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The Napkin Project Plan: Music Production 101
餐巾项目之”解构音乐制作的工作流程“

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Parisian Music House Green United Music opened in Shanghai earlier this year (see our report here) . We asked Shanghai director Thomas Faucheur what a devoted, international music house can do, how fast, and for how much.

 

  1. The Reel

 

First we’re contacted by a film production company or an agency and asked to see our reel of past work to establish whether we’re right for the job.

 

  1. The Brief

 

Next they’ll give us a brief with a script, a storyboard or an animatic, and eventually their ideas for the music. The agency, the director and the client might provide a music reference and ask for something along those lines. Often that’s helpful, but if they ask, for instance, for a particular Coldplay track, that’s all about a unique melody, voice and lyrics. It will be our job to let them know that such a direction could be a dead end, as we do not copy. We would highly recommend taking another road to avoid any copyright issues. Sometimes, we provide references from our own music library instead, which won’t risk us plagiarizing.

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  1. The Quotation

 

Based on the brief and the animatic, clients will request a quotation. We calculate it based on several factors. The music reference gives some idea of the amount we’ll need to spend on musicians, studio time, sound design, and voice over. We often agree to a package deal, meaning that whatever style of music we’re doing, we’ll stick to a single fee, without adding on hidden costs.

Requests to create a musical score need to be treated especially carefully. If scoring is needed, and we’re only working with an average budget package, we may be able to do the scoring with virtual instruments. Alternatively, virtual instruments could be used in combination with live strings, or we could engage a full orchestra. If it’s a full orchestra, we would usually go to an Eastern country, which offer good prices and good musicians. Once in a while, we record with one of the top five orchestras – mainly based in the UK, such as the London Philharmonic – in studios like Abbey Road or Air Studios!

Depending on clients’ needs, voiceovers are recorded in several languages, such as Mandarin, Cantonese, and foreign languages. Sound Design (SFX) is also integral to making a sound track. SFX are the noises previously created by Foley artists breaking celery stalks and clapping coconut shells together, but today it’s almost all digital.

 

  1. Music Research

 

If the client doesn’t already have a strong idea of what they want, they’ll ask us to do some music research to define a direction – a style, a tempo, and an arrangement. Once a reference track has been approved, we recommend film editors use it while they work on the film edit. Sometimes they discover that the reference doesn’t really fit the film, which allows us to substitute something else instead of creating demos that won’t work.

 

  1. The Demo

 

When the client has shot the film, agreed on a music direction and produced a rough film edit, we’ll produce a demo, usually working with several composers to offer different options. The client will choose one, and then we go through two, three or even five versions based on the feedback we get. A recent Schweppes ad reached five iterations. The different versions are evolutions mostly, but sometimes include a complete change of direction.

If the client is happy with the reference track’s tempo, we’ll create demo music that keeps closely to it. We’re working on an Adidas film for Radical Media that’s going to have some dancers, so we found an EDM music reference, and asked for three composers to create tracks. They’re going to use one of the tracks during the shoot so the dancers will be moving to the right tempo. This tempo will not be changed whatsoever, so the film edit will have to fit the tempo.

 

  1. Final Mix

 

At the same time as we work on the demo, we’ll start on the sound design and voice over recording. We then bring it all together in a final mix.

 

  1. Timeframe

 

In France, the process usually takes two to three weeks, but here it takes much longer, usually four to six weeks. I would say the reason is that we rarely have clients with us in studios, so we have more back and forth before we get the final okay.

For a music house, it’s quite normal to work on multiple projects at once. We’re doing seven simultaneously now, but we’re not at full capacity. We could do almost double, maybe 10-15.

Lab_Sam_napkin project

This is the type of napkin you don’t want to clean you mouth with…

 

来自法国巴黎的音乐公司Green United Music在上海设立了分部。对于这样的专业国际音乐大制作公司,我们很想了解它们“到底是如何开展项目的”、“一般需要花多少时间”以及“大概需要多少预算”?我们采访到了负责人Thomas Faucheur,让他给我们在餐巾上构画了一个大致的工作流程,给我们上了一个音乐制作的入门课。

  1. 公司宣传片

首先, 制作公司或广告公司会主动联系我们,要求我们把过往的作品发给他们参考,来确认我们是否合适这个工作。

  1. 简报

随后,客户会给我们发简报,其中包括了文字脚本或者动画脚本,以及他们对音乐的一些设想。有时广告公司、导演或者品牌客户可能给我们一些音乐范例让我们参考 。通常这些范例对制作方向很有帮助。 但是,如果客户要求用些大家耳熟能详的音乐,例如Coldplay的某一首歌,因为作品本身有太独特了,例如旋律,嗓音和歌词等,这个时候我们会解释给客户说‘这种方向(拷贝名曲)是个死胡同’,因为我们绝不会抄袭。为了避免版权上的纠纷,我们提议尽量选择别的音乐。有时候我们提供我们数据库里的音乐作范例,这就可以避免剽窃作品的可能性。

  1. 报价

在简报内容和动画脚本的基础上,客户需要我们报价。报价的估算主要基于以下几点:从音乐范例中我们可以估计作曲家、录制时间、声音设计和旁白录制等的大致成本。一般情况下给个打包价格,那意味着无论什么风格的音乐,我们都只收取一个费用,不会增加额外收费。

如果客户是另行需要配交响乐的的,我们处理报价时会特别小心。如果预算一般,但又需要配交响乐,我们会使用虚拟乐器进行编曲。另外,虚拟乐器可以和真实乐器组合运用,或者我们可以安排整个交响乐团演奏。如果是需要整个乐团的,我们一般会去东欧找。他们价格不错而且有一流的演奏家。我们有时候也会与世界前五位的交响乐团——现在主要是与伦敦乐团合作,例如著名的伦敦爱乐乐团。采用的录音室是ABBEY Road和Air Studio。

根据客户的需求,人声旁白一般有多种语言版本,例如普通话,粤语,或其他语言等。

音效设计也被整合到项目中。在以前,音效是通过拟音师利用实物制造成各种声效的,例如掰断植物根茎的声音或者是拍打椰子壳的声音。但是现在,声效基本是用数码完成。

  1. 音乐调查

如果客户对于音乐的风格没有很明确的想法,他们会请我们做音乐调查来确定一个方向,包括音乐风格,节奏和编曲等。一旦客户确认我们的参考音乐的思路,我们会建议剪辑师根据参考音乐来剪辑影片。这样做是因为如果剪辑师在剪辑的过程中发现参考音乐的风格和影片不搭,我们可以用别的音乐来代替,而不是继续制作出不合适的小样。

  1. 音乐小样

在完成拍摄、确认了音乐的方向和制作好影片的初辑后,我们开始制作音乐小样。我们会同时与几位作曲家合作并由他们提供不同的版本。客户会选择其中一个,然后根据客户的回馈在这个小样的基础上进行两轮、三轮甚至五轮的修改。例如我们最近完成的Schweepes的广告音乐就经过了五轮的反复修改。有些修改是循序渐进逐步完善的,但也有些完全改成了不同的音乐风格。

如果客户喜欢参考音乐的节奏,我们会在音乐小样制作最相近的节奏。例如,我们正在为Adidas的新广告做音乐,制作公司是Radical Media,影片有舞者参与,我们选择了电子舞曲作为参考音乐,并请了三位作曲家创作三支舞曲,其中一首将会在拍摄过程中用作背景音乐,这样舞者可以在准确的节奏下表演。这个既定的节奏是不会改动的,它将被沿用到剪辑阶段。

  1. 终混

在制作音乐小样的同时我们会进行音效设计和旁白人声的录音,然后把所有的元素混音成后期制作。

  1. 时间进度

在法国,整个制作的流程通常只需2到3周时间。但是在中国要花更长的时间,通常在4到6周。我认为其中原因之一是:极少有客户会到录音室里直接与我们工作。这导致了在确认成果前,不少时间花在了来来回回的沟通上。

对于音乐制作公司来说,有多个项目的同时进行很正常的。我们现在手头同时进行的项目就有7个,但我们的资源配置,我们甚至可以接两倍的活,大概10到15个左右。

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