Modern Film Composing


Modern Film Composing


Lesson Info

Revising with Director's Feedback

I think as far as presenting something to a director the first time that went as well as you could hope that it would go I mean, the conversation we had yesterday with omar was brief, but we quickly got on the same page, I think we got close one of this, the folks at home of ideas, I think now's a great time to kind of talk about this process little that you mentioned that that went pretty well. Speaking with the director, we had a question from zach striker and a couple of other people voted on it, but they want to know, how do you handle those conversations that don't go well, any disagreements that you have with directors, do you have any examples of when you've had to deal with that? Uh, yeah, I think we'll never get ugly. Um, it's never got teo teo, you know, I think we we get brought on in a latter half of production and post production and it's you're working with someone else's vision that they, like oftentimes spent years on, maybe they've spent most of their money on this, yo...

u know, and this is their baby and and that's why, I think, getting as much information and getting, you know, communicating as much as you can up front it's building a level of trust, um but we have to keep in mind here that they have been working on this forever were a important but smaller portion of a big picture and it is tough sometimes but we'd really have to practice you know, non attachment and get ready for something that we have spent a lot of time on our we think you know, aesthetically or creatively you know, fits so well it can get scrapped, you know, in the amount of time it takes to hit send on an email you know, it's like start over scratch um you missed it, you know, by a long shot to try something else there's never with enough communication upfront and enough sort of back story and enough planning um I don't think we've ever totally missed the boat or gotten overly tense thank you, yeah, yeah, well, a quick follow up question along the same lines question from zachary horner wants to know about hearing your perspective on pushing for something you may think is better than what the director is thinking. Have you ever had an idea that you really wanted to push? The director just wasn't going that direction yeah again um example may be in on effect this wasn't like tents or anything but there is a queue which shows up twice and blue ruin jeremy sunny is watching yeah things get up get a little tense anyway, it was actually a rough just early demo that we had put together um just the show tones and maybe some approaches not thinking it would end up in the film and he became really attached to it and it stayed in two scenes we kept thinking out but I think we can really improve on this this is just a sketch you and we literally tried five or six versions of that um just rethinking in reworking it in like a whole new approach the specific scene and it just we just kept missing it against missing the mark but he was so taxes early version that it ended up staying and now that we've had some perspective it works well and he was right next in the movie and it shows up once you kind of its hinted at once and then is the final q in the film and it kind of the way he worked it it was the right decision and I went back and listen to some accuse we tried to pitch and get him to replace and just like no, this was the one that was I should have been all time we just kind of spinning wheels at that point I mean I think it's important to stick up for something creatively and be able to defend why you made this decision but ultimately defer to the director you know it's their it's their film and it's safe to assume that they have a bigger grasp on them on the big picture and I think once you start working with them to sort of establish that trust and you feel good about the back and forth so well I think that's an important thing when you have that relationship yeah and it's an issue like pick your battles like you know we've had we've had a series of changes we like to make or siri's of new ideas we looked to address and we know sometimes time scheduling or creatively there's not room for all of them we'll have to get on the same page and say well let's let's push for this if possible and explain why and again that's a good opportunity were more than one version an alternate version of cues is important maybe it's twice as much work up front but you're able to share a couple different perspectives and you know have things to discuss but it's ultimately it's their call great I wantto get some time from you guys anything that you want to ask right now that process of working with the director have any of you experience that any questions on how we discuss that with omar well I think that idea of like giving attached to your creative babies or whatever is like one of the hardest things as a composer producer you you get these ideas that you think are so brilliant and then you just have to kind of but that's part of working as a team I guess I'm wondering like what do people usually solicit you guys like it if they seek you out specifically for their project will they give you more creative freedom where you still kind of in that evan flow of working things out? That's a great question I think it's again like like project a project basis more often than not, directors do have a pretty firm vision of where they think music could and cannot fit into their film. Um I've never felt I never feel like we've been totally stifled and not allowed to try things everyone loves the word like experiment experiment try something new I don't think we ever had a completely open slate either yeah ever um definitely like across the board different levels of creative freedom and, you know, it's not always an advantage for someone to say do we have do whatever is you want and then, like they take a couple of months and that's reconnect? I mean they're called directors for a reason and they need to like, streamline it and focus it for you a little bit if not anything else for that you know, the sake of time um but we've often had the opportunities to experiment kind of as much as we feel like we need to you I think we think I think first and foremost let's just address pretty specific changes which again I think it's great run the same page, you get a third element on the impact on the impact of the beginning yeah, and and while we're talking about impacts to I'm still not crazy about the second impact we had almost stopped to wait okay, this one's a little not doing it for me, okay? Thiss first one is way cooler I think it's just maybe what we do in the beginning we could revisit here or something or against something different, but, um the question is do we want to leave these and add to this or a little bit or let's make a quick just make a quick list but sick of workflow and and then moving along quickly let's say, um we're adding a third impact on the hand I think the victim drone we're just going like feather that up a little bit and the next yeah, yeah um and I feel like it and I think I think this is echo what omar was going and I feel like there's a little monotony with the atmosphere and again the atmosphere doesn't doesn't need to switch into anything like melodic or or any more obvious than it is, but I just think we need to give our ears a break from that and introduce a new similar sandia question related to that? Is that a common problem that you run into because it is such a long queue or is that, you know, just I don't know the way that it played out, I guess maybe in things that you're hearing after fact exactly changes that he's saying that, you know, make I like this one on this, I think I almost picked up on it, and probably you guys did, too, like a right when omar picked up on it, so we're tracking it with the first thing we laid down, you know, it was a blank slate, there was nothing there, but we knew we needed to start filling up some sort of atmospheric space. Um, you know, when it started to feel right, and as we introduce other elements and we've watched it now, what, three, four, five, six times, I think, on his second passed through, it was right when I noticed, you know, my ears are a little tired of that same atmospheric drone, but again, getting rid of something like that all together, um, it could be a decision we would let a final sound a director in the final sound mix make yeah, just carries for brooke, what bugs you about that reverse it sounded. I wanted to hear more about that, you know? I mean, I'm curious because I I think it sounds you liked it well, but I mean, I want to know what you're hearing that isn't to me it's that has become a talent quality and tinny quiets a little thin, very little thin and just too obvious it has, like, this cup screech to it that I'm I feel like it's almost like it get's too obvious it's two way kind of use it use a more typical and mickey mousing like it's kind of just right on its right on it, and where is the other one? Is low it's a low frequency, and it kind of has a kind of rumble to it, the retiree rumble and that's something that we're like if you were watching it on a good system in a theatre, you just kind of feel it pushing a certain direction, but it wouldn't knock you over the head with this it's, almost like it felt good films was cartoonishly, we're coming to a complete stop, you know, it's, it almost sounds like the tyres screech, you know, and then everything's done so, um, it could just be a matter of turning you down or filtering it or replacing it or, you know, I think what years ago we were getting started. We got really I think we sort of a bad habit of hitting delete like we would discuss it if it if it if we're not crazy about it, we would hit the lead and we started working with director that she had the leader he's still kind of the leader it's like you can you can save all this content, but I don't like this get rid of it in this day of hard drives you could you could tuck it away somewhere else. It's still there you can revisit it. I'm going to encourage I sort of agree with him that the sound doesn't completely, uh, like offend me, but it could be a mixed thing and it could be a, you know, creative, uh, effects that, you know, a a solution in the mix we could get that tow work better. It might have too much river bottom out in those ways we cannot agree there's like a metallic quality a little bit. And maybe the placement is like it's so obvious that we just slammed on the brakes. You know, it could be a placement thing let's show them like, uh let's make it an active were mute the cliff I mean what's great about it is again pro tools being so visual you don't have to hide everything and tuck it away he just selected the clip the one that we're not sure about and let's show that again real quick just mutant on mute but it's not disappearing it's still there and so so that wasn't mute track it was clear just in case of other sections on the same track that we are keeping in fact I don't know if I that's really cool on that reverse track there's not at the moment but there could be another reversed element and we don't want to mute the whole track we just want to get that little element because I think we could one idea real quick is just determining that a bit you know, pit shifting it down a little bit may take off some of this thing and then it could work if you actually kind of make it a crime here yeah. You know, um right now it's almost like to clean too perfect too obvious for me. So that is, um that's on our list. If if if we could do it I want to try a pulse real quick and upholds just to like see if we can take that attention ramp up a notch and not conflict you know, rhythmically with the source music with the rock n roll music um I think this was like major revisions that that's that would do it and again, we need to get ready for a final delivery for omar so we need to set aside some time for mixing um it often takes more time and then you think I pushed brooke to keep keep adding things and adding things he's like no it's time it's time to start mixing so we will get their pre soon show you some mixing tricks but let's, whenever you go chronologically and address each element confined it third um I suggested metallica's beginning in homers that doesn't actually need to do a talent but it just needs to be on slightly more apparent, more shocking less you know let's feel it more hear it you want to pick something over here? Don't me over there um do you ever find that you need to look at kind of the spectrum of the mix and there's too much lows there there's too much eyes do you kind of like ever look at it? I'm like scylla scope on just like trying even it out or you know you just years? Yes kind of I feel like if you watch enough times it becomes obvious woods way referred to is like sinking into the picture it's when it's like you're not trying to cram something in there just it sits where it needs to sit especially when you pull in all the other dialogue and effects and sound effects it I feel like if you're aware of it and you're struggling with it there's something wrong? You have to address it and I feel like we kind to do that as we decide each instrument it's the mixing thing also isn't the last thing we do it's kind of weird constantly working on as we go so if one element we have is just just has too much low into much boom to it then it's like we're going to kind of work on it right then and it's kind of obvious have just just doing some of the filter sweeping were doing earlier it's like right there you got to kind of just it fits and you're maybe not is aware of it and then to me that's more like intuitive approach toe knowing that you've kind of got it too good place but also it could you know and then it gets that other sheen of mixing at the very end by someone else ultimately anyway so it's in pre mixing pretty much but and it's getting this close as you can just using I guess your instincts but it's um that's how I do it I mean, just probably plenty of approaches, but I think we've also set up again in lieu of like a recording template we were showing sort of the color coded um different groups of elements and you could almost art to see like this well in it for the example of this impact we're about to address you know we sort of have them group together and it's not enough right now there's only two elements let's add more to that you know conversely, if something mid range is just taking over the whole mix there is a clue down below that we have jammed twelve or sixteen instruments just into that one middle you know, melodic sweep right in the middle and that's why everything all the sudden is getting jumbled up and we could go in that little group of elements that we've already color coded a group together and just start defend them out, get rid of some of them or address them in the mix um yes it brooks got, you know, impact one to now we got a new impact which I'm not sure you do find something something shocking what about him? Okay, that was maybe kind of close to what he had there but it was that way there is like an obvious like musical tone to it it's not just percussive has got such like a gritty you know distorted nature to it right now out on its own I think it's a bit much but just look at it and see what happens I can jump over there were quick to that's helpful wait we don't have any right now to save time e don't have a picture of what I do have atleast you know that's fine I have a hand marker you we'll get a close real quick brooke dropped down to that track below it I'm gonna try one shorter he did mention sure it could be a little short of yet and we'll have to to pick from he has a natural decay through it that but I can also got chopped e kind of like that second I want to sell that all three that's the impact elements sort of pretty close shorting it back you want all for I don't know what them you hear all for student and I'm definitely what you think I think I'm still missing some of the early ones the's new ones are sort of overtaking well it's there it's got the you bring anything like like the shorter one right? Um I was gonna delete this one no, you just mute it it'll be there here with everything else a little visit in your face a little too way just way don't have a spring right river which might be cool but this is sort of where you know like making music and tracking music, mixing it at editing after the fact all become one sort of, you know, fluid process we like to mix as much candy as you go I mean it still might be reading is subtle to settle. What do you think should maybe sharper and more abrasive? He said he wouldn't be shocked and I know that's subtle size your moral you like the subtle stuff see that that's I do too, but then it gets into the director wants wants to be shocked or an animal or something like that, something sharp? Yeah, yeah, something but it's big enough that it's not bell or something, right question is, do we have that? We're kind of limited with from the sounds we have in this trial as soon as we know that I think we're going to talk up the the bull bull victim drone, I think we're going to bring that to the forefront a bit more and knowing that could be addressed in the final final mix, but I think that needs to come up a little bit to sort of help support this victim, who now we've learned is a zombie, and they're going to try a quick pulse on the ramp element, and then we're going to mix in a, um, in that mix process, they're still going to be sort of, you know, creative use of effects, a lot of killing and the book's gonna jump into stemming, um which we don't always do but when requested it's needed and you need to be quick with it it's just sort of we've got everything group together in these different elements we've got the impact element uh the victim drone element and the atmospheric element and the ramp up elements so that's kind of four distinct elements that need to be group together to keep things kind of manageable as far as the final mix goes um but we're going to export we'll get into stemming we're going to export all of those separately um rather than delivering you know, ten, twelve, fourteen tracks whatever we might get up to pretty soon I don't have anything everything like an animal but e dio sounds like long head because he had the gong there was something yeah so and he said that wasn't really quite what yes, but um laura yeah or with an iris either with an irs right now quickly or in sort of a post mixed thing we can totally color that sound a bit more so instead of you know brooks mood where the sample itself starts is that an active done, much less gani who you gonna be hidden by another close to being a probably get lost? I almost prefer that more than this last element we just added this kind of it's still there's up the sharper about it but it's not as in your face do you want oh yeah let's get it in there and then we'll do better in you know our impact elements are my ideals trigger from this I like the sound of it yeah that was was still with everything else so um and a little later we'll just time and then maybe closer to what he was talking because the lock is about italy but you can always pull this back that's the best thing I never been like like no it's actually still there it's still there so there's a long fade on it he did say short but I think we would live again we would deliver a bit mohr sort of spill over I wouldn't know a call that he called them handles I thought that was a great turn and we're like, you know here's the focus of the element you need but on either end of it it's spilling over a little bit to allow you know the flexibility to really find to that that exit in the mix did you want to get rid of the one we just did or kind like have a balance of I just turned it down I would have about you that you called the new and symbol yeah I think that what it sounds good so that deep rumbly low and that we first did is there I would even do more simple unless less of this simple enough together no lo and me what did you think that you so I think we're all yeah it was more settled in the version we just said yeah well you guys working on that maybe you could address a quick question that came up from zachary horner who wants to know would be the best way mixing lies to get the most presence on a base drone with consideration the systems that may not have a good sub he says I fear doing a low pad and having some people not being able to hear it with your headphone mix that's a great question in a lot of people now watching films on their laptops which is not gonna have not be good for that frequency range that's a tough one because I feel like I think it reminds me of you know recording and bands and recording like just you know your rock band whatever group your plane and we would always take a reference mix on it because that cd the test the car test all right I mean it's like a little factory car speakers now can you watch a movie there that's the question but you know different tablets different laptops different home systems bouncing a preliminary mix wherever you think that base should and could fit still be president yeah try it out with a different set of headphones right up with your buds um I think trust your ears I mean the most distracting thing is when you start to get that sort of audio deterioration when when something low end starts to break up thank you that's tough because ultimately use it to pay on the budget of the film, you assume the mixer is going to be handling all those decisions, but I'm if you're doing your own mix and maybe it's a director editor just putting a stereo mix into the film you do have to make those decisions yourself that stuff you got was played safe and just scoop out lows but then you may be, you know, losing losing, losing some drama and losing the act but very moving too much if it's if it's if it's pushing your laptop speakers too much that maybe rometty reference mixes and listening on different systems again, time permitting could be your best bet just I want to share a comment that came in like people are really enjoying the sessions acts breaker says I can't get over how cool irises yeah, they're doing so many really interesting things with it, so people who are following along at home are really enjoying what's going on right now cool and this is like the tip of the iceberg when they're so I mean we're just getting into scooping a couple frequencies there's so much you can do with this we're not even getting oscillators or effects um occasional you know, the occasional filter over here you know they're small onboard filters which pretty great um but it's just it's endless pretty much yeah way have crossed internet act yeah we've crossed impact off the list we're onto drone up this is just a quick mix thing we try another drew notice I think I'd like to just feather them up is he not at anyone? Yeah, and the thing with this is you know, there's a repetitive nature to the drone we hear it twice it enters when we first see the victim we get a break from it it enters again maybe just turning them both up uh you know, an equal amount there's not enough dynamics maybe you know you're literally just turning something up. How about we just turned one of them up it almost like puts an emphasis on let's say the second one brooke, I think is what you like that you you're doing more motion that you know yeah I mean turn of the second time we hear the drone rather just across the board did it all in one take right? Correct yet right? So it just kind of dips all right there's a dip and then you bring it back in but you never really came to a stop so we never came to a complete stop so there's sort of two you see the swells that happens vice they never quite break up in the middle I like to hear the second one you know I think it makes more sense the first one interest very minimally um and then the second one give it a bit more weight the second time I hear it brooks going to display all of them I would say all of them he's just going to spice them in the middle kind of separating them question is the second one at a volume that you like and the new quick cross face that's not a very obvious volume um people literally split the audio file but you there's the date you guys know this is the danger of hearing that pop you create a cross faded to smooth the two together it was a bit more presidents to the second I'm done with that yeah ok yeah work on the ramp element you had the part that you don't like and I think the year pulse okay so um pulse first toy yeah looks like literally a toy like forty dollars uh it's called a blip tronic five thousand points and we it was a toy that we got online would never use it in a film um until just the other day it did sneak into it the idea here is just a pulse generator way use a program and I think this is in the bonus materials the gear guy called trillion um choice yeah, of course the blimp shot five thousand in the most simplest way possible is just a pulse generator it has five sounds to pick from how many now and it has a couple of deposed from soup that's one sixteen is the fastest tempo this does not sound like a car crash is going this is not sound ominous this is not sound spooky it'll um we're going to try to get it in there real quick but again into gear guy there's we've listed trillion as one of the it's kind of a base synthesizer it's focuses on just a wide range of low base synthesis from old retro analog synthesizers and like new really modern sounds um and they've got great like pulsing functions to them that is kind of a go to at home but almost for like sake of example and I think believing that we could get this to work real quick just to show you know get you're getting something to poulsen brooke described the lipsey brooke described the decide chaining um as another option for posting live organic instruments there is one would you leave him hello uh wear with this this is going this is getting a terrible scene it's an experiment it would seem awkward and out of place first wait wait wait don't need it all the way okay turn that's something so it's there it obviously needs to work dismemberment at work um broke out a good no you know, he he noticed that the first temple we were at was equal to or maybe even slower than the source music the rock n roll music in the jeep and sew it everything started to like drag in relation to the rock music we cranked it up to one hundred sixty b p m it's the fastest it could go we just want to like jump the gun on that rock music so if they were dramatically increasing the tempo quite a bit um I pulled off a lot of the highs from that at a little bit of low end hollowed out yeah for this to work it's an e q thing and it's going to be a creative mixed thing and then another thing we can try is dropping it and activity because that's the lowest pitch we could get out of the thing but you know that was a middie plug in instrument you'd have the flexibility of dropping down in october two and seeing how low you can go um I'm not sure how like how you do this another dolls but maybe because are you able to like oh yeah not with money that was actual recorded ok and also like in live you can just turn that into many track and no really and then you could just shifted down local get that let's see what dr lower um it might be might be too much we'll see but this is too active because the other bass guitar like a rock band and brooke I think just to stay out of the way of the source rock I mean I think we need you know to bars like like eight pulse is ready well impulses tops maybe I think we started early he's going to leave you knowing it's still there whatever here too much there's a lot going on that moment to compete with so this could be overkill hey that and are we hanging there hanging over a little long something else is but I know that the atmosphere is hanging over and some reverb um once again we could leave some of that let them decide what the director is high if he wants a super hard cut or a little bit of a tail we'll get into delivery hey it's almost just reading is of low rumble and not as much of a pulse but it kind of helps a little bit with this role do you? So you still have a hard time with that other ramp element? It was two metallic perhaps is a the basement is there a quick mix that we've needed it out? Do you wantto maybe he in charge this thing this just happened? This is the first one that brooke wasn't sure about we'll drop that inactive it also had probably a bit too much river too just kind of hung over thiss week of folks what's mute out the dialogue trip yeah and any tiresome yeah it's a sharp metallic hear it when you hear what you said it I hear it yeah, what could happen to be a quickie q thing or shall we should we just agree to let it go? I could just try quick I mean just point out I don't know once again it may be doesn't need it I like this kind of moment to be it's just wanted scott all this low rumble to it it's it's more so yeah really here that means I mean you know you're getting it I'm ok with losing yes, I would do anything for us. I don't think so. Okay, if it goes but I'll make it an active back later lossless only remember it kind of got lost mixing after but so that's done one quick at this very growing again it's that kind of complimentary to the cabinet atmospheric drone that's there uh give us ourselves give yourselves a break from hearing that yeah, we're gonna we're gonna feathered and keep it kind of a noticeable but pull up anything that's kind of that world similar oh one thing I did in the break teo I don't know if anyone noticed we had that like overly brassy low and that was just way too much will be added to the trump the edges for those big moments so that's just basically once again cutting a whole bunch e q it's got surely even bone it before and after what you thought this was the first thing we dropped him it's just like we couldn't find right sound that now you could spend more time looking for the right sound or you could get creative with how you're that's that seems to be way too big for that moment you know and a little over the top so just kind of spinning it out of it I think just another little thing that comes in underneath everything but it's not this big are unless that's what the director wants they want this big moment when you know you've got it but this is a little more tasteful maybe let's do a drone and then we're going to um I'm always trying to take a couple steps ahead we definitely have to stem and I mean it kind of always depends on what delivery expectations are depending on the production you're working on um oftentimes just the way file a stereo way final maybe for like a documentary off that's always needed um get a clear idea of what's expected of us for its delivery see allowed time to get your files ready um in this case we are going allow time for stemming brooke we'll get into standing in one second he finds a quick much more area windy than what was there before which could be cool well that's them that's the impact is interesting let's start there that sound is a um address that you know the attack and release and maybe later like a sign wave with brooke uh hoping that there was loaded okay I think just moving thiss will go forwards and backwards if you keep it going forever is that a good place to start your picks up and he's going to fill in some gaps you think sort of the latter half but let's get an early start on it but maybe um maybe the dip remember that's where that's where the source music starts that's where you've dipped that atmosphere out there let's start around the rock n roll the source music of here uh here real quick now think about that hey, you okay way here we're accident or something your patient go tonto you gonna be okay okay wait just hanging there were engaged in helping their feeling ok all right let it move around a little bit and, um no dialogue just listen to ways that yeah just listen to the atmosphere with the source way don't have sore separate its all of its nationally tip right when that was different that's a good place to bring it india they have brought in a little early we're going to address some of the entrance of it um I'm going to lead minus well and run this spring the source beckett I think there might be too much weight in here. Yeah, and then start stemming ok three we just shipped out of that altogether, so it certainly brought cross fading to two atmospheres but they're not really going. They're going to overlap or not really going to exist at the same time and then finally I just think let's just talk everything down with the source music five minutes yes, and then we've got to start still took everything the whole well, yeah, both atmospheres down, I think there's competing a little bit with the with the source music any last minute thoughts brooks going to start to prepare final mix usually go over stemming real quick, so quick shortcut was that sort of color coding and grouping different elements together kind of does some of the organizational work up front again? The idea that we're grouping sort of like minded were like a sound like minded like sounding instruments together, so whoever's mixing the final film kind of has low end down here mid range here we'll keep the ramp element completely separate so they could turn that up from that down independently and we'll keep the two atmospheres on a separate a separate stem so they have flexibility kind of mix it the way they think in addition to stems, we will always send a reference mix. You know, we'll bounce a quicktime file that has kind of a mix that we think works, that we've all gotten together here. Um, so they can see kind of what we were thinking, how things work in relation to each other, but ultimately, the have flexibility to go back and adjust.

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.