1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Advice for beginner in animation scoring

Discussion in 'SAMPLE Talk' started by vanguard, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Hi everybody,

    I’m hoping to score is an 8 minute animated short. It’s a sort of a fable that doubles as a critique of capitalism and uses animals as characters; a goose, a pig, a vulture and a bull. As you can imagine, each character will have a different vibe for the music: Goose is a bit silly/tongue in cheek, pig is jazzy big band, vulture is heavy orchestral, and the bull is Argentinian Tango Nuevo.

    Three of the references that I had when we animated the film were Mozart’s Requiem, Charlie Haden’s Dream Keeper and Astor Piazzolla Tango Zero Hour (especially the track titled Contrabassimo). I know it sounds like a dodgy mix and probably for that reason alone after struggling with two composers to get it right, I’ve decided to take a stab at the music myself.

    Let me be clear that I have no grandiose notions of ability to create such complicated music relying on tools. However orchestral composing is something that‘s been a passion and a dream for me for quite some time; and I figured this would be an opportunity for me to learn and try for better or worse.

    I’m fairly comfortable with software (Cubase, Logic and Ableton Live) and production. I’ve dabbled in electronic music production and recorded/produced my rock band efforts. However I have no experience with creating a full-on orchestrated soundtrack. It’s a towering task that humbles me and I need advice on many fronts.

    After this lengthy introduction (please forgive) here’s my question:

    What is your recommendation for an orchestral library for my case?

    I’ve done a ton of research and I’ve listened to almost every walkthrough for Albion One, Metropolis Series, BO Inspire and Sonuscore The Orchestra.

    For the big band section I’m fairly decided on Project Sam Swing collection. Does anybody have experience with those two libraries? I’m planning to purchase both but I can easily be swayed to purchasing just Swing or More! if anybody can chime in on that.

    And then there’s the orchestral section.
    Being a hack, I’m sold on Sonuscore The Orchestra for the basis of the score. Is that a valid idea? Or am I better of with a better sounding pattern based library such as the Sonokinetic offerings?

    But then there’s the question of layering that with better sounding libraries. I’ve been eyeing on the Metropolis Ark series (both of them). I’m especially sold on the harp and the choir but is this series a good choice? Overkill? Could I achieve similar results with a simpler library such as Berlin Orchestra Inspire or Albion One?

    Additionally, I’m planning to get ProjectSAM Animator for cueing in some specific runs for some animated movements, especially for the goose.

    And finally there’s the matter of bandoneon for the bull section, which I have no idea where to settle even after extensive research.

    I’m truly sorry for the massive length of the post. If anybody has read so far, I’d really appreciate some suggestions.

    All my best and happy holidays,

    Tolga
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
  2. markleake

    markleake Recovering sale addict

    1,186
    728
    Nov 8, 2015
    So you are trying to learn all these different musical styles, and the orchestration, and all these instrument libraries?

    Layering some of these libraries will work, yes. Swing and Swing More both have a good reputation, although I don't own them myself. The Orchestra will be a better place to get started than Sonokinetic in terms of phrases in your case, as it will be more versatile for those just starting out. MArk 1 is more focused on epic and loud than Inspire is. Albion is good middle ground, as is Inspire, and inspire has a bit more versitility with the type/range of instruments it has, so I'd choose Inspire over Albion One.

    None of these are going to be especially flexible, because they are all focused on a particular style/method, or are ensemble instruments, or are designed specifically as starting libraries (not final production quality). All of them will require a fair bit of effort and skill - as you may be aware it's not so much a library that contributes most to the end result, it's the skill and knowledge of the person using them. You can learn composing for years and still be rather ordinary in your results, and I'd hesitate to say if you couldn't get 2 composers to give you satisfying results, you may take many months before you get your desired result yourself.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  3. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

    3,031
    2,532
    Mar 30, 2008
    Frankfurt/Germany
    Why don't you collaborate with someone who has experiences?
     
    vanguard likes this.
  4. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Thank you very much for the suggestions!

    I cannot agree more. Of course I'm fully aware of that; and I'm willing to put in the time and effort to learn.

    I didn't mean "Oh, the other two composers couldn't do it, so I'll easily do it myself." I have nothing but respect for the proffession and I think I may need to rephrase my intentions and expectations here.

    Scoring soundtrack for our animations have recently been a topic of interest in our studio. Not only for the end result but incorporating music early-on in the production phase actually informs and elevates the quality of the animations.

    So I view the project that I mentioned above as a platform for myself to start learning composing. I'm planning to enrol in an online course and do the practise on the music for the short film. This is a side project for me and I'm not expecting any results for until at least 5-6 months. Do you think this approach makes sense? Or am I delusional.

    Collaboration is certainly on the books, both as a means to complete the music and also to learn from an experienced composer.

    To summarise, I'm looking to start learning how to compose and orchestrate. And I'm planning to use this project as a means to do so. I'm more than happy to invest time and energy on this. Under this light, do you think Sonuscore TO + BO Inspire would help be a good place to start? I was steering towards ensemble libraries thinking that they'd be relatively easier to begin.

    Or should I go with a full library that has separates and no ensemble like you mentioned?

    On a final note; does anybody have any ideas about these two sites?

    https://courses.evenant.com/p/cinematic-music-from-idea-to-finished-recording

    https://thinkspaceeducation.com/

    Thanks,

    Tolga
     
  5. Karl Feuerstake

    Karl Feuerstake Senior Member

    261
    116
    Jun 12, 2014
    So it's Animal Farm, but anti-West?

    As recommended above, ProjectSAM has some lighter libraries that would be good go-to's for cartoony stuff. M-Ark I is really powerful and bold and probably not necessary for this project, but M-Ark II may be more in line with it. Might also consider Albion II if you want more of a soft, subtle, unusual vibe.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  6. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

    6,864
    2,567
    Nov 13, 2007
    California
    Good idea. Otherwise you will get run over.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  7. nas

    nas Senior Member

    295
    90
    Dec 28, 2015
    Jordan
    Can you describe a little more what kind of musical experience you have? Formal training? hobbyist? Have you done any composition in the styles you've mentioned? Also what kind of experience do you have working with a DAW and with MIDI?

    This might help give us a general idea on your background so we may be able to advise you better.
     
  8. markleake

    markleake Recovering sale addict

    1,186
    728
    Nov 8, 2015
    Hey Tolga, I don't think there's anything you are describing in terms of the learning process that is out of the ordinary. It will take a lot of time, but purchasing a few of these libraries and completing some of the courses you mention is a good direction to take. The two libs you boiled it down to are a good starting place, although they aren't going to cover all your needs, and I'd say the sound quality of both is a bit lacking for final productions (depending on how they areally used - they both have limitations in particular areas). When you get into it more, just a few ensemble libs won't be good enough. So you can start with them if you like the sound of them, but I'd recommend a proper string library as the next step... probably CSS if you like it's sound. Or try the East West composer cloud offering.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  9. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Thank you for the suggestions and affirmation.
    I'm very excited to start the journey!
     
  10. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    I can read sheet music but never had any formal training. Never made any money out of music except for gigs. So I'd say I'm a hobbyist. 15 years ago I played in a jazz trio/quartet for a few years. Since then I've been in a few projects ranging from electronic to rock. I've dabbled in software instruments/DAW for those quite a bit. I used Ableton Live v2-v4 back in the day (dating myself ;) ) and since then Logic for recording and mixing (never mastering) the rock band. That's about it.

    I never composed on the computer but have a few tunes on piano and guitar. I also did some simple arrangements for the jazz band, nothing extraordinary.

    In terms of musical abilities I can say my only asset is a good ear and being a quick learner. Other than that I don't necessarily consider myself talented or anything.

    But I do have a passion for music, for sure!
     
  11. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Thank you for the Albion II suggestion. I'll have a look into it.

    Yes, Animal Farm was a starting point, one of my favorite books.
    I wouldn't call our take anti-West, but more anti-greedy captilalism.

    Visually, the main difference is the characters are anthropomorphic and the setting is a run-down bank that looks like a cathedral instead of a farm.
     
  12. sekkosiki

    sekkosiki Senior Member

    1,138
    572
    Jan 14, 2014
    Espoo
    When you start to learn how to use full orchestra and its different instruments and sections, I'm sure you would want to have libraries, which have separate instruments. That said, BO Inspire would be great in the beginning, it's not only ensembles, it has solos too.

    An orchestration course would be a good place to start. I did, and am still doing Thinkspace Cinematic Orchestration. For me it has worked really well. When doing that course, I realized, how little I know :D.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  13. nas

    nas Senior Member

    295
    90
    Dec 28, 2015
    Jordan
    Thanks for your response. You've certainly taken on quite a large task for your project and realistically it may be difficult to achieve the results you have in mind. I would like to suggest some options to consider.

    Conceptually, are you convinced that you want to incorporate all the various genres/styles you mentioned earlier for each character? Do you think you can compose motifs for the characters within a single genre? It may allow you to then focus your energies more on one style and arrangements and allow for a more unified approach - not only aesthetically but also on a technical level. If you are experienced in Jazz than perhaps you could incorporate that as you foundational style? You could then narrow down your instrumentation and arrangements and really focus on getting realistic mockups for your score.

    If this is not possible then perhaps you could compose the various themes in whatever style you envision on the kybd. (jazz, orchestral, etc..) and then collaborate with an orchestrater/programmer to help in areas where you have less experience (orchestral composition and MIDI orchestration). I think this is a great way to learn from those with more experience and will also allow you to focus on certain aspects in the project where you do have some musical knowledge such as jazz.

    The truth is that it really does take time to develop the skill to write orchestral music - both on a theoretical compositional level and also in terms of the production (MIDI programming, mixing etc..) and even if you're just focused on that one style of composition, it will be very tough to achieve satisfying results for your particular project on your own.... let alone trying to compose in various genres and create not only a unified score conceptually, but to be able to pull it off from a production point of view.

    Not only that, but scoring for animation is probably some of the most challenging score writing for a composer. It usually incorporates tight synchronization to picture with several musical sync points you need to hit. There are usually several varying tempos, odd rhythms, complex harmonic movement, and multiple key signatures utilized.

    While great sounding libraries are certainly very important in achieving satisfying results, I think it is going to be the least of your challenges for your particular project. That being said, check out the SF Albion and Orchestral Tools offerings mentioned in this thread for orchestral samples - they are excellent options. Also, taking some courses in composition and orchestration as well as orchestral MIDI programming - whether online or at a school is a great idea and is an excellent long term approach.

    My advice for now, narrow down and have a more focused approach to your score and try not to incorporate too many styles or it can easily get away from you... unless you really know what you're doing. Most of all, find someone to collaborate with to open up the possibilities and accelerate your learning curve.

    Best of luck

    Cheers,
    nas
     
  14. camelot

    camelot Senior Member

    97
    75
    Jul 31, 2016
    I would also recommend to check out the Composer Cloud from EastWest, where you can work with the complete product line for a marginal monthly fee (~30EUR). They also offer packages for exotic styles (Ra, Silk, Gypsy), which might be particularly helpful in your case. This way you can try various instruments and packages, especially if you do not know what you want and need. However, they do not offer something specific for Swing and a beginner oriented library as far as I remember.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  15. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Thank you very much for the excellent advice. After writing some stuff on the piano I’m steering towards a similar direction. Makes a lot of sense.
     
    nas likes this.
  16. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    I will check this out. I’ve watched some demos of Gypsy and it’s very intriguing. Thanks!
     
  17. Paul Grymaud

    Paul Grymaud Senior Member

    Yeah, East West is a good idea. Up to 60% temporarily. Or the EW cloud which gives You access to all the sounds available. You also need a good keyboard and a mouse or two (See below)

    Musicmouse.gif

    Also Native instruments if You vanna ad some color and fantasy to Your music (see below)

    www.animated-gifs.eu-4031779.gif

    Let the Inspiration work and...good luck !
    www.animated-gifs.eu-3487111.gif
     
    vanguard likes this.
  18. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Thank you for the response.
    Right now I have a digital piano (Yamaha ydp161) at home but I’m planning to buy the Komplete Kontrol for the office. Trying to decide between the older s88 vs newer s61 mk2. Any suggestions there?
     
  19. conan

    conan Senior Member

    103
    113
    Nov 22, 2017
    As an S61 MK2 owner, I can give my perspective. In addition to having less keys, the S61 MK2 also lacks weighted action. I prefer this for most orchestral and synth sounds, but find it woefully unsatisfying for piano and have a Yamaha CP4 for that purpose. It mostly comes down to personal preference. You already have a digital piano, so something to keep in mind.
     
    vanguard likes this.
  20. OP
    OP
    vanguard

    vanguard Member

    15
    4
    Nov 29, 2017
    Are weighted keys workable for orchestral passages? I understand it’s a compromise on both ends and it’s personal preference but I’m trying to understand which is worse; playing piano on semi-weighted Keys vs orchestra/synth on weighted keys. My limited experience is that it hasn’t been too pleasant to play legato passages on the digital piano. It might be a matter of getting used to of course. On the other side I have no experience on semi-weighted keys except for a few very short store demos.
     

Share This Page