What's new

Zurich Film Competition

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
So this was my entry for the Zurich Film Scoring competition. Didn't make the final, and didn't expect to. These competitions are intense learning experiences that really make you focus on improving your weaknesses. Any prizes would be just icing on the cake. I scored it in a somewhat 'retro TV movie' style with quite a bit of mickey-mousing which was intentional as I felt it fitted the material. It isn't perfect by any means - I don't think I nailed the action scene and the woodwinds in the end-credit piece are just horrible for example. I also tend to overwrite scenes.

I would really welcome any brutally honest (constructive) criticism as I'm past the 'fretting about rejection' stage and need that final kinda-know-what-I'm-doing to almost-passably-professional push.

Enjoy (or not)

 

JEPA

Senior Member
- first observation -
01:54 - 2:09 bathroom scene too much weight at the bottom end and too dense rhythmically were there isn't any rapid movement. I understand the flow, but if you begin thinner the effect will be better at the end. <<<<<<< boom!

in general I've found too much weight at the lows.
 

Maxfabian

Active Member
So this was my entry for the Zurich Film Scoring competition. Didn't make the final, and didn't expect to. These competitions are intense learning experiences that really make you focus on improving your weaknesses. Any prizes would be just icing on the cake. I scored it in a somewhat 'retro TV movie' style with quite a bit of mickey-mousing which was intentional as I felt it fitted the material. It isn't perfect by any means - I don't think I nailed the action scene and the woodwinds in the end-credit piece are just horrible for example. I also tend to overwrite scenes.

I would really welcome any brutally honest (constructive) criticism as I'm past the 'fretting about rejection' stage and need that final kinda-know-what-I'm-doing to almost-passably-professional push.

Enjoy (or not)

I think you did great!! Really great!! Be proud of your self. Imho maybe a little bit "to much". Let the picture speak for it self a little moor. But impressing:)

Cheers!
 

JEPA

Senior Member
I think you would be shocked at the quality these competitions attract!
I find your music as well super schön! but out of curiosity did you mind it ironically or is the quality in this contest top end?
 
OP
VinRice

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
I find your music as well super schön! but out of curiosity did you mind it ironically or is the quality in this contest top end?
No not ironic! Zurich is probably the best film scoring comp in the world at the moment. It requires written scores for a real orchestra and pays real money to the winners. The competition is judged more on the score than the mock-up (because they are actually going to play the top five at a concert)
 

ironbut

Active Member
Fantastic music!
You should be proud.
One issue,..
I listened/watched with the volume pretty low and a couple of times your music obscured the dialog.
Nothing serious but it might be one of those judging "no-no's".
I guess it's hard to know if it was an issue with them (or maybe I just wasn't listening closely enough).
Might be something to watch out for in the future?
 
OP
VinRice

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
Fantastic music!
You should be proud.
One issue,..
I listened/watched with the volume pretty low and a couple of times your music obscured the dialog.
Nothing serious but it might be one of those judging "no-no's".
I guess it's hard to know if it was an issue with them (or maybe I just wasn't listening closely enough).
Might be something to watch out for in the future?
Thanks mate! Yes the music is too high by about 3db in places which is an almost irresistible temptation for a competition. Not a problem in the real world since the director/mixer will take it way down, change the balance, eq etc. and generally screw with your finely crafted creation to make it fit.
 
Last edited:

LowweeK

Loïc D
Really really enjoyed it.
And yes, on one dialog, the music is a tad too loud.
Super good job, I wish you could make it to the last 5.


I never heard about this competition, it seems to be very nice... and very demanding too.
 
OP
VinRice

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
Really really enjoyed it.
And yes, on one dialog, the music is a tad too loud.
Super good job, I wish you could make it to the last 5.


I never heard about this competition, it seems to be very nice... and very demanding too.
Thanks mate!
 
OP
VinRice

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
UPDATE:

Thanks to everybody for their comments.

Since this is probably good enough to go in the showreel I decided to do a better final mix. The original was really only for mock-up purposes since the competition is judged on the actual written score more than anything else.

Final mix uses EQ and compression on every channel, sub-mixes with SSL channel strips and limiting, master bus with compression, EQ, tape emulation and limiter. Volume automation and some minor added sound design and music elements.

Showreel mix:

 

ProtectedRights

Active Member
I agree with the other posters, it sounds fantastic and matches the pictures well, it's just a little too much. Also too much in terms of volume, just turn down the music or sidechain compress it against the vocals (I know it hurts after putting so much work into it) and it should be a bit better. Another point is, the music is flowing too seamlessly. At several points, e.g. 1:37, I kind of expect an abrupt stop of the music, that is just the chic of these comedic movies today.
 

borisb2

Member
congrats .. works really nice.

How long did you work on it? Can you elaborate a bit on the process? Were there any cue points given or were you totally free in placing the music?
 
OP
VinRice

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
Thanks Boris!

I had a month to do it so it took a month. This is the universal law. You are completely free to put the music where you want. You're thinking about doing it next year aren't you? I can tell.

As to process, well here goes - I might as well get it down while it's fresh in my mind:

The competition throws up a lot of challenges that you most likely wouldn’t have in an actual job. There are essentially seven cues in this piece and normally you would have a master timeline with the movie all synced up and then you would have seven copy projects, one for each cue. You do this because each cue will have its own tempo and time signature(s) and you don’t want these interfering with each other. It also keeps the project in manageable, logical chunks. For the final mix you would render out each project’s audio stems and import them into the master.

This project is different. The final full scores are performed at a concert in Zurich. This means that there can only be one timeline with all the cues. You need to create a continuous click track for the Conductor and orchestra and make sure that you have at least two bars of lead in to each tempo change to allow the orchestra to sync up to the next cue. Tempo ramps (accelerando/ritardando) can be problematic in a sync situation so are to be avoided if possible. Also it means that you can only use instruments that will be present on the day and be mindful that you have to actually write out the score.

For the writing and mock-up I used mostly Spitfire. The Symphonic Strings, Studio Brass and Woodwinds. Joey Burgess Percussion, Skaila Harp, HZ Piano. The rhythm section at the beginning is Toontrack drums and an Amplesound Jazz Bass (I can play bass but since this was going to be written out I needed the notes in the computer). I composed in Cubase, wrote out the score in Dorico and mixed the audio in Logic.

Stylistically I was going for a smooth 90’s network TV feel. Visually that’s what it felt like and it’s an orchestra after all. There are a lot of CG cartoon elements so there was going to be some Disney style Mickey-Mousing. The tone, harmonically and metrically, would have to get progressively darker as the piece progressed.

For each cue I mapped the hard and soft hits that I wanted to nail. Some points you need to hit dead-on and some you want to transition over,. I then worked out a time signature and tempo for each cue that fitted the required tone and hit the marks as near as possible. This is NOT easy. I also had to make sure there was at least two clear lead-in bars for each cue for the orchestra.

I then chose an appropriate scale scheme for each cue to get the right feel. 1M1 was faux-jazzy so it was probably Dorian with a quartal thing in the brass. 1M2 was just underscore noodling that reacted to what she was saying. 1M3 was full-on Disney Whole-Tone and then transitioned to very genre specific for the three film references. Major for the western, Mixolydian for the pirates and major triadic ‘motion by thirds’ for the SciFi. 1M4 was my Johnny Williams Witches of Eastwick inspired nonsense in Harmonic Minor, 1M5 was in 7/8 time scary Diminished, 1M6 was 20th Century atonal - stacked half-tones, and 1M7 was Bernard Hermann inspired minor motion-by-thirds.

I don’t worry much about chord progressions for this sort of project. Film music is all ‘contingent’. It only has meaning in the presence of pictures so the concern is always relative motion from situation to situation, emotion to emotion. The lack of fully realised traditional diatonic progressions is pretty well the whole deal with film music. Stories, and consequently the music, do not resolve until the very last frame or the very first kiss. There are very few Perfect Cadences in this sort fo stuff.

After I was ‘happy’ with the composition I made a copy of the project and removed any unused tracks etc. I then quantised everything to the appropriate grid (making sure to get any triplets gridded properly). I also quantised all note lengths, particularly shorts, to the right values. In Dorico I set up an orchestral template to match what I had used. You can then drag the actual MIDI tracks from Cubase to Dorico to import the notes, one instrument at a time.

Then I hit the books. This was only the second time I had produced a written score so there was a lot of study involved in getting the right markings and conventions to get what I wanted and to match the mock-up. I suspect this is where I fell down to other competitors, some of whom I know used professional orchestrators (which is totally allowed and kosher). With this being a live concert in sync with the film there has to be confidence that the orchestration is correct and playable, and I know I had one bar involving triplet rests to hit a cue dead-on that probably wasn’t!

Learned a hell of a lot and I’ll be doing it again next year.

Hope that helps.
 
Top Bottom