The Australian Navy lure intelligence recruits with advertisements that cleverly disguise images with sound.


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Global audio company Squeak E. Clean Studios has partnered with VMLY&R Australia and New Zealand to hide secret images with sound to attract naval intelligence recruits to highly skilled locations. ‘Audio You Can See’ is designed to connect a tech audience to naval intelligence roles and targets a narrow segment of information professionals suitable for work in the Navy. Ads can reach and stream from these information professionals on the “invisible battlefield” where they operate. Squeak E. Clean Studios Sound Director Paul Le Couteur carefully reverse engineered “the world’s first recruitment message hidden in sound” by generating audio from the image to be analyzed via a spectogram, a tool that analyzes frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. worked.

To uncover hidden messages, audio, discovered only by the smartest people, must be processed into background noise, crackling, buzzing, and spectrograms used to create sound to repair imperfections. It is also used by the Australian Navy to intercept, analyze and identify maritime threats.

Click here to see the behind-the-scenes story of how the covert ad was created.

Le Couteur said: “This idea pushed my audio engineering brain to a place I had never been before. All audio signals generate images from spectrograms, but we have found a way to reverse that process and create audio from images. Essentially, we were painting with sound.”

Creating hidden images was a unique collaboration between audio production and design. Audio should be made for images, but images should be made for audio.

First, the designer created the poster and then converted it into an audio signal using an image synthesizer before adding voice and additional soundscape elements. Extensive use of micro-automation of plus EQ, minus EQ, compression and volume ensures that each sound has its own sonic space across the frequency spectrum.

James Wills, Creative Director at VMLY&R, said: We were manipulating the electromagnetic spectrum, which is essentially what some naval intelligence officers do every day.”

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