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New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

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New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat May 29, 2021 6:08 pm

In a film scoring course I took a couple of years ago, the instructor mentioned that a great exercise to practice film scoring is to download a movie that's in the Public Domain and try scoring that. Of course this is not a new idea, but thanks to the Internet, getting hold of Public Domain works is easier than ever.

I've decided to adopt that idea and will try my hand at scoring the 1925 silent film Lost World using only hardware synths, naturally.

I'm rather excited for this one because I love both tone poems and leitmotifs and this is a chance to try my hand at both!

Surprisingly, the film itself holds up rather well, which is a relief as many films in the Public Domain are pretty dodgy. :)

I'll be using this thread to keep track of my progress, as I imagine this may take a while to complete.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Martin Walker » Sat May 29, 2021 6:14 pm

Wow! Now this thread I shall be watching very closely 8-)


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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby IAA » Sat May 29, 2021 6:27 pm

Wow indeed. I’ve followed your work Ben and very impressed I am. Really looking forward to this project, I loved reading the lost world as a lad. Thinking of the “Challenger” motif.......
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat May 29, 2021 6:49 pm

We could make it more real world for you -
Like Danny Elfman and Thomas Newman both got fired from this gig and you are hired. :bouncy:
Sadly your budget will get eaten up in litigation with those composers and all music related expenses come from what’s left of your meager all-in fee. But don’t despair because the Producers family will pitch in with thoughts about the direction you should take. (Oh wait, they never agree on anything!)
They all are in a meeting as we speak because some are thinking of recutting the ending, but you can work with the cut you have for now, any changes will be at the 11th hour, but as you work with a computer they will be easy fixes. There was a rumour about using a Rolling Stones track but that would eat up the rest of your fee and then some so you might have to do a clone version that says “Satisfaction” without violating copyright. Speaking of that the new Producer wants to own all your music, both Publishing and Writers share because that’s what the Americans like to do. Don’t forget you’ll also have to do the trailer music, a :30, :60 and 1:10 (for the Japanese market) and shorten the length of your cues for the shortened DVD version as we need space on that disk for adverts. Your contract will arrive by the final mix date, it won’t need any changes. Good luck and have fun. BTW - you got the memo that the mix is in 18 days? The Producer and family don’t want anything to interfere with their holiday at their villa in southern Spain.
:tongue:
(The above is all fictional and never happens in real life)
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun May 30, 2021 3:06 pm

Got through the intro and first scene last night. This is going to take some doing!
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby ManFromGlass » Sun May 30, 2021 8:17 pm

Will you share the final film or sections as you finish them? I was inspired to do Metropolis many years ago but before I could start a composer who had been similarly inspired had the idea to play his score live with a group of musicians in the movie theatre. I heard it was very cool.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun May 30, 2021 8:32 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Will you share the final film or sections as you finish them? I was inspired to do Metropolis many years ago but before I could start a composer who had been similarly inspired had the idea to play his score live with a group of musicians in the movie theatre. I heard it was very cool.
I think I heard about that as well ...

I will probably wait until it's complete before I send it out into the wild. It's a ton of music, and I don't want to worry about mixing it at the same time.

I had to give myself a crash course in DaVinci Resolve this morning as I realised that a) I don't have any video editing software and b) I know nothing about video editing at all!

I was able to get the opening and the first seen rendered, though ... this is going to be a HUGE file when it's done!
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon May 31, 2021 12:30 pm

What’s your main DAW? I assume it plays back video. Just curious why you need Resolve? To make the video file smaller? Or run better in your DAW?
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon May 31, 2021 12:34 pm

DAW is Logic Pro, it does support video, but renders video as .MOV files and I learned the hard way that .MOV doesn’t play well with cloud storage or streaming very reliably. I am using Resolve to convert the scenes to .MP4 so I can access them remotely.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon May 31, 2021 12:42 pm

I had an unexpected pocket of time yesterday waiting for some stems to be uploaded (I also score an actual play podcast) and I got a good chunk of Scene 2 done yesterday. I have to re listen to it today to see if it needs anything else added. So far I’ve been able to keep it pretty sparse: 808 drum machine, some percussion samples, Moog bass line, and one orchestral element (strings and brass thus far).

Scene 3 is long enough for me to try my hand at either a pad or drone, will see what fits.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon May 31, 2021 6:23 pm

I use Handbrake to convert files to smaller sizes and/or different formats. I think it’s still free and does a great job. It’s also really fast.
When I’m sending cues for approval I’ll export the mov file of only the scene I worked on from Logic, probably with about 20 seconds run up to the scene, do a really quick convert in Handbrake using the iphone format preset so it’s small but the audio quality remains high. Sometimes I’ll keep the full movie in my Logic folder when sending to other computers as the file will be tiny. But I’ll keep the uncompressed quality version on my main machine.
If you chunk the movie into scenes that need music the file won’t be big and take no time to up/download.
Sorry if I might be repeating things you already know, but I like to start Logic songs for each cue 12 bars before where I want the cue to start because sometimes you want to move your start point sooner. This is easier than messing around with adding new bars before bar 1.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon May 31, 2021 7:14 pm

Great tips, thanks!!

As this is a silent film, I'm going to try to have the score be continuous throughout. Will see how successful I am!!
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Jun 01, 2021 1:18 am

A good challenge for sure. But if you include a bit of sound design used in a musical way you might find your music has more impact when it is there. Or not!

Are you creating a Logic song for each cue you do? Or are you using 1 master song to write in?
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:59 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:A good challenge for sure. But if you include a bit of sound design used in a musical way you might find your music has more impact when it is there. Or not!

Are you creating a Logic song for each cue you do? Or are you using 1 master song to write in?
Yes, each cue is a separate session.
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Re: New synth challenge -- scoring a silent film!

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jun 01, 2021 10:39 pm

I'm really looking forward to hearing some (or indeed all) of this when it's finished, as it's a fascinating project!


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