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Modern Film Composing

Lesson 5 of 17

Building Your Home Studio

Will and Brooke Blair

Modern Film Composing

Will and Brooke Blair

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Lesson Info

5. Building Your Home Studio


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 The Role of a Score Duration:07:55
4 Continuing Education Duration:08:21
5 Building Your Home Studio Duration:21:35
7 Develop Your Voice Duration:04:25
8 Spot the Film Duration:52:34
9 Focus on Instrumentation Duration:38:15
12 Create Stems for Delivery Duration:02:36
14 Getting Your First Job Duration:16:28
15 Working Remotely Duration:26:41
17 The Composer's Philosophy Duration:04:17

Lesson Info

Building Your Home Studio

This is not how you have to build your studio this is how we put our studio together and it's comfortable for us and we designed it in a way that we can constantly grow allow for growth we know we don't have everything we need right now we don't have the budget to get everything would be together right now but we're we're planning purchases things like that in a in a way that allow us to grow I think the most important thing for us is a comfortable and professional working space and I think in that order I think comfortable is most important first you can do this anywhere but there's going to be long hours and there's going to be a lack of interaction with other people except for this guy on and so make it as comfortable as you possibly can I want to show you in a professional work spaces again that's something to work towards you know it is a collaborative thing oftentimes there could be a director or producer collaborator of some sort in the room with you for long periods of time if ...

that's not something you're able to get together right now work towards it oftentimes get started in your own home this is kind of a before middle and after a series of photos that we think they just crack us up this is four years ago that's in brooks basement and there was a project that called for this urban sort of pots and pans drumming thing um it was just kind of suspect job we'll get to that, but we didn't really have the big it was it was a pitch we're putting together we had sort of a creative synopsis a brief of what they were looking for we didn't yet have a comfortable working space. We were kind of mobile. This is my laptop in the corner with pro tools um a couple mikes you know, air conditioner samerican issues in a basement that's been known to flood um that's where the pots and pans were and that's where we could make the most noise and it made sense maybe a year later this is scoring the movie blue ruin we're still at brooke's house, but we've moved up to the third floor there's a little bit of natural sunlight. Not a lot. That is important to us that's jeremy sunday the director on the couch we made a point to get a comfortable couch for him. This was a six day world in scoring session. He slept on that couch. Um yeah he's pulling this herb brooks seems to have his head in the game focusing on tech and I assume generally confused um small cozy bedroom but it did the job. We've got the job time and this is this is where we are today and it's it's not done, but it is a step up and it's it's a commercial space that's outside of the home it's nice to feel like we're going to work we're going to an office however lead to design it is a living room, so to speak we wanted to be as comfortable as possible brooke and I could agree on the one thing that is most important to us in a in a workspace brooke is create natural sunlight that's my pop solo he's always there he's heard every squeaky pitch and false start um yeah we got everything we need we have a very modest little pro tools set up a midi keyboard we could move around that seems to be set up in a way that one of us was working on something on our own we have a workstation here quickly spin around we've got our medic keyboard here oftentimes that gets spun around the other way. We're both of us can kind of be focusing on the picture in front of us on we have, you know, instead of storing things the way we have everything out in reach closest possible a series of guitars that is a tarango which we have over here we'll show you that in a minute banjos there's a toy piano there is a fender roads there's an autoharp tung drone there's a tongue drum and there's a box of percussion and that's part of it you know we don't have everything we need but it is super comfy and it has improved our work flow in sort of a sense of morale um showing up to work at a place like that yes before we move on I would love to just hear a little bit from you guys about your home studios and we have people in the chat room who are jumping in saying how film scoring for the wind says I mostly edit in my living room britain has a bedroom studio how about you guys where you working out of do you have sunlight? Do you have all these things that were just talking about you know we have our own home and we're working to deep right now looking to upgrade by getting better back pro and assortment of outboard gear from a low fat too you know uh you have a home and in it but stuff like trying drive and you guys participate as a period of time I'm a jazz drummer knob turner he's like a brother well, there is some light weight on you a logic and live primarily but have a bunch of vintage guitars and a couple of cents and violence might my husband is actually number as well so that's a nice thing yeah, so but really appreciate the home studio just because of the comfortable ity and sure you're talking about I'm late nights and whatnot but I could see evolving it from plane yeah we we would like to as well you know that's we're fortunate what space be found but you know we like to keep keep expanding to keep really um that's important and again just jumps right into pro tools are w or digital audio workstation of choice umm we chose pro tools now I should say this pro tools pro tools chose us and here's why we're jeremy the director that we've worked with frequently in that last slide two thousand seven his first future found our first feature film as well we literally started scoring this movie on a digital sixteen sixteen track um digital recorder and a vcr with the tv hooked up to it and we would hit play and record at the same time and hope that something magically would sink up it was an archaic clumsy not the way to do it and jeremy stepped in early on and I said I'm not paying you for this film but I'm gonna buy you pro tools and he said this is how it's done and this is why honestly we can't speak on other programs this is not what we've used since the beginning and so it's super comfortable for us I think one thing we really we really like about it is it feels like an analog tape recorder? It is not. Um um, it's, not a sequencer. It looks like a recording studio. A tape driven recording device. That's. What? Super comfortable about it? I think the visual element been able to see literally a visual representation of what you just recorded. What you're getting ready to edit. What you're getting ready to mix. Do you have it up there? Um, so, you know, this is just a series of tracks layered on top of each other and know his film took how many tracks of these air stems we have grouped a bunch of instruments into, uh, like similar stems just to keep things organized a bit more. So there's, what, six sims? Maybe, uh, I think there was, like, forty plus sounds and instruments and made their way into your film, but we've group them together. Can we get the picture of here? Maybe of the film itself? Yeah, and we'll just show you like, a quick you know, some tricks in pro tools that are fun when recording one approach. We always try to keep your mind again. It's just think of it like a tape machine and just capture a honest human performance there's so many editing tricks and capabilities and tools to change, manipulate after the fact we do take advantage of those but first and foremost it's important to us to capture something played by a human um and only addressing at it it's really needed or if it if it speeds things up a little bit um brooke what you want to look at is there a like the impacts we could solo something out being able to solo and identify individual instruments you can go in and really find tune so that looks like a percussion sample that yeah, that falls on earth with there's earth earth always gets an impact we disagreed on this I wanted like uh like heavy godzilla other brokers like no it's I feel it is you should feel it rather than hear it and keep that impact a bit more minimal I think we went in and let's start from quick volumes brooke if we're discussing a volume and how to get up and down real quick brickell created edit for example I want you let's get that earth impact quieter brooke creates a cut and boom you visually you're seeing it get quieter what's really cool about pro tools is that when there is in your car when it likes I want it crazy loud at least just let me try it so that's just a quick like mixed function but what's really cool about that is is the visual aspect of it I mean you're seeing sound move across the timeline when you get a director sitting next to you who might not think and musical weighs as much, they're thinking of visual ways they can literally point at music and discuss it that way I mean they can start to see instruments take on certain shapes and it becomes kind of a convenient uh moving blocks around yeah, and then that yep there's the moving of things this is what feels best to us and there's others tons of other options did you guys say okay, I was just going to say I'm recently getting into pro tools through some music editing to video, so I haven't been composing into it and the reason why we chose digital performer was because we, we're told for many purposes it was better than pro tools pro tools is more live, but so do you find anything with many to be an issue allergy or yeah, yeah, a cz much I think it's you do hear about with any sort of, um well, we don't grow up, we grew up plan really instruments, but exactly but a big part of this is many base instruments and we'll get into that we'll get into that next, maybe we could have had some light on why this makes sense to us I think it's been the progression of home recording for us it was the first entry point was a four track cassette recorder you know it's very linear and maybe more about capturing yeah a mood and getting through a hole take maybe trying to punch in if you if you're quick enough but really just getting the full take out and getting an idea out it's very simple and basic and that grew into a track sixteen track and now pro tools way like a natural evolution for us there's probably other programs that are great with mitt we don't find that many challenges with it because again there's not a lot of many editing we're doing we're trying to dis capture a live performance from beginning to end as best we can admittedly maybe not the fastest um you know but it's but it's comfortable for us and it makes sense for us but we also have always liked to allow plenty of room for organic live riel instruments so we start with a middie foundation say a middie piano in lieu of a real piano um very believable you know, authentic sounds if that's a foundation is something we always like to find a way to even if it doesn't stay in the final mix overdub add as many organic acoustic elements as could fit you know um brooke has an interesting sort of theory about it's like there's there's pumping air into an otherwise in the box recording so let's show some instruments and I think that'd be a good time yeah, so again, aa lot of things we would start even if they don't stay, we would start with many generated instruments and you can look around, we'll get into I'm gonna try to switch back tio keynote, if possible, have you done any analog recording and not in our little studio? That is something that's next on our list is maybe a tape recorder to bounce a digital mix back to tape. Do you get to use tio with old bands? We played and we definitely got to record on tape, and then it was like a luxury tio thing that you try to retrace his best you can in the box of so many plug ins nowadays air tape saturate er's and which we have a lot of and that's something that we're very aware of trying to get the digital world together have a little bit the analog tapes field and kind of give it some warmth that maybe visual recordings don't do you use like tape compressed air cited compressors way don't end again with sort of this we don't have any outward gear. Yeah, um, we do rely on lee yet tape compression simulators that work well, um, but we love that flexibility let's show some yes, I just wanted to touch on really quick before we move on on the gear guide that's actually, the materials that we have here because I know we have people in the chat, we're asking a lot about a year, and we are going to touch on some of it, but in the time that we have it's kind of hard to get on all of it. But you guys have put together a gear guide that comes with purchase of the course that's going to list out everything that people need for their own home set up, right, it's going to list out it's going to sell things that we use, and they're going to be great. Yeah, it's a great resource that we've put together to kind of give a more detailed look inside the tools we use. He purchased the course. I think the gear guide is part of that fantastic and that covers the microphones we'll get into that covers pro tools that covers a lot of the plug ins. We use some of the acoustic instruments we use there's, a field recording kit in there. We're not gonna have time to get into that as much, but shotgun likes portable digital recorders. Things like that I got from start to gather sounds outside of your studio, we think that's important, we have a lot of details on those tools in the gear guide with shows several shows, some plug ins some virtual instruments there are so many options out there these were just things that spoke to us that seemed intuitive to start using quickly um let's well it's just some acoustic instruments as well. Well, we always like to do sort of a hybrid again middie virtual instruments layered with something organic something of this world. We just find tones that like speak to us that air that are readily available our father is a traveler and a tinker and he picked up a this is a tarango that he picked up in peru it's a part of the loot family I believe it's unusual in that it's um it's put together kind of like a mandolin there's doubled strings it's tuned like a minor chord, which is unusual it has a ukulele sort of thing with the nylon strings seem almost harp like and it's worked its way into film it's unobtrusive you know it's it is subliminal. It is implied it's soft brooke and I could probably get around on it better than I can. Did you get the ball? It is to hear you and dad found a global terrain at a flea market somewhere which we had never heard of. It does look like an awesome mash up of a dulcimer and a typewriter um it's an ending an instrument it's hindi named translates to choir of night in gales I think I did, you know that I did not know that it's true, and it is really simple the way it's put together its five strains. Sorry, six strings and they're all tuned in unison. Um, it could be plucked. It could be picked. We drag a violin, bow across it. It gets this rusty. Um, we're going to show you a little bit that later this rusty, uh, drone creepy kind of drone thing. And you're just adjusting, uh, dramatically adjusting pitch as you move your way up. Um, it's simple to get started. This is part of the gear guy. This does not mean everyone needs to go and find a bullet hole terrain it kind of means, you know, take advantage of what's around you. And what tones speak to you? Um, this one is finding a lot of love and what we've been doing recently. And how about microphones, brooke? And then we'll jump in the iris. Yeah, way, but kind about budget, but also by design haven't very focused in small group of microphones in part to this and be able to grab something really quickly that is reliable, and you know exactly what you get out of it, and you'd only have the time to spend an hour auditioning several microphones it's about getting something up quick and getting it done it's also a workhorse you call it? Yeah, we're course into staying one step ahead of the creative process if if wills recording apart and something pops in my head like, oh, this could be maybe the next overdub or something we could try to be able to really quickly grab something that you know, how it's going to react in the room, not spend too much time with it and just get up and get it going. This isn't this is a sure as some fifty seven, which is just like industry standards, but in live in live music, you know? And we got familiar with these when we're younger playing in bands and you're on stage, you know, more of the ins and outs of it I mean it's just good, great loud blau williams electric cars um and how would you describe the tones brooke of the fifty seven that wonder it might be a little bit darker, especially compared to this small dia prime condenser that we like to use this one's inem excel, but we have anointment km one, eight, four and it's the reason why we got that was, um, it's just really transparent and clear in a very accurate depiction of what you're recording doesn't color it in too many ways captures transients really well, so it's great for percussion, their stringed instruments, which is a lot of what we're doing outside the box. Um, we also have a cascade fat head ribbon microphone, which might have a little bit darker kind of entity sound to it. Um and they're all pretty reasonable and those air pretty much our three like go to mites and they're just something we could grab really quickly and put up and not have too much guesswork with it and they're all reliable um got a couple other cheap condensers, but that's pretty much like the main main go to you and I think I mentioned what's next on our list with these, um, analog preempt like a tube based preemptive, some sort to tell more warmth in the avalon, which has been collaborate, you can use our studio and then you have virtual incidents of plug ins. This is definitely like probably going to be a big part of it's, a big part of what we do it a way to keep things sounding big, rich, full and like every day they just get more more powerful, the sample average that come with these different instruments, I think what's important about plug ins and virtual incidents is, you know, shop around there's, oftentimes free trial demo those you can you can download at least um a portion of the sounds that might come with that plug in before you decide to buy it look for just look for tones that speak to you there's there's not one right plug in we use a bunch we start to sort of go back to certain ones were often than others um there's a couple that we don't have with us today that are on the there on the gear got the gear guide which I could go over real quick I won't talk about all of them but some of the virtual instruments that we've have become go to, um a company called sonic couture is absolutely incredible specially for film scoring they tend to focus more on obscure instruments um not the typical um you know, cast early or character driven yeah that they're kind of left of center and they will they have a lot of great sound design play areas well that's sort of them develop a lot of instruments that that ride that that line between music and sound design and probably can work. I've never heard the term sound smith I guess it's maybe the buzzword right now you know, just recording audio, running it backwards, I'm really affecting it out do you do a lot of that guy's boston you're like once head that's what we do kind of that

Class Description

A film’s score is so much more than background music. It creates a mood, shapes the story, and influences the way viewers interpret the action. In Modern Film Composing, Will and Brooke Blair ("The Blair Brothers") will examine the art and illuminate the science of scoring moving media.

You can hear The Blair Brothers’ work in award-winning features (from indie films to Disney), documentaries, commercials, and television shows. 

In this class, they’ll share their expertise and help you:

  • Find the style and tone of music that best suits your film 
  • Create dynamic musical elements that fall within your budget 
  • Improve your collaboration with composers
During the class, Will and Brooke will also score two CreativeLive student films – one prepared in advance and one scored live on air – to lend an artistic insider's view to the film scoring process and results. The Blair Brothers will also discuss their professional trajectory and how they maintain careers as composers. 

Composing music for a film can be an intimidating process for both filmmakers and composers, in this class you’ll learn practical strategies for approaching your project and producing a final product that fits your artistic intention.


Will Blair

Thanks to everyone at CreativeLive for helping produce our workshop - and thanks for everyone at home for taking a look!