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Composer speculation

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Postby miafka » Mon May 05, 2008 9:09 pm

Thanks, everyone.

>>do you know why they edit out the orchestra players' coughs and chair-scraping and other noises for the movie, but not the soundtrack?

Though everyone tries not to make noise, sometimes it happens. If it's an obvious one (being unable to hold back a sneeze or cough, hitting a music stand by accident, etc) we'll go back and do it again. The booth always listens for noise, and even sometimes when we don't hear anything, we'll be told there was room noise, and to do it again. However sometimes things do manage to slip through (such as someone unconsciously moving his shoe against the ground or shifting in his chair, or the headphone cord lightly hitting something). Every once in a great while you can hear things like this during quiet sections if you listen closely. Sometimes the noises aren't caused by the players though, especially when baffles are used (baffles are kind of like portable wheel-in "walls" used every once in a while to help make temporary cubicles to "separate" the different sections of the orchestra for mixing purposes in what would otherwise be just one large room) -- and sometimes those things really creek and settle. Another big concern now is with cellphones. Back in the "pager" days, you could just put your pager on "silent" mode and it'd be fine... but cellphones emit a lot of RF noise, and it's picked up by the recording equipment. This means everyone has to turn their cellphones completely OFF (not just on "silent") or the RF noise can screw up a take (set a cellphone next to an AM radio or PA system for a while, and you'll see what I mean). Lastly, another concern is "click bleed." I've mentioned before about how we use a "click-track" (clicks through a headphone) to play in sync with the picture. Well, during a loud passage the click must be loud enough to hear -- but during a soft passage if the click isn't turned down it'll "bleed," and be picked up by the mics. So someone in the booth needs to "ride the click" -- which means to constantly adjust the volume of the click we get so that we can hear it during loud passages, but if we come to a soft passage the click will be turned down so the mics don't pick it up. There's one soundtrack CD I have (a foreign movie) where you can hear the click track bleeding all the way through a soft cue. Oops.

What are some examples of noises you've heard on CDs? I just saw your post in the Ratatouille thread, and do remember there was one extremely quiet section where I heard some noise on the CD. Just curious if you remember any other ones (doesn't have to be Pixar).

As for your comment on why it's edited out for the movie but not for the CD... I don't think that's the case. I think what's happening is that the CD is the pure sound of the orchestra, but when you listen to the film, the music track gets lowered and becomes mixed with the dialogue and sound effects tracks -- so any small little noises usually become completely inaudible even though they can be heard on the pure CD. That's my guess. However I will point out that as soon as the music is finished being recorded and mixed, it's usually immediately sent to the CD makers so that the CDs will be in stores by the time the film comes out. During that time the filmmakers (if they want to) can fix things, edit things, even schedule another recording session to change things -- which will show up on the film, but not the CD (which is why occasionally -- though rarely -- you'll get an earlier version of something on the CD that was later changed for the film during the time the CD was being pressed). But my hunch is that what's happening 99% of the time is simply that the small noises get lost when you mix all the tracks together.

>>Are you allowed to take camera's into these recordings? Or do you need special permission? I've often seen on Soundtrack.net visits to recording sessions with photos.

You know, I don't know if there are any real "rules" or not, but most of the time we don't bother (it IS a job, remember). Occasionally I've seen people take out their cellphone cameras to snap a picture if something REALLY out-of-the-ordinary happens (Jack Nicholson or Tom Cruise dropping by to conduct us as a joke, for example) but ordinarily no, we don't take pictures. Something like soundtrack.net is different. They probably arrange everything in advance and have permission to take and post their pictures. For Wall-E, there was an official (I assume) video & snapshot crew that came in to film us for a bit one day... hopefully some of it will make it onto the DVD extras...
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Postby rachelcakes1985 » Tue May 06, 2008 3:52 am

What a well thought out answer, miafka! Thanks a lot. I don't have too much to respond to that except that it was very fascinating to read. In a past life I think I must have been a conductor or something, because I can never learn too much about that kind of stuff. Yeah, if you have so many people in a room there is bound to be accidental noise. I've seen those baffles on the behind- the-scenes before, but never knew what they were called...

In regards to specifically what soundtracks I've heard noises on, here's a few from the The Incredibles OST:


* Kronos Unveiled, at 1:23 you can hear the lady breathing in, about to play the flute. And at 1:57 you can hear the page flicking of the sheet music, which is quite loud.

* On Lithe or Death at the very end of the track at 3:18 you can hear someone putting their instruments down.

* Lastly, on The New Babysitter at 2:03, I don't know what that noise is. It sounds like chair scraping or something...


You can usually hear someone taking a deep breath before playing a flute, or similar instrument, which I actually think is quite cool - it gives the soundtrack a more human quality. On the Ratatouille soundtrack you can hear the flicking of the sheet music especially between 1:20 and 1:27.

I have another question that I would love answered (if you have time): when you play the music, do you ever get emotionally affected by it, like, if it is a very emotional part of the score, or do you just look at your playing as "work" and concentrate on hitting the notes correctly, rather than actually taking in and listening to the music that is being played around you?

Also, do you know what happens at the end of WALL•E? (Not that I expect or want you to tell us what happens). How do you think the story compares to other Pixar films in terms of the the ending, and other surprises? If you can answer that without being too specific... Heheh. Thanks.
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Postby miafka » Wed May 07, 2008 11:54 pm

Well, I don't know if I'd consider breathing to be noise because that's a natural part of playing a wind or brass instrument. You may not hear it if listening to synths or samples, but if you were to stand next to a wind or brass player as they play live, you'd hear the breathing right along with the actual notes. This is different than something like a cough or chair noise, which aren't part of the natural playing process. As far as page-turning goes, it occasionally does get picked up. We all try to do it quietly, but if there's a particularly long cue (especially with page turns during queit passages), we'll often stop recording at a convenient place, spread out the remaining pages, then start up again. String players are usually the ones who have to worry about this the most because their parts usually have more pages (especially the violins, with both Violin I & II on the same part, causing more page turns).

On the subject of recording, here's something I just came across:
http://animators.digitalmedianet.com/ar ... ?id=377804
It's an article about the microphones used by Michael Giacchino's sound engineer for Michael's film and TV projects. Though more of a sales pitch, it's still interesting. I suppose you can thank (or blame) these mics for whatever you hear...

>> when you play the music, do you ever get emotionally affected by it, like, if it is a very emotional part of the score, or do you just look at your playing as "work"

Well first and foremost it's a job, and you've got to do your best at it whether it's a project you personally love or something you have no clue about. It takes a lot of concentration to be a studio musician (if you make a mistake everyone has to do it over again. Everyone knows it's you, and recording time is expensive). But of course one will naturally feel more emotional when working on something they personally like -- or when the music is really, really good. I personally love doing what I do. We don't ever let enthusiam get in the way of the job, but at the same time if we all acted like nothing but a bunch of robots, what you'd hear would sound like it came from a synth :)

Regarding the end of Wall-E: I'm not going to say a thing. 8)
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Postby rachelcakes1985 » Thu May 08, 2008 4:53 am

Hey miafka, when will you know whether or not you will be playing on Up?


miafka wrote:We all try to do it quietly, but if there's a particularly long cue (especially with page turns during queit passages), we'll often stop recording at a convenient place, spread out the remaining pages, then start up again.

Ok, well, you learn something new everyday. I've always wondered why sheet music hasn't been replaced with a A4-sized electronic tablet that scrolls down as the instrument is being played. Probably too far into the future for that technology right now...


miafka wrote:We don't ever let enthusiam get in the way of the job, but at the same time if we all acted like nothing but a bunch of robots, what you'd hear would sound like it came from a synth.

That's very true. You guys are the ones that put passion into the playing, and I thank thee for that.


miafka wrote:Regarding the end of Wall-E: I'm not going to say a thing.

Fair enough. ;-p
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Burn-E

Postby miafka » Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:10 am

Just a little PS:
Though the scoring to Wall-E finished the end of April, we went back today (Wed) to record music for a small little short that'll be an extra on the Wall-E DVD when it comes out. The short is called "Burn-E" and is about a robot named... you guessed it... Burn-E. Music was by JAC Redford (orchestrator on "Wall-E") and though I didn't catch the director's name, he came out at the end to say hi. Nice that there are some extras planned for the DVD. Of course Wall-E itself will be out in theatres in... less than 10 days!
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Re: Burn-E

Postby rachelcakes1985 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:42 am

miafka wrote:we went back today (Wed) to record music for a small little short that'll be an extra on the Wall-E DVD when it comes out. The short is called "Burn-E" and is about a robot named... you guessed it... Burn-E.

What a scoop!
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Postby Netbug009 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:04 am

Ooh, somebody from the inside. Neat! ^^

YAY! A MOVIE BASED SHORT! I hope WALL-E is in it at some point (but don't tell me if you know. I want it to be a surprise.)

LOL DVD. The movie isn't even in theaters yet and here I am getting excited about the DVD. XD
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Postby martini833 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:34 pm

Mmm... inside info.
Thanks, miafka!
Any chance it will be called BURN•E?
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Postby Elikrotupos » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:56 pm

I found another site with BURN-E, maybe miafka knows them:
Jason and Nolan Livesay
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Postby TheIncredible » Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:06 am

To add to that, /Film, one of the best film blogs on the net, has quoted Miafka and Upcoming Pixar in their post on BURN-E! In their latest interview with Andrew Stanton, Stanton confirmed that there will be a new short with the WALL-E DVD release.

http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/06/20/pixars-burn-e/
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Postby rachelcakes1985 » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:24 am

Wow news gets around fast! Miafka opened a real can of worms, now. Heh. ;)
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Postby miafka » Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:03 am

Gee... it was just a little mention that there would be some extras on the DVD later on. If I had seen Andrew Stanton's comments first (about how he purposely didn't go into details about the short) I of course wouldn't have posted anything about it at all. However it seems Stanton himself apparently revealed the existence of the short, and the only thing I mentioned was its title -- I purposely said nothing else about it. From the very beginning I've kept my posts here spoiler-free (they've been more about the scoring process in general, and what it was like to work on Wall-E). As I've said before, it's bad form and not my place to reveal spoilers.

RE: Elikrotupos finds another site mentioning Burn-E:
http://www.livesaymusic.com/filmmusic/credits.html

Hmm.

By the way, the director was not Andrew Stanton. I didn't catch his name, but it wasn't Andrew Stanton. Hopefully in time the director will be known, as credit should be given where it's due.

Anyway, this is more for discussion a few months from now, when talk turns to Wall-E's pending DVD. For now, it's time to see it on the big screen! (Find a good theatre to see it in, folks).
Last edited by miafka on Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Elikrotupos » Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:05 am

miafka wrote:--"something to do with fire." Huh? At least someone else pointed out: "Why would it be about fire? It’s just the robot’s name. “Wall-E” isn’t about walls."

rotfl :-D)

I think the mention on Jason&Nolan Livesay website was precedent to your scoop, so if someone says it, it's not your fault :) (I don't think it's a fault, but you never know... it's Disney ... o_0 )
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Postby rachelcakes1985 » Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:09 am

Actually, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the BURN•E title was fire, but that's 'cause I'm lame.

Here's the BURN•E thread for further discussion:

viewtopic.php?p=85974
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