[Editor's note: shockingly, this did actually pass.]
Johnny Yates's Notes:
You start with a good approach to mood on screen by using a descending harmonic scale in the strings, capturing the mysterious dark environment when the camera zooms into the museum. I suggest toning down the expression or dynamics in your string part, it feels a little overpowering with your sustain pads and experiment using a quartet arrangement instead. This will give it a live performance and have a bigger impact when you use ensemble strings later on.
00:21 - you use reverb percussive instrument (clacks or blocks) that has a long resonance which clashes the ambient field of the scene. The overall ensemble ambience is dry and settles nicely with the dialogue but this percussive part feels out of place and clashes with the communication between characters.
00:30 - nice cue point to allow your legato winds signifying the special artefact.
00:35 - the percussive part now feels out of pace and irregular to the tempo structure. It sounds like you’ve kept it on loop while the other instruments are Mickey mousing - I recommend cutting this part out of the ensemble.
00:42 - the upbeat rhythms and syncopated staccatos works nicely with the girl excited at seeing the Sarcophagus - however the shaker is a good concept but needs to be pushed back in the mix. This reoccurs at 01:30, sounds too dry and in the foreground.
You have a few good cue spots where the music syncing with the behaviour on screen. I recommend adding more emphasis in certain key points e.g. 01:20 as he places the artefact back; you can build unresolved sequence of notes to capture the mystery behind this item. Using a sting or sweep effect from the instrumental tools (glissando, rip, dynamic build etc).
01:33 - be careful using expression in your horn parts, they sound slightly punchy from the blowing technique. Lower the volume or velocity values so it doesn’t sound too harsh. 01:38 - capture the storm breaking into focus before he pushes the button.
01:40 I feel there needs to be a sudden change of tempo, texture and driving rhythm when we see the security boy scared and running off. The woodwinds are playing settling syncopated patterns which doesn’t reflect the emotion at this point. This is a challenge for you to use a darker tonality in your scoring without making it sound too sinister for children. Modulating keys or using chromaticism are important musical tools to changing the mood on screen.
01:50 - the marimba pad syncing with the mirrors doesn’t settle with the instrumentation and feels ambiguous in a mixing perspective. Firstly it’s too loud and seems you’re trying to use this technique as a sound design tool to signify the lightening reflection.
01:55 - the brass parts are still too loud and aggressive in the expression. The scene is suddenly transitioning to a calmer atmosphere in the girls bedroom. Always focus how the camera is capturing moments on screen - we can see it’s slowly descending to a new scene and music can resemble this feature, scaling down with arpeggios or sequence of notes. 02:00 there’s an issue with the transitional change between scenes. I can hear a clip and the music doesn’t flow together when you perform your arpeggio winds - This feels chaotic for this calm entrance to the girls room, I recommend allowing your music to flow with legato phrases.
02:16 - I like how you build tension when the cat has a reaction to the lightening. Add more textures and dramatic scoring to capture the cats emotion with an added thump or kick drum with your double bass hit, when the cat falls to the ground.
02:50 - The harp note values press too harshly - either automate the volume control for a lower level or change the velocity to a subtle tone. Also adjust the balance so it feels settled in the overall ensemble.
03:54 - You have the right idea using the tonal textures to build this sequence of events. There’s a lack of dynamic contrasting, sense of tension and real expression to feel there is something dramatic about to happen. When the lightening strikes we suddenly need the music to signify this with impactful chords or thick textures. The electric piano sounds too dry and forward in the mix - needs tweaking. The brass legatos cut off at 04:10 for the dialogue to express the message - good job. Afterwards it sounds a little distorted with the cluster of instruments you’re using, especially in the low horns. The held notes are a good drone to have a foundation of tension but there needs to be a build of rhythms or arpeggio lifts to feel something is about to be revealed. 04:18 the upbeat piano stabs doesn’t fit with the genre or orchestral arrangement you are scoring to picture.
04:38 - goos response the mummy revealing as a young boy but cutting the music to silence. I suggest rearranging the layers of your instruments when you build up the dynamics and harmony. The brass are overpowering the ascending tremolo strings and they’re the important part to signify the audiences emotional connection to this scene.
Johnny Yates's Summary:
I can hear good sections where you have taken the time to use your compositional tools as a signifier for cue points or how the characters are reacting on screen. I suggest focusing the dialogue as a lead part or melodic line and embedding a music score that allows the message to be clearly heard or spoken for audiences to understand the narrative on screen. Your mixes are unbalanced in certain sections and need to blend your instruments together with no clashing underneath the dialogue or SFX. Next time start work on scoring your music with a sense of flow by experimenting how harmonic techniques whether changing the key, atonal segmentations, stings etc will allow you to transition between scenes and Micky mouse key cues.
David Denyer 1 day ago (13 May 2019)
David Denyer's Notes:
Thanks for this submission. Scoring animation is indeed a challenge and it can be very difficult to know where to draw the line in regards to mickey-mousing and kitschiness. In this case I feel that a collection of various problems prevent the score from being overly successful - with certain mockup/mix issues really sidelining things in a way that isn’t helpful for your dramatic intent.
The very opening starts well, but as soon as I hear the percussion I feel that it’s become overscored. If the percussion would suit anywhere, it’d be the very beginning - the conversation between the professor and roxanne has no need for any kind of groove so it doesn’t add anything useful. Nice hitpoint with the scepter of was, but this could be even stronger. After this hitpoint there’s a weird bumpy walking bass clarinet which feels unusual and asymmetric - why is this clarinet drawing attention to itself? In a way it undermines the significance of the previous hitpoint (scepter of was). Perhaps the scepter’s “motif” can continue while the scepter is in his hands. The entrance of Cleo feels very “trasitiony” and doesn’t really suit her character - she really interrupts the scene. The percussion here is nice, but these chattering winds feel a bit obscure. Firstly they feel very distant (and animation music tends to sound much more intimate and close), but it’s also not entirely clear what they’re doing for the scene. I suspect the music here would be more effective if they were just muted. The line “I appreciate your enthusiasm…” - it’s a shame the music doesn’t change here. The professor is a real killjoy, he deflates her energy. “Tut’s sacred objects” - great. This feels just right here (01:01:04:00). At 01:01:08:00, the professor again deflates her energy - we get a few seconds of bass clarinet solo which feels just right but it’s killed by more bass and percussion and flutes - which again, feel wrong here, as her energy is deflated. 01:01:04:00 - nice. 01:01:20:00 - really nice, but 01:01:25:00, the clarinet’s dynamics are really odd. Why is one note so much louder than the others? This phrase seems weirdly lopsided and sounds very very sequenced. At 01:01:33:00, the chattering winds seem to have no musical relation to the bass clarinet underneath - this makes for a very, very weird musical experience. This ascending clarinet scale, 01:01:39:00 doesn’t sound realistic, each note has a weird bump on it. The egg shaker here feels weirdly loud. 01:01:41:00, where the security guard is running from the lightning, this string part is nice but it needs to be much bigger, much closer, and much more dramatic. It feels really weak here. It’s doubled by some ff heavy brass, that’s strangely mixed very low in the mix. This makes it strangely buzzy and not very powerful. 01:01:48:00, nice impulse to slow down but again this is anaemic and needs much more power. And that buzzing brass in the background needs to either be mixed loud enough to make sense, or be performed at a much lower expression. The vibraphone sync points here are bizarrely loud compared to the rest of the orchestra. 01:02:01:00 very, very weird transition here. Burst of chattering winds that ends very abruptly - I get that you’re trying to emphasise the lightning magic but you don’t need the music to sound like lightning - you just need to create emphasis. Some of the “scepter of was” music from earlier might be more appropriate here. 01:02:08:00, nice harp stuff here. This could continue, feels more appropriate for the scene than the winds. Bass solo for Luxor’s walk is awesome, but the flute doesn’t sound realistic enough to work here. The legatos really don’t sound right - in fact, I think this music would sound awesome with the flute just muted. Up until “I don’t believe this guy”, the bass clarinet is just way too loud and honky. Simply the part, and reduce the expression. 01:03:10:00, lovely - nice hitpoint. The bass for Luxor’s speaking works nicely as an entrance, but it’s a bit stop-starty. This part at 01:03:41:00 needs much more reverence - Luxor is talking about his king! Especially when the lightning starts - these winds don’t really feel very dramatic, just a bit fluttery. The awakening of the king could also be much, much more dramatic. The cutoff for “it’s a kid?” needs to be much more abrupt - and I think it starts again way too soon! Let him have his first words - bring the music in when he starts running.
Overall, some cool ideas here but in general the significant moments are not properly weighted, and some of the character interactions feel a bit wrong. In general it feels as though music exists “because music should exist” but it doesn’t always feel like your music understands exactly what it’s trying to do for the scenes. The mix also doesn’t help - many of these lines need much more tasteful uses of expression, more lyrical and dynamic legatos, etc. Overall, good work, but a little misguided in places.
David Denyer's Summary:
Overall, some cool ideas here but in general the significant moments are not properly weighted, and some of the character interactions feel a bit wrong. The mix also isn’t always strong - many of these lines need much more tasteful uses of expression, more lyrical and dynamic legatos, etc. Overall, good work, but a little misguided in places.