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11th December 2012
Musical cheers
Title of film: Red Stripe
Director: Greg Brunkalla
Stinkdigital director Greg Brunkalla and a team from creative technology consultancy Hirsch & Mann turn an East London Dalston shop into a giant musical experience for Red Stripe

Every time a customer picked up a Red Stripe a rock steady tune of “A Message to You Rudy” would start to play. Nothing was faked. Each ‘instrument’ was individually wired up and placed on the shelves in order to blend in with other items in the shop, and all the sounds heard are created by instruments made from typical corner shop products. Here we talk with Greg and Daniel Hirschmann about the project.

Greg, it’s a wonderful feel-good interactive installation and music video. What were the challenges as a director drawing all the elements together?

This project required an ultra-collaborative process and I feel like those first few steps, getting all the right people together, was the most important piece. It’s like casting for a film.

Do you think in a right-brained rational linear way with sparks of creative ideas? What is the process? Do you sketch out ideas or think in words?

I love projects that need to be taken to the “invention lab”. We had to get your hands dirty, there were a lot of things that didn’t work and didn’t make it in the final installation. Mainly, things had to be visual. Hirsch and Mann made a few things that were great, but we either couldn’t use or had to tweak because they weren’t visual enough. And I think my job was really to keep the end experience and video in mind to make sure everything could be seen and recorded. Even though this all happened for real, we did draw it out as storyboards, to help us figure out how many cameras we needed and where they should go (see attached).

While you were making this film did it inspire you with ideas for a new project or something else you’d like to try?

I’ve been thinking a lot about creating an installation that is not commercial-based. I’m not a musician, but I love music and I think I’d want that to be an element in the experience.

What pleased you most about the Red Stripe film?

Capturing an event in a way that heightens it or preserves its excitement, is always a challenge. Because only a small number of random lucky people got to actually experience the installation, I’m very pleased at the great reactions we’re getting over the film. Hopefully you almost feel like you were there.

The making of Red Stripe, see Related Content, is the perfect demonstration of how the project was created so we asked Daniel Hirschmann for a few interesting stats:

– 750m of cables were distributed around the store – and hidden from view
– We had an air compressor in one of the back rooms – which sounded very much like a very large fridge when it was turned on.
– We had 55m of rubber hose between the compressor and the bottle trumpets. All hidden away behind shelves.
– 16x Solenoids
– 6 x Solenoid Valves (which controlled the rate of air flow for the trumpets)
– 5 x Servo’s
– 4 x heavy duty DC motors using bespoke gearing
– 1x 500watt halogen light
– 12 meters of white LED strips
– 48 RGB LED lights
– For the four days leading up to the installation, I had 6 members of my team working on it full time, and the last 40ish hours involved no sleep.

And the software used?

The entire sound track was controlled by a piece of audio software called Logic. Considering we were creating a piece of music, it made sense to use software that was built to create sound arrangements like this. The challenge was making sure we could interface this software with all the lighting and motors. We also had to have a way to account for the lag between telling a motor to activate, and the resultant sound! Normally there was a number of milliseconds delay. So we used Logic’s ability to send MIDI to another piece of software which we wrote to bridge between MIDI and DMX. We used DMX to handle all the hardware communication.



Hirsch & Mann