First time scoring to picture (Shortfilm) 90% CSS & CSSS

Bluemount Score

Senior Member
Over the last weeks, I got the oppertunity to write filmscore to picture for the first time.
"To those We leave behind" is a no-budget short film project, written, directed and edited by a good friend of mine. It is the story about two estranged sisters, who have to stick together on a journey they can't go without each other.

Soundtrack:


Shortfilm:


I used CSS, layered with CSSS for strings. Piano is the Grandeur by NI.

For me, the biggest challenge was to focus less on what I wanted to write, instead of what the film actually needed. Many times my a little more complex orchestrations and ideas were simple over the top, especially in dialog scenes where you need to focus on what is being said.
This whole project was a super interesting, fun and sometimes exhausting experience, as pretty much everybody involved was new to this kind of workfield. However, I now am looking forward to whatever the future might bring, as this sure wasn't my last collaboration of this kind. Working with people you know and like, where everybody is able to do what he or she can do best, is something very fulfilling.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I watched the film, very touching (I have two adult daughters, myself). During the scene where they are reading the letter, your score works perfectly, I think you captured the emotion. This is exactly what a film composer's job is, and you certainly understand that.
 

Anevis

Member
Touching! Nice theme! There was a moment where I felt like it lacks some other "colour" and then the piano came in. The part from 5:25 to 5:57 I would somehow try to play that phrase an octave higher and forte just to more evoke the emotions, because the whole thing is very emotional. But that's just my thing.
Anyway if this is the first time scoring, well, you've made incredible job! I really felt it, it was believable!
 
OP
Bluemount Score

Bluemount Score

Senior Member
Thanks to both of you! When you are just starting out, you feel rather unsure about how others will perceive the final result, so I'm even happier to hear that.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
Thanks to both of you! When you are just starting out, you feel rather unsure about how others will perceive the final result, so I'm even happier to hear that.
I think your attitude is part of the reason you'll be successful as a film composer. Never take constructive criticism personally, and always listen to, and deliver, what the director envisions for the music.
 
OP
Bluemount Score

Bluemount Score

Senior Member
Never take constructive criticism personally, and always listen to, and deliver, what the director envisions for the music.
I began summer last year to compose my first music (made an album and stuff), however the big difference compared to this project was exactly what you name here, to constantly listen to what the director had in mind and not drift away to whereever I wanted do. That's something that narrows down lots of previously seen possibilities, but also consequently forces you to experiment with options and techniques you didn't think of before, (even though everything stays rather "basic" in this exact project). The learning effect is pretty big not least because of that.
 

cloudesky

New Member
Your score sounds amazing! Any tips you can share, such as did you use the main mics on CSS? Did you change the vibrato settings? Did you use a lot of CC modulation?
 
OP
Bluemount Score

Bluemount Score

Senior Member
Your score sounds amazing! Any tips you can share, such as did you use the main mics on CSS? Did you change the vibrato settings? Did you use a lot of CC modulation?
Thank you, cloudesky!

Here are the mic settings I used for this:

CSS (Ensemble patches):

Close -3dB
Main -12dB
Room 0dB

CSSS (First chairs):

Close -1dB
Main -16dB
Room -2dB

As you can see, I lowered the main mics quite a bit, as I felt like they added a bit of mud in this case, instead of a fuller sound. Otherwise I think the mix mic by itself has a very good sound.

I in fact didn't change the vibrato settings. It's on maximum all the time. Smooth vibrato transitions are not really a thing with CSS, also I actually liked it that way. Adds more emotion which fits the movie.
Dynamics are automated throughout, expression only when needed (smooth in and out fading).
Otherwise I removed lots of low mids in the mixing. Makes everything a bit brigther and more defined. CSS is very dark and I generally prefer a bright sound. Slightly decreased high mids to avoid that harsh / nasty effect.
 

cloudesky

New Member
Thank you, cloudesky!

Here are the mic settings I used for this:

CSS (Ensemble patches):

Close -3dB
Main -12dB
Room 0dB

CSSS (First chairs):

Close -1dB
Main -16dB
Room -2dB

As you can see, I lowered the main mics quite a bit, as I felt like they added a bit of mud in this case, instead of a fuller sound. Otherwise I think the mix mic by itself has a very good sound.

I in fact didn't change the vibrato settings. It's on maximum all the time. Smooth vibrato transitions are not really a thing with CSS, also I actually liked it that way. Adds more emotion which fits the movie.
Dynamics are automated throughout, expression only when needed (smooth in and out fading).
Otherwise I removed lots of low mids in the mixing. Makes everything a bit brigther and more defined. CSS is very dark and I generally prefer a bright sound. Slightly decreased high mids to avoid that harsh / nasty effect.
Thank you, cloudesky!

Here are the mic settings I used for this:

CSS (Ensemble patches):

Close -3dB
Main -12dB
Room 0dB

CSSS (First chairs):

Close -1dB
Main -16dB
Room -2dB

As you can see, I lowered the main mics quite a bit, as I felt like they added a bit of mud in this case, instead of a fuller sound. Otherwise I think the mix mic by itself has a very good sound.

I in fact didn't change the vibrato settings. It's on maximum all the time. Smooth vibrato transitions are not really a thing with CSS, also I actually liked it that way. Adds more emotion which fits the movie.
Dynamics are automated throughout, expression only when needed (smooth in and out fading).
Otherwise I removed lots of low mids in the mixing. Makes everything a bit brigther and more defined. CSS is very dark and I generally prefer a bright sound. Slightly decreased high mids to avoid that harsh / nasty effect.
Thank you for sharing these useful tips, I really appreciate it. I currently have CSS and I am considering purchasing CSSS in the near future. I really think your composition is beautifully done, I've been listening to it on repeat👍 If you don't mind, I have two more questions. What main reverb did you use? and where can I go to listen to more of your compositions?👍👍
 
OP
Bluemount Score

Bluemount Score

Senior Member
Thank you for sharing these useful tips, I really appreciate it. I currently have CSS and I am considering purchasing CSSS in the near future. I really think your composition is beautifully done, I've been listening to it on repeat👍 If you don't mind, I have two more questions. What main reverb did you use? and where can I go to listen to more of your compositions?👍👍
I used RC48 for reverb. Medium Hall preset with some tweakings. I also applied the Abbey Road Hall trick, if you don't know about it I would recommend to change that ;)
I've only produced / released one album before this soundtrack. You can find it on my channel, more is coming! Thank you!
 

cloudesky

New Member
I used RC48 for reverb. Medium Hall preset with some tweakings. I also applied the Abbey Road Hall trick, if you don't know about it I would recommend to change that ;)
I've only produced / released one album before this soundtrack. You can find it on my channel, more is coming! Thank you!
Thanks again for all the helpful tips and advice. I will be sure to check out your soundtrack and will be looking forward to hearing more of your compositions. Thank you