minimal

Expecting the Unexpected

Some humans are straightforward and upfront about what they want in life. They have a plan. "Let's do A. If it works out I'll be at B." - that's what they tell themselves. Planning down to the last second of what they're doing is what makes them feel more stable and more confident that the future will work out for them. And then there are some of us, who take life as it comes. it's always a bit of risk expecting the unexpected.

Last week on an early Sunday morning, I decided to try something new. I ventured out of the house alone without a destination in mind and I decided to take a portable recorder with me. Several hours passed away as I walked around the neighborhood through half-broken footpaths, past the sounds of cars driving by, chitter-chatter of random old people, and all kinds of random ambient noises I never realized existed before. What's better, I ended up in the middle of a sparse jungle.

An interesting thing I noticed was the fact that field recording is drastically different from recording something inside a studio. There is never only a single isolated sound when you're recording. there's always the odd bird chirping in the back or some unexpected ambient noise. It was interesting to try and make these unusual sounds add more character to what I was recording. Say, for example a dog barking in the back while I was sitting near a leaked pipe trying to record the sound of water.

Interesting ideas popped in my head later on while I was going through all these recordings and interestingly what happened later that day ended up sculpting in part, a new song idea. More about that later.

Super/Comical

The 48-Hour Film Project is an annual film-making competition that happens every year all over the world. Participants have to make a short film in the span of 48 hours, based around a specific theme and dialogue that changes every year. Once while exploring the vast depths of the Internet, I came across their website. It also happens in Delhi every year, which got me a little interested. But I didn't really do much about it.

Fast forward two years later, A friend of a friend was looking for someone to make music for their film entry for the very same competition. The first person my friend thought of, was me and I was more than delighted to come aboard to work with a team of film-makers that call themselves Celluloid Drapers.

I was contacted briefly on the phone by a guy who asked me if it was possible for me to work on their movie. Since the competition hadn't started, he didn't really have an idea about what kind of movie it was going to be and where it would take us, but he asked me if I was in for the ride and I said yes. Simply because the best things in life are usually the unexpected ones.

 
 

On the day the competition started, Most of the details I got were hazy and rough to say the least. I was told it was a superhero movie, and probably the last thing I expected to happen. Superhero movies are cheesy. And usually mostly fluff (Superman, Batman case in point), so I was kind of, not so sure but I had to continue as it seemed to be a challenge.

The good and the extremely bad thing about staying up an entire night working an obscure idea you've been told and dictated on the phone while you were probably half-asleep is the fact that you never know know what might happen the next day. Good things or bad things? Usually it's the latter, and that's what I realised the hard way later on.

 
 

I had created a mindset where the movie was supposed to actually be serious but it ended up being quite the opposite, A last-minute change they said. On the day of the submission, I ended up at the team's base where everybody was huddled up in a room - bed and rug, intact. Apparently the idea changed right in the morning during the day of submission. It was now a comedy. Slow clap.

Had to scratch off the entire four tracks I made and create everything from scratch on the spot. It was quite a hard thing to do, as I had no keyboard and MIDI controller, the entire score was created with the pencil tool on a piano roll, as ridiculous as it sounds, doing something like that does give you a new perspective of making music. You don't always need fancy keyboards or equipments. All you need is a vision and a sense of what sounds good what doesn't.

We slaved throughout the day and finished up the entire movie, it was a relief to finish it about a couple of hours before the deadline of submission.

Hopefully, we'll win.

P.S. : Important Update. 'JEP2MAN', The film entry for The 48-Hour Film Project by Celluloid Drapers won three awards.

  • 2nd Runners Up, Best Film
  • Best Sound Design (tie)
  • Audience Award
 
 

Round 2 : Fight!

Now we come to the interesting part. Fight sequences! Being the avid gamer that I am, there are months of my life that practically disappeared when I started playing games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Ask anybody and they'll tell you they were the best games ever made.

Nonetheless, coming back to focus, approaching fight sequences is absolutely no walk in the park. It still would have been much more easier for me, if there was just one fight sequence in the movie, but two made stuff complicated. Because the thing with fight sequences is you have to keep them as interesting as possible. and no two can ever be completely the same

I think the second sequence has a very Matrix-esque vibe to it, But not really a lot in terms of actual melody. Something that's absolutely crazy about making music for movies is, sometimes you don't even have to necessarily know a lot about music to make it. I really just fiddled around with random notes on the second action sequence as I was literally on the verge of running out of ideas by then.

 
 


I used a few analog synth VST's too with some kind of rhythm going to them, at about four times the actual speed in both the tracks, something that really complimented the speed of how fast the sequence was. There was a lot of FX going around in the track as well with wooshes and cymbal crashes all over the place. Going absolutely bonkers in a fight scenes has its own perks.

While the second sequence was still much more experimental, I think the first one really upped the ante in terms of attitude and swag. It had hoodlums cornering the protagonist from every side. Once again, it was synth ftw. The good thing about action sequences is the twisting and absolute destruction of drums that is permissible most of the times if not all the time. Of course, the occasional booms and bass add to the thrill as well.

And that's pretty much the gist of it. Track finished. Game Over. I win. Muhaha.