Yearly Archives: 2007

From John August – on how to write dialogue :

We tend to think of dialogue as a tennis volley, with the subject being hit back and forth between speakers. But when you really listen, you realize that people talk over each other constantly, and rarely finish a complete thought.
To get a sense of this flow, you need to stop paying attention to the actual words being spoken. It’s the auditory equivalent of un-focusing your eyes. Listen for which speaker is dominating the conversation, and how often the other party chimes in to acknowledge he’s still paying attention.

How often should you eavesdrop? Pretty much constantly, with particular focus on finding interesting speakers. Some people are inherently funny, and if you soak up enough of their rhythms you can recreate them on the page fairly faithfully. But even the annoying woman ahead of you at the checkout line deserves a listen. You never know when she might come in handy.

Worth reading the whole thing…

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

Via Sonic State:

When asked about the current state of the Music Industry, Eno said it was ‘terrific and frightening’ and talked about how easy it has become to make and distribute music. The downside of that being that there is less attention afforded to any individual piece.

He said he thought that music was in a ‘digestive and retrospective’ period with alot of guitar bands sounding like

Talking Heads. He was surprised that David Byrne’s influence on music has stayed dormant for so long.

Well it’s good news for Coldplay they’re going in a bit of a new direction by working with Eno – their sound to date is a bit too soft and mushy to my taste. I’ve read that the band is big on crafting and polishing their music, so it sounds like they are ambitious as musicians – someday one of those guys is going to be scoring films, I have a feeling.

In the Eno podcast there’s the usual discussion of ambient music (it’s like a painting, a still space the listener can listen in), lots of Britishy, intellectual, interesting thoughts on music (like (a) recording is a radical departure in how you experience music, since before records, the live performance of a musical piece was different every time you heard it, and (b) the fragmentation of music form online distribution makes it very difficult to use music to express your position in the culture).

Who’s got time to listen to all this stuff, anyway? If you do, check out the BBC interview mp3 online.

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

Genre Matters has some thoughtful, er, thoughts on why recuts work:

At their most basic level, these trailer remixes are all about genre; about leveraging the semantic elements of one genre into the syntactic elements of another. In most cases the humor comes from the interaction between the viewer’s knowledge of the original source film, or at least knowledge of that film’s generic underpinnings, and the reversal of expectations that comes with the re-edits. Usually, music (a semantic element in and of itself) plays the key role in shifting the focus.

The full post is here.

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello
Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

In a fit of silliness last summer in Prague I stayed up all night making a recut of When Harry Met Sally to look like a horror film, using music from Batman Begins.

Some links to it came out today, 7 months after I posted it. The music is from the Batman Begins score, which I just adore, a collaboration of composers Hanz Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

Anyway, the links (any of these will get you to the recut, people seem to like it):
SnarkyGossip (the original poster, thanks Wendy!)
Boing Boing
VH1 Best Week Ever
Xene’s World
David Chandler
johnny r

(btw, iFilm made an unauthorized copy of this recut and put it on their own servers. Isn’t that ironic, since Viacom, which owns iFilm, is today ordering YouTube to take down unauthorized videos? On the other hand, VH1 – also part of Viacom – was nice enough to embed the original YouTube video…)
UPDATE: ah, the power of Boing Boing…more linkers:
Pretty is as Pretty Does
Angry Chix
The Political Pit Bull
Kajagugu Poker
in my diatribe
milner videos
l33t geek
sounding furious
Dmitry Kedrin
More here

Also someone copied & uploaded it to…

ANOTHER UPDATE: Links from Steve Rubel, Steve Bryant, Metafilter, HotAir, Zigzigger
MORE: Fantent’s doorfame, Ray Richmond (Hollywood Reporter)…

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

From the WSJ, a story on Jerry Seinfeld trying to do something original for his new movie’s teaser trailers:

Mr. Seinfeld, who is writing and producing “Bee Movie,” and voicing the lead character, Barry Bee Benson, says he wanted the previews to cut through the clutter in a crowded Hollywood marketplace. “Who’s not tired of the usual trailers with all the excitement, loud music and quick cuts,” Mr. Seinfeld says. “They’re exhausting and annoying.”

He’s right. Though his point is about more than just the music, I’ve observed the musical language of trailers as narrow and stale of late.

One of the most common and well-worn motifs is the dark ambient beginning, followed by a few percussion shocks when the main plot is revealed, then an accelerating, crescendoing climax. It’s been great fun for years, but there must be other things marketers and composers can try, yes?

Bee Movie’s trailer definitely branches out, mainly by removing the music. Silence backs up a very awkward scene, not entirely unlike the comic style of “The Office”.

Then it’s off to the races with a very funny slapstick scene backed by a very traditional, big slapstick orchestral cue.

btw, IMDb lists Rupert Gregson-Williams as doing the score, he also scored “Over the Hedge”…

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello
I discovered Ableton Live in some UK DJ magazine this summer, it’s an impressive piece of music software and it’s got some real buzz among musicians.
Ableton Live is like a next-gen sequencer vs. the old standbys of Cubase, Logic, and Digital Performer. Like its name implies, it’s performance-oriented – you can collect and organize lots of musical elements into a palette, then start triggering and layering them in real-time. It has features which can script these triggers and even randomize them a bit.Smart time-shifting software handles beat matching in real time – so of course it’s popular among DJs (I heard one DJ say that using Ableton is “like cheating”).Traditional sequencer features are here as well – an arrangement window and lots of included virtual instruments, VST support, etc., all ably implemented.Ableton has loads of cool features, this is clearly designed by someone really into electronic music and knows what musicians need. I’ll still use Digital Performer as my main sequencer, but I’m going to spend February working in Ableton for my RPM challenge project.I decided to get started a bit more quickly by taking a class – a little synth shop called Robotspeak on Haight Street in San Francisco does Ableton classes – I just took it from a composer named Chachi Jones. It’s $200 for 4 2-hour sessions, so you’re paying $25 an hour (actually a good price for this kind of thing).

The class was a good investment – it saved me a lot of time noodling trying to figure Ableton out. Seeing the features in action and hearing how they work, all that.
Chachi’s a good guy and his music is real good. All done in Ableton – check it out – also he does video shows as well, he’s got one track on Google Video in particular which will let you hear something a bit more ambient:

More of Chachi’s videos here…

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

Ennio Morricone is a film composer who has has scored over 400 films, some of the more famouser ones are “The Mission” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

“The Mission” is the first film score I ever listened to. I was introduced to it by a researcher at MIT. He worked on computer generated music in a dungeon beneath the MIT Media Lab, outfitted with Unix workstations and a pair of Bosendorfer grand pianos.
One day he played the score from “The Mission”, asking what I thought of it, and wondering how he might replicate a full orchestral sound on the computer (technology has come a long way since then, nowadays they can fake an orchestra about as well as they can fake sugar).

Anyway, hearing Morricone’s music that day turned me on to film scoring for the first time.

Now there’s a new tribute album called “We All Love Ennio Morricone”, which the NY Times article covers. Metallica is contributing a cover of “The Ecstasy of Gold” from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. Metallica has used the original version of the track to open their concerts for over 20 years. Which leads us to this priceless quote:

“To me his music is just absolutely inspirational, corny as that may sound,” said James Hetfield, Metallica’s singer and guitarist. “He has taken so many risks, and his music is not polished whatsoever. It’s very rude and blatant. All of a sudden a Mexican horn will come blasting through and just take over the melody. It’s just so raw, really raw, and it feels real, unpolished. You hear mistakes in it, and that’s just great — if they are mistakes. Who knows? There’s so much character in it, and I appreciate that in such a polished world of soundtracks.”

That is some seriously high praise. And a reminder that it’s not always good to be overly polished.

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

A video is going around the Internet by a Mark Erikson, who claims on his vlog “Infinite Solutions” that you can get a double-secret Google TV beta account.

Google TV supposedly will let you log into Gmail and watch any primetime show from Fox, CBS, and NBC for free (ABC and the CW are inexplicably not in on the deal…)This has the hallmarks of a virtuoso Internet prank, complete with laughably complicated instructions to obtain your secret access via logging in and out of GMail a dozen times.

But it’s produced “just so” that it puts a twinge of doubt in the viewer..

…ok, this is definitely a hoax…

…but there have been reports that media companies are talking with Google…

…maybe this is Google’s clever way of generating buzz….

…stranger things have happened….

…remember how Google launched Gmail on April Fools’ Day???…

…and how did this guy get rights to include a clip from “Heroes” in his vlog, anyway?…

But enough of the conspiracy theories. Mostly I got a good laugh from Eric’s videos. I love the idea people out there are logging in and out of Gmail.

And if I want to watch Heroes, I can always check it out 9pm on Mondays on NBC. Or on YouTube, of course! 😉

After the jump, the embedded videos, including Heroes…(via TechCrunch)…

The original “Google TV” video by “Infinite Solutions”…

The update, responding to accusations of a prank:

All over the world, people are waking up with strange, new powers….

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello

I wrote recently about Brian Eno’s composing work on the upcoming video game Spore, and linked to a talk in San Francisco of Wil Wright & Brian Eno talking about developing the algorithmically-generated musical score for the game.Well since then I bought some of his albums and was surprised by a couple of things.

One, the music appears to have been hugely influential – listen to any number of scores from films in thriller and horror genres, and you hear sounds resembling stuff on “Ambient 4 On Land”, which Eno composed 1978-1982.

Two, think of the era where he came up with the stuff. Jimmy Carter is president. There’s no Internet or CDs. Hardly anyone gets cable. Record shops and radio stations have Blondie’s “Rapture” and The Clash’s “Combat Rock”.

Along comes Brian Eno with this slooow, spooky, new age music composed mostly of gongs, gurgling, electronic fuzz and the occasional frog. And he gets a record contract. I’m kind of curious who the A&R guy was who discovered him and what the story was there….

It’s awesome stuff. Not exactly dance floor music. and you wouldn’t want to blast it out of your car. I’ve heard Brian Eno say once that he created ambient music partially is because he wanted something to listen to while working that wouldn’t break his concentration.

(Of course, Stephen King listens to Metallica while he works, so I guess YMMV…)

Here are a couple of YouTubes…

The first talks about his “Music For Airports” project, where he came up with music to be played at O’Hare airport, and what kind of music you might want to hear when getting on and off planes:

And another called “77 Million Paintings”,which is related to the algorithmic music stuff that is going into Spore. Enjoy!

Posted 11 years ago by John Piscitello