Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Scoring Films – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 6/14/16

This week, Adam shares the story of a recent fantasy camp of sorts he attended. He was invited to watch one of the scoring sessions for the new Star Trek Beyond film, which brought to light the talent of the musicians who play the scores behind our favorite films and TV shows.

Comments (22)

22 thoughts on “Scoring Films – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 6/14/16

  1. sorry, video won’t be up until later today. stuck with bad hotel internet, so have to upload when i get back from e3.

  2. Hi….in terms of recording a rock band, there are as many ways to do it as there are bands, but you are correct that usually each instrument is recorded in isolation. They are not all recorded at the same time, though. Usually, the the drums and bass guitar tracks are put down first, then keyboard and/or guitars, then vocals. But…there is a technique that some bands like to use that is called recording “live off the floor”. It is exactly like the recording of an orchestra. They all play in the same room, but they do have to use some isolation for the drums, since they are a very loud instrument…if you don’t, then you have to turn up all of the other instruments so that every one can hear them…which leads to saturation of the spectrum….and it doesn’t sound very good. The techniques to mic placement can be interesting…sometimes only a few mics are set up in the front of the band, and they use the same technique that was used in recordings through the early years of recordings…the louder you want an instrument, the closer to the microphone you place it…or you can mic everything, and combine that with the “overview” recording to allow you to beef up certain instruments in the recording.

    Some bands feel that the “live off the floor” method gives a the recording a more lively or authentic sound, closer to what they sound like in concert. Others prefer the sound accuracy of individual isolated recorded instruments. Neither way is better, it all depends on the group and what they/their record company wants their sound to be.

    In terms of soundtracks, there is an amazing video that covers this…PBS’s “Great Performances” did an episode on John Williams, and you get to actually see some of the process…including some great scenes with Williams and Spielberg working on the music for “E.T.” Plus it’s a great tribute to John Williams music.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/dudamel-conducts-john-williams-celebration-la-phil-full-episode/4071/

  3. A composer well worth checking out would have to be Hans Zimmer, IMHO that man is a genius with his scores particularly Inception, listening to that score and “Time” in particular will always give me goosebumps. here’s a video for Interstellar and the making of the score if your interested:

    https://youtu.be/e40uAYm5cxE

  4. re: John Williams’ Father —

    He was percussionist in the Raymond Scott Quintet. One of Scott’s goals was to write music that you liked the first time you heard it. Their main claim to fame was that Carl Stalling and Warner Brothers obtained the rights to all of Raymond Scott’s music– and used it in the background of many of the Merrie Melodies and Looney tunes cartoons. One of the most famous is the “powerhouse” interlude, used for factory / machinery scenes. The main theme starts “boomp-boomp-boomp-boomp-boomp-boomp-boomp-boomp” If you’ve heard it, you can probably sing along!

    –Paul E Musselman

  5. As an orchestral musician I can speak to the recording process a bit. Adam, you totally got it right about the musicians being just as excited as anyone to play great music like this. I get giddy in the bass section whenever we play Williams or Zimmerman or anyone else. After years of playing in orchestras I still get the heebie jeebies when everyone’s going at it.

    To the point about professionalism and “getting it right the first time”, you’re right because a lot of that comes from having the privilege of playing with the same musicians and working with the same conductor for years. It can be really tough to get a good section sound from a group of session musicians who’ve never played with each other. The other part of it is sight-reading. In the days of J.S. Bach players would get their part to the cantata as little as a few minutes before preforming it, sometimes sight reading it in performance (you’d be surprised how much that still happens!)

    To clarify, it’s rare that individual players are mic’d. Often they’ll have a few mics per instrument section to get some depth to the sound. E.g. 3 on the 1st violins, 2 on the basses, etc… By the way, those glass barriers you mentioned, aren’t just for spillage. They also save the poor string players’ ears from the brass section. 😀

  6. You’re damn right about people wearing your merch if it’s a nice soft shirt. The most comfortable T-Shirt I own is my free Google Fiber t-shirt and I wear it all the time, not because I’m a Google fanboy, but because it’s a damn nice t-shirt.

  7. My favorite film soundtrack has to be from “The Last Of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day-Lewis. Score is by Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones. It incorporates a lot from a song called “The Gael” from a scottish singer/songwriter named Dougie MacLean, and has this beautiful intensity to it. My favorite track on it is probably “Promentory”.

  8. Norm mentioned (at 12:12) something about people playing playing along film scores with their own instruments. You should check out the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra on YouTube. The DWFO have people submit videos of themselves playing certain themes from Doctor Who. The first couple of videos are a bit rough, but considering most of these people are from all over the world…

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCIPzuLUKOu2ANWSxAEF1Q

  9. I’ve always thought that video game scores are sorely underrated. The original “Medal of Honor” score is fantastic. Also, the Uncharted series and Mass Effect series have very good scores.

    By far my favorite video game scores are the Halo series. Of the Halo series though, Halo 2 stands alone. It was scored by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. The opening Halo theme always gives me chills.

  10. Very happy to see some focus on one of the most important aspects of film…the music! Great discussion and a Talking Room with Michael Giacchino would be great to bring more understanding to the general TESTED audience that are not working musicians and recording engineers.

  11. My favorite alternate Superman story has always been Red Son, which asks what would have happened if he’d landed on Earth 12 hours earlier. However, I’ll definitely have to look into American Alien. Also, I saw a video of Peter Sagal speaking somewhere on Youtube about a month ago and my mind was blown! Not at all how I pictured. Same holds true for the Hydraulic Press Channel guy.

  12. The biggest soundtrack spoiler I can think of was Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. “Qui Gon Jinn’s Noble End”. The soundtrack came out two weeks before the release. Can’t say I was surprised to see Qui Gon die the first time seeing the movie!

  13. James Remar was also the original Hicks in James Cameron’s ALIENS. He was having problems with substance abuse and was of course replaced by Micheal Biehn after shooting had already begun. There’s at least one shot that was used in Aliens that does feature Remar as Hicks.

  14. Kind of off topic, but for any treky fans, try rewatching a random TNG or voyager episode, they are still incredibly good.

  15. Would LOVE to see that one day build of the BanDai Millennium Falcon that Adam mentioned!

    I have been out of the modeling hobby for many years until i saw this beautiful kit and have been sitting on it, aswell as a brand new airbrush (since my old one seems to have dissapeared whithout a trace over the years), but feeling that I would probably mess up the paint job Í haven’t even assembled it yet… A one day build of this kit would be just the spark i needed to get back in to the game 😀

    Cheers to the hope of it happening, and thank you for a great series of podcasts!

  16. 6:07. Portcullis, eh? Adam has a fantastic vocabulary. I have never heard anyone utter that word before.

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