The 10 Best Videos For New Composers For TV/Film

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Well, it’s been a while since I wrote on here. It’s been a very busy period and I’ll do a proper update at some point! But for now, this will have to do. I do a lot of talks at various workshops around the country for new composers and I always get asked a lot about equipment, DAWS and various aspects of how to produce/mix for TV/Film. So I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of free videos interviews/tutorials with some very established composers from various on-line sources, that I’ve found hugely useful in terms of learning new techniques and tips. I hope you find them helpful and informative, it’s very generous of people to be so open and free with advice about how they’ve got to where they are!

(In no particular order)

  1. Anyone who saw/heard the amazing soundtrack to the recent Mad Max film will be very keen to see how the excellent Dutch composer Junkie XL created it. He’s created a series of really in-depth videos explaining his techniques, here’s the first of the series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB1twfL5b28
  2. Probably the most famous/in-demand Hollywood composer of the last decade, Hanz Zimmer reveals all in this excellent 5-part series of interviews. Intros are in German but the interviews themself are in English: http://www.musikmachen.de/Stories/Hans-Zimmer-im-Interview
  3. Interesting round-table conversation between a number of very established Hollwood composers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdXqE-I7KwE
  4. Composer for the hugely successful BBC Sherlock Series, Michael Price answers questions from new composers in this 5-part series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzOdAXbiwH0
  5. Jake Jackson discusses techniques he used when mixing the music for BBC series “Silent Witness”, some really useful, practical advice in this for anyone hoping to write for TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqqUXsuq1ew
  6. Two of my favourite composers, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, answer questions about their work for “Gone Girl” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1OT3bBoRoQ
  7. “Steve Jobs” composer Daniel Pemberton talks us through various projects from his custom studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK_5sdUbkiY
  8. Very in-depth chat with Lorne Balfe who has scored countless projects for TV and Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUaC30KhnYY
  9. Dave Porter scored hit US series “Breaking Bad” and the follow up “Better Call Saul”, here he discusses his journey into the world of writing for TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK9trWhtKHc
  10. Brian Tyler discusses writing the percussion-heavy soundtrack for “The Fast and Furious 5” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxLYlXt_Nvo

 

 

 

 

 

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Busy few months…

It’s been a really busy few months since I completed the Hollyoaks Laters score. It’s been brilliant to have so much work, it just means it’s taken a while to update the website with everything!

My showreels have now been updated as well with the HL music and other projects I’ve worked on over the last few months as well, have a look on the Video page.

Following on from the HL score, I worked on some tracks for EMI/Sony ATV production music which has been a really exciting opportunity. You can hear them now on the Audio page. It’s quite a long process going from idea/brief, through the composition and editing, to the final mixes being ready, but it’s been very enjoyable and I’m really happy with how they turned out. It was great getting the live drums recorded for “Friends” which really added an exciting energy and feel to the track. I’ve had that song idea for a while as a demo, so it’s always really satisfying to take a demo idea to completion as a full song.

They’ve all been specifically designed to work for TV/Film and visual media, an area I feel really comfortable with. It helps knowing how to structure the tracks, making sure the rises/falls and edit points are in the right places and getting a balance between the type of sounds and frequencies that work well on-screen.

I’ve also been working with a few independent app and game developers, creating SFX and music for their releases. It’s been loads of fun adapting my skills and experience from other forms of media to work on these. I was lucky in that the people I’ve been working with have been quite clear in the type of sounds they wanted, and it’s been great digging deep into the sound-design features of Ableton to really manipulate the audio in an original way.

It mainly involves experimenting with stretching/resampling/distorting/reversing/chopping and layering waveforms and sounds and then using lots of automated filters, envelopes, bitcrushers and saturation to colour the grouped audio, whilst making sure the SFX and music carry a clear melodic/harmonic theme which makes sense across the different parts of the app.  You can hear some examples of the main musical themes I’ve been doing for the apps on the Audio page as well.

I’ve also been enjoying doing some mixing and mastering for other artists and bands, which is refreshing because it involves collaboration (a valuable change when you spend a lot of time composing on your own on short deadlines!) and tests your skills in terms of adapting your knowledge of plugins and production processes to other people’s recordings.

Talking of plugins, recently I’ve been really impressed with Izotope Trash. The saturation is really warm and easy to customise, and works well on synths/drums/vocals or even as a slight binding distortion on the master bus. I’ve also been using Izotope RX3 to get rid of some pops on some synth tracks that I’ve been having problems with for ages, and have been really impressed with the speed with which you can put together string parts using Cinematic Strings 2.0 as well. It’s incredible the sounds that modern media composers have at their disposal, if you imagine a sound, you can normally make it with a bit of effort!

I’ve been listening to a lot new music as well recently, been particularly enjoying Mogwai – Rave Tapes, Olafur Arnalds – Broadchurch and the new albums by Bombay Bicycle Club, Chvrches,Warpaint and Daughter.

I’ve got loads of exciting work coming up in the next few months,and I’m really looking forward to the rest of 2014, please get in touch if you want to discuss any music/sound design that you need for an upcoming project!

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Scored Music For Hollyoaks Laters 2013

Over the last couple of months I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on writing music for an entire story-line for the upcoming Hollyoaks Laters which broadcast on E4 every night from 22:00 till 23:00 next week (7th-11th October.)

I’ll put some clips of the work up on my videos page and show-reel once it’s transmitted.

The story I wrote for involves some of the teen characters getting into all sorts of trouble in an isolated house in the woods.

The producer and directors wanted a tense, scary score with lots of atmosphere that developed and grew as the story became darker.

When I first got the scripts through I started putting together a palette of sounds and effects that I thought might might be effective in starting to build the main body of the pieces.

I started manipulating a lot of samples of sheet metal and industrial sounds with some distortions (particularly running them through Guitar Rig and Camel Phat)  and chopping them up and automating their pitch in Ableton, until I got some sounds with a strong attack but which had a eerie, resonating harmony to them.

I also created some high-pitched note bending noises with lots of feedback using an ebow and my guitar.

Once I had initial pictures, I spent a while at the keyboard, trying different chord sequences and melodies using a piano that I ran through some heavy distortion and amp sims to give it some nice crunch and resonance. Once I had found a central theme, I started putting it to picture, mainly deciding where you should here the full melody and chords and where I should just drop hint.

After that I worked on finding some drum sounds for a rhythm track and again, after running through some light distortion I managed to place it neatly under the piano.

I played around a lot with automating tempo shifts within scenes, so that as the action kicked in the tempo of the score shifts surprisingly and raises the tension for the viewer.

As I started to recieve picture changes and notes towards the end of the process, I added some modulation to some of the more drone-like sounds I was using to create some movement at crucial moments and also created some risers and hits from industrial samples and white noise that shift around the stereo field before landing in the middle for the hit.

For the final edit there are about 23 cues that have being used I think, some in episode 3, but mainly in 4 and 5 (Thursday’s and Friday’s episodes) when the action really steps up.

I really enjoyed working to picture and with so much great material, I hope you enjoy it and let me know if you have any thoughts or opinions once you’ve watched it.

Don’t get too scared!

 

 

 

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