Scoring Reddit's "Formative" Title Sequence
Crafting music for an opening title sequence is always incredibly fun. As a composer, these sequences allow you to write music that speaks directly to the core brand of the material. I thought it might be interesting to write down a few thoughts about taking a project like this from start to finish. If you have any questions, or just want to say hello, find me on Twitter: @codyfry.
“Formative” is a web series that traces great ideas all the way back to their initial conception. In order to illustrate this idea in 30 seconds, Creative Director Zac Dixon (Identity Visuals) came up with a novel concept. The journey of an idea would be deconstructed and reversed through the coding process, line drawings, sketches—all the way back to the brain synapses first firing with the light of inspiration.
Before beginning any scoring project, it’s always important to get inside the Director’s head. Most directors have a pretty good idea of what sort of music they’re looking for, and if they haven’t already been using a temp track, they can usually provide a few examples of similar music to pull inspiration from. Zac came to me with a track from the movie Inside Out called “Bundle of Joy”. He liked the simple piano theme and general pulse of the Inside Out track, so I made sure to retain those elements in my final score.
After timing and marking the video, I came up with a simple piano theme and began wandering around the keyboard looking for ways to alter the underlying chord texture to give the theme a bit more interest.
The sequence begins with a pure-sounding synth chord followed by the first presentation of the piano theme with some weird reversed sounds as the white background is deconstructed. There are actually a lot of reversed sounds throughout the sequence to help hint at the video’s core concept. As the piano theme gets transposed and transformed, more rhythmic elements enter to help give the the listener a sense of frantic excitement—that feeling of how time speeds along when you’re working on something inspired. After the final music swell, the sequence ends with one last presentation of the original piano theme in it’s simplest form.
I do almost all of my scoring out of my small home studio. However, the budget for this project allowed me to hire a violinist to stack-record the main string parts. I try my best to record as many real instruments as possible, but generally budgets are such that most tracks end up being heavily reliant on synthetic sounds and samples. The sound design by Defacto Sound really added a lot of polish to the final product, and of course the animation and execution by Identity Visuals was fantastic.
Direction: Identity Visuals
Creative Director: Zac Dixon
3D Artist: Maxwell Anderson
Sound Design: Defacto Sound
Executive Producer: Samuel Cowden
Producer: Austin Harrison