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All,

I just recently completed two trailer rescores for an upcoming competition and am looking for critical feedback, especially from those of you with commercial experience.

Thoughts on orchestration/balance/mastering/etc are most welcome. Don't be afraid to be harsh or a pedant!

Trailer 1 (Crime Trailer Rescore - All Music is original)

https://youtu.be/Ehx4-_DGLxw

Trailer 2 (Sci Fi Trailer Rescore - All Music and Sound Design is Original) - REVISED

https://youtu.be/sfyYtPQcdpI

Thanks for listening!

DM

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Hi DM

You asked me to comment on these. Although I have scored some movies and dramas, I don't normally comment on these type of postings as I am now out of the game. In my time, trailer scoring didn't even exist! So, with the proviso that all I can tell you is what I think could be better, you and I know that it means bugger all, because the field is so open to subjective preference as to make a 'criticism' seem a little pointless. That said I perceived what I considered a little flaw in approach and shall share it with you if for no other reason than for you to have an alternative viewpoint.

Re the sci fi trailer...

The opening really drew me in, only to be thwarted at around 23". Your spotting and mood change for me, set the movie back a notch and had the effect of a hiatus. I get that you were spotting a change, but the intensity and semblance of a beginning of momentum was lost. The same problem occurs at around 48" only seconds after you kick started again (which was good) on the kids at around 40".

As I see it, it is not necessary to spot too much in a trailer. A well judged, overall empathic mood/emotion/rhythm is better for a consistent sense of (in this case) foreboding. I'm not saying you shouldn't spot, but perhaps not for a few seconds and at the expense of a build.

 I notice you were trying to re-establish a min.3rd ostinato in the areas I mentioned, almost as if you yourself felt the need for a unifying device. Keeping the music to the bare minimum in terms of ideas allows you to crescendo more easily, establish the overall emotional tone and inevitably improves the impact of any climax. If you judge the writing correctly, you will find that you can ride roughshod over the smaller cuts (whilst perhaps giving a nod to them in the scoring somehow) and not interrupt the intensity of mood and sense of build.

At 52" till the end it is really good (especially the Goldsmith/Horner like flutter tongues in the wind).

Anyhow, that's how I would approach it so please tell me to get lost if you wish. In my early days, I was often accused of putting in too much "information'. I eventually saw the light and had a lot more success with a simpler direct approach. It is hard though finding the right path with the least amount of musical  effort and just the right amount of emotional and dramatic effect. In a trailer that is only 2 mins long, I don't think you need to work as hard with sync and if you do then at least keep a sense of moving forward, it is after all selling the movie and not the movie itself.

Only had a chance to listen to this one and hope that there's some food for thought here.

Thanks, Mike. This is very helpful feedback. I struggled with this one (much more than the other trailer). I had found the cutting very difficult to parse and I think my goal with the music was to give those cuts more deliberateness (here's something intriguing; here's something else; here's another; etc). Unfortunately, segmenting like that saps the energy out of a 2-minute trailer... The arrival may be there at the end, but the build just isn't.

I will keep working at it with your comments in mind. I think there's a way to keep the underlying structure but maintaining the build through those transitions... We shall see!

DM...just to say that my approach above is only one of a myriad ways of approaching scoring. Hopefully someone who is more current with trailer scoring trends will come in and provide some counter- ballast or even outright condemnation to the above. I go on the less is best maxim, which always worked for me.

DM,

I gather it's for a competition. Do you know what they are looking for in a winning piece? Are they looking for a musical sensibility that spots scenes or are they wanting a full on sell. Can you ascertain what they are looking for specifically as it will surely influence your approach.

DriscollMusick said:

Thanks, Mike. This is very helpful feedback. I struggled with this one (much more than the other trailer). I had found the cutting very difficult to parse and I think my goal with the music was to give those cuts more deliberateness (here's something intriguing; here's something else; here's another; etc). Unfortunately, segmenting like that saps the energy out of a 2-minute trailer... The arrival may be there at the end, but the build just isn't.

I will keep working at it with your comments in mind. I think there's a way to keep the underlying structure but maintaining the build through those transitions... We shall see!

I think you helped me identify what's not working in this instance, but I don't take your advice as any sort of rule/trend applicable to all scoring situations, even all trailers. I will always try to tailor my approach. For scoring, I see this as writing music to support and enhance the existing visuals/story, without compromising too much musical integrity or originality. But the existing visuals/story will change from project to project and so should I. I am working on scoring a short film for another competition and will definitely be taking more of the spotting approach there. "The spotting approach"--is that a term of art?

As far as what the competition is looking for, this is definitely a rescoring of an existing trailer, without any possibility of real-world use. So I suppose it is probably more open-minded to creative interpretation...? At the same time, it is still a trailer and, like most trailers, this one is designed to build to a payoff. This, I think, is what I haven't quite managed yet.

Mike, here is a revised Sci Fi trailer incorporating your helpful feedback (and now with Bell Tree!):

https://youtu.be/sfyYtPQcdpI

Original for comparison: https://youtu.be/K11QcZQDjo4

Curious to know if you agree it works better?

Anyone else willing to critique???

Thanks!

Hi DM, I'll defer to those with more experience here but for my 2 cents worth I think your music is conservative and tasteful which would be great in many situations but from what I am seeing in theaters now is not used very much.
It's a little hard to tell where this film is coming from, is it spooky or campy or what? That makes a lot of difference I think. I'm not really getting a feel for this movie from your music.

In general the trailer music I hear now is tasteless and completely over-the-top in one way or another. You can use side chaining for the dialog so that it doesn't get lost and just go for it once you have the right direction I think.

Listening to the revised one, i think it works very well!  I love the climax.. really great.. I felt that it got too busy (rhythmically ) too soon.. at around 40 seconds.. it starts to move - and the narration there gets a bit covered up.. (where they seem to be saying something crucial..) after that, from 50" to the end, is a great build and works wonderfully imo. 

Listened to the first trailer, but need to listen again..

I think the first trailer works very well.. moves quite seamlessly - yet ping pongs ideas, giving propulsion.. love the flutter trumpet.. Great effect!  



Thanks, Ingo. I agree with your assessments. The tone/style is mixed, but that was deliberate since my read of the trailer (I haven't seen the film) is that it does have some camp elements. I think I rather walk that line than try to take it all too seriously... I'm not really looking for a career in trailer scoring, but maybe there is a niche for this type of conservative, tasteful scoring in actual films...?

I will look into side-chaining. Having mostly done classical-type music, I have generally avoided all kinds of compression, but I think I need to do that more for a trailer like this, at least for dialogue.

Gregorio, thanks for listening and commenting. I will work on that section and see what I can do to help clear up the understanding of the dialogue.





Ingo Lee said:

Hi DM, I'll defer to those with more experience here but for my 2 cents worth I think your music is conservative and tasteful which would be great in many situations but from what I am seeing in theaters now is not used very much.
It's a little hard to tell where this film is coming from, is it spooky or campy or what? That makes a lot of difference I think. I'm not really getting a feel for this movie from your music.

In general the trailer music I hear now is tasteless and completely over-the-top in one way or another. You can use side chaining for the dialog so that it doesn't get lost and just go for it once you have the right direction I think.

Yes, I agree there is a niche if you make it happen I think, it's good to be different!  There are a host of audio techniques that your competitors are using that may or may not work for you; but knowledge is power as they say.

DriscollMusick said:



Thanks, Ingo. I agree with your assessments. The tone/style is mixed, but that was deliberate since my read of the trailer (I haven't seen the film) is that it does have some camp elements. I think I rather walk that line than try to take it all too seriously... I'm not really looking for a career in trailer scoring, but maybe there is a niche for this type of conservative, tasteful scoring in actual films...?

I will look into side-chaining. Having mostly done classical-type music, I have generally avoided all kinds of compression, but I think I need to do that more for a trailer like this, at least for dialogue.

Gregorio, thanks for listening and commenting. I will work on that section and see what I can do to help clear up the understanding of the dialogue.





Ingo Lee said:

Hi DM, I'll defer to those with more experience here but for my 2 cents worth I think your music is conservative and tasteful which would be great in many situations but from what I am seeing in theaters now is not used very much.
It's a little hard to tell where this film is coming from, is it spooky or campy or what? That makes a lot of difference I think. I'm not really getting a feel for this movie from your music.

In general the trailer music I hear now is tasteless and completely over-the-top in one way or another. You can use side chaining for the dialog so that it doesn't get lost and just go for it once you have the right direction I think.

Hi John,

I agree with Ingo and Gregorio comments.

If I'm judging it as a trailer, then for me, it is still too stop/start. As film score however and on the understanding that scenes and their corresponding music will be separated in time, then the music really could work very, very well as cues -   your feel for underscoring is apparent. 

Perhaps another way to tackle scoring this as a trailer would be to write a theme tune, one that does what themes are suppose to - encompass the overall psychological tone of the movie. If the theme is appropriate enough (emotionally that is) and is musically clear and good ( memorable), it can ride over scenes with ease.

Scoring the theme obviously has to take into account the major moments and establishing maybe only 2 or 3  of those might well help in keeping up a build and flow. Starting intimately and building also seems appropriate as you have indeed done so.

Another reason for what feels a little disjunct at the moment might be the harmonic/key shifts you have used to spot. Too much information being used in too short a time -  and the matter is compounded in the reductive scoring and the slowing of rhythmic impetus. Staying close to what you establish early on harmonically and building and spotting within those parameters might be another solution worth considering. You would  achieve this by thinking in terms of thematic writing and harmonisation, rather than parsing 10" here, 15" there.

Have you tried finding some temp tracks of your own for inspiration? When faced with no brief in the past, I use to just line up the sort of music I thought appropriate from the film score repertoire and play the film to see what happened. More often than not I would immediately see what worked and what doesn't. It was a great way to hear different scoring approaches and more often or not I ended up with several possibilities. It' serendipitous I know, but it opens your mind a bit more and in doing this, I often got rid of my stress band, especially when I only had a few hours to produce something!

Just some ideas John, I hate giving an opinion and not being constructive too, so I hope you may find something of use in the above if you want it. But don't forget, it is only my opinion, others will disagree and theirs will be no less valid for it. The problem here I think is not your music because as I've said, as far as underscore goes I believe you are on the right path. It's the current trailer paradigm which is perhaps at odds with your approach. But then again........

DriscollMusick said:

Mike, here is a revised Sci Fi trailer incorporating your helpful feedback (and now with Bell Tree!):

https://youtu.be/sfyYtPQcdpI

Original for comparison: https://youtu.be/K11QcZQDjo4

Curious to know if you agree it works better?

Anyone else willing to critique???

Thanks!

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