Last NMIT Post!

This will be my final blog entry relating to NMIT Diploma of Sound Production! I will still continue to update my blog as I build my website on Wordpress. I’m planning for it to be a portfolio website for me as a composer. Hopefully I will begin setting up during the holidays so please feel free to continue following me! So I have just handed everything in yesterday, which took a massive weight off my shoulders. Four months worth of hard work handed in and now it’s out of the way… almost. Now I just need to finish off the demos and spend some time making the foley sound epic for Francis. Then ‘Bruce’ can be released on to the Internet and be laughed at along with the ‘Bruce Soundtrack’ on my Soundcloud, YouTube, Newgrounds and various other websites I will be preparing on the holidays. I must say I am very pleased with the result of the whole project and myself. No, I don’t think the music suits the film one hundred percent but it was a tricky film to score to. In my opinion, a more suitable soundtrack would have been either a purposely-bad ‘B-grade’ soundtrack or something that was more grounded in just simple rock music, but that would’ve been too limiting and I would’ve gotten nothing out of that.  I mainly used the film as a huge learning experience this year and even though I learnt enormous amounts during the first half of the year, things got truly intense when I begun ‘Bruce’. It forced me to use everything I learnt from this course and more; I went from someone who has only ever improvised jazz and helped write some pop/rock/hardcore music with bands to someone who can compose and produce fairly convincing film scores within nine months. It did take me about four months to write for a ten minute film though, which is ridiculously long but at least now I have a good grasp on how to approach the wide range of styles I wrote for ‘Bruce’. I am more confident now in approaching electronic, rock, simple piano, ambient and typical ‘Hans Zimmer’ modern orchestral action music (minus seventy tracks or so) and hopefully I can write that sort of music much quicker.

I still have a long way to go but this course has been an amazing starting point that has made me realize my interests in music and set me in good direction. I always thought doing session work as a guitarist would be the thing I would try to get into but I have never felt so passionate about that as I have with writing music. I remember after a whole day of learning guitar and jazz at NMIT, I would come home and practice for about three to four hours on average and that would be it; mental exhaustion and complete un-interest would kick in (sometimes even before I begun practicing) and I would proceed to play my X-Box. This year however, I have spent almost every free minute working on music and school related work and composing whenever I have the chance at home. My X-Box has been collecting dust for literally about eight months now; I think the only video game related activity I will be doing from now on would be to score for a game or do the sound design for it (one day hopefully).

Anyway, that was some introspective stuff about what I think this year. I just want to thank the teachers for being awesome and enthusiastic about teaching and helping out (that hasn’t always been the case for me at other courses). So thanks Peter for sparking my interest into some twenty-first century classical music (I’m obsessed with Ravel and Debussy at the moment). Your weekly compositional technique exercises you set for us have helped a lot and the film scoring lectures you provided were fascinating; I only wish there were more sessions on that. Thank you Michael for teaching me about all the mixing tools; I honestly did not know what a compressor actually did even after owning a compressor guitar pedal for the last couple of years until you explained it. Even though I don’t use Pro Tools to compose, I still use it to for sound editing and foley work so your Pro Tools knowledge was very useful for me. And thank you Darren for organizing this amazing course and also setting out very industry and university relevant work that I’m sure will benefit me in my future undergraduate studies (like the academic reports, proposals, etc.). I just wish that there were an advanced diploma equivalent for this course! That would’ve been great.

Ok, it’s getting a bit gooey so I’m going to stop. Now that the course is over, I have university auditions, Pro Tools intensives, website designs and four films lined up waiting to be scored on the holidays. Fun times ahead.

Two Week Update

I haven’t updated my blog in two weeks now due to me having the busiest two weeks of my life and that’s not an exaggeration! I have shut my self in my room and have been composing, practicing, writing, stressing and preparing for both NMIT and non-NMIT related projects. I haven’t had a chance to touch ‘Bruce’ in the last two weeks due to the fact that it’s one of the very last things due on my to do list. I have however been preparing for the performance, which went quite well in my opinion but on to that later; first, a summary of my two weeks. So after kicking Francis in the butt to stabilize, color grade and render a high quality version of ‘Bruce’, he finally got working on it (and I’m grateful because he has also been flat out working on his own projects). Unfortunately, he didn’t stabilize it and did a really hasty color grade due to time constraints. I then took the two cues I was performing and edited them in iMovie, which again unfortunately didn’t work out as planned because apparently iMovie can’t render full HD videos (seriously?). Anyway, long story short, Francis and I wasted a whole precious day rendering, googling, petrol wasting, etc. but eventually we got everything to work. After that, I made a performance session in Logic with everything I need within it. Unfortunately once more that didn’t work out either because during a practice run, my computer decided to die due to the extra video output. So Darren’s solution was to run the video and backing track off the school iMac, while I process my guitar and keyboard within my Macbook; it worked perfectly. I then just practiced getting the timing right for ‘Run Johnny, Run’ which was a tricky one because there are a few hit points that hit in awkward moments and I also practiced the keyboard for ‘Seriously Serious’. I also had to learn Jaime’s ‘Love Sound’, which was also tricky because he didn’t have a recorded demo or any sheet music, but I managed to get that down after some confusion.

Apart from performance preparation, I have been writing pieces for my auditions and one of them was based on the ‘Silent Voyage’ film that I was originally going to score for when I started this project. Surprisingly, Francis thinks this version sounds better suited than my piano piece I wrote earlier on. I don’t think I will be completing that project though until after this course is finished due to ‘Bruce’ still having two more cues that need composing for, and also another one that needs mixing but I will post the ‘Silent Voyage’ concept up anyway (even the irrelevant sections):

I was also hoping that I could perform this piece on the second night of the concert but I only finished it three days before so that didn’t happen. I think it would’ve been more ‘interactive’ though because everything was made from guitar reverbs and hitting books, spoons and etc. Only the choir was a sample.

Ok, now to evaluate my performance and the concert: I’m glad it’s over! Although horribly exhausting, I have had a fun two days of preparing, watching and performing. It was definitely interesting to finally see everyone’s fully produced music and personally, it was one of my more comfortable performances with good vibes all around. The stage crew also went well and although I was forgetting things during the tech runs, during the actual performances, things ran smoothly between Christina, Dylan and I. Performance-wise, I’m not entirely sure how I went but it certainly felt very natural which was good because I was worrying about how to perform my piece beforehand a lot, but the first night up, I realized everyone was glued to the screen and not me. That made it easier for me because I didn’t feel like I had to compete with the film itself, which would’ve been very hard due to me playing one power chord most of the time. Also, I think it’s good that the audience was not distracted by me at all. The second night up, I was far more relaxed and kind of just accompanied the film. The MIDI keyboard however, was not relaxing and I made pretty substantial mistakes both nights; nobody seemed to notice (I hope).  Overall, I had good feedback and I was quite satisfied with it even though it wasn’t perfect. I’m not entirely sure what I could improve because live film scores are not exactly that common and it is a bit confusing as to where the attention should be focused towards; the performers or the entertaining film? But if I could make improvements, I would choose better songs to perform and perhaps have a small band or something to perform it. I could’ve also practiced that keyboard section a little more. But yes, I am relieved that it’s done and over with! Now to stress even more because it’s back to the accursed ‘Bruce’ film.

You Can Polish A Turd...

I was going to post this blog on Saturday noon to update my absence on Friday when I finished ‘Run Johnny Run’ but that didn’t go to plan because I still didn’t manage to finish it until Sunday morning at 2am, so I might as well post a belated Friday blog entry along with the whole week. I’m not sure whether it’s because I have spent ninety plus hours on ‘Run Johnny, Run’, and that I have lost all perspective on it, or whether it’s just a horrible song, but no matter what, I just don’t like the sound of it. I’m definitely most proud of it because it’s my longest and most ‘intricate’ cue with little details popping in and out for the span of three minutes but I absolutely hate it at the same time because it simply just sounds really bad to me. It has definitely improved from my original draft concept but it seems that there’s nothing much more I can do to it to make any big change. It has taken me this long to figure out that I have actually been sprinkling gold sparkles on to a piece of turd this whole time in desperate attempts to cover it up. I should’ve started a new piece when I had the chance because it still smells like a turd regardless… The problem originated when I was uncertain whether or not I wanted a guitar or synth sounds as my main riff. I went with a synth sound trying to sound like a guitar, which was a mistake because now my song sounds too muddy to be a nice sleek electronic piece, but at the same time, it’s not heavy or distorted enough to sound like a guitar piece. It’s sitting somewhere in between and it’s very unsatisfying, but anyway, no one else has complained about it except for Francis who just wanted a little bit more rock elements to it.

So I have recorded real guitars that by nature sound muddier than the clean, unnatural, bit-distorted texture of the synth guitar I used before. I have mixed them the best I can but it is proving to be a challenge to bring the single notes out from behind all of the harmonically rich textures in the song. The power chords sit nicely behind everything though; giving the song some metal like heaviness. I also changed the ending for the third time in which I’m settling on this time around (or so I keep telling myself). I wasn’t happy with the cheesy string line; it was a bit too much for this scene and reminded me of one of those eighties good-cop, bad-guy movies. Finally, I did some more mixing and changed a few little details once again, which didn’t make any difference at all so I’m saying it’s done because the more I mix, the more it sounds… the same. So here’s the final mix for ‘Run Johnny Run’:

Ok, I’ve also managed to finish ‘Chase Car’. There was quite a dilemma with this one. As I’ve mentioned before, Francis and I conceived this whole film to be one big satire; a dark comedy that contains very little forced laughs. The novelty of a giant rampaging teddy bear should be the only reason why this film is laughable because the way it has been shot and edited is that it tries to seem try-hard serious. This is the reason why I have made my music so over the top for such a small production film; it seemed to work in our minds. Now whether or not the film was executed well enough to portray is unclear because so far whenever people see this cue, they are baffled as to why it sounds so big and epic when it’s just a cheap looking teddy bear running through a boring alleyway. It’s only when I explain the concept, they seem to understand. I think perhaps everyone I’ve shown has taken this movie a bit too seriously. This thirteen-minute film was made in a total of eight days (as opposed to three months) with no love whatsoever; it’s meant to be lame and ridiculously bad. I want the music to contrast that in a similar way that it has been shot: try-hard serious. My goal with this cue is to not make people think how amazing and intense this scene is, but to make them think this sounds ridiculous! So here is the final mix for Chase Car, which I have renamed to ‘Seriously Serious’:

That’s two more songs off my list. Now I just need to focus on the performance for now and work on ‘Shit Just Got Real’ a little more this week.

Wednesday Absent Update

Okay! A really quick blog entry on what I did today since I need to hurry up and continue composing for ‘Bruce’. I restarted from scratch for ‘Shit Just Got Real’ and in my opinion; it sounds far better than what I had before. The old version was too serious for this particular scene and kind of had a modern ‘Call Of Duty’ sound to it so I decided to lighten it up a bit and go with a cheesier, bass guitar riff to continue showing off what a badass Bruce is. This version has a lot more tension to it but doesn’t feel very big though, which is more suitable due to it being the only indoor scene. The quality of it is very bad at the moment because I haven’t been looking for proper sounds yet; this is just where the hit points are and how it will play out:

That’s pretty much all I’ve done for ‘Bruce’ today regarding composing. I will post up a weekly update to recap the whole week on Sunday night. Regarding the performance, I have decided that I will be playing ‘Run Johnny, Run’ on guitar, which runs for three minutes and I will also be playing ‘Chase Car’ on the synth as a string section that goes for about thirty seconds. These two are probably my favorite cues from the movie so I have decided to lock them in for good. I have begun making performance preparations around these two cues and the only thing I need to know now is what digital guitar amplifier is going to be used on the night. Other than that, I just need to continue making these pieces happen!

Friday Absent Update

Making a quick update on what I did on Friday the 19th due to me not attending classes on that day. I’ve decided to start focusing on the performance aspects now since the compositions are not due until after it. I have sent off all the tracks, foley and time codes to Francisco and he finally got to watch the whole film with most of the music. His only complaint was that the songs all felt a bit inconsistent from each other and hoped for more rock elements in it. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to re-write any of them anymore so I’m just going to have to do my best and work with what I’ve got. I’ve also let him know that the film has to be graded and polished up soon so he’s started work on that. I’ve also begun tracking guitars for ‘Run Johnny, Run’, which is almost finished; I just need to continue layering and equalizing a bit more. Regarding the performance itself, I’ve decided to choose two cues that have guitars in it and I’m going to perform those. The plan is to export the songs (without guitars) and perhaps the foley into Pro Tools along with the high quality film so I can play along to it like a backing track using the Guitar Rig or similar program.

Anyway, so everything is starting to come into place! I should be more stressed out than ever right now because I am about three weeks behind schedule, but I’m feeling quite relaxed now because I’ve done everything I can like a crazy insomniac in the last two months or so and there is nothing much I can do about it now but continue to work.

Recapitulation Of Work

This week has been another stressful week but I’m definitely more relaxed due to the news that we have the option to take Wednesdays and Fridays off. I think those days are definitely necessary due to my growing list of things to do outside of NMIT. That being said, I still don’t have much time left so I’ve decided to make a list of all the pieces for ‘Bruce’ to see what I need to do: . Abandoned - Did a quick EQ following Peter’s advice to reduce the high ends of the cello so it sits in the background. Francis and I are happy with it so it’s done and out of the way!

. Bruce’s Theme - Listening to it this week, I’ve realized that it’s too muddy. The rhythm guitars sound like they are from the chorus of a post-hardcore song; they’re not punchy enough. I’ll have to mix it properly and also extend the song to be used in the credits.

. Shit Just Got Real - Need to add more instruments and sounds to make it sound more interesting and varied. So far it’s just some orchestral percussion and string drones. Also need to extend it through the short fight scene, which I’m still not quite sure what to do yet but I’m going to keep it simple.

. Run Johnny, Run / Teddy’s Gonna Getcha - This piece is by far the most difficult one to make out of all of them. It has been causing me so much grief this week, but I have finally managed to make it sound better! After being totally lost as to why this song sounded so bland and dull, Peter and Michael helped me figure out my problem: Dynamics, variation and space! So after literally spending thirty hours (that’s an underestimate) this week on it layering drums and synths from the ground up, I have something that’s definitely an improvement. It’s still messy and has room for more improvement. The string dynamics are a bit out of place and I still have to get around to recording real guitars. Composition wise, I ended up changing a few minor parts and I’m not entirely happy with the end section. It still sounds cheesy and lame as anything but I guess that’s the whole point. I’m going for a ’21 Jump Street’ sort of feel with this one. The top SoundCloud file is the original song I posted a few weeks earlier and the bottom is the improved song I made this week.

. Hide N’ Seek - This piece definitely works and elevates the tension a lot but I wasn’t sure whether it was too over the top or scary sounding a few weeks ago. Francis had a listen and thought it worked fine so I just equalized it a little bit and it’s finished!

. Don’t Fluff With Bruce - I didn’t like this piece at all; after all this was one of the pieces I struggled with along with ‘Run Johnny, Run’. It just didn’t work as soon as I added the foley; probably because it sounds way too big and didn’t really make sense. I’m thinking of stripping it back to mainly sound effects and percussion so that is something I’ll have to re-compose this week. The music from a short film called ‘Losses’ is more suitable so I’m going to draw some form of inspiration from it. The main fight begins around the 5.05 mark: (contains violence). It’s quite subtle compared to my music but works nicely in my opinion.

. Chase Car - This horribly named track hasn’t been worked on since I posted it last time but it’s sounding fairly good at the moment. Not too troubled by this piece as it contains all orchestral instruments and doesn’t require too much processing nor mixing. Will try to finish it by the end of this week.

. Fluffy Vengeance - I haven’t started this piece yet but I’m thinking of creating a big orchestral/guitar piece for this ultimatum so that should be fun.

So that was my recap of all the work I have done and from the looks of it, I still have to do a lot so I better continue to not sleep properly!

Sound Design Begins

I didn’t get much done this week as I had quite a lot of days that were booked in, which was why I wanted to get everything done two weeks ago. I did however manage to compose a simple yet effective piece for ‘Bruce’s’ sad introduction, which probably doesn’t need any sort of serious mixing:

I had some good feedback from it and apparently it works quite well; sad but sinister. It’s annoying because I whipped it up in less than two hours and works so much better than any other song that I’ve spent twenty plus hours on.

Ok, now here’s where the frustration begins: finding the right sounds. So I’ve decided to skip writing the smaller compositions for now and focus on getting the main ones to sound good. I started with ‘Run, Johnny Run’, which in my opinion is probably the hardest one to get sounding professional. The electronic synth/guitar and drums make the song sound very flat and boring. I compared it to something like the ‘Transporter 3’ song:, which is so crisp and ‘sleek’ sounding; it’s amazing! Of course, the song is completely different and I’m not expecting ‘Run, Johnny Run’ to sound anything like it, but I would still like to make it… less muddier, more dynamic and punchier? Anyway, I’ll have to seek some advice when I get back to NMIT.

I’ve also completed the foley for the whole film. There are a few little details and things to put in but due to time constraints I’ve skipped them for now to focus on the music. Unfortunately the dialog is also terrible and I think ADR will have to be supplied but that’s out of my control since Francis isn’t very fussed at the moment so I won’t worry about it for now. I did a rough mix of the foley to put with my compositions to see if they worked and they certainly fit better now that there are sound effects. Some things still need touching up and the foley mix is still very sub-par but I should really finish the compositions first.

Overall, the feedback I have received so far is fairly good. Francis came over this week and I showed him all of my work. There were a couple of little details that he wanted changed so I wrote down a list of what he doesn’t like but generally he is happy with it so thank god for that!

Quick Holiday Update

Ok, a quick overdue blog update! I have managed to get some work done these busy ‘holidays’. I am still horribly behind schedule even more so than before. I still haven’t completed the rough drafts for ‘Bruce’ yet; I only have the small sections to go but technically I should be on the mixing stage by tomorrow. Not going to happen since I still have foley to complete and while I’m on the topic, foley is taking forever! I spent a total of ten hours doing the footsteps and they aren’t even mixed nor realistic sounding. I will save the mixing for when I’ve synced up all the sound effects hopefully by next week. About three quarters of the foley work is complete and now I’m just working on the physical contact and punching sounds. I estimate another eight or so hours will do if I don’t have to record anymore of my own sounds. Composing wise, I’ve managed to complete the fight scene music but I’m pretty unhappy about it. It doesn’t work well and I’ve totally lost perspective. I had to write something though, instead of just staring at my laptop for two days. So here it is:

I’ve also started work on the last chase where Bruce is running down an alleyway for thirty seconds. Nothing particularly interesting happens during this time so again; it’s my job to make it so. I’m not sure if it’s a bit too serious sounding but again, I’ll just keep writing because I don’t really have much choice at the moment due to time constraints. I just hope Francis will be happy with the music when he hears it:

I am actually quite happy with how big ‘Chase Car’ sounds. I did some layering of different sorts of orchestral percussion instruments and got them to play slightly out of time with each other so it sounded bigger. Anyway, better get back to work!


I am writing this while being horribly sleep deprived. For the last four days, I had on average about six hours of sleep a night and it’s starting to take its toll on my brain function. So today was my deadline for the compositions… Wasn’t able to make it; in fact, I wasn’t even close. Although I did a vast amount of work this week, I reckon I still need about two whole days to get everything down. Obviously I am quite disappointed about this, mainly due to the fact I have worked out all the things I have to do next term (mainly non-school related), which is looking quite impossible unless I literally don’t sleep at all. On a more positive note, I must say that I am honestly quite proud of my progress in composing and sound design. Only seven months ago (about when I first started composing), I was on SoundCloud listening to all these composers and their MIDI based mock orchestras for film and I thought, “Wow, I don’t even know where to begin to make something like this” and now here I am, making some pretty nice electronic/orchestral film music. Of course, they are still very simple and need a lot more work. That being said, the last three weeks has been a huge learning experience while working on ‘Bruce’ and I’ve realized that I am no longer as slow as a composer as I use to be; I can generally generate sounds that I hear in my head fairly quickly as opposed to trying to find the right processing to use and ending up forgetting what sound I wanted originally. Ok, enough of my insightful nonsense; back to ‘Bruce’. According to my student logbook, I have done thirty-four hours and fifteen minutes of composing for ‘Bruce’ in four days this week. A lot of it was re-writing, researching and just sitting there trying to come up with something in my head. I think I’m averaging about one minute of music per twenty hours or so, though it could be more now because I have gone back to exercising every day, which increases my productivity for a couple of hours!

I have finally completed the chase scene music. It drove me crazy but here it is. I’m not sure if it works or not but I will be able to judge it objectively once I come back to it after a week. Some of the sounds sound terrible because I still haven’t found the right ones yet and I also ended up changing some details from the last version:

I also managed to complete a draft of the school hunt scene. I’m not sure if it’s too dark and spooky sounding:

And lastly, I’m halfway through the two-minutes, forty-second fight scene. This one gave me heaps of grief, as I didn’t know how to approach it at all. Originally, Francis wanted no music but I persuaded him out of that because I personally don’t think that there’s much weight, nor setting in this scene at all, hence music is required to enhance it. I experimented with a couple of ideas; firstly, something slow, heavy and brooding but that didn’t seem to work so well because the characters were moving so slow and the music just seemed to drag everything down. Instead, I tried something faster with a conga beat and that seemed to work better. I also used the same bass sound from ‘Shit Just Got Real’ due to it not being used in that piece anymore because Francis disliked it in that context. I had to use it somewhere because I love it so much:

Other than that, Logic is still crashing due to what I think might be the Kontakt players’ fault. I will look into that when I have some time. Anyway, I really should get some sleep.

Freaking Out!

Ok… I’m kind of freaking out again. I really have to learn how to relax since the more stressed I am, the less work I get done. So this week I didn’t get as much composing done as I would’ve liked. I helped Francis shoot the missing introduction scene for ‘Bruce’ and received the fine cut on Tuesday. The only thing that’s missing is the credits but that shouldn’t be an issue for now. With the fine cut, I begun doing the foley work in Pro Tools, which I just discovered is an absolute time consumer. It took me three hours to do the ambient and footstep noises for the introduction that goes for twenty seconds, and that’s not even equalized or edited; hence more freaking out. The main issue with foley is finding the sounds in my massive sound library, and sometimes I can’t exactly find what I want so I’m going to have to record those sounds off my friends H4N. One thing that has been causing me so much grief is my dying laptop and a constantly crashing Logic Pro. It’s still crashing every twenty minutes and every time it happens, I forget what I was going to do. It’s driving me insane, so I spent a large chunk of my week re-organizing my workflow and now I have individual sessions for each song/section which I can sync back to my master session as long as I keep going between them to update tempos and etc. It’s working quite well for me at the moment since Logic is only crashing every hour or so now!

Composing-wise, I have created another minute or so of chase music. My ideas are still flowing quite freely with that but it’s becoming progressively more difficult to write due to the fact that the amount of ‘interesting’ things happening on screen is becoming less and I feel that the music is becoming a bit bland. I’ve decided to up the tension by making strings more prominent and frequent, also to show that the film is getting a bit more serious since nothing comedic is happening on screen. The main challenge is just getting those hit points without compromising the tempo or feel of the song since the chase music is so rhythmically driven. I have one particular section where no matter what, I can’t get it to hit on a beat, and so I have to hit on an offbeat that feels a bit awkward. I’ve started to experiment with following that off beat with other off beats so that it feels like it’s a part of the song. Other than that, I’ve also composed a simple traditional Chinese tune featuring a Guzheng for a section in between the chase where it enters a Chinese persons house while he watches television (where the Chinese music is coming from).

The traditional Chinese tune with cheap sounding MIDI bends (will have to do something about that). It will be equalized so that it sounds like it’s coming out of the television:

The chase scene music again (extended further):

Anyway, I am trying to get these compositions done by the end of next week, but I doubt that will happen now since there is so much going on. Might have to settle with finishing it by the end of the holidays, which leaves me very little time for mixing and performance preparation. Ideally I would like two whole weeks of sitting home doing this but unfortunately my holiday is already starting fill up with other obligations.


Posting a late blog entry due to this week being a complete nightmare and at the same time a massive relief! In fact I didn’t post a blog because I was just freaking out the whole time but I reached an epiphany a couple of days ago with ‘Bruce’ and I am well on my way now. One of the biggest problems I had was the main chase scene (a really long chase scene). I had a rough draft down but I wasn’t too sure whether it worked or not but I decided to stick with it, follow my instincts (whether bad or good) and stop second-guessing myself; no matter what, it wouldn’t be as bad as having no music at all. So I stuck with my concept and then… I had no idea how to develop it. I’m not a listener of this sort of ‘Doof Doof’ electronic music, nor have I ever made any. How do the movie sound tracks come up with such complex and dense percussive sections for electronic music chase scenes? I was then fiddling around with Native Instruments ‘Evolve Mutations’, a sample library of sound effects and loops, and found some processed drum loops that I added to the chase music and it worked! I should refer to loops more often now because I’ve never used loops before so this was super helpful. Since then, the chase music has been writing itself. Also, thanks to Darren’s advice, I’ve decided that instead of writing similar individual pieces throughout the chase scene, I should use one big concept and change it through the chase so it’s still one piece. I find this so much easier and now my song is just evolving naturally. I better continue writing quickly before this ‘magic moment’ disappears. Here’s what I have so far for the chase music:

I’m also trying to incorporate some character-specific sounds or themes so whenever Bruce appears on screen, distorted guitars come in for a phrase or so because I want to represent him as the ‘badass’. Other than that, apart from the numerous bugs that I have discovered, Logic is still crashing on me every twenty minutes and it’s really hindering the creative process! My money is just dying to be thrown at Apple for one of those brand new iMacs coming out ‘soon’.

Anyway, this was a short entry because I really need to get back to work. I have two more weeks before my deadline but I’m feeling quite optimistic!

Yay For Learning!

Had a pretty busy and work filled week so a couple of things to blog about. First off: I’ve gotten the hang of the whole workflow of marking hit points in Logic Pro. It all makes sense now but Logic does play up on occasion and decides to move all the beat markers forward. When that happens, the undo option doesn’t seem to do anything so I usually have to quit without saving. Also, my Macbook Pro can’t keep up with what I’m doing because it constantly crashes every twenty minutes. Turning up the sample rate didn’t help much at all so my solution was to ‘freeze’ the unused tracks, but that took much longer than expected because freezing the tracks would also crash Logic. My guess is that my twelve-minute project for ‘Bruce’ is way too big. I did eventually manage to freeze all the tracks one by one (with all other applications shut off) and now everything is good! All of this freezing and crashing has caused me to develop an obsessive habit of hitting ‘command + s’ every fifteen seconds, which has actually saved me a lot of pain a few times already. Anyway, now on to the composition stuff for ‘Bruce’. I have gone and marked out the entire project with ‘music start/ends’ and the main hit points. This was a bit tricky because I had no idea what or how the music should play in these areas; should it end abruptly or fade out? Does it follow with different music or should it have even changed music in the first place? Maybe music will be too distracting for the scene? What points to hit or not to hit? There were multiple ways to approach every scenario so I decided to put just the main points that I knew I was going to definitely use. From there, I used these points as a guide and composed really rough drafts of the pieces to get a better idea of what style of music I would use, when to hit, and etc. I only managed to get a third of the whole film down in about sixteen hours and I had to stop because I completely lost perspective and was over thinking something that was probably really straightforward. I couldn’t even tell if my songs were relevant anymore. Luckily, one of my friends came over and watched the film with the rough songs and he thought it worked (I don’t how well, but it worked!). I decided that I shouldn’t continue with composing rough drafts for the time being due to not knowing what I was doing anymore and focus specifically on one of the compositions I decided to name ‘Shit Just Got Real’ (will probably re-name this). It’s the first song that plays once Bruce walks in to the crack house and finds the guy he wants to kill:

I originally wanted the song to start as soon as Bruce kills the first bad guy, but I decided to add a low drone before that when all the druggies are having fun conversing to indicate that there’s something sinister about these people. I actually composed much more of the song and went out on a tantrum, but the Soundcloud file above is just up to the point where the music cuts and goes into some sort of electronic chase music. With the rest of ‘Shit Just Got Real’, I’ve decided to use it later on in the film in a scene where Bruce is searching for the bad guy at a school. I originally planned a completely different composition for that scene but this one works just as well and saves me a lot precious time considering how long it takes me to come up with anything. It will have the same bass pulse but introduces elements that open up the space. Here’s a draft for the rest of the song:

As I said, I went off in a tantrum and was just purely excited that I managed to get a fairly ‘Hollywood’ sounding song happening. I’m going to use the section before the big strings come in for the ‘school hunt’ scene but I need to work on it more (and record real guitars). The section when the strings come was just something I did for fun but at least now I have a basic grasp on how to make ‘epic’ music and use this to create something for the ‘Bruce’ trailer that I have to do later on. Regarding the sounds, I used the ‘East West Symphonic Orchestra’ for the drums and strings, and for the main bass synth; I used Native Instruments ‘Massive’, a wavetable softsynth. Learning how to use ‘Massive’ took a couple of hours out of my life, but it is my favorite synth to use now; it’s so awesome. I also played around with reversing reverbs to create the ambient noises.

A big issue I came across when writing the rough drafts for the film was that the chase scenes were incredibly long. In fact the whole film is essentially one big chase scene so I have to figure out how to make the music not repetitive or boring. I thought that I could cut to different songs during the chases or add variation to them so I did some research online and read that a very good trick in making film music interesting, is to modulate up a minor third. So I’ll be trying to incorporate that soon. Another thing is that I feel that the film progressively gets more serious and that the electronic music just doesn’t cut it anymore. For some reason, I instinctively think of orchestral music while watching the end of the film; it just feels right. I asked my friend and he agreed so I’ve decided to go orchestral at around the end. So that means I’m going to be using a combination of electronic, rock and traditional instrumentation.

So that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to the whole week. Haven’t properly mixed anything yet but I know that when listening to ‘Shit Just Got Real’ on my laptop speakers, nothing is audible but the high frequencies of the bass synth so that’s a new problem to deal with but I’m leaving that to later after I compose everything. Also, I haven’t had much time to talk with Francis this week regarding ‘Bruce’ so I don’t know what he thinks of all this but I have invited him to view my blog so he can get a general idea of what is going on.

Busy Week

Unfortunately, I didn’t really get much done this week at all due to a couple of events such as performing at a function gig, in which I practiced for a lot this week (the fact that I never even bothered listening to the songs before this week probably didn’t help). I also spent the whole weekend celebrating my twenty-first so my only free days during the week were gone. That being said, I still managed to get some stuff done. I had a go at composing for the chase scene of ‘Bruce’s Fluffy Vengeance’ and found that I didn’t really know what sounds I wanted to use. Was it electronic, rock or traditional instrumentation I wanted to use? Or maybe a combination of them? Anyway, I’m totally stuck on that so I’ve been researching a lot of action sequences on YouTube and found that a lot of them use traditional orchestral instrumentation, which I don’t think suit the vibe of ‘Bruce’ too well due to the fact that this film isn’t very serious at all and orchestras are just too epic. I did however manage to write a rough version of the introduction and credit music. It’s a typical, cheesy hard rock/80’s metal tune with some shredding. It plays at the begging of the film on the radio and does a diegetic switch when the title comes up. I’m also planning to use it (an altered, extended version) during the end credits of the film.

The rough introduction music, which I’m calling ‘Bruce’s Theme’:

Needs some more mixing, re-writing and less soloing, but that’s pretty much the general song I’m going to use.

While writing the song, I also managed to figure out the whole ‘syncing’ business in Logic Pro. In order for everything to stay together, I have to lock both marker and region time codes in place with beat markers (but they don’t change with the tempo so its really annoying).

That’s all I got done this week. I’m officially freaking out now but I’m giving myself until the end of term three to complete all the basic drafts and get the compositions down before I start working on sound aspects of those compositions (plus foley) on the holidays. I’m predicting lots of sleepless nights coming up…

Just Getting Started...

Finally received the absolute final cut of ‘Silent Voyage’ from Francis. It goes for about four minutes and forty seconds but he only wants about two and a half minutes worth of music. He went through the scenes with me and told me where and how the music should play and also gave me a brief on how the Foley should work. He also suggested some songs such as ‘Any Other Name (Thomas Newman) and ‘He Had A Good Time’ (Cliff Martinez) for me to check out to get a general vibe of what he wants. So I begun composing once again for ‘Silent Voyage’ but realized that the concept I made earlier was perhaps a bit too dark and mysterious and as Francis said last week, it didn’t really suit the film. I began work on a new concept that ended up sounding quite similar melodically because I seem to want to play the sharpened sixth within the minor key (the Dorian mode). I even ended up writing the harmonic progression with the sharpened sixth that changed the F minor 7th into a dominant 7th:

| Cmin | Ebmaj | Abmaj | F7 |

I wasn’t too happy with the melody though so I tried incorporating some Cantus Firmus I learnt from Peter and now I have too many melodies to choose from:

This one is my original idea that I didn’t like:

And here are a bunch of other ones I made:

A problem now is that my song sounds like a really catchy tune out of a Zelda game and is probably a bit too distracting, so I’ll have to spread the notes out more so the melody isn’t too focused and work on the instrumentation for my harmony.

Now onto the other film: ‘Bruce’s Fluffy Vengeance’ has been shot and a rough cut was given to me this week. It’s missing two small scenes so nothing is set in stone yet but so far it’s twelve minutes long… So I had a quick brief with Francis regarding Foley and he told me to do whatever feels right so I’m going to work on that soon. He also gave a brief on the music and pretty much told me to write some stereotypical action music (exactly what I had in mind). I ended up spending most of my time trying to add sync points and getting the timing to go with the cuts but I still haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

First Major Production Project Blog Entry

This is my first blog post so I’m just going to do a very short summary on what has been happening in the last couple of weeks regarding my major production project for NMIT Sound Production. At this time, I’m still in the early stages in composing for the short films; quite behind schedule actually, though this sort of thing is expected in the industry I guess. Throughout the last few weeks I have been heavily involved in the film making process and I have been discussing and suggesting different ideas with the filmmakers. They were not completely sure what sort of specific thing they wanted so we just continued to share our thoughts until the films have been shot and edited. During my waiting period, I decided to start building up my sample library so I bought a Lacie 1TB Firewire hard drive to store and organize all of them neatly. I spent a few days browsing online for free high quality samples and was surprised to find that there was so many just scattered across the internet.

About last week, one of the films ‘Silent Voyage’ had a rough cut completed. I viewed the footage with the director (Francisco Gozon) and he decided that he wanted something easy to listen to; neither too complex nor experimental. He described the song as ‘big’ in scope but not too epic at the same time. From that I had a pretty good idea what he wanted; a song with strings and piano. He also told me to listen to a Netherland composer called Thomas de Waard. His stuff is very simple musically but quite complicated sound-wise. He uses a lot of strings and pads that weave in and out of each other very seamlessly and sounds very professional, which is quite a surprise because this composer is the same age as me. What a talent!

So I begun experimenting with my new samples and came up with a few very basic concepts (slowly and painfully) revolving around a little piano tune. I kind of wanted something that sounded nice and sweet but at the same time mysterious and dreamy due to the central character of the film not knowing his identity or where he is going. I showed Francisco the concept and he had a hard time trying to match it up with the film even though he did like it a lot. He wanted something simpler so I’m just going to strip back the tune a little and see how that goes. At least now I have an idea that is locked in.

Here's the link to the concept so far:

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