Blog

Score Relief 2021 Contest

I would like to share the music that I composed for Score Relief 2021 contest. I decided to participate because I love animation films and it is difficult to get the opportunity to work with this genre of films.

In this case, the prize of the contest is to record the music with an ensemble of 27 musicians. For this reason, I decided to compose for this ensemble. No extra musician, overdub techniques or electronics instruments were considered.

The ensemble of the prize is the following:

1 Flute
1 Oboe
1 Bb Clarinet
1 Bassoon

1 Trumpet
2 F Horns
1 Tenor Trombone

1 Percusion (the musician change between Timpani, suspended cymbal, mark tree)
1 Piano
1 Harp

4 1st Violins
4 2nd Violins
4 Violas
3 Chellos
1 Double Bass

To compose for this ensemble, it is neccesary to be careful with the string section to balance and work with it due to the 4-4-4-3-1 configuration is a bit unbalance regarding the common orchestral rule of number two. In some moments, I divide the 2nd violins and violas to balance the open textures (doing a configuration (4+2)+(2+1)+3)

It is also neccesary to be careful with percusion and let the enough time to the musician to change of instrument. In some moments, I use the sound design of the video as an element of the soundtrack. For example, during the chase moment I use the sound of the trees to contribute to the music accents so the musician can play the cymbal instead to use the timpani for the accent (the sound design work as a Gran Cassa in this point).

And, that’s all. I hope you like it!

Global Game Jam – Pathlighter OST

During the last weekend of January, the Global Game Jam 2021 was performed. I entered without a team in the site coordinated by UCM and Voxel School. This year the event was completely online due to COVID situation but it wasn’t a problem to meet a talented development team at the beginning of the event and join with them.

To provide more details, a game jam is an event with a duration of some days where small teams of developers (6-7 person max) design and develop a videogame within a topic fixed by the organization. This year the topic was “Lost & Found” so, we decided to design a game where a lighthouse guides lost ships during the night to arrive safe to the port. The team worked so hard in every aspect (art, design, playability…) and finally we won the “most innovative game” award. It made me really happy because the work was rewarded.

I would like to share the main theme of the game that I composed. It was composed and produced during a night due to the inner limitations of a game jam.

I hope you like it

 

Little tips: Purging Kontakt memory

Today I bring you a little tip useful when we need to work with a RAM limited-computer (a laptop for example) but we at the same time we want to work with heavy size libraries.

As I mentioned before, the way that Kontakt and others samples work in real time is loading part of the sound material in RAM (generally the attack of the notes) and the rest are loaded directly from the hard drive while the attack is being played. In this way, the system is able, with minimum latency, to ‘play’ the MIDI events and play samples.

This is defined in Kontakt as “Direct from Disk” (DFD) operation. If you have the complete version of Kontakt and you open a orchestral library you can check the configuration and see that this mode is enable (you can even choose another mode and load all the instrument in RAM but I don’t recommend it because it consumes RAM memory fast). For this reason, it’s very recommendable to use SSD memory to store heavy size libraries in order to have enough data rate to avoid bottleneck when we are working with a lot of tracks.

But…. what happens with RAM? The RAM size is very important if we are working with many instances of instrument because, even if DFD is enable and almost is loaded directly from hard drive, there’s a lot of data to be loaded in RAM in order to be able to play every MIDI event in any time.

And.. How much data would be loeaded in RAM? There is no concrete answer. It depends of the library. The Libraries with more microphone positions load more than the others (it is neccesary to load data from every note, every dynamic range for each microphone position. The type of instrument also has influence, the instruments with true legate sampled needs more because it needs to load data from each interval between each pair of possible notes. On the other hand, it also depends of how the library has been scripted.

For this reason we need enough RAM in our computer to be able to work with many instances of instruments. If we are working with a laptop or a computer with limited RAM there are two possibilities. The first one is to render the MIDI tracks to audio tracks while we are working and remove the Kontakt instances. With this method we lose the possibility of modify notes or dynamics. The second option is to use the purge command of Kontakt to optimize the use of RAM.

This command free all the RAM memory of the instance. After it, if we play MIDI events Kontatk will load into the RAM only the minimum data needed to play what’s written.

This is better explained with an example. This is one project mine of a orchestral piece of two minutes of duration.

It’s not a big project, it’s only a typical orchestral configuration without non-orchestral instruments neither soloist instruments. The use of layering is minimum. The libraries are not really heavy, maybe the Cinematic Studio Strings are the instruments that consume more RAM. The project takes 22Gb of RAM. If I check a Kontakt instance I can see the RAM that an instruments loads.

In this case, the first violins of Cinematic Studio Strings take 0.77Gb of RAM and it is a lot. This is due the way of these strings have been programed with an instance of instrument for all the articulations sampled and all the microphone positions. But, at the end, we don’t need all of this for each composition. In that case we can purge and optimize RAM as I told before.

If you want to purge, then click the little arrow next to Purge option and select Purge all samples. Although it sounds terrible there is nothing to fear.

After do it, it’s possible to check that the 0.77 Gb of RAM has been released.

If I play now the entire project for the first time, I’ll notice some discrepancies of sounds (silences, jumps in the volume). This is normal because Kontakt is looking from the disk the attack samples and loading it to RAM. But the difference is that now Kontakt only loads in RAM the samples needed to play what is written in MIDI track. Kontakt won’t load the articulations, microphones positions, dynamics and notes that aren’t being used.

After play the project one time, I can replay it without any problem of silences of volumes because Kontakt already has the minimum required data in RAM. If I check the Kontakt instance again I can see that it only needs 48 Mb of RAM memory. From 770 Mb to 48 Mb it’s a great save, isn’t it?

If we do the same with each instance we can reduce the RAM considerably and play the project without problems in RAM-limited computers.

It can be also useful to reduce the loading times when we open big templates.

I hope you like the tip.

Author: Pablo del Campo

Westworld Scoring Competition 2020

During the last weeks of May I was composing for this competition that is hosted by Spitfire Audio company and HBO Westworld TV serie. The competition was about composing the soundtrack for a car chase scene of the third season. In the real episode, the producers chosed the orchestral piece The Ride of the Valkyries of Richard Wagner as music for this and I would like to say that, although this piece has been used in many films in a great way, in my opinion, it doesn’t work well for this scene because it doesn’t enchance the story and doesn’t create tension for the action. For this reason, my proposal is completely different.

My proposal for the music is darker, with a orchestration similar to films as Inception, the trilogy of Batman of Nolan and this kind of films with a dark atmosphere. In this work, I don’t use woodwinds but I use an expanded brass section with more power in the middle-low range: 9 horns, 3 trombones, 3 bass trombones, 3 tubas, 3 cimbassos and 3 trumpets that I only use in some specific moments. I also use electronic, hybrid sounds, synths and a big percussion ensemble in order to create a modern sound.

In my opinion, the biggest difficult with the video is that the electric cars are too slow so the music must provide tension to create an epic persecution and create the illusion of the cars are faster than they really are. From the point of view of the composition, there are three parts, the first one is the persecution with no melodic music that has the function of create the effect that I already mentioned, the second one is the counter attack part that has a melodic heroic music and the third one recover the tension because the counter attack was useless and I use here some leitmotivs of the main theme of Westworld  because it is what I would do if I’ll be hired to compose music for the TV series.

I hope you like it.

PS: I have included an easter egg of one of my favourite rock bands. Try to find it.

SCORELIVE London Film Scoring Competition 2020 (Runner Up)

During the last weekend of February I was composing and producing an orchestral track for the ScoreLive London Film Scoring Competition 2020. The contest consisted in the composition of a track for a 65-piece orchestra (see below) of aprox. 2 minutes. I choose to compose a powerful track with orchestral tuttis but with section to share the main role to the different sections. You can listen the track below.

According the comments of the coordinators, it was an extremely close run competition with entries from composers of all the world so the judges needed more time to deliberate. I would like to mention that one of the judges was the videogames composer Garry Schyman (Bioshock, Middle-Earth Shadows of War) and another was the famous orchestrator Pete Anthony that is the name behing a hundreds of films as I Robot, Spiderman, Dumbo or  Fantastic Beast and Where to Find them.

Finally, I won a Runner-up price and was selected as one THE 12 CONTEMPORARY MALE COMPOSERS. Being honest,  to be listened and valorated by these great artist is a prize more than enough but to be selected as top 12 is for me an incredible honor.

I hope you like the track.

65-piece orchestra

2.2.2.2
2 flautas (one player can also play piccolo)
2 oboe (one player can also play english horn)
2 clarinets (one player can also play bass clarinet)
2 bassoon (one player can also play contrabassoon)

8.2.4.1
8 french horns
2 trumpets (in B flat or in C)
4 trombones (1 bass trombone)
1 Tuba

1 Harp

12.10.8.6.2
12 first violins
10 second violins
8 violas
6 celli
2 double basses (4 strings)

1 player for 4 timpani (32”, 29", 26", 23")
2 players for orchestral percussion maximum 2 instruments for each player

Bass drum, snare drum, congas, bongos, drum set (BD, Snare, Hi-hat, 1 12” high tom, 1 16” floor tom, 1 Ride Cymbal, 2 Crash Cymbals). Cymbals a 2,1 tam tam 
Xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel, marimba, tubular bells, Triangle, wind chimes, sleigh bells, finger cymbals, 2 cowbells, tambourine, guiro, castanets,
3 temple blocks, ratchet, claves, cabasa, maracas, whip, vibra slap Various whistles

Berlin International Film Scoring Competition 2020

During the first two weeks of January, I worked in this project for the Berlin International Film Scoring Competition 2020. The competition consists in the composition and production of a original soundtrack for an animated short film chosen. After, the works are evaluated by a international jury formed by composers. In this case, the short movie selected was Escape, an animated sci-fi movie very visual atractive and a great storytelling.

For the contest, it is possible to use the sound design and foley material of one of the three finalist of the Berlin International Sound Design Competition. In my case, I used the foley work of Peter Baumann as a base to compose the music on it. My style of composition for this work was totally orchestral, without electronic elements and without sound design. The idea was to create an tribute to the adventures films that I enjoyed when I was a teen (I am keeping enjoying it).

I hope you like it!

OST Пигмалионы

Today, I would like to tell you about a short movie where I am working on creating the original soundtrack. Its title is Пигмалионы  and its director is Elena Zavodnova. It is a short movie of aproximately 30 minutes and the story is related with the Pygmalion effect within a love story. Slowly, the main characters are evolving until surprising themselves with a new personality to face the life. All of this, told with a emotive and funny script.

You can listen some fragment of the original soundtrack. I hope you like it.

 

 

OST Maldito Doctor Alemán

During this year I’ve composed and produced the soundtrack of the short movie titled ‘Maldito Doctor Alemán’ directed by Laura Pozo. The short movie is about the hard theme of Alzheimer and the friendship. This work was closely with the director, Laura. She had a clear vision of the music that she was looking for and the feelings that it should be transmit. On the other hand, she gave my freedom to put on the table my own ideas about technical and musical details so this work joins the best of both. I really like work in this way, side by side, starting from the idea from director and making it real in music in the best way. Creating the music to be part of the story and as a tool to create a conection with the viewer. I’m glad very much to have worked in this project due to his theme, the experience that it gave to me, the music and to have the opportunity of worked with Laura.

Synopsis:

Ricardo is a patient with Alzheimer that isn’t able to remember anyone except his nurse Alicia that he confuses with his wife. Alicia is a nurse that includes a certain favoritism to Ricardo and she is hiding a secret. They both beguin a relation of friendship and confidences. All of this with a human and All this with a much more human and reflective background behind that will take them both to make decisions and grow as people as long as their paths together.

More info: IMDb


OST La historia que nunca se contó

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.

Synopsis: 

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.

 

Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest 2018

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.

This is the soundtrack music:

I hope you like it!