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Leap: Revelation

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    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020

    Comment


      Tuesday, May 31, 2022

      Music.

      I am not a musician, but I can hear an eight count. I know a few guitar chords and I can pluck out a tune or two on the piano, but that's it. I can't sing. I can't read sheet music. Yet somehow I take an active role in the music for my films.

      It started in my high school video production class back in 2002-2003. I would edit a 1-3 minute project by cutting the picture first and then finding some song to drop in. Time after time, I found that my natural editing rhythm would sync up with beats in the song we'd rip from a CD and drop in. I made a short film for my senior project and ripped soundtracks to drop in as this was the only way I knew to get music for my movie.

      A year later, I decided I needed a way to get music that was my own and purchased Sony Acid Music Studio. It had something like a thousand loops and I learned how to make loop-based music using this technique. I "scored" a bunch of my short films this way and honestly thought that I was doing it like Robert Rodriguez (You all know what I mean )



      In 2007, I made my first feature film and I knew that I needed original score but had no idea how to do it, yet knew I'd figure something out. I went to see TMNT at the theater with a buddy and a guy I knew from high school was working behind the counter. We started talking and I told him about my upcoming movie and he told me he just got done going to school for film scoring and asked if he could work on it. I agreed and just like that, I had my very own composer!

      Being classically trained, my composer could read music and did his scoring in Finale, which is a notation based software. Once I finished the rough cut, I gave him a DVD and he guided me through the process, leading our first spotting session. He would compose by writing notation in Finale, export out an .mp3, and email it to me to drop into the movie. Once the music was finalized, he created MIDI files and had another friend of his export the MIDI using real sampled instruments. For the B-Grade slasher that this was, the process worked out fine.

      In 2009, I was on feature number two. Another buddy who was into filmmaking showed me his new iMac and was giving me a tour of Garage Band. I thought that it was the greatest thing that I had seen and set out to see if there was a Windows equivalent. That's when I found Mixcraft. It was in version 4.0 at the time, but it looked to have all the same features as Garage Band. I found some hack workarounds that let me use the computer keyboard as a music keyboard and started fiddling with creating actual score.

      A week later, I was at Best Buy and they had an M-Audio USB keyboard for $99. I purchased it and went to town experimenting. My buddy, who introduced me to Garage Band, he liked it so much that he went out and bought the same keyboard. I watched a few YouTube videos on music theory and convinced myself that I could score my film.


      ^- My editing and music setup from 2009, running Vegas Pro 7 -^

      I ended up doing all the original score, save for one track, by myself in Mixcraft 4. A lot of my tracks were loop based as Mixcraft had some nice loops, but I did a lot of keyboard based scoring as well. My composer from the first film did do one track for me, and he used Mixcraft too after I had turned him onto it. Honestly, my tracks were not the best, but I had fun doing it, and it allowed me to move quickly.

      By 2010, I was on feature number three. By this time, I had gotten a second computer just for creating music and my composer wanted to try doing the score himself again, soI let him. The working relationship that we came up with was that I'd create an eight note long melody or motif to establish mood, and he would create a track based on my idea. This was by far my favorite way to work as I felt that I got to be creative in the music without having to really know what I was doing and it could still sound great. Since we both used Mixcraft, I could send him project files, and he could send them back to me. Eventually, we brought on another friend who used Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) to do percussion. The two guys did a great job and I gave them their own commentary on the DVD since, aside from me, they were more involved with the production than anybody else.


      ^- Composer 1 at work on my system -^



      ^- Both of my music guys -^

      Fast forward to today as I'm working on the new Leap movie. I've upgraded Mixcraft to version 8, and now I can import video to my Mixcraft timeline and write directly to that! I also have a new keyboard, the M-Audio Oxygen 49, since my first was destroyed in a house fire. Since I know live out in Montana, I'm currently doing the music for the opening scene I'm working on by myself. I still don't know all the nuances about music and how it works, but I know what I like and I'm trying to trust my gut. My current process is to leave Mixcraft open in the background while I'm working in Blender or Nuke and as I wait for caches, bakes and renders, I noodle around the keyboard. If I find something I like, I flip over to Mixcraft and record it. I've toyed with learning Cubase or something else, but just like with Blender, Mixcraft is what I know and I don't feel like learning a new tool.

      I spent a few hours yesterday going through my music notes (no pun intended) was able to piece together something that I think sounds really nice and sets the vibe for this opening sequence. I really wanted to pay homage to the first two Leap films, so there's hints of theme from them. It's not overly complicated, but with the instruments I'm using, it works. I had my wife listen and she thought it reminded her a bit of the opening of "Heroes", so I guess that's a compliment. I'll be sharing the intro video sometime this week or next, so I'll be sure to post it here.

      A problem I'm having right now though is that it sounds great on my computer system with my sub and good monitors, but it's not sounding so great on my laptop or phone when I watch it on YouTube. I thought it might be my levels, but they're set to -6 for dialogue and -10 -12 for music.

      Any suggestions would be appreciated!



      ^- Scoring in Mixcraft 8 for the new Leap -^
      sigpic

      Independent Filmmaker
      BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

      Feature Films
      Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020

      Comment


        Alright, El Director, you've got me emotionally invested in your progress because you've been mostly talking to yourself about this for the last 10 years and now I'm rooting for you.

        Comment


          Originally posted by NorBro View Post
          Alright, El Director, you've got me emotionally invested in your progress because you've been mostly talking to yourself about this for the last 10 years and now I'm rooting for you.
          Appreciate it. Hoping you'll see as this goes on that this isn't the same movie I wanted to make back then. Less pluck, and a smaller, more interesting story.
          sigpic

          Independent Filmmaker
          BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

          Feature Films
          Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020

          Comment


            Mocked up a new poster this morning. The parkour figure is me from 2008 and the background is two images I shot with my iPhone last year. This won't be the final design by any means, but it's something to keep me excited for the time being. One of the core concepts that's survived since the first drafts 10 years ago is that I want to take the parkour out of the urban environment and into a mountain landscape. Natural Parkour.


            sigpic

            Independent Filmmaker
            BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

            Feature Films
            Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020

            Comment


              Prologue for "Leap"
              sigpic

              Independent Filmmaker
              BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

              Feature Films
              Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020

              Comment

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