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Topic: "Willow" Re-Scored

  1. #1

    "Willow" Re-Scored

    Hey all,

    So for my Music and Sound in Broadcast Media class, my final project was to take a clip from the film "Willow" MOS (no sound whatsoever) and, with my group, add the appropriate dialogue, foley/sound effects, and music. Being the only composition major in the class, I decided to write an original score for the clip (versus using production library tracks, which every other group used). To score the clip, I used Finale 2010 and GPO (v.2), and I'm fairly happy with the results. Please have a listen and let me know what you think!!

    YouTube - Willow Re-Scored

    By the way film scoring in Finale was a breeze; "Fit to Time" is a lifesaver, and definitely better than the hit points method in Sibelius (which I own and originally tried, but found to be horrible.)


  2. #2

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Good to hear as I just upgraded to Finale 2011 and got it home a couple days ago. I'm enjoying it along with the new Garritan sounds.

  3. #3

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Nice job with this! It's interesting to see the film with different music. As a kid I saw this movie way too many times, and since have listened to the soundtrack even more. It was actually the first film score I really "heard" that inspired me to write music, however cheesy that sentiment may be.

    I thought you did a great job with the orchestration and the overall tonal structure. It flowed very naturally.
    House of Blackbirds Music Channel on YouTube

    Joe's Music on iTunes

  4. #4

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Very good job!
    What else can I say???
    There is no spoon.

  5. #5

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Bravo Ken!

    Hope to see your name in some credits soon
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  6. #6

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    it's nice seeing Willow without the soundtrack by Robert Schumann... such a nice change.

  7. #7

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    I like the composition that's for sure. If you wrote this with the idea of real musician's playing it, than you're solid. I like how the music interacts with the film. From a sonic POV, and I think DPDan would be the guy to chime in here, I think you can make GPO sound a little more fluid and organic. Some of those quick passages sound too "perfect" because you're using Finale (did you use the Human Playback BTW?). I know Dan does his stuff in a DAW like Digital Performer and has gotten some stunningly realistic results but it takes some extra finessing to get it there.

    Good job though.

    OT- where's is that film scoring "fit to time" function you mentioned? I couldn't find it in Finale 2011 last night.

  8. #8

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Thank you all for the nice comments. I did write this with live players in mind...or at least with the plan to make a mock-up with some more "realistic" libraries. I spent most of the time I had on the project just writing the music (which in turn game me a lot of respect for those who have no time to write a couple hours of music), and so it was quicker for me to use GPO with Finale. Personally, I felt that some parts played back better using the Instruments for Finale 2010, but the GPO sounds were generally nicer (mostly because of the higher sample rate).

    Oh, and the "Fit to Time" feature is under the MIDI tool menu...after selecting the MIDI tool, go to the menu and select "Tempo", then re-open the menu and "Fit to Time" is toward the bottom. It allows you to set either the elapsed time for a group of measures or the end time, stretching the tempo as needed. Tempo Tap also came in handy, but "Fit to Time" helped me sync the music much better.


  9. #9

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Cool. I'm always switching back and fourth between Finale and Sibelius depending on the project. Somethings I find Sibelius does easier but I'm getting actually very speedy on Finale and I find it plays back libraries better, especially GPO which is actually very good. I mix GPO with "expensive" libraries and it does not sound out of place at all IMO.

    Once again, nice job on your cue.

  10. #10

    Re: "Willow" Re-Scored

    Hi Ken, I'm really liking the composition. Well done, everything blends with the film themes, and flows (where it should flow). As some people mentioned, you could get a less mechanical feel to some of the rapid passages by experting the midi to a sequencer such as Sonar, Cubase, Pro Tools, REAPER (you can get a long free trial of REAPER) ext. This is what I do with rapid midi passages (not specifically GPO).

    • listen back intently

    • identify places that could use more dynamic or tempral variation (typically, the quick passages are most obvious)

    • in the MIDI editor/piano roll of the software, there is usually the option to apply some randomization to both timing (random quantization) and attack velocity. This is not a one pass fixer (don't just throw this on the entire track, but do try adding some randomization to fast passages).

    • listen back to each phrase that you do this to, of course, and adjust if necessary (it usually is)

    • you will likely find that you need to manually make changes to the attack, timing, and envelope of key notes (yes this is tedious) to be satisfied

    A note about randomizing the attack velocity: since we are dealing with samples, you typically will need to vary the attack value by a minimum threshold in order to get a different attack amplitude. For example, if you change the attack velocity from 127 to 126, there may in fact be no change to the way the sampling software plays the note. You may find that in fact, a sample with a less aggressive attack does not kick in until the velocity is reduced to 123, or 120, ext (I'm speaking in general... I don't know how far apart these spacing are in GPO).

    A note about randomizing the temporal mapping (or quantization... which has a dual meaning to many of us in the audio game)--which should be intuitive to those who play instruments, is that a simple randomization about the exact attack time does not typically represent real playing (well, at least not mine). Players tend to follow trends with their off-timing. I tend to come in a touch too early way more often than a touch to late, for example. Pro musicians are certainly more accurate with timing, but consecutive notes are still likely to follow a trend (eg. a run is slightly ahead or bedinf, rather then consecutive notes being arbitrarily ahead or behind). There may be workarounds to this such as applying timing randomization in one direction more than the other, or applying mild randomization, and then manually shifting the notes around a bit to reflect what a player might actually do.

    Yes, this is tedious. Even though there are tools to help automate this procedure, I usually find that making someting sound as organic as possible requires a human's intuitive touch at least somewhere. Even in this high tech age, it's not uncommon for professional mixing engineers to be manually shifting things about to add subtle variation.

    Then, there are sonic elements like reverb, EQ, ext. Too much to mention right now, but here is something that I will bring up:
    Reverb while mixing samples from different libraries:

    When you are mixing sounds recorded from various sources, if you want a consistant spatial impression (a homogeneous sound, in which all the instruments sound like they are playing in the same acoustic space at the same time), you typically want to have as dry as possible source material, and then run everything through a common reverb. I mean, if you can "turn off" the reverb on each sample library player, and then run all the dry sources through a common convolution reverb that simulates a single acoustic space, then things will start to really mesh and sit together nicely. Sometimes however, this is not desirable (for example, if you wanted the effect that the trumpets were sounding from from outer space or from another dimension... then you might do some wacky things with EQ and use a different reverb for them or play with reverb parameters in real time). But in general for classical music, a single (high quality) reverb applied to everything is important to create that feeling of a live space. Keep in mind that even if you want, just as an example-- trumpets to be sounding from off stage, in the distance-- the sound will still usually interact with the room that you sit in before you hear it. To make things sound far away, more of the same reverb, (I mean that the listener/room relationship stays the same, but the instrument/room relationship can be different if this is an option) can be applied, and additional equalization can be strategically applied.

    EQ can be used in so many ways... for adding not only tone colour and helping things sit in the mix, but also for adding dimension/depth and proximity illusions, ext. But, applying EQ for this sort of thing is an art form that I won't even try to generalize in a sane forum post (and DPDan is probably the real expert on this).
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau

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