycho, Norman Bates; two women engaged in catty gossip actually turn into real cats; and the party upstairs evolves into a kind of seance in which the party-goers chant to summon the spirit of long-dead Tom Harvey (who turns out to be none other than the wandering bartender himself). It's the kind of thing calculated to leave audiences wondering what was that? (and, not coincidentally, make them eager to hear it again and puzzle it out with their friends).


If you turn on your radio in London these days, you are likely to hear a spot describing how, if you spend more than three pounds and buy a certain kind of chocolate (no purchase necessary sic) at an Esso Snack & Shop, you could end up winning a shopping spree in New York. Sounds pretty ordinary so far. But as you listen, you begin to notice that the announcer is gradually morphing from a British guy into a New Yorker (and, by the way, that the birds chirping in the background are being transformed into police sirens). Whatever else this ad might tell us about British perceptions of New York, it is just one of several examples of the amazing audio morphing work being done by Pete Johnston, technical manager and Kyma guru at The Tape Gallery, a London studio specializing in sound design for advertising.