C.95 - "Film Score #1 (Carrot Crazy)"

Composed: 28th to 30th April 2016

     Written just prior to “C.96 – Common Cents” is a film score for a short film – my first! This was my final coursework for the semester 2 module, 'Screen Music Studies', which gave us the option of a 3,000 word analytical essay, or scoring 2 minutes of music to a scene of our choosing.

     One thing this ‘C List’ has yet to cover is my interest in sound design. Ever since I audited sound design lectures in my first year at university (2014-2015), I was intrigued. I shall let me commentary say the rest:

Screen Music Studies – Film Score Commentary

Context

   Last year I attended [someone's] ‘Sound Design’ lectures out of curiosity, and soon I found myself fascinated by it. This fascination has grown into one of my favourite hobbies, so much so that I had a go at the final task for the course (which was nearly identical to this task). I enjoyed working on that task so much that I asked Pete for the previous coursework silent clips so I could have another go later on – the clip I chose for this task is one of those previous clips. As the clip was a full short film of three minutes, I decided to score all of it as it would be very incomplete had I only done two minutes.

     I’ve tried my best at treating this coursework realistically and gave myself a short amount of time to complete it; three days for the score and six for the (incredibly cheesy) dialogue and sound design – the latter of which I tried to use entirely original sounds I created myself (with some exceptions – see Appendix A).

 

Scoring

     Although I’ve had a go at adding sound design to a clip before, this was my first attempt at scoring. Foremost, I constructed a ‘spotting’ table to aid in writing the score. I opted for the (incredibly original *cough*) leitmotif method, as that is what I am most comfortable with, and assigned themes to characters and improvised from there, even making a cheeky reference to one of my own pieces similarly involving a rabbit. The themes are as follows (fig.1):

Figure 1:

    For the scoring, I wrote it straight into Sibelius (certainly not the best method, but Sibelius is my canvass) making a score far easier to accomplish, which I’ve attached for your own curiosity (see separate document – Appendix B). There are a few points of musical interest; particularly the appearance of the helicopter and the “mega-carrot” at which point I brought the music to the forefront and removed the sound design for an over-the-top comedic effect (hopefully). There are several moments of ‘mickey-mousing’, which I feel I have bluntly overused which leads to the music becoming too obvious. Of course, that is another issue entirely – I think my score is too obvious as a whole.

     For the audio, I created it in Cubase using the EastWest sample libraries. One main issue with this was the guitars – this was my first attempt at sampling with guitars and it is very noticeable. I wasn’t entirely satisfied by placing electric guitars in an orchestral setting and it has probably become more of a distraction, again contributing to what I think has been too obvious a score.

 

     Nevertheless, this was certainly the most fun I’ve had with a coursework yet – this whimsical writing has probably reflected that – regardless of whether it was a success or failure, and I will now be off to watch the clip with its original sound for the first time, with a face-palm at the ready.

 

Other Information

     The final word count for this commentary is 495.

  • This includes all subtitles, the figure heading and the main body of the commentary

  • This excludes the main title, all text within this ‘Other Information’ and appendices, as well as the text within the figure

     The original source of the clip, which I have just discovered as of writing this, can be found here:

 

Appendix A – Sounds acquired from other creators

     Sounds acquired from ‘Freesound.org’:

     Sound acquired from the ‘Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’:

 

Appendix B – Film Score

     See the separate document entitled ‘Appendix B – Film Score’.

 

Appendix C – Film Score Recording

     I have also attached a recording for the film score on its own as it might be difficult to hear it when combined with the sound design and dialogue. You can find it in the zip folder entitled ‘Appendix C – Film Score Recording’.

     Whimsical indeed! This was certainly one of my favourite compositions to complete until now – of which I had experienced a similar enjoyment when I attempted the final coursework for the sound design module that I was merely auditing (I had only attempted the sound design, and not the music, which is why it does not appear here).

     I suppose a few things I should add on to the commentary, is that I didn’t actually follow through with a cue table – I got half way and it wasn’t helping at all. Nevertheless, I attach here the music cue sheet, followed by the sound cue sheet (which proved more helpful):

     And the sound cue sheet, which I printed out and took with me on a field trip day on the 2nd May 2016 to the local Witley woodland of “Mare Hill”, in an attempt to record some of the sounds:

     I was overjoyed when I received the feedback for this coursework, which seemed reassuring that I may have finally found something I was good at:

Feedback

 

Score

90 / 100 - 90 %

 

Feedback Date

17 June, 2016 11:28 AM

 

Assignment Feedback

     This was an outstanding piece of work. You manage to match and enhance the narrative with excellent musical characterizations, capturing the 'silly' humour of the scenario, but in a subtle way that at times anticipates unseen changes, and communicates irony, exaggeration, as well as physical action, gesture and expression really well. The transitions are handled exceptionally well, and you managed to integrate the varied musical content expertly using a number of clever linking devices. Congratulations.

     90%? Never considered I would be able to reach a mark that high! So it would seem, that my passion for music and sound design was promising. Of course, it was also around this time that I started working on my first video game project, providing some sound design for someone’s indie title ‘Wrath of the Abyss’, which had been a joy to work on while. Of course, like most indie titles, this one unfortunately never made it to completion, or anywhere near it.

     Nevertheless, here is the finished short:

     And the score:

Reminiscence written on 22nd July 2016

Last updated: 19th September 2019

© 2020 Jonathan Shaw