Assignment Score Pass
Douglas Black Heaton's Notes:
Thanks for sending in your Frozen assignment. Your notes are rather brief but are quite informative concerning approach. I've just had a long session watching the second season of Westworld so interesting to see that come up in your references. It would help if you actually described how you've used these references in your approach. What is it about Westworld, House or the Killing that you feel adds to Frozen? Instrumentation, mood, pacing?
Let's have a listen..
My first impression is it's very dense with music from the start. And it's quite loud. I've always considered the film to be quite intimate in approach and wonder whether this is overwhelming.
The opening is good, very mysterious mood of oppressive nature. Good musical build to the dream moment. Couple of points - I wonder if you could incorporate the camera as a sound - not literally - but something slightly sinister in the arrangement that marks it. I would also consider some sound design as she starts to move into the dream world. It would be good to feel she's on the edge of reality.
Dreamworld - the low piano note is ok but I would think about a change of pace here. We've just moved worlds after all. Perhaps drop the high pitched wooshing sound to make it less busy. When you go from the gulls to that sound it feels like a continuation even though things have changed.
06:21 Good moment where she looks to the other shore.
06:33 Adding the percussion is interesting. It feels purposeful like we're going somewhere. Why start that here? Where are we going? I would consider pulling back the music already on the moon to give some space before the next scene. At the moment you continue and build until the ending tom drums feel like they're leading to the church scene .. but that then feels too heavy with music. Cut it back earlier with the low string dying as we enter the church and the higher string comes in.
07:20 There's what sounds like a glitch here where a string line cuts out abruptly. Then we have what sounds like a horn line that feels very forthright and static.
07:27 The ostinato works well enough for the action of breaking and entering, she's on a mission after all, but I would strongly consider stopping it either around 07:40 when we're inside and creeping around, or latest 07:50 when we see the desk. The visuals are not really action oriented and there doesn't feel like there's extreme tension .. so perhaps the music can reflect the snooping around and curiosity more.
At 07:50 rather than pulling back we're actually going up a notch with the addition of percussion.
07:57 there's something a bit ragged about the arrangement here. Feels quite improvised. A little haphazard all the way through to the next scene. Lots of elements but not working so well together. The move to the next scene at 08:13 should be a little smoother and earlier. This is another opportunity to dial back the music (which would make the bigger moments more effective).
It sounds like we have some fairly static ensemble wind/string patches here that could be removed altogether, or made far more musical (thin it out to individual instruments, make them breathe through expression control). The piano at 08:34 work well leading into the next scene but again, I wouldn't necessarily leave it running through the scene. Light and shade.
08:39 Sound design pad. Presumably to indicate something suspicious but jarrs badly with the piano - this might be the intention but it took me away from the story.
08:45 Not sure about the extra percussion coming in here.
08:47 the strings work ok here. Could be even better if they were without the piano/percussion. Something to expore.
09:10 I like the clock percussion, could maybe have worked in it earlier in a more subtle way.
09:20 Save the string crescendo for after the vocal. It's partly the music being loud against the sync sound but also high strings + high pitched voice is asking for trouble. Consider using lower strings and go higher when she finishes.
09:27 Ice. The piano note is reminiscent of the earlier dream sequence which is good.
Not convinced by returning to the string ostinato when the ice sequence ends. Not needed. Could sustain through to next scene with the letter.
10:04 Very jarring going straight to the video screen sound (nice call back to earlier camera). Although that might be the intended effect when you've had almost 5 minutes of almost solid music it's too much. If the letter posting scene was emptier/quieter this could work much better.
Overall, some nice ideas. You've gone for a Nordic noir approach which is more intense than might otherwise be expected of this film but is a legitimate approach. Within that I feel the music is too dense through the 5 minutes. This isn't a fast paced action thriller - it's a slow, evolving, psychological thriller. Carving out some more light and shade would really help individual sections work e.g. gaps in the music or less musically dense moments. Having made the decision of Nordic noir there are areas where the music tries to fit in those elements (e.g. percussion) without them necessarily fitting the mood of the picture/scene. There are some areas where the arrangement feels a little weak - too improvised.
A few other points worth sharing ..
RE: Presentation. The film starts with music from the off. There's a little glitch that's probably coming from the sync audio. When you send these things to your clients you're trying to impress them so make it as authentic an experience as possible. Start the film before the music, or if that is the start of the film, delay the music by a few seconds so it's not so jarring. Think about the mix - the music is way too loud against the sync sound. You may want the director to hear your music clearly but they'll also be just as concerned with how dominant it seems compared to other aspects. When you send a guide MOV present it in such a way that the director hears the audio in a way that makes it all sound good and enhances his film.
RE: File naming. Keep the file names consistent and also include enough detail that if the music file was on its own it would be imported in the right place. Your MP4 and MP3 have different names - I know there's confusion between the reel numbers but pick one and be consistent with it otherwise things could be separated and without any other guide for placement your music could end up anywhere. Which brings me neatly on to "always include the timecode" for music start in the filename even if you're sending a broadcast WAV with a timestamp (I would normally use HHMMSSFF as it's clear enough and as short as it can get). It's too easy for editors to make mistakes so give them every opportunity to put the music in the right place.
Douglas Black Heaton's Summary:
Frozen - Some nice ideas. You've gone for a Nordic noir approach which is more intense than might otherwise be expected of this film but is a legitimate approach. Within that I feel the music is too dense through the 5 minutes. This isn't a fast paced action thriller - it's a slow, evolving, psychological thriller. Carving out some more light and shade would really help individual sections work e.g. gaps in the music or less musically dense moments. Having made the decision of Nordic noir there are areas where the music tries to fit in those elements (e.g. percussion) without them necessarily fitting the mood of the picture/scene. There are some areas where the arrangement feels a little weak - too improvised.