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Marshall Grupp Leads Full Court Press for Adidas

Sound Design Creates Illusion of a Basketball Court Come to Life (February 14, 2005)

Marshall Grupp of New Yorks Marshall Grupp Sound Design and Music created sound design to support the incredible transformation of a wooden court into a team of aggressive basketball players for a new spot for Adidas. Conceived by San Francisco agency TBWA/Chiat Day, Improvisation introduces Adidass new Game Day Lightning (GDL) performance basketball footwear through a scenario in which Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups faces off against a parquet floor come to life.

An homage to the creativity of an NBA point guard, the spot has Billups practicing on an empty court. As he drives toward the basket, a portion of the parquet flooring bursts loose and rises up to assume the shape of an opposing player. Other wooden ?players erupt from the floor boards, seemingly trapping Billups, but he dribbles free and takes the ball in for a slam dunk.

Grupps task was to design and produce sound effects to accompany the incredible transformation of the basketball court, which was accomplished via CGI. ?I was brought into the project early on, recalled Grupp. ?The agency wanted me to create sounds to match specific pieces of film as they were produced.

Coming up with sounds that made the fantastic imagery seem believable proved to be a daunting challenge. ?I spent a lot of time on a Foley stage experimenting with different types and sizes of wood, Grupp said. ?The agency wanted the sound design to be very realistic. They didnt want any ?weird sound elements, rather it had to sound like the court was erupting. In a sense, the court comes to life, but its not anthropomorphic. It doesnt breathe or make vocal sounds?all of the sounds are derived from wood.

Although he and the agency creatives were on opposite coasts, Grupp described the process of creating the sound design as ?very collaborative. ?I sent the agency scratch sounds as I created them for comments, he observed. ?Because they were on the West Coast, I posted sounds on the Sound Lounge ftp site where the agency could access them at their convenience.

Grupp, who has designed sound for hundreds of commercials and several feature films, noted that it is unusual for sound design to be featured so prominently in an ad. ?For a sound designer, this was a wonderful project as the sound elements were an integral part of the storytelling, he said. ?For the commercial to work, viewers have to be convinced that the basketball court is being transformed into the ultimate defensive player and, I feel, the sound design is very successful in making them suspend their disbelief.

Marshall Grupp Sound Design and Music is located at 149 5th Ave. New York, N.Y., 10010. For more information, contact April Jaffe at (212) 388-1212 or visit


Title:                             Improvisation

Length:                         :30, :60

Client:                           Adidas

Agency: TBWA Chiat Day, San Francisco, CA.  Chuck McBride, executive creative director; Geoff Edwards, associate creative director/art director; Scott Duchon, associate creative director/copywriter; Brandon Mugar and Marco Worsham, art directors; Joe Rose, copywriter; Jennifer Golub, executive producer; Joe Calabrese, producer. 

Sound Design Company:  Marshall Grupp Sound Design and Music, New York.  Marshall Grupp, sound designer; April Jaffe, producer.          

Foley:  C5 Foley Studio, Northvale, NJ.  George Lara, Foley engineer; Marko Constanzo, Foley artist; David Warzynski, Foley assistant        

Production Company:  RSA USA, Inc., Los Angeles, CA.  Jake Scott, director; Fran McGivern, executive producer; Chris Soos, director of photography.                        

Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors, Los Angeles, CA.  Kirk Baxter, editor; Dave Sellars, producer. 

Music Company: Blast Music, Los Angeles, CA.  Garth May, composer; Aaron Jacoves, producer.                  

Post Facility: Company 3, Santa Monica, CA.  Stefan Sonnenfeld, colorist.              

Visual EFX Company:  Digital Domain, Venice, CA.  Ed Ulbrich, executive producer/v.p.; Eric Barba, visual fx supervisor; Jay Barton, lead animator; Gale Gourtney, producer.

Audio Post House: Skywalker Sound, San Rafael, CA.  David Hughes, engineer. 

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Related Keywords:Marshall Grupp , Marshall Grupp Sound Design and Music

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