AUD210 - Blog 11 - Final Report

This AUD210 series belongs to an assessment from college.

It's been a long and good trimester. Thirteen weeks ago I couldn't have imagined how much I would learn within the following months -- it was more than I expected to. The first couple of weeks were defiled with fear towards not being able to accomplish the academic requirements due to my lack of musical knowledge. However, as I progressed and as soon as I was assigned to create jingles, I came up with a rather unconventional way to face my fears. 

When I chose the jingles I wanted to create as my individual projects, I immediately thought of doing an animation and a dramatic ad or trailer. I selected videos I really like and find meaningful in a way or another. I was filled with enthusiasm and positivity about what the outcome could be and began working on them right away. I was feeling confident about EMP due to the success of the remix and felt a tremendous relief when I learned that it wasn't impossible to create music without being as knowledgeable as I thought I should be. 

The initial idea behind all the projects was to get the sound design done first and build the music around it, except for the group project as the team and I were responsible for a specific task. I thought that by the getting the sound design out of the way, I'd have more time to focus on the music, but that was obviously not the case. You see, I'm unconditionally passionate about film sound, and whenever I get the time to work on something of my own, I tend to do it with love and plenty of attention to detail. And honestly, at that point I was feeling quite lazy and afraid that I wouldn't be able to do the music. Because I was dominated by fear and intimidation, I decided to leave the trailers behind and try to work on a single game trailer as I would be focusing my full attention to only one story, instead of two. It seemed like a safe choice. However, as I began recording the dialogue for it, I realised that it would actually be much harder to do a good job within just a couple of weeks. Thus, with a tight deadline ahead of me, I had to come up with a precise and productive routine to get everything done with good quality. 

On Friday of week 11 (11/08), I sat down and decided what to do. Because I was too concentrated on the sound effects of my own project, I put the group work aside a forgot about it. Therefore, on that Friday I made a list of all the hardest obstacles I needed to tackle before moving on to the easier parts. During the following weekend, I worked on the music of my individual projects. My fear of composition encouraged me to join a website called Noteflight, to research how people harmonise songs and watched plenty of Lynda tutorials as well. What's cool about Noteflight is that you can view people's compositions and play them as you read the sheet music. You can also interact with members, just as in any social network. While I didn't interact with anyone, I did learn a lot by watching and listening to their work. Another challenge was finding the tempo of each video to map the downbeats, stingers and transitions accurately. Finding the tempo of the Angry Birds trailer was quite simple; the problem was with the Rayman Adventures one. Because I had a short timeframe to complete the tasks, I neglected the metronome and began creating using the video as my reference. Cumbersome, I know, but it worked well for a bit. A few days later, I asked Nick to help me with timing the entire session as I was having trouble on working in the second half of the video. 

The biggest challenge with the Rayman Adventures trailer is that I love the game. A couple of year ago I re-designed a cinematic trailer of it, though the music was sourced. This time around, however, I had to come up with a piece of music that fitted well with the story, and one that was fun as well. I turned to its own soundtrack, Cirque du Soleil albums such as Totem, The Hobbit and Star Wars soundtracks and general tribal and orchestral performances for inspiration. In spite of having succeed in sketching a simple leitmotif, I had a very hard time deciphering it's harmony and structure throughout the trailer. I've been notified by some colleagues before that I have a tendency to use different genres of music in my productions and advised me to try to be more purposeful in my decisions. For the Rayman trailer, I wanted the track to be orchestral and epic, by using percussive instruments in the calmer, tropical moments and brass and strings in the adventurous, agitated moments. Creating music feels easier to me when I have the rhythm established, and since I didn't have one for the adventure, it was extremely challenging and rewarding. 

Below are some of the key references I built my work upon. 

As you can hear, these four tracks are very different from each other. I was looking for inspiration in the minor details instead of the big picture. On the Rayman track, I was looking for the feel of the game. On the Cirque du Soleil one, I went for the percussion and flute, as with The Hobbit, with the addition of the strings. As for Star Wars, there's a very interesting double bass harmony accompanying the violins in staccato (at least I think it is as it doesn't sound plucked). All of these tracks have elements which inspired my jingles for both game trailers, but a bigger focus onto the Rayman one. 

Before moving on to the technical side, I've mentioned in the first paragraph that I had to come up with a way to face my fears. None of these ideas came to me while I was sitting in my living room. You see, music composition is, indeed, one of my biggest fear, but what I fear the most is getting back to being depressed. I guess that a big part of my fear of music and any other creative work is spending too much time inside a room trying out ideas that may be discarded along the way. I feel like time is being wasted and I feel the urge of being outside creating things and just living life. When I had a look at my schedule and saw that I had only 2 weeks left in the trimester and nothing was done, I froze and lost interest in doing the assessments. However, I know that if I stick to this negativity, I will indeed get depressed. So here's what I did. All I wanted was to be outside creating. So I packed my things with nothing but my computer, headphones, and a mini MIDI keyboard and went to the botanic gardens. There, I found a bench, sat on the grass, set up an Ableton session e dove into work. The idea was to be as creative as possible in a total of 4 hours (that's how long it lasts with high CPU usage). It didn't need to be the best production in the world, but it needed to be something: a sketch, a rhythm, a leitmotif, anything. 

Those were the most productive hours I've had this trimester. I didn't come up with the entire music, but with its main parts, which then allowed me work on the rest with my mind at ease and more fluently. I worked outside whenever I could. In fact, this very word is being written on the public library at 8:26pm on a Tuesday. Being in contact with nature just made my workflow much, much better. Now for the technical side.


Beginning with the music composition for the Rayman Adventures trailer, the first two images below illustrate my Ableton session. The piano was my base instrument to figure out the melody which, initially, was led by a concert flute. In order to have more control over the project, I recorded everything in timeline view as I've got a bit of difficulty in fully understanding the session view. As mentioned above, the main elements were created during my visit to the botanic gardens, and building the rest of the music was much easier then. 

Rayman Adventures Jingle -  Ableton Live Session - #1

Rayman Adventures Jingle -  Ableton Live Session - #1

Rayman Adventures Jingle - Ableton Live Session #2

Rayman Adventures Jingle - Ableton Live Session #2

The image below demonstrates the Pro Tools session belonging to the Rayman Adventures trailer. Because I was running out of CPU power for using too many tracks, I premixed de music a bit in Ableton to a point where it fitted well with my sound design. Once I had it done, I imported the stereo bounced file into Pro Tools and went from there. As you can see, I have a specifc template set up for post production purposes, and the audio files organization serves their needs as well. Instead of having them scattered in different tracks, I organize them in staircase to maintain the overall ergonomics easy to follow. The same is applied to aux tracks. When mixing in a console, I like to have 2 banks of 8 faders assigned to aux tracks, and multiples of 8 faders assigned to specific audio assets, such as dialogue, sound effects and Foley. I also color each file to its category or visual reference.

Rayman Adventures Jingle - Pro Tools Session

Rayman Adventures Jingle - Pro Tools Session

In regards to the Zombieland trailer, I was responsible for the sound design and my teammates for the voice over and music. Following the same premise as the aforementioned method, This session illustrate my track layout with one minor difference at the top: design tracks. I had NI Reaktor routed to an aux and to a record track. I used Reakor to create all of the whooshes. 

It´s necessary and crucial to notice that most of the sounds used were selected from the Hybrid Library and The Recordist sound libraries. I´ve bought them a while ago to do my job faster, so I´m all good with copyright. I´ve also used some of my own libraries that I´ve been creating since the beginning of this year, with the intention to sell next year.  

Zombieland Jingle - Pro Tools Session

Zombieland Jingle - Pro Tools Session

In terms of the Angry Birds project, I decided to work only on the music, otherwise I´d get a burnout. The creative process was identical to that of the first game trailer. The major difference was that I didn´t apply as much effort as I did on both the previous projects. 

Angry Birds Jingle - Ableton Live Session #1

Angry Birds Jingle - Ableton Live Session #1

Angry Birds Jingle - Ableton Live Session #2

Angry Birds Jingle - Ableton Live Session #2


Now, I know that my individual work doesn´t add up to 2 minutes, as it was required by the instructions. In my presentation I´ve mentoned that the last month of the trimester was packed of pressure at my workplace, and for that matter I decided to push school aside in order to deliver the best quality I could to the client in the real world. I aknowlodge that, academically, that wasn´t the best decision; however, I don´t regret it. I was indeed, aiming for an HD, but after all of the experience I had gone through in and outside of school, I don´t mind the mistakes I´ve made in the trimester. All of my bad decisions accounted for a terrific learning experience about myself as both a student and a professional. 

By all means, feel free to have a listen at my work at my professional jingles company website: https://cnvmusicgroup.wixsite.com/cnvmusic

You can also contact us through the site at the ´Contact´page, and we´ll get back to you in within 24 hours.