[Editor's note: I highlighted things I though I should look at again.]
Assignment Mark (Summative)
Assignment Score 60 %
Allison Piccioni's Notes:
Thank you for your “Frozen” summative submission.
Great to get a little more in-depth read this time about your inspiration and creative process. Also lovely to grade both your formative and summative submissions of this assignment and hear the additions and how the score has filled out melodically and texturally! I love the subtle change to the melody at the opening scene, it is much more emotive with the change and it’s nice to hear the addition of the live flute, particularly in a solo instrument it just adds so much more to a sequence.
I get so much more emotionally from the music when she closes her eyes around 2:05:59:09 now as well as 02:06:50:14 as she smiles subtly! You are really telling the story with the music. It’s quite nice to have the break in the music when we get indoors with the church scene. It also puts a great emphasis on the door opening.
I don’t know if it’s necessary to duck the music so low around 02:07:15:17, it would be nice to still hear it tailing here, as it could help the segue back in around 02:07:21:21.
Good additions to the suspense in the music as she’s searching around with a flashlight. I can also hear the piano clearer in the mix now.
I personally would like a longer fade out around 02:08:16:21. It seems too abrupt here, almost like a music editor chopped your score. A nice long smooth fade here would help tie the scenes together without being so distracting. You have a great one under the narration reading the card at 02:09:19:02.
Great consideration for the music to sit under dialogue, the arrangement and mix balance nicely around (and out of the way!) of speaking range.
I’m not sure if it’s a sound effect style sample or the mix is just completely blown out, but at 02:09:28:23 the music mix is very harsh, totally washed out by that white noise sound. I think you could have gotten the same effect using a low synth and choosing a different instrumentation changeup here. You can still get that “wall of sound” effect without just piling on frequencies. This was a new addition, I actually prefer it how you submitted for this section in your formative submission.
Could have used a smoother transition at 02:09:46:22, it almost sound like one of the samples is either cutting to early or another is going too long? But a really nice changeup in the music here afterwards.
Again the mix sounds a little blown out (possibly too much compression?) around 02:10:11:10.
Really nice additions to the melody around 02:08:39:21, the music is so much more impactful.
Guitar with the reversed reverb and back sounds great.
Allison Piccioni's Summary:
Great to have reviewed both your formative and summative submissions for this assignment - it’s wonderful to see how the score has filled out with some carefully placed additions including live flute! Do watch that some of your sound effects / additions are not too overpowering and harsh in the mix.
Chris McGuire's Notes:
Apologies for the delay here, and thank you for your patience. Let’s dive in!
Some good observations here and nice to see your considering a range of different productions and scores. I think your summary of the tone presented in the film and narrative definitely resonates with Nordic Noir, Fortitude an interesting soundtrack and the bridge also. Its good to look further afield and consider influence from soundtracks that aren’t necessarily linked in other areas.
I’d like to know more about how the energy in House MD score creates such fitting propulsion of the narrative; was pacing considered? Fades and entry points of cues? Instrument entries? Acoustic vs synth hybrid split? – I see you are using Albion ONE, a great starting point. Albion V has a whole host of Nordic influence in there, Tundra is a great library.
You detail some good creative angles in your commentary, although the discussion only goes as far as what you are doing, rather than WHY you are doing it. That being said there are moments of research which shows the justification of an action, for instance your handling of supernatural elements on entry of the church.
Composition and Mix
Overall, you have chosen a well-suited sound pallete which compliments the setting of the film. There are moments of intensity which really heighten the suspense, for instance on the view of the ice as she is dreaming in the final quarter of the film. There are moments where synchronicity is handled well, on the introduction of most of the string ostinati for instance, which matches her intent and emotive drive. Some other sync points are rather abrupt which detract and cheapen the sound. This goes for delays and reverbs used – being more subtle and lingering with these will aid the idea of expansive space that is so prevalent in Scan-noir and other genres of thriller/suspense.
Occasionally there are quite distinctive entries of intriguing timbres that are not synced with moments on screen. Or, if they are, the movement in the picture is too small to warrant such a large timbral shift/entry (see below for specific points on this). On the subject of spotting: removing the score completely then reintroducing it is a bold thing to do! Of course silence is important in film, although moving quickly from score to silence a few times in fairly quick succession actually detracts from the atmospheric nature that the score (or use of silence) adds to the narrative. I try to give myself perspective in the pacing of a film/cue whilst working on a specific point by watching the whole cue through and often the cues either side of the one I am working on. I am listening/watching to hear the effect of an entry or exit point from a ‘greater distance’. That way I can maintain an idea of pacing that the audience will experience; as of course we are working at microscopic levels, replaying notes/bars/sequences over and over again, we lose that perspective of hearing it all once through, with no repeats.
The mix is good overall, and you blend synths and acoustic elements well in the same space. Good use of the stereo image with moving rhythmical textures. You create some nice moments of evolution in the synths/rhythmical layers! Occasionally some acoustic elements appear a touch thin and lacking in life. Take the sustained string notes for instance, these could benefit from more expressive shaping of CC1, CC11 and CC2 (vibrato). If using legato patches CC5 and portamento could have been explored as they are rather static and synth like. The piano could have benefitted from saturation to warm up the lower end, as on some entries it was a touch thin (perhaps it was a little low in the mix).
Here are some more specific points:
Sudden ending of rhythmical textures at 05m43s – extend the delays here
String transitions are a little smudged through 06m07s, not enough life in the samples
Entry of panning tone at 06m35s is a little strange, not synced with anything and quite a deliberate entry of new timbre – this could do with being justified with synchronising/changing with something in the picture.
07m01s the silence is reached abruptly here, softer more gradual fade
Nice handling of the leaves and tension at 07m07s, although the entry point is a touch early and rather large. Something stripped back and more subtle entry with perhaps more sustain on the tail would blend better here.
Nice ostinato from 07m30s, this matches her intent and growing suspense.
Good tonal balance as she is in the office.
The delays at the end of this scene and transition in the shot of the street are again abrupt. These could be softer and more gradually executed.
Nice sense of tension instilled through the 9 minute mark. There could have been a sync point on the close up of the cards and the text ‘Steve’, this could help tie the narrative together, as it was a fairly obvious shift in the film which wasn’t acknowledged in the score.
09m13s the rhythmical elements again end abruptly. Some music can be maintained underneath the dialogue, it doesn’t need to be as strong a cut as it is currently.
Wonderful texture and depth to the score on the ice shot 09m28s, really nice balance there. Again the fade/return to the ostinato could have been softer, perhaps the ostinato less pounced, and more ‘smudged’ to match her dreamy nature, less rhythmical and more aleatoric.
The cut at 10m04s is far too abrupt, this feels unprepared as if it has been temp track that has been edited by a director wanting to get the rough sense of pacing across in the score. Consider ensuring there is an appropriate sense of attack and starting point to this cue.
The loud piano note at 10m10s is a little off putting as it does not sync with any obvious element on the screen.
Be mindful of introducing strident timbres like this with no change of movement/entry of noticeable element in the picture.
The change at 10m25s is again too abrupt to move to silence. Allow for a subtle reverb tail to linger on so the score exit isn’t so blatant.
I hope this helps, happy to talk through any of the above in a 1-to-1 session.
All the best
Research – Fair/Good – more of the ‘why’ needed in the commentary; explain the effects of music/creative direction behind the compositional choices made, rather than focussing on what you are doing which is apparent when listening to the score. Show informed creative decisions.
Creative - Good
Technical - Fair
Practical - Fair
Chris McGuire's Summary:
Good use of texture and sense of evolution in the synths/rhythmical elements. Appropriate timbre and a good mix that reflects your overall intentions. Handling of entry and exit points was rather abrupt; consider the pacing and switching between silence and score in quick succession as this detracts from the atmosphere evoked. Use of CC editing and delay/reverbs would aid in creating an expansive sense of depth and life to the composition. Consider outlining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ in a commentary, rather than the ‘what’.