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Modern Film Composing

Lesson 6 of 17

Working with Iris 2 and ProTools

Will and Brooke Blair

Modern Film Composing

Will and Brooke Blair

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Lesson Info

6. Working with Iris 2 and ProTools


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 The Role of a Score Duration:07:55
4 Continuing Education Duration:08:21
5 Building Your Home Studio Duration:21:35
7 Develop Your Voice Duration:04:25
8 Spot the Film Duration:52:34
9 Focus on Instrumentation Duration:38:15
12 Create Stems for Delivery Duration:02:36
14 Getting Your First Job Duration:16:28
15 Working Remotely Duration:26:41
17 The Composer's Philosophy Duration:04:17

Lesson Info

Working with Iris 2 and ProTools

Let's, jump in the iris. Um, I don't remember how we found this program. It's an incredible thing. We can't yeah, isotopes great. Um, this is iris to which they just released. This is exactly for that purpose. Sounds with your own sort of custom sounds sculpting. Um, is this specifically for film scoring? I know this is just for audio in general it's. Incredibly powerful, so right out of the box, it comes with different banks of sounds that are all based in ria world environments. Um and their additional sort of sound bundles that you can continue to purchase. So one of the one of the banks is wood and it's. You know, hours of way forms wave samples of wood chopping, wood splitting wood sawing wood and you can really start to stretch things apart. They do a lot of editing for you and it's. A serious of layers is it was the layer window, but, um, which just gives you combinations again? You can start with tons of sounds that irises but isotope is put together for you. But unlike other p...

ut plug ins, what we love about it is put in our own sounds in there and that's where the field recording comes into play, I mean, they're sounds are based on field recordings. We often will head out to an environment or a space of some sort record music their record, the bull bull in a different space or just capture a drone on the bubble or like a pluck on the on the train go then you've got a little sample way feed all of that in the iris again. Each instrument you build four different layers. It's like the possibilities and combinations of later in this pretty much infinite. Um, this will be great. Everyone has a little card under their seats taped to the bottom of their seat and some of them have fallen on the ground. I see that, but there's an index card? No, you want a car? Oh, but everyone has an element, right? And a sample essentially, these are things that we have recorded. Okay, so wine glass you have singing bowl, you have brass, river, dulcimer and cricket. And so again, there's six of us, but we had were allowed up to four layers and iris, these are just instruments or in the case of the river again, like an environment that we recorded, how about we definitely do river we're going to pick chris. I'm gonna pick river, ok, you pick another one, I want to hear cricket, cricket and then the crickets actually a wooden percussion instrument that looks like and he's made to sound like crickets that sound like a cricket really ricketts involved no no crickets right brooke you but you pick one more we have river we have cricket let's do singing we'll answer people which is one of it which is a fine you'll hear each individual sample way say cricket singable cricket and river and say the cool thing about iris is that, um you know some of these sounds aren't obviously musical I'm not entirely sure how it works but the program itself can sift through this sample and identified a very musical aspect of it eh tone in this sample and start to pitch it dramatically across your mini keyboard so it's literally taking something like a river on and it does take some sculpting in some editing but it becomes pretty quickly becomes a very playable musical instrument um yeah and the cool thing about this is you're developing sounds you know that you just that you can just dream up out of nowhere that can be very specific to the production because a single that's the single here I'll go over here yes it was found a pitch in the singing bowl and spread it across the keyboard dramatically signal you know it's a little late the's the singable now comes completely playable but it's a sound you know, I spoke to us that we were able to plug in iris um kind of like pro tools when you're looking at the window and iris left to right it's sort of a time line, so you're left to be the start of the sample you'll see the so that's what the way former looks like it's away form of the sound you'll see the cursor moving through time top to bottom is sort of a range of frequency right which you can just edit all day long. Brooks highlighted this tone in the middle that's highlighted that's what we're hearing you does that don't fit the picture you're looking at the scene that you're working on brooke and start to move it up and down you want it less musical les musical and mohr sound driven that's lewin that's barely audible theo where's the paintbrush oh yeah it's such a visual tour I think again directors we worked with love looking at iris because paint that's that's my name sonic representation of money okay it's almost up like photoshopping away were all the anything is is so visual and intuitive and quick which we immediately it spoke to us it's just so intuitive um and in addition to just carving out certain frequency there's also oscillators and effects built in which is, you know, it just it seems like it's pretty endless what you can do with this so this becomes the basis of a lot of our scores starting with um field recordings and building custom instruments there are very specific to the production um so let's see, we've got a layer so we have singable in there right? And then we just want to hear with singing bowl cricket river sounds like together well nearly cricket you know I'm not get its a little because of quick, huh might be pits toy down there's a cricket maybe that's like the tale of the factors that could decay of the cricket did which is immediately pretty creepy here is a little bit quiet but there's obviously the river maybe it was just a hydrophone that you I think this is a hydrophone of recording we recently picked up a hydrophone which is an underwater microphone and I think this is ten feet below the delaware away yeah, so it takes him exploration you know, brook's looking around way cell about the river woman yeah, rivers will be quiet let's find a frequency that cutting through you know, perhaps in a film set is that to aquatic? I don't know what we scoring um how would we make that a bit more musical? I think we could adjust the attack to release riverboat was hopes a good sense of, you know, atmosphere maybe we don't want it to read as much as a river is just general ambience so that's a layer and you're the singing bowl sounds like it's doing most, uh, tonal work or, you know, and then there's just there's atmosphere with that, you also filter everything out in the top red shirts, but it's almost second organise organized. I'm just adding course and delays and river bs to it on that just a quick example of throwing something in there and getting a sound with quick. Obviously you can keep sculpting and sculpting sculpting and make it even more play ball. Man, we're definitely gonna get into iris more later, as we saw in the film and some other examples. So those are basically your field recording? Yep. And sometimes just recording, like one note, you know, from a different instrument and putting in just you could have spread out in d tune stuff really quickly, but even I think we're recording it because the other day miss the hum of the motor. We found this one little piece of information that we pitched it and kind of cleaned it up and had some distortion and a sign wave to it became this really thick, low in sound and what's cool about it is there still is like this kind of worldly quality about it it's not so synthesized, um and I think that's why we keep coming back to it is that you can add in these really, um, organic kind analog type sounds and you know what? The idea and with the idea of felt field recording again, you've got your studio and we've got our studio and there might be another collaborator you're working with around the quarter corner who's got a cool instrument you've never heard before and, you know, rather than be confined to your one work space in your one set of tools, um, record something somewhere else, you know, like, collaborate with folks that you know and get some of the tones that they're working with archive them, store them and get them an iris and like you can start building your own thing out of it, I say all of blue ruin was scored an irs I mean sounds, sounds that we built there was a couple other plug ins and instruments, but eighty percent of blue ruin was in an iris and beltran sounds yeah, yeah, excuse me for me not being familiar with the term that process is what she referred to is the sound smith thing you're ok, and we could we call it sculpting a lot, so I want to get started, yeah again, probably because of the visual aspect of it, you know, it feels like sculpting it feels like a sculpture but I mean you're you're you're hearing sound but you're looking at you know how your editing how you're manipulating that and then also the end result after you get done with the finish scoped scope of that then get sent to pro tools or no really that set yeah I mean the idea is the ideas were building a musical instrument you know that's playable the midi capabilities with iris just make it you know whatever you can imagine becomes a new keyboard and your sound so again all of these you know, plug ins and programs come with incredible sounds like you could open him up right out of the box is cool things to sift through and listen iris lets you kind of do it your own way you know um and there's we're going to jump into this little later but there's there's productions we worked on where we've we've kept it sort of production specific elements of that project in mind as we go out to field record or as we go out to to hunt down a new instrument to record um knowing that will get him an iris and be ableto you know, time to put them together well anyway that's what a singing ball cricket river sounds like way we could spend all day on it it's a lot of fun this just pull up something custom from you know, something more, uh, liable in certain ways? Well, we have some questions coming into well, you guys are doing this s o we had one, they got a couple of votes on it, just a reminder to people if you see questions that you want to know, the answer to click that little blue arrow to vote for them and the questions that get the most votes have the best chance of getting asked on the air, so we had one from from adrian, who wants to know, do you usually try to build within keys or scales between the different sounds they're using to try to build within keys or scales? We definitely try to keep them all pitched together for sure. Um, yeah, that short let's show the different library that we like the different, you know, banks, we've put together how we've titled them, ok, so if I understand the question correctly, it's a good question, um, within iris specifically, it does a lot of that work for you, you know, of course reliant on our ear a little bit to hear what you know, what pitches were working with and what sounds more musical iris identifies the pitch in any of these sounds by all means you can record a sound that just does not have a pitch, you know? It's inherently just a sound iris does all the work that it can to sort of identify something musical about it and it highlights it for you and you can steer away from you know an identifiable musical pitch and create more of an atmosphere we have a bank of atmospheres which you know suggest they're just that they're not very musical they are there's a really you can pick up on but oftentimes there wind you know um some of these we don't have living because way had a great conversation with robert yesterday who introduced the workshop and um he's worked in film a lot on I think on the directorial side and he said oftentimes directors are looking for something simply like atmospheric and the word wind is used a lot where you know there's not room for something melodic there's not room for something quartile or too overtly musical but a tone needs to be put in place that was part of one of the first rules of the scores just help establish mood um these atmospheric sounds to a lot of work jeremy sunday when we're working on blue ruin um I was trying to get that idea across you know I'm just looking for atmosphere and you know what jeremy lax and if you're watching jamie what you what you can sort of a musical vocabulary he makes up for in this like this razor sharp vision of what he's looking for um he got frustrated trying to vocalize that and he said I need a menacing dome of air and just you know we had to interpret what that might sound like we definitely jumped in the iris to put something together would have something this's something we built and we titled it something terrible something terrible see what it sounds like viruses picked out like a low end hum what is that um well the low in is much much this sign way this is something off trump booth wait two developing tones those does that the tones that speak to us and you know we played a lot of different styles of music and genres of music but how we like to hear tones we get excited about fitting into film are sort of this um where atmosphere and melody kind of meat you know and it's not it's not overly elektronik and it's not a piano and it's not a cello you know it has a presence but there's enough uh invisibility you know that we can help sink it into a picture let's say we're looking at a picture and you know this is just this is minimal and subdued but it's just popping out at us way too much you know and we don't want to get rid of it altogether but it just needs to disappear a little bit more toe to sit in what we're looking at a little bit more u wait I'm told that we always come back to plug ins is subtracted q and using filters um it's, just such a simple concept and someone you can slap on really quick any d w is gonna have, you know, their own version of it accuses his pro tools built in um, so real quick, we could just cut about the high frequencies just to make it a bit darker are carve out some lows, and they could even more you're saying the grievances were cutting right wake are about certain aspects of the sound booth and actually there's another one that we go to that's that's really simple, we don't have it in here loaded, I still makes another plugging called vinyl because the freeze on living the gear guide for sure yeah, it's it's main purpose is to emulate, like an old record sound or something, but, um and ad clicks and pops and elektronik comes, but if you weigh, don't really engaging that, but there's a little filter function, um, divide up by decades and maybe emulates how recording would sound from from that time the frequency you know, response and let's go about that is pulling up, you know, a synthesized sound or even guitars the piano's that's, another one we can pull over a quick and just slap on one of the one of the filters and cut certain frequencies and sometimes it just helps it sink into the picture a lot but a little bit better because a lot of these um virtual insurgents were working with their so well record they're so big too rich, the rich and sometimes that could also be over killed you know? So you want to kind of tone it down a bit especially if you get into high track count and you have lots of these instruments you're not willing to lead in the instruments that are doing like melodic work but you have to we often send them out quite a bit through through accuse you? Yeah, well, I must say your bathroom scene I saw that for the blue and after oh, my goodness, that was intense and I think your sounds anything made it so much more intense than it without it. Yeah there's no really within melody in that either it was mohr just sounds so it was amazing let's play that example require maybe we'll go to we'll get to it later. But since you brought it up I think this is a great time. Um we have a snippet from that and would you use the irish way you got it because it was really cool way struggled with that one quite a bit and again um jeremy was total hands on on this process, and we learned a lot about working with him in a very, you know, fast pace scheduling, um then we start with the beach thing, right waken skipped and hold on one second and yes, this one in particular, we had a bunch of different approaches, and admittedly, we overdid it at first, you know, we thought this is one of the most tense and violent scenes of the movie it's early on in the movie, but it's a huge shift in the narrative and, you know, we were excited and we threw a lot of stuff at it there was there was a, um, jeremy has a no percussion rule, but we were throwing as much percussion on it as we could to keep intensity things living on, move it along, yeah, and, you know, after stepping back quite a bit, he didn't feel is quite right. We didn't feel quite right. We did start to thin things out, um, is that they will skip into well, just like we had a question before you guys get to this clip, we had a lot of people asking about plug ins and knowing, maybe when not to overuse plug ins if there any rules of thumb for that so any tips for people who are just getting started as composers about maybe a good rule of thumb for how many plug ins to be using or when they should maybe not overdo it for different scenes that they're working on a sure thing the more plug ins use you start to tax the session, you know, you start to your requiring more of the computer and, um, as much as we love pro tools, you know it can slow down and consider your process down if that's if you're you're asking too much of it, um, our sort of creative approach to that again is is don't rely exclusively on plug its we try to make room for again organic acoustic acoustic instruments, you know, um as multiple layers and so that's just this is recording a way for him. It can also become a mix issue, too. When you are getting the high track outs with lots of plug ins, lots of virtual instruments, they all start to fight for space in the mix and whether you're sending it tio post production house and there's a mixture of off or you're doing your own final mix um, you do have to make some decisions, you know otherwise you have all these really well sampled big virtual instruments and you're just stacking them and stacking them and they all start to fight for space sonically and then you start to lose characters character in the sound it's a lot of it I think you kind of zero in on um you know, breaking up the spectrum like on ly having a handful of instruments addressed the low end of a sound only having a handful address the mid range if you're gonna have something up top just a handful any space for all this to be heard I think it's almost it's tempting tony just layer and layer and layer and layer but if you have some limitations that can kind of address that so I would almost air on the side of less is more your start with start with get up get a lot of things going to start with it ultimately to answer the question of, say, there's not a rule of thumb, but be ready to subtract you know, like get as many instruments as you think need to do the compositional work but get readyto either thin them out or get rid of them altogether. Um yeah, I think that's our basic approach trust your ear and ultimately, you know, trust the story you're you know, your main objective is to stay true to what you're looking at and make sure that supportive and not intrusive um we often we often get mohr going early on then what stays in other words, we kind of over score and the production could be overly dense early on just to see what's working and and what's not and when we get into the live score what kind of show that's attractive process and brooke will get attached to some sound but I forced him to hit delete or vice versa the bathroom cnn blue room and there was great we had we had this pulled up this is another quick exciting example of what iris can do but also let's go it's going to fade it from one q you'll notice a difference but a definite shift in this queue from beachy atmosphere e I want to say that was almost exclusively and irish you know, multiple players more level elements here so it's interesting you kind of kept a percussive sound didn't actually use any percussion to create it yes and no he didn't you well know this is this is how we were able to break that rule again. We were kind of struggling with that scene it was a big scene and I think in some ways that put more pressure on us and we're, um experimenting with a bunch of different approaches we kind of got to this that main sounds sort of distorted d tuned breasts like sound honestly couldn't tell you exactly what elements put together right now I think this it's stored and iris as blue ruins stabbing it's probably the name of this but I mean just that a atonal, dissonant de tuning of that breasts like sound, you know, helped with the suspense of the whole thing. But we realized we needed a some sort of pull some sort of pulsing percussive element to really ramp things that and we tried samples of little drums kick drums that had a very percussive, obvious drum like sound. It was not working, they're tio this was a really serendipitous thing that we enjoyed. I remember sending brooke a text and I said in these drums aren't working we need something more organic, more human and more subliminal and, um or implied and not the beating of a drum, but more something you just feel and I remember saying we need something like a heartbeat and I sent the text to brook and literally the next day julia, the editor on the film who's busy sifting through all of these audio files and video files found a little snippet of something and she e mailed it to us a little way file. Um the lead actor in the story is our oldest brother, that's making who was doing the stabbing he had in that scene he had elavil ear mike um under his shirt to get some dialogue it was very physical scene and they're sort of wrestling with this convict and you know uh you know, trying to protect his family protect his life so is his heart is naturally beating real quick and julia found about four seconds of his heart beating and sent it to us we immediately put it an iris and you hear in the clip you hear jeremy the director you know actually take your places action and then we got local people it was literally the sound that we were looking for we didn't know how we get it and it was of the the lead actor you know in that moment of production that we were scoring on the the probably pretty close bpm of how you might feel in that moment I thought, you know it's not really fast it's not this big action q everything's ramping up its it's kind of steady and almost maybe a bit more uncomfortable because of that yeah we didn't manipulate the timing of it too much we did darken the heartbeat is made up of two quick pulses but I think we did stretch them out a little bit in iris you know, edit them and move them apart so it had less of an obvious heartbeat to it but the tempo itself we kind of left where it was a better match the tempo of someone getting ready to start have someone in a bathroom. Um, we got really excited about that tool on the way to fit that into the blue room score we immediately tried to, like, plug it into every every tent scene. Let's, do the let's do the hard pizza. And jeremy was like, no, it works in the bathroom, but it's doing its driving in beth yeah. So that was definitely example virus that that we could take a sound that we never knew we were going to stumble across. It was precisely what we were looking for. Um, yeah, and it came. It came from the editor as she was sifting through the picture. Um, so that's iris, that is not definitely all of what we used, but what it does it go to, um, it talks with pro tools. Very well, very compatible. The two programs. We can pull them up very quickly and get them started just sure finishing that thought we had a lot of people in the chat room jumping in about blue ruin. Can people where can people find that film if they want to watch the entire scene? Sure. Netflix's ceo saying about your company, not a theatrical run a couple of last year, but you think itunes or itunes, his writings were netflix. Ok, thanks.

Class Description

A film’s score is so much more than background music. It creates a mood, shapes the story, and influences the way viewers interpret the action. In Modern Film Composing, Will and Brooke Blair ("The Blair Brothers") will examine the art and illuminate the science of scoring moving media.

You can hear The Blair Brothers’ work in award-winning features (from indie films to Disney), documentaries, commercials, and television shows. 

In this class, they’ll share their expertise and help you:

  • Find the style and tone of music that best suits your film 
  • Create dynamic musical elements that fall within your budget 
  • Improve your collaboration with composers
During the class, Will and Brooke will also score two CreativeLive student films – one prepared in advance and one scored live on air – to lend an artistic insider's view to the film scoring process and results. The Blair Brothers will also discuss their professional trajectory and how they maintain careers as composers. 

Composing music for a film can be an intimidating process for both filmmakers and composers, in this class you’ll learn practical strategies for approaching your project and producing a final product that fits your artistic intention.


Will Blair

Thanks to everyone at CreativeLive for helping produce our workshop - and thanks for everyone at home for taking a look!