The Trailer Challenge

Seeing that we are just past the halfway point of 2013, I thought "What better time then now to find a challenge for myself?". As you are probably aware, I love to translate pictures and images in to sound or "aural visions". It is so fulfilling to create a work that speaks a universal language. It is even more fulfilling when writing music for film, TV and games when the viewer experiences the emotion without really noticing the music.

It is wonderful when a soundtrack fully supports a visual without distracting from the message or idea being communicated. Like most composers I strive to get better and better with my ability while at the same time being able to work quickly as well. So I decided to undertake a self-imposed trailer scoring bootcamp! The challenge is to conceptualize, score, mix and master 1 trailer a day for five days.

My workflow for completing a composition includes: 1) finding the visual content, 2) understanding emotional colors and the overall timbre, 3) locking in to the timing with tempo markers, 4) deciding where I would like the ebbs and flows to be and 5) writting my plan down.

Once that is complete I then: 6) choose the ensemble of instruments and sounds that I believe best suite the content and picture, 7) begin working on the overall motiff for the piece, 8) work out the counter-melodies and supporting rhythms, 9) work out the percussion, 10) integrate ambience, subtle reverb and other sound effects to create the atmosphere dictated by the footage.

Now that I have my tracks are recored and I feel that the message reflects the visuals I proceed to: 11) perform a rough mix, 12) force myself to choose two tracks that I have recored and completely remove them from the composition, 13) adjust mix accordingly, 14) integrate the music mix with the foley and sound effects levels, 15) perform final mix, 16) master the mix (this is another process in itself) to EBU 128 standards and call that a conceptual candidate. Now odds are I go back and forth between a few steps as I make changes or find inspiration that leads me down another road, but that is my basic plan.

I am in day 3 of the challenge and I must admit, today is off. When I gave myself the challenge, I didn't take into account that I had planned on redoing my website, starting a blog and doing work on the other projects that I have. I am going to push through this and where I might not make the window for a "day" standpoint, I will have a trailer completed every 24 hours.

Well enough time spent here (I need to get back to work). The trailer I am working on now is "Man of Steel" and what I challenge it is to do something original when the great John Williams has already defined for the world what Superman's theme is. I am going to try my best to be original with the motiff but I am not making any promises....

Oh yeah... check my first two and tell me what you think: After Earth - Recomposed and The Paperman - Recomposed.




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