Touch Wood

In 2011, Japanese cell phone company NTT Docomo commissioned the ad agency Drill Inc. to create an ad for a new cellphone. What the agency came up with is truly remarkable as evidenced in the following video.

As Lia Miller reported in the New York Times on March 11, 2011:

A wooden ball is set atop a long, wooden structure that might be a xylophone or a marimba, constructed in the middle of the woods. As the ball rolls downward, dropping onto each wooden “key,” it plays a note, and suddenly we are hearing Bach’s Cantata 147, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Is this real? Was the music added later?

After a little research I got in touch with Morihiro Harano, the creative director of Drill Inc. “We did not add any artificial music at all,” Harano wrote (though they did adjust some levels to “bring out the sound of river and nature”). Harano, who has won many international awards for his work, conceived of the commercial for the Touch Wood SH-08C, a cellphone with a wooden encasement that will be released by NTT Docomo in Japan later this year. Kenjiro Matsuo at Invisible Designs Lab made the instrument. The commercial was filmed in Kama City in Kyushu, Japan.

Uploaded on Mar 10, 2011 by sakura4250
森の木琴 (Sen's xylophone)

Uploaded on Apr 19, 2011 by Paul Hastings
Making of the Touch Wood commercial

Fast Company – June 22/2011
Anatomy Of A Cannes Winner: NTT DoCoMo Xylophone By Teressa Iezzi
Creative director Morihiro Harano breaks down his process.

1. I decided to make a rectilinear xylophone.
It did not take much time for me to come up with the idea to set up a huge xylophone in the forest and play the instrument, but the first design submitted was much more complicated and twisted with gimmicks like the Rube Goldberg Machine. What I have done was to reduce such gimmicks and gave the visual direction: "straight line in the forest." This process added a unique mystique and narrative aspect to the work.

2. We used 100% raw materials recorded on the spot.
No CG used. The finish of the xylophone itself became an art work, so we only put an effort into making the scene–the xylophone playing the music–as real as possible.

3. We chose Bach.
At first, we were imagining more complicated and faster paced music, like Turkischer Marsch. However, due to the structure of the xylophone, we noticed that it was better to choose music that had the same length of notes, and so we decided to choose Bach's Cantata. We worried a little that the choice might be a little too literal, but looking back, it was a necessary choice to achieve the viewer's empathy for the wooden sphere.

4. We worked with Japanese craftsmen who made the finish perfect.
The xylophone was made by (Carpenter/Wood Engineer) Mitsuo Tsuda, the sound designer, Kenjiro Matsuo and the carpenters on site. If even once the installation went wrong, the tempo of the music became unstable. It was very hard project to realize, but the skill of Japanese craftsmen are just impressive. Not only they made it more accurate than the blueprints but also created a visually beautiful xylophone.

5. The power without our control added different meaning to the work.
The day the film was released, was the day the earthquake hit in Japan. [March 11, 2011] The client had no choice but to cancel the whole campaign. Only this movie uploaded on the website started to walk around Facebook pages and eventually caught the eyes of the blog editor at New York Times Magazine. The article lead the work to the massive success, but I am sure, behind the world's attention, there is a special feeling towards Japan, the country facing a historical disaster.

References

Wikipedia: NTT DoCoMo
NTT Docomo, Inc. (株式会社NTTドコモ Kabushiki Gaisha Enu Ti Ti Dokomo) is the predominant mobile phone operator in Japan. The name is officially an abbreviation of the phrase, "do communications over the mobile network", and is also from a compound word dokomo, meaning "everywhere" in Japanese. Docomo provides phone, video phone (FOMA and Some PHS), i-mode (internet), and mail (i-mode mail, Short Mail, and SMS) services. The company has its headquarters in the Sanno Park Tower, Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo.

Wikipedia: 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku, often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan Earthquake and also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and the 3.11 Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011.

my blog: The 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami – Feb 11/2013
Various videos I found showing the tsunami.

 
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