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Action Scene Re-Score

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Marko Dvojkovic, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. Hi folks! Well, this is my first scoring practice so I am really curious for any feedback. I took Mike's Scoring and Action Scenes classes after I finished this and at least I'm glad that I was semi-consciously applying some of the practices that he teaches about analysing the drama and finding the music that is already in the scene. But I don't know, are some moments too cheesy? I also gave my best to make the piece of music that can stand on it's own. Doing all of that was pretty hard and challenging but a lot of fun. I really appreciate any feedback on this one, thank you very much!

    Oh and for those interested, the link to the video that I worked on, with dialog and sfx but without music is in the description of the video, it's so awesome to also have those audio components to work with, and harder of course than having just the scene with muted audio.
    Claude Ruelle likes this.
  2. Hey Marko,

    Good job on this.

    First of all, I'm sorry but I really wanted to say this:
    I don't know what movie this is from but I almost threw up because of how much the camera is moving. Seriously, why do they need to do that?! This was not pleasant to watch and made the scene quite unintelligible.

    Overall I like what you did. I think the music works really well at transcribing the general vibe, however, none of the drama is being scored here. Your piece also does not follow any of the structure of the scene and only intensifies through the addition of sonic layers.

    I think you will need to work on introducing more harmonic developments whilst eloquently outlining any strong narrative cue or hook introduced in the sequence.

    Hope this can help a little,
  3. Yeah hahah I agree, but I wanted to do an action scene and this was the only choice on that youtube channel. I was also at first like: "Who's shooting who, what's going on?"

    I know that I don't have yet enough musical vocabulary for this kind of context but also as I mentioned since I wanted to make it also a standalone piece I deliberately repeated but not literally some things

    Thank you very much for feedback, only if I can ask you to elaborate a little more on
    since you saw it for the first time, your impression of the drama of the scene could maybe help me figure out what was wrong with my evaluation of the scene and musical choices.

    Thanks a lot!
  4. It is never easy to score a scene out of context so my initial questions would be: What's the overall narrative of the film? Where are we in the story? Who are the characters? What's their involvement in the plot? etc.

    To be honest, It is also hard for me to really follow the structure of that scene, and now that I'm thinking about it; I think you should simply score something else... This is only my opinion but that scene is just an awful mess - we do not know who is who, we cannot see who is shooting, we cannot see who dies and who survives.

    Learning how to score action sequences is already hard so don't shoot yourself in the foot by choosing a bad one.

    Maybe do a Spielberg action scene to get started. They are always well-paced, easy to follow and often have a self-supporting dramatic arch.

  5. Thank you very much that helps a lot :). I looked at a scene as a bubble because if not I felt like I would need to imagine the whole story, since I haven't seen the movie. But generally I tried to set the guy with the mask and the girl as protagonists with the guy with mask being the main "hero" and the black guy as antagonist. Thanks for the idea for a Spielberg action scene, I remember Mike mentioning a scene from Indiana Jones, the first movie I think, that has no music as great material for practice.
  6. Hmm, to be honest I thought "I'd have done this differently" a couple of times in a couple of different aspects. But then again, I have never scored a scene like that, so what do I know? I think maybe I should try this myself someday, although I have yet to find a good workflow for scoring to picture with reaper.

    A couple thoughts, based on literally zero experience with this, so take them with a bit of salt:

    - When you leave in the dialog and sfx, I would recommend to keep the mix "realistic" in movie terms too. Right now, your music is drowning out a lot of other things, that would never make it into the final mix like that imho.

    - I think Mike mentioned a couple of times that he takes care to "get out of the way" of areas in the frequency spectrum that are occupied by sound effects or dialog because if the music would clash with them there, the guy doing the sound mix would mess with the volume of the music to compensate and it's better to orchestrate around the problem in the first place. (Hope I remembered that one right)

    - You're trying to score the drama, but the scene really is a thankless job for trying that because there isn't much drama really. All the stuff that matters you don't even know at that point in the movie I think. I felt like there is both too much and too little development at the same time. Too little for the music to work without the picture, too much for the music to make sense in the context of the picture, if you know what I mean. It feels dumb and sad to say that, but maybe this an the example where the dumb modern "epic" style with pure vertical development works better with the kind of terrible movies without real drama that they're making today :-/.

    - I like psy-trance and I like orchestral music (even some of the simplistic "epic" kind), but I find the EDM bass drum really dosen't work well with orchestral elements. I feel like it makes both more cheesy than they are on their own. I think it would be a better fit to either go with traditional orchestral percussions or go for classic hyprid stuff like NI damage.

    - I feel like there is some "tiring" quality about the dynamics and use of orchestral colors in the track. If I listen to it in the background it seems a bit too monotonous to me, I think the orchestration would benefit from more variation, and more breaks to let the ear rest for a second. I guess I'm also missing some more "drops" or whatever they're called?!

    I have watched the movie and I wish I hadn't... it's soooo bad. Don't watch it! I can't even remember what the soundtrack was like. Could have been standard "epic" or all synth-braaams, I have no clue. Absolutely forgettable either way.
    If I remember correctly the scene is fairly early in the movie and we don't have the full context of what's going on yet. It's revealed later. Spoiler warning I guess, but if you watch that movie, you have no one to blame but yourself! The guy with the mask is not the protagonist of the movie, he is the hero of the "death race" and he's about to win the last match he needs to win to get out of the hellhole prison he is in. The black guy is indeed the antagonist. The co-pilot lady of mask-guy is a traitor who has been coerced to sabotage mask-guy's race because the owner of the prison is making shit-tons of money with the reality TV show "death race", of which mask-guy is the star, and the audience loves him. Let's call the owner of the prison... boss-lady... she wants mask-guy to die, because she can just replace him with a different driver that wears a mask and keep on milking that show. In the story mask-guy has been in so many accidents that he is scarred beyond recognition and wears the mask because he's so disfigured. The actual protagonist of the movie is framed for a murder he didn't commit and gets coerced into racing as "mask-guy" because that's the only way he might get out of that prison again. Later in the movie co-pilot lady is his co-pilot and he threatens to emergency eject her seat inside a warehouse on the racetrack (which would kill her by smashing her into the roof) to force her to admit the truth about her betrayal and the reason why original mask-guy didn't win the race.
    The co-pilot of the antagonist dying is a bit of a meme as it turns out, he's kinda famous for having all his co-pilots die, so it's not a moment of "real drama", when he notices that "another one" has died.

    I apologize for having so many negative comments, but I do hope that some of it is useful to you! I just watched the scene again without the music and man... there's really not a lot to work with. I'd feel super lost trying to score that, wouldn't even know where to start! So, my respect to you for taking on this challenge in the first place! I think this is a pretty tough one. I'm not sure if that is a good reason to pick another scene or if you just should try again and start from scratch with a different approach. I have zero experience, but I'd assume that realistically most movies you'll ever score will be mediocre at best, so you can't expect to allways get good scenes to work from. I bet it's even worse when they know their movie sucks and they expect you to "save it" with your music...
    Maybe do something else first to recharge your inspiration, but I could see some value in giving this one a second try in the future, even if the scene is bad and there's nothing you can do to change that.
    Marko Dvojkovic likes this.
  7. Wow, thank you for your long review Martin :).

    Yes I know, and I wish I spent some more thought on analysing the sfx and how they occupy the frequency spectrum, some dialog is damaged though, I'm not sure how they exactly extracted the music but it's not super clean.

    From the beginning I thought about Damage but I don't have it unfortunately. I need to arm a bit more my template with "sounds" because I find doing some custom sounds while I'm working on something of my own detrimental for my creative flow so being able to audition a lot of sounds quickly seems the way for me for that stuff. I also really considered trying out some metal guitar chugging since I also play guitar but I was satisfied enough with the arrangement and that could eat up time by having to practice and record it.

    There's none of those xD, and even if I had those ready in my template I most likely wouldn't go down that road xD.

    I have seen the movie after I finished the track and yup it's really bad, I expected at least plot-wise a better movie since it's with Jason Statham.

    Thank you very much for feedback! I'm actually kind of pumped to score something else next but not another action scene, but don't have anything exact on my mind. I also have some sketches for standalone pieces in genres I haven't done yet.
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.

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