Scrapheap Symphony

I spent some time this summer working on a film for Brother Printers with Chris Cairns, Neil Mendoza, Marek Bereza to name a few, and at last it is out!

Firstly, all the sound in the film is real, nothing is faked, re-pitched or re-timed in post production.  Ok there are a couple of fake bits, one being the deep pulsing hum at the very beginning, and the other being the paper feeding up in the breakdown shot.  It’s not the usual focused, foleyed and tweaked sound that I get involved in, in fact it’s completely the opposite to my normal processes – everything was captured at source and only re-balanced in the final mix.  The point of the film was to make a big clanging whirring mess to juxtapose the lovely Brother feller on the end – that’s what I’m saying anyway…

A quick blurb:

Neil, Marek and their soldering army took apart various machines and hooked up whatever motors and mechanisms they could to some custom circuit boards (based on arduinos).  The boards were set to receive midi (control data) which I was outputting from my laptop using Logic Pro.  I composed / arranged a version of Bob Dylan’s classic tune ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ by mapping out the various machines as an orchestra of sorts.  In the early stages of production I used the first test machines that were wired up to approximate what the final arrangement would sound like.  As I wrote the arrangement, I recorded the machines in separate passes, one by one, so that I could balance them against each other more musically.

The only day of the schedule I couldn’t work on due to other commitments, was the shoot day.  I left the set at 3 in the morning the day of the shoot, drove Chris, Marek and Neil to the local Holiday Inn near the set and waved goodbye hoping that on the day all would come good.  I was gutted not to have been able to be there on the shoot day but I had my good friend Tom Belton on hand to cover me – he is a Logic ninja so I knew it was all in safe hands.  On set my laptop was sequencing all the machines live from Logic Pro, the midi split out to each group from a Motu Midi Express 128.  Have a look at the midi sequence here:

So after the edit, I re-compiled all the recordings I had made pre-shoot in testing and from the shoot day, and did a final mix in Pro Tools at Factory Studios.  A lot of lessons learned, some late nights and some headaches but it was well worth it – thanks so much to Chris and co. for getting me involved, have a look at the final film:

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