Friday, December 17, 2010

The Power of Music v1.0

Many years ago when I was working as a film sound editor, I was asked to score a film for a giant corporation that had recently acquired a very hi-tech electronic assembly company. They wanted to make a film about their new capabilities, the clean rooms, the robotics, microcircuits, etc.

As with many corporate projects, the script had been written by committee, and vetted by teams of lawyers. The process had taken months. The film editor had cut the picture to the voice track, which literally started about five seconds in and never stopped. With wall-to-wall voice-over, there was barely any room for music at all.

I tried a few different library music tracks, but everything I tried was fighting the voice-over. At one point, I tried one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.  I couldn't quite hear how the music was working, so I shut the voice track off temporarily And bingo! - it was one of those magic moments when the music and visuals are so perfectly matched that the whole thing just sings. We didn't even need the voice over! The intricacies of the music combined with the graphic visuals did it all.

The next day we showed the video to the clients. We let the music do its magic, muting more than half of their precious voice-over track. They were shocked. Stunned. And luckily for us, thrilled with the result. They loved the video so much that even after spending months working on the script, they left the final version just the way we had it, with half of the voice track gone.

We were lucky to have such good clients. Not every producer understands the power of music to communicate, and not every client is willing to let go of their precious script.  I wish it would happen more often.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Simple Isn't Always Easy

Now that we've finally got the high-powered "Epic" disc finished (thank you for all the nice comments, by the way) it's been nice to get to work on a simple, acoustic disc of Americana-ish tracks. Our new release, "Green Mountain" is being mastered as I write this. (For a sneak preview, click the video)


These simple tracks are so useful - perfect mood-setters for documentaries, travel videos and all the 'This Old House" and other DIY media producers out there. The gently positive, "can-do" mood created by acoustic instruments played by professional studio musicians is the ideal accompaniment for the kind of problem solving, team effort and craftsmanship concepts that so many productions deal with these days.

Of course, keeping things simple isn't always as easy as it sounds. (See our YouTube video on how we produce music.) The tendency among many composers is to add "just one more track" - a tendency which, if not discouraged, can quickly lead to "acoustic mud." Not pretty!

Now that the music is done comes the real work - editing, ordering, mastering, titles, descriptions, keywords, registrations, copyrights, artwork, printing and replication. So look for Green Mountain to be posted online in a few weeks (and, if you still use CDs, on your desk just after the holidays.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

20 Years For 30 Seconds

We once hired a first-call New York session player to play sax on a :30 TV spot. The guy was as good as it gets, but the client was going to be at the recording session (always a treat) so we didn't quite know what to expect.  

Our sax player shows up on time, looks at the chart, warms up for a minute or two, climbs in the booth, and nails the track perfectly on the first take, just as we expected.  The client was thrilled, but leaned over and whispered, "That only took a minute. Do we have to pay him for the full session?"

We politely told the client that he had already gotten his money's worth.  After all, it didn't take the sax player 30 seconds to do that session. It took him 20 years.

It reminds us of another client we heard about who didn't want to pay for studio time while the engineer took five minutes to get drum levels and sounds. "By this time, you should know how to do this!" he announced loudly. The next day he came back to the studio to complain that the drums didn't sound as good as other records he had.

[Editors Note: Nothing against all you clients out there.  We love you...really...just not at music recording sessions!]

Doug & Dave

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day One

Welcome to the Omni blog - what I hope will become the informal, slightly irreverent and definitely irregular chronicle of events, happenings, stories and other tidbits about our music, our composers, our studio, our staff and all other things related to our very special and unique company. 

Omni was one of the very first American production music libraries (we started the same year as Network) and over the years it's been very satisfying to develop a reputation for excellent music and business integrity, and to serve as the bridge between talented composers on the one hand and talented media producers on the other. 

We love what we do here at Omni, and we hope you can hear it in the music. We've got some interesting stuff to post here in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and let us know if you like what we're doing.