Tag Archives: International Talent

MADDURY CREATES AN EPIC SCORE ALONG THE STORMFRONT

One of the most important things that Steve Jobs proved in his illustrious career is that vision is equally as important, some might say even more so, than the ability to manifest. There’s a bit of a chicken/egg quandary there but, what Jobs made clear was that genius exists in the birth of an idea just as much as creating something. Of course, the symbiosis of these two factors are essential. Technology has created an ease that never existed before. It allows individuals to do what took legions previously. Consider entertainment. The ability to create full length animated productions that are vivid and amazingly realistic require a fraction of the man power previously needed. The same can be said for music. Modern purveyors are able to use technology to make single droning notes or the sonic onslaught of a major symphony orchestra…all at the fingertips of one person. Of course they may not sound exactly like an orchestra with the subtle perfect imperfections that are the human trait but, the end result is so moving and virtually undistinguishable that only the most discerning experts might even notice the minute difference. The animated film “Along the Stormfront” is epic in both its action and its music. Sai Sriram Maddury is the composer who was contacted by Griffin Giersch (Director & Screenwriter of the film) to match the tone of this larger than life story.

“Along the Stormfront” is an animated tale with epic fights and a huge visual landscape. A powerful score was needed to match the striking visuals. The idea was to balance the humor of the tiny characters while also rising to acknowledge the epic battle scenes. The music in the film was the ingredient which empowered the characters to become something akin to superheroes during the battle scenes. In a distant futuristic world, Finn (a fox) and Dallas (an armadillo) take a bus to get to town. They are later attacked by deadly Monster who jump onto the bus. The personalities of these characters are representative of the characteristics the animals are noted for; however, the events of the story call them to achieve inner strength and greatness in a classic story of self-discovery. It’s no coincidence that Maddury’s score recalls visions of superhero films and their grandeur. When Finn stands his ground for himself and his friend against a seemingly unconquerable oppressor, his bravery is announced by a huge brass section.

Griffin Giersch (Director, Screenwriter, & Animator of “Along the Stormfront”) declares,

“Sai was an incredibly important part of making Along the Stormfront what it was. His music brought the project to a higher level that it could not have reached otherwise. The goal with the story was to make an epic action/adventure with elements of suspense, tension, excitement, and some humor thrown into the mix as well. Sai brought all of this to the forefront with his music, letting all the moments of this story shine through. Working collaboratively on projects like this that have so many different aspects and pieces can often be a huge challenge, especially when it comes to communicating and sharing ideas to get everyone on the same page creating a cohesive work. Sai was always right there with us, listening and understanding our thoughts and ideas. He did more than just listen; he brought his own ideas to the table as well. Ultimately, his creative voice came through in a strong way that we hadn’t even expected. His contributions to the project made it even better than we’d hoped.”

Maddury concedes that modern technology has made composers capable of spending more time experimenting with their ideas and sonics with a much more budget friendly approach. Instead of having studio musicians wait “on the clock” while varying approaches are taken, a composer is allowed to hear each of their ideas on a schedule that is conducive to inspiration. This characteristic however does not preclude the use of real instruments and musicians. Sai communicates, “Technology plays a vital role in the process of film scoring. Due to the advancement of technology most of the job is done at the studio with Computers installed with DAW applications (Digital Audio Workstation) and connected to MIDI Keyboards and speakers. The major advantage in today’s music programming technology is to have amazing sample libraries for film scoring, allowing composers to create an orchestral score and make it sound exactly or very close to a live performance. This helps directors and producers to listen to them before going to the scoring stage. Basically now we can have the mock ups for the entire score sound close to the live recording. But for a film that demands an electronic score, it can pretty much be written and produced in your DAW at the studio.  That being said, I love the qualities that come from a more traditional approach in film scores. I’m a musician and have a soft spot for traditional or organic instrumentation. I think it’s the life of a modern composer to use the proper tool for each film they work on.”

05 Sai Sriram Maddury Pic

It’s a testament to this composer’s talent and creativity that he conceived of and created the score for “Along the Stormfront” based on storyboards and sketches rather than the final film. The common practice in the industry is for a composer to view either dailyies or the completed production and then compose based on this. Against normal convention, Sai discussed the characters and the story with Griffin, composing during the animation process in order to meet deadlines. Proof of the success of the film and its composers work lies in its being recognized as an official selection to the Full Bloom Film Festival 2015 and Carrborro Film Festival 2015 as well as receiving the Gold Remi Award at the 49TH WorldFest­Houston International Film and Video Festival. Discussing these accolades, Maddury remarks, “I personally consider awards as a token of encouragement requesting the recipient to contribute more to the respective field of art with which we are involved. Even though I did get more projects to work on as a result of my score for Along the Stormfront, having the experience of working on an award-winning film will always keep one motivated and inspired to work hard and contribute more to the art of film scoring/storytelling.”

Advertisements

PROTECTOR OF THE FILM & MUCH MORE: XIN GONG

When director Yiqiong Li was preparing to make his film “A Gift” he did what most filmmakers do, he referred to the list he keeps of professionals that are both talented and enjoyable to work with. Li had recently served as Assistant Director on the film “Promise Land” and he immediately thought of the Xin Gong the DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) on that film and contacted her for this upcoming project. A DIT is one of those professions that many people do not fully understand but is integral to the camera crew operating efficiently and at full power. It’s a “boots on the ground” role in filmmaking and one which the director and cinematographer rely upon heavily. “A Gift” received numerous accolades including: Award of Recognition – Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival, a nomination at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema London, and was an official selection at film festivals in the US, Berlin, Rome, and others. The dream of a filmmaker cannot be realized without the daily utilized talent of professionals like Xin Gong; skilled artists who will never see their name on the marquee but will always be the support of those who do.

“A Gift” is a film which concerns itself with the choices and potential found in all people. Kindness and redemption are something which can only be offered up, never can they be forcefully taken. The film tells the story of Jack, a young thief who breaks into the home of Margaret. Margaret is a blind elderly woman who mistakes Jack for her son. Margaret comes to realize that Jack is not her son but she still covers for him, protecting him from being discovered when police and neighbors come looking for a dangerous young man in the neighborhoods. The thief comes to realize the error of his ways and is moved by Margaret’s gift of understanding, forgiveness, and non-judgement.

Gong served as a Digital Imaging Technician or (DIT) for “A Gift.” As the guardian in change of protecting the footage for a film, the DIT not only serves as the gatekeeper but also assists many different parts of the film crew and the filming process insuring that instrumentation is working properly and capturing the action properly. Xin’s naturally detailed personality and discernment make her an easy fit for this role in any production. Also known as a talented editor, the duality of her skill set has made her more proficient of both sides of the production process (filming and post). The two complement each other well. Xin describes, “When I work as an editor, I organize the footage, putting different labels on for different footages. In editing software, I’ll put the dialogue into the first track, sound effects are on the second track, and music is on third track. When you know the process intimately after filming, it heightens your awareness for potential problems or mistakes as they occur during the filming process. This is initially what interested me in pursuing work as a DIT. The first time I took on this role [DIT] I began catching things immediately which I understood would be problematic during the post process. I alerted the DP and director about this and corrections were made instantly. Everyone was very appreciative that we had just saved a lot of time and effort, which was a great feeling for me.”

A skill which is paramount for both a DIT and an editor is color correction. This happens to be something which Gong is highly adept at and quite known for. This skill was vital to her work on “A Gift” as she explains, “One of the most problematic scenes for the film was the opening scene. As this is the first impression the audience will have of the film, everyone was aware of its importance. The scene starts at night as the main character breaks into the house. Unfortunately, the production couldn’t shoot at night and were forced to film this scene in the daytime. This was a big part of the reason I was chosen to work for this production. It was a challenge for me. Before they shot, the director and director of photography asked if I could do some color correction to make the “Day to night” when I was on set. Using DaVinci Resolve to change the gamma and highlight, I then did some color correction of the sky. The final result relieved everyone involved and once again, I felt appreciated…that never gets old.” Director of photography for the film, Chuan Li, reiterates, “DIT is a very complicated job. I think it too often goes underappreciated and doesn’t receive the respect it deserves. As someone who is on the camera the entire time, I relax when I have Xin Gong on a film set because I know she has thought for and prepared for more obstacles and how to avoid them than I ever would. I also know that when there is a problem, she is the first on jumping in to fix it. She sets a tone and example that others would do well to follow.”