Monday, May 12, 2014

Music

Making the music for my film has been a bit of an adventure. I'm a big music-lover and find it as moving, inspiring and generally awesome as I do visual art, and personally I find it the most powerful artform for evoking emotions. For this film I knew it would play a crucial role as there's no dialogue, so I wanted a soundtrack that would compliment the character's actions and help 'sell' their personalities and motivations.

As I've dabbled in the past in making music digitally I originally wanted to have a go at seeing if I could do it myself, obviously not expecting anything amazing, but I thought if I kept it simple and didn't aim for a full-on orchestral-style soundtrack I might be able to achieve something quite nice.

These are the drafts I made for the first two scenes.

(The first 20 seconds are particularly bad, but I quite liked the rest of it)



Nycteris' scene:

 

Eventually I realised I was being a bit silly / ambitious considering I have no real knowledge of music-making and had to focus my time on the animation.

I advertised through Leeds College of Music and got in contact with Declan Bell  who has gone on to make an excellent soundtrack which makes me feel very grateful I never stuck with my original plan...

Here it is in draft version on my progress presentation, I do have the final mastered version but will save that for when the film's more finished. We communicated a lot during the process and Declan was very open to my suggestions and wanted to ensure the music fit what I was wanting, whilst also offering a lot of his own creative input which was great.



I wanted the overall tone of the film to be quite whimsical and enchanting, and for each character to have certain themes/instruments associated with them. I took inspiration from a couple of my favourite animated films which similarly use music to express a darkly fantasy atmosphere, especially Danny Elfman's work for Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride.

For Watho we referenced Dr. Finkelstein's theme from Nightmare, which is on this track, notably at around 0:48. The clarinet is often used to express something mischievous and a bit sinister whilst sounding slightly comical, and we thought it would work well to establish her character in the introduction. It repeats at around 2:40 to indicate that Photogen is keeping an eye out for her in the cottage.

For Photogen, it was a little more difficult to pin down inspiration but generally we wanted him to come across as a happy, energetic little kid who grows into a strong, stubborn, typically masculine guy. We decided a lot of energetic strings and a bit of brass (this is more audible in the mastered version) would work well. The music which plays when he's hunting the deer is very energetic and I think does a great job of shaking up the pace to the overall film - it sharply contrasts the slower, more thoughtful music on Nycteris' scene beforehand.

For Nycteris, we thought a lot of harps, flutes and glockenspiel-type sounds would suit her gentle, curious character. Her theme plays at around 4:02.

Luckily for the entire composition process we were on the same wavelength and had similar ideas/sounds in mind, so the process all ran smoothly despite me being a bit disorganised whilst making the animatic.

I'm very happy with it! I think it definitely heightens the emotional impact of the story.

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