During January of 2019 I was working on a short movie called “La historia que nunca se contó” directed by Ekaterina Kuzmina and produced by the independent company Tercera Ola Films. The story is about a family drama due to a tragedy and the relationship between brothers through the years. The idea of the music that the director and the rest of the team was seeking for this movie was very subtle so the music should remain at the background but amplifying the feelings that the images and the words can’t tell. For that I composed the entire music for a little string ensemble and a piano.
Arturo decides to go to his psychologist to recover the relationship with his brother Eduardo that has been weakened through the years. With a regression, Arturo will relive some chapters of his live to find the solution of the problem that he is carrying since he was a child.
I decided to take part for the first time in this international film scoring competition that is well-known. This competition consists in scoring a short film chosen for the edition. The entries are judging by some international award-winning composers (with Emmy-winning names).
In this year, a documentary short film called The Time Machine was chosen. In this documentary a watchmaker that has a small workshop within Grand Central Station (New York) tells his story, his way of life and his philosophy. Firstly, you can watch the short film with the soundtrack that I composed and produced and in the next paragrahps I will describe some details of the music and show the comments of the judges with the puntuation gotten.
In this project I tried to make music that works well under dialogue with some climax to provide movement to the story. I aimed to a modern sound, in the style of actual documentaries and TV series. The instrumentation is mainly string section, piano (including extended techniques), synth, the sound of clock engines, 2 flutes and piccolo. And, during the climax I added brass section, timpani and cymbals. The harmony is sometimes tonal and sometimes modal depending of the piece. I was looking to make it attractive to the general public keeping the leading role of the narrative. All the project (composition and production) took me 25-30 hours during 9 days.
At the end I was very happy because the judges gave me a calification of 79.5 over 100 so I entered to the Top 40 (over hundreds of participants). The commentaries of the judges were:
1º Judge: Pros: Excellent production, the music flows in a coherent way with the image and catch the viewer in the story. The dramatic connection is excellent. Great work!
Cons: Your high musical skills could benefit with a more unique point of view
2º Judge: Pros: Great mix work, this is a work above average. Great taste the use of watch tick. I love the ‘beautiful tone’ around the minute 4.
Cons: While the most sync points that you choose fit perfectly (for example, I really like 1:04 and 8:45 with the constellation mural), I dare you to consider the film narrative in your proposal. For example, when Wil says ‘people still look up to the sky to tell time’ it should increase the intensity with the movement of the camera to the ceiling to prepare the change of the camera angle. In a similar way, it happens in 9:20 when he says ‘sometimes I try to forget about it’ because Wil continues with the same concept. He forget the time and does not use a watch like the people that look to the sky to know the time. With the pause here, you contradict in someway the narrative and the idea that the director is trying to tell. In these moments, don’t take literally the dialogue or follow the image, try to understand the underlaid story and emphasize it.
I’m glad to have participated. The experience has been very educative and the commentaries of the judges a great lesson. I think that after all of this I am a better composer. If I won’t have time constraints I would like to participate the next year.
The last week Soundiron launched an express contest to rescore the trailer of the new string library Hyperion Strings that seems to be an excellent library. The deadline of the contest was only two days so I had to work fastly to compose and produce my entry. It took me 4 hours more or less and I hope you like it.
During February and March of 2018 I was scoring the soundtrack of the short movie “Sin vuelta atrás” directed by Juan Manuel Martinez. It was a very interesting job because the director was looking for an incidental music as a strong complement to the image and the history and transmits tension to the viewer when it was necessary because the theme of the short movie is close to thriller with some paranormal points. At the end, the director was very pleased with the job and the public that sold out the tickets of the first public projections was give a very positive comments related the soundtrack.
Luis, the best friend of Ramon is hit by a car while he was biking. When Ramon finds out, he gets shocked and, with a without a rational reason, he start to seek the driver. During this seek, he will descend to hell that test his feelings and his violent impulses.
During the first week of the year, I scored the short movie “Sempiterno” produced by the sevillian company Clandestino Producciones. The genre of my soundtrack for this short movie was minimalism with the piano as main instrument. I composed a central leitmotiv with ambiguous tonality with I wanted to express the duality of the decisions that is the concept of this story.
Erika and Oscar are a young couple base that remains in their place of origin. He proposes her to follow his dream in a big city but, she have insecurities. The decision is in hands of Erika, but what happening with the other choice?
During March, the compay EastWest Quantum Leap organised a contest to compose a choral piece using their new library Hollywood Choir and other libreries of the company. For this, they send Hollywood Choir licenses for 1 month of use . The most insteresting feature of the libreary is the Wordbuilder tool that allows us to create personalized phrases for the choir using sampled phonemes. You can listen the short piece that I composed below. In order to create something different from the epic choir tracks (choir singing in staccato or marcato, or a choir behind singing syllables “ah” or “oh” as many cinematic tracks) I wanted to compose a piece where the choir was more relevant so I composed a little hymn with a text written by me in Italian.
Although I couldn’t test and compose with this library enough time due my tasks in other projects, I think that this library is not fit for me. In my opinion, the wordbuilder produces not enough realistic results due to the unions of phonemes. Also some phonemes have different volume so it is hard to play with it. It requires to make hand corrections to get a result that sounds better and more realistic. For me, the use of traditional choir libraries based on syllabes produces better results fastly although we sacrifice the possibility of write the text.
I would like to show you my actual personal studio (March-2018) and also provide you some recommendations about equipment for orchestral music production
For composing and production of orchestral cinematic music it is required at least the following equipment:
A MIDI Controller
Headphones or Studio Monitor
Orchestral VST libraries
In this post I will focus in the PC exclusively and I will post a new post to discuss the rest of elements.
The orchestral music production is a case very exigent (in terms of computelly stress) for a PC due to the high number of tracks that are managed by the sequencer at the same time, so, I is mandatory to take this in account to choose properly the components of the PC. In the case of the microproccesor, in contrast to other uses as gaming, it’s recommended a higher number of processor cores that a higher velocity due to the way of modern sequencers are optimized to paralell proccesing. So, the sequencers manage properly the different cores to work in a efficient way with a high number of tracks that can include different audio proccesing plugins (equalization, compressors, reverbs, etc.) . It is also interesting to have a good velocity per core but, generally, it is better to choose a procesor with more cores that a processor that works with a higher frequency or a proccesor prepared to work with overockling because for this case it is not neccesary.
An important topic is the RAM memory and the storage memory but, before of give recommendations I would like to explain briefly how manage the samplers with the modern libraries of orchestral sounds. For this reason I will mention the most extended sampler, Kontakt of Native Instruments. The orchestral libraries have a several amount of gigabytes of data even compressed. For this reason, Kontakt doesn’t load the entire amount of samples from an instrument in RAM but it only load the beginning of them. So, when Kontakt receives as input a MIDI event, it will play the beginning of the sample from RAM and at the same time it load the rest of the sample from the store memory to play it. With this method, it avoid to waste RAM memory and it allows to load templates with dozens or hundreds of virtual instruments.
I can understand that this brief explanation can be difficult, maybe I could write a more detailed post to explain this at the future. At the moment, we need to understand the fact that the memory access speed is an important factor because the most amount of audio data will be read from the storage memory.
It’s important to choose carefully the components. It is necessary to dispose a enough amount of RAM memory due to some instruments loads a high amount of data in RAM (although it is only the beginning of the samples as I mentioned previously). For example, the instruments with true legato have real recording samples of the transition between intervals of notes and for this reason need to load a lot of data in RAM. Also other instruments, for example, pianos need to load high amount of data in RAM due to round robins samples (different samples for the same to avoid the repetition of the same sound clip), true una corda samples, sympathy resonance, different microphones position. Also the instruments with a lot of samples from different microphones can load several data amount in RAM.
In conclusion, my recommendation is that, with a limited budget, we should spend in both aspects simultaneously. In the case of storage memory, the intelligent choice is the use of Solid State Disks (SSD) especially for libraries with a lot of Gb although, for minor libraries, it is possible to use Hard Drive Disks (HDD) of 7200 rpm. Always is better to distribute the libraries in different disks to avoid bottlenecks in the limitation of data rate that the disk can provide (in reading process). The best choice is the use of SSD with M.2 interface due this interface have a higher limit of data rate that SATA III interface. In the case of RAM it is not necessary to look for cards with a better work frequency. The use of RAM DDR4 of 2133 MHz or 2400 MHz is enough for the most of uses.
In my particular case, due this different particularities that I have just mentioned I chose to assembly a PC with separate components. After a study of the market I chose the following configuration:
i7-7820X 3.6Ghz processor. It is a beast, it was launched in mid-2017. It have 8 cores and 16 virtual cores. During this time it works perfectly with exigent projects that manages a lot of plugins instances. One more thing, it is necessary to use a liquid cooler system with this processor to avoid overheat problems.
Motherboard MSI X299 SLI PLUS. It’s good, modern and it have everything I need: a lot of SATA III ports, 8 slots for RAM, enough PCI ports. It is really interesting that it includes two ports M.2 that are perfect to use SSD M.2 memory (I mentioned before the benefits of this solution).
At the moment I have the following storage units and it is enough for me. Anyway, I have free ports to add a new HDD, a new SSD SATA and a new SSD M.2:
SSD M.2 500 Gb for complex libraries
SSD SATA III 256 Gb for OS, programs and plugins
HDD 7200 rpm 2Tb for minor libraries, documents and more.
4 RAM DDR4 3000 MHz units of 16 Gb each one (64 Gb in total) that are working in multichannel. I can expand this solution to 128 Gb because these are 4 free slots.
I hope this post could be useful or interesting for you. I will write a second part with more recommendations of the rest of elements.
At the beguining of the year, I participated in the international contest organised by Spitfire for the 10th anniversary of one of his most important libraries, Albion.
The task of the contest was to create a score for the trailer of the new update of Albion One. There was no rules about the style of the music so I took as reference the style of the video that is a bit futuristic and modern, and for this reason I decided to mix some synth sounds with the symphonic orchestra. This is precisely the concept of Albion One because it includes orchestral sounds with a module of hybrid sounds and synths.
This is my entry for the contest. I had to make the entire music the last day (it took me four hours) due to I was working in a short movie soundtracks the previous days. But, even with this time constraint, I think the result looks very well.
Some months ago, I participated in the international contest “Show Us Your Musical GENIUS” leaded by Indi.com with the collaboration of the composers Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe which are the creators of the excellent soundtrack of the TV series “Genius” about the life of Albert Einstein.
The task of the contest was to make a version of the main theme. As I can saw, the quality of the tracks was very high and I could listen some really interesting.
I post here my track. I decided to vary the theme to give more power that increases the intensity with the time. The whole creation proccess took me almost five hours. It was really fun. I love this kind of challenges.
During Fall 2017, I scored the first episode of the interactive webserie La pista produced by rebeca Ruiz and Tamara Vaquero. The serie has a very interesing concept, allow the viewer to interact within a police investigation of a crime with a main suspect that afirms that she is innocent. During the different interrogatory the truth will eventually always come out.
In the musical aspect, the ost is mainly for ambientation and improve the scenes with more tension dramatic and dramatic load. Also I scored the main theme os the introduction of the serie.
The night of 5th March 2000, Rafael Campos, a brilliant scientific, was found dead in his room. This is the start point of the police investigation leaded by the police officers Sánchez and Aguado. Maria Ugarte, the main suspect, is going to go to preventive prison and ask for help to the viewer in order to find the real murderer. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? What is the crime motive? These are the questions of the first season of La pista: el caso de Rafael Campos, and need to be resolve by the viewer. This is a new format for a new experience. The goal: find the murderer.