Men O’ War: Music

The final touch to the project, which pulls everything together and does more to communicate the mood of the scene is the musical score. The music needs to match the scene, both visually and emotionally, and also fit in with the sound effects and dialog. Our score was (unfortunately) created without any real instruments whatsoever, and composed, performed, and mixed by three people on a single computer running Cubase.

Rather than recording the analog audio feed from our electric piano, the computer recorded the MIDI signals created by each keypress. This enabled us to go back into a performance and adjust each note’s position, length, velocity, and expression, or move them up and down across the scale, or change their tempo. This is particularly important for adjusting each track to better match the instrument that is playing it.

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Each of these performances sits in a track, and can also be manipulated on the timeline, as well as copied and pasted, extended, shortened, and affected by filters without destroying the MIDI data. At any time, any note can still be changed. We now have all the parts for the orchestra laid out and assigned, and it’s time to attach instrument sounds to them.

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The sound bank that we use is called the Garritan Personal Orchestra which contains audio samples of all types of instruments playing all of their respective notes. The software replaces our keyboard’s A# with a violin or piccolo’s A#, and adds several special controls to better simulate the individual characteristics of actual instruments.

The last step, after all the parts have been recorded and adjusted, is to mix all the tracks together. This requires special attention to volume, EQ, and stereo placement, but the finishing touch is to add just the right amount of reverb to the performances that they sound like they were recorded in an actual studio. The Garritan package includes an excellent ambiance plugin with superb control.

And here’s the final score, with the final visuals. This mix contains only the music, with no sound effects or dialog. Watch carefully how the music changes to fit the mood of the scenes, and how it matches the action.

  1. Dear Botkins,

    I have watched this film over and over and really like it! You did a very good job.

    Keep up the good work.

    In Christ Jesus our Lord
    James F.

    - James
  2. Excellently done!You should make it into a series for Lego :)

    - Nathanael Mooth
  3. That’s great!

    When I do music for my films, (or, rather, use the Garage Band music or my Garage Band mixed tracks), it is based on the feel of the scene, not the actual things happening. Need to keep that idea in mind. Thank you, and I do wish you had done more animation.


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