Friday, June 25, 2010

Music For Animation

Here's my recent article about music for animation written for our in house magazine called framepost - powered by

I think music is an added "D (dimension)" for mankind. I don't know if our life is 3D or 4D or how many Ds', but music definitely adds one. It's a texture of our life, without which, we cannot even imagine our world. It would be a world with no color and texture. Can you imagine?

We hear music in different forms. While I was a kid I heard lullabies my mom sang for me. I heard and sang rhymes and patriotic songs in school. Heard a lot of pop songs in my early teen age and yes love songs were my favorite to be frank. Haha!! Rock, Progressive, Metal, RnB, Hip Hop and I don't know what not. And the most important thing about all the above mentioned music is that it plays a genuine role in my life. Some songs which I sang in school were designed to teach me grammar. Some songs were made to teach me discipline. Even if some of them were made for nothing, it at least entertained me. And the most amazing part of it is that music has no age bar because it's just a feeling.

Music has power to control people. It can make you happy or sad. Furthermore it can even make you think about something you were not aware of or it can make you cry with tears too. And sometimes it can even make you so pumped that you even get ready to give your life for your nation. However its power can never be explained in texts or words. It's a feeling which is delivered through the medium of sound.

Same is "Animation". We design it to entertain people, to educate them, to make them aware and to show whatever is in our mind through visual medium. Animation again can make people laugh, cry, and so on. We can take people to the other world through this medium. One of the things that I like most in animation is, we can make people understand exactly what we want them to understand.

Now, the point is to mix these powers of sound and visual to create the "Power X". You just can't imagine what you can do with the "Power X". Trust me, it's awesome. But remember, you need both of them to create "Power X"

Let me tell you how it works. It's a secret.... :)

Let's suppose we have a very emotional shot. We have character(s), location and everything is ready in our visual. Now, this emotional visual will restrict/hold viewers into the scene. Feelings float around the character(s), location, dialogues, expressions, etc which is our motto actually. This is mainly because viewers shouldn't think anything else at that point of time.

Right now the viewer is seeing what exactly you want them to see. Now, if we add music into it, a poignant orchestral music for instance with a very sad piano and violin, this will be the punch.

In a visual medium, designer takes viewers to their world. But in music, listener designs/creates their own world. They float with the melody, beat, rhythm, and so on. There is no restriction in music so even a single note can sometimes make their tears fall.

And of course this technique works in creating other moods as well. Be it a happy one, scary, sci-fi and so on. Basically, we use "Music in Animation" to create moods, to create textures for feelings, to create emotions and mostly, to tell a story with feelings. To create "Power X"

In short, "Power X" is all about feelings.

Now let me tell you how we create this "Power X"

We have a script done, we have characters designed, screen play done and everything else is ready too. Now we need to know the genre of the film. What type of film is it basically? Is it a sci-fi, thriller, horror or what? Depending on the story and style we then freeze on the music genre. But, while freezing on this, it's also important to know the target audience. For instance, if we are making animation for kids, I'd not recommend using trance or gothic or any heavy metal stuffs.

It's simple. Know your target audience, know your animation, know the purpose of animation and compose the suitable genre. And yes, it also depends upon the director. If he/she is a rock genre lover, he'd like to use all the varieties of rock music throughout the animation. Maybe starting from punk rock to pitch down the story with slow rock, all way to build up, the anticipation with alternative rock and what not. Depends…

In 1 Life, I have tried to target audience of all ages. So, I had to compose a very smooth music which all ages could listen. So, I played a lot with melody. I selected most commonly used instruments like flute, guitar, piano, synthesizer, and so on. Each and every beat had connection with the animation. My music had to be very simple because I didn't want my viewers to get distracted or defocused from the visuals by listening to sudden change unless required. So my drum beat and everything had to very simple. So simple, that viewer's subconscious mind could make out what is going to come next in music. So they don't have to think about it and could concentrate more on animation.

Let me tell you what happens if we don't keep this thing in mind. For instance, you are showing a kitchen in your shot. Panning your camera through the cupboards, dishes, spoons, bowls and suddenly there is an AK47. AK47? Yes, AK47. Now you will start thinking about the AK47. What's AK47 doing in the kitchen? Where did it come from? And so on. Basically, you get distracted. But again it all depends because there are lots of ways of keeping things smooth. It depends upon your style of storytelling. I wanted it smooth so I made it smooth.

So, it's very important to correctly level animation and music to tell a good story with feelings. To create "Power X"

Hence, animation is not complete without music if we want feelings in it.

This is the importance of Music for Animation from my point of view.

"music for animation"