Towards the end of the Covid-19 Lockdown in the UK we were commissioned by Tate & Lyle Plc to create a virtual choir with their staff.
4 Part Music were commissioned by Tate & Lyle PLC to create a virtual choir. With people all over the world forced into working from home by the continued spread of Covid-19, Tate & Lyle have been exploring new ways to help their teams to stay connected outside of work meetings. The aim is to keep spirits up, and create new bonds of friendship.
Outline of the Project
When discussing the brief with Tate & Lyle’s Investor Relations Officer, it was clear the company wanted to produce something that was more than just a series of people singing in little boxes on the screen. The first thing to do was pick a song. Given that the video was to include people worldwide it needed to be something that was reasonably well know and at least had a catchy tune and not overly complex lyrics.
After some debate, the song that was chosen, was ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder. This fitted with the theme of ‘diversity’ which was key to the video.
The broad outline was for the video to contain two elements. Firstly of course there was the singing. Everyone needed to record a singing video which was basically straight to camera, although with freedom to add in national costume or props etc. Alongside this we gave the option to create a second video which was described as ‘fun’. The idea was to follow the theme of diversity and use the video to capture something about the locality each team member was from. This might seem quite a broad scope and indeed it was meant to be. Part of the fun was to see what people came up with and find out just how people from all corners of the glove chose to represent their particular country or city.
As you might expect this lead to some very interesting videos. Whilst the brief wasn’t necessarily to be funny, a lot of them were extremely entertaining from people blowing bubbles to playing empty Champagne bottles as if they were trumpets.
Producing the Video
To create a virtual choir means combining audio and video. The first step is to produce a top quality audio track. Obviously the definition of ‘top quality’ does need some clarification as the vast majority of people will be recording both the video and audio on their mobile phones. Luckily smart phones are getting smarter nowadays and most of them do a fairly good job of recording.
To start with, 4 Part Music created a backing track with a click track and the vocals for everyone to sing along to. WE then met on Zoom a couple of times to ‘learn’ the song. Of course anyone in a choir will know that zoom is far from ideal for teaching songs to a choir, but nevertheless it was better than nothing. It at least gave the participants a chance to ask questions about how the recording process worked and what they were expected to do.
Following a couple of zoom sessions the choir were then given a couple of weeks to record themselves singing as well as their ‘fun’ option. With around 50 participants, this meant nearly 100 videos had to be gone through in order to create a storyboard for the final video.
Firstly the audio was put together and a number of people were given solo lines. Only once the audio track was approved could we start on the video. Anything to do with video is never a ‘quick’ job. The brief was to get everyone in the film singing as well as highlighting as much of the ‘fun’ elements as possible. Some people had created a separate video for the fun / diversity element, whilst others had included something in their singing video. It took quite some time just to go through all the videos and mark up who had done what, and where!
About the Tate & Lyle Choir
“At our HQ in London, we’ve run a few choir sessions in the past and they’ve always been great fun and a totally different way for colleagues to socialise,” explained Archi Quddus, a member of Tate & Lyle’s investor relations team, who came up with the idea for a company choir. “When lockdown came around, I wanted to get the gang together for a virtual session, but quickly realised that there was nothing stopping us from inviting singers from every corner of our global operation. I developed a plan to create a global choir and video to showcase our collective talents and global reach.”
Watch The Video
The feedback from Tate & Lyle has been extremely positive and we hope this video continues to be something they are proud of for years to come.