Both units studied this trimester (Studio 3 and CIU Major Project Development) had a ‘future focus’, that is the units are designed to get us thinking about future, perhaps commercial, productions when we graduate. A strong message that has come out is around clearly identifying a target audience and using this information in the planning and pre-production phases of a project. Another message that has come out of these units is the need to work creatively within less than perfect environments and with limited resources. This blog will address both of these Studio 3 Learning Outcomes.
Although our project was not intended as a potential commercial venture it was a valuable exercise thinking about the Game of Thrones audience. This knowledge informed many of the decisions we made during the project. As mentioned in my earlier blog about the aesthetics of the production, we didn’t want to deviate too much from what fans of the franchise might expect.
And who are those fans? Game of Thrones is a hugely popular series. The primary audience can be identified as males aged 18 to 45, but it is clear that the series also appeals to women. In the above mentioned blog I talk a fair bit about what it is about Game of Thrones that sets it apart from other fantasy series and what is its appeal.
We wanted to make the production polished and highlight the elements that make the show so popular. Probably the biggest departure from the original GOT production is our use of music. We introduced a modern instrument to the mix (electric guitar) and blended this with instruments generally found in the series e.g. cellos, violins, flutes. This was a creative decision that came about relatively late in the trimester when our semi-professional composer became unable to continue collaborating with us on the project. Unfortunately, as we were no longer able to contact Brad, we felt we were not able to use the material we had worked on with him.
Even though this was a setback, not to mention a huge disappointment, we were determined to deliver our product as pitched, with an original score. It was way too late to engage the help of another composer so Lisa and I decided to take on this challenge of composing. Neither of us has any experience in this area so of course we weren’t expecting the results to be the same as what we had originally intended. We had to think creatively. How could we compose and record ten minutes of appropriate music, scored to the scene in three weeks?
We hit on an idea that Akshay had actually mentioned in week 2 (must have stayed at the back of our minds) – introducing electric guitar to the score. Lisa enlisted the help of Corey D’Angelis to work on some guitar parts that would suit the carnage scenes in the middle of the episode. She then set about composing strings and drums to go with the guitar as well as composing the first section of music before the guitar comes in.
My role was to write the music for all the dragon parts, basically where the dragon enters the Colosseum to where he flys off at the end. This was always going to be a challenge. I read everything I could on music composition, read up on basic music theory and analysed the music in the original scene. More importantly I just played around with the midi keyboard at uni for hours until I stumbled on a few chord progressions that I liked. I don’t have a midi keyboard at home (it’s been added to my wishlist) and so had to access the computers with Kontakt 5 software at uni, at night when rooms were available. I practically lived in there for three weeks, staying til midnight each night and working across the weekends. But I’m certainly not complaining as it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had working on a project.
Once I had the chords more or less sorted I set about adding instruments. The more I worked on the music the more I realised I didn’t know. Are the notes supposed to overlap when playing legato? Can a flute be played like that? What is the range of this instrument? How are the parts written to play chords? Again, more research on the basics of orchestral instruments and who plays what. I experimented with different instruments playing different notes of a chord and in different octaves and tried to add a little counter melody where I could.
Then I discovered you could control other parameters in Kontakt 5 such as the velocity curve. Three weeks was not nearly enough time but I’m actually pretty happy with my results considering my lack of knowledge in this area.
Below is a segment of the music I wrote. It picks up where Daenerys and her Dragon, Drogon have a touching moment before he is again speared. Daenerys then slowly moves toward him and carefully climbs aboard. Drogon then charges across the Colosseum floor gaining momentum before taking off into the sky and flying into the distance with Dany aboard. The instruments sound quite ‘midi’ but you get the idea of where I was going.
Lisa and I worked together where we could to ensure some sort of consistency and flow between the various musical segments. For example, it we decided to start and end our video with just timpani drums. Lisa did a really good job working out how to transition in and out to the guitar so that it would fit. We had originally planned to record a number of instruments (when our composer was on the project) but now we could only record the electric guitar. Lisa and I recorded Corey’s playing one Sunday afternoon in the Neve. As Corey was playing to the video and not a click, Lisa did some painstaking editing on the guitar after the session and re-performed her midi input to match the timing.
I’m thrilled with what we achieved with our music given the time constraints and limited resources including our inexperience in music composition.