My entry for VSL composing competition 5 years ago

shawnsingh

Active Member
VSL fans may remember the composing competition that VSL had 5 years ago? Here was my entry (click here for link to mp3), which I had written to the various scenes of the Wolfman.

(SPOILER ALERT about the movie's ending)
part 1, intro
part 2, attack on the village
part 3, wolfman recovering from injuries and being cared for, the beginnings of the romance subplot
part 4, wolfman turmoils in raw brutal form, running across rooftops and then howls in a way that resonates through the city
part 5, taking the silver bullet to save his romance, with the first and last kiss that revealed the love but was also a regretful goodbye.

So yeah this was 5 years ago, but I'd still be happy to hear feedback about the mix and composition. I personally feel this was one of my better mix templates when I had been using VSL, and I'm thinking of rekindling this mix, so I'd be interested to hear what improvements to consider. Cheers!
 

Zedcars

Klaatu barada nikto
Beautifully crafted piece. I really enjoyed the love theme (presumably?) at 1:56 - very haunting and delicately handled.

What reverb did you use? Sounds really nice - not too wet or dry.

Thanks for posting and sorry you didn't win.
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
Thanks for listening!

What reverb did you use? Sounds really nice - not too wet or dry.
I used VSL Convolution Reverb with the Numerical Sound "Symphony Hall" IR. The nice thing about this plugin is that you can sculpt the IR by automating a low-pass and hi-pass filter over time. I made a dip in the low-pass to about 5 kHz in the first 100 ms, and then brought it back up over another second. This was kind of my way to create a bit of clarity, while still keeping things a bit wetter. I also added a gradual increase on the hi-pass so that it was cutting around 100 Hz by 2 seconds and almost 200 Hz by 4.5 seconds. This helped keep the bass tighter.

For this mix I had also used delay between L and R channels as a form of panning for every instrument, in addition to VSL powerpan. I used voxengo sound delay, as it was the only one at the time that I could find to control sub-millisecond delays. I think VE Pro's matrix mixer is also capable of doing this, which I would use the next time around.

I also used a spectrum analyzer to crudely estimate the frequency response of the convolution reverb itself (I guess I ran white noise through the reverb? can't remember), and I set up an EQ to have a similar frequency response that I applied to the dry mix. This was my hacky way to make the dry mix feel like it was also coming from the same concert hall space. I don't know if it really made a difference though.

Cheers!
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
This is quite impressive. I really enjoyed listening to it. I liked how you came up with various contrasting sections that all worked together.

The mix and composition is absolutely fine. (says the man listening on totally new monitors with no idea).
 

Tice

Active Member
I love how I saw fragments of different composers in there. Some bits were very John Williams, others more Alan Silvestri, you appear to have created a mishmash of orchestral styles you like. What I'm really wondering is if there are things about it that you would do differently now than what you did 5 years ago.
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
That's a really interesting question.

Orchestration, not much different, but definitely add more use of woodwinds. And try some creative ways to get more bite in the right places like piccolo + trumpet, or bass trumpet to solidify trombone parts.

Mix, I think it could be worth trying newer spatialization techniques I've since learned, like using MIR pro Synchron with reduced tail, to emulate early reflections only, with another reverb for long tails. Especially for low brass and percussion, since the way they expire the room is half the beauty if it

Midi programming, sounds flat and not expressive to me in places, be particularly the brass. I'd probably add more dynamic variety that way and figure out how to get a more aggressive time from the brass. I've since bought symphonic cube and dimension strings, which might help.

Composition, I think the climax is out of place, with a strings ostinato and brass sustains. If I did it today I would probably continue with a more frenetic John Williams imitation in the climax instead. And the horns chord scale just before the climax, why on Earth I didn't make that run twice as fast, I really should have.

Anyway thanks for listening and for the feedback!
 

James H

01001000 01101001
Excellent work, thoroughly enjoyed my multiple listens. Especially part 4. Having not seen the film, I could still see him running across rooftops!
Have you considered making these longer individual pieces? I assume you kept them to a certain length for the competition.
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
That's a great idea - I did think that way to compose it, but then never really considered making it more of a reality. I have to admit I'd probably never get to it because of so many other things to pursue, but will put it on the todo list :)