Welcome to Harmony: Exclusive with Sergio Moure
Welcome to Harmony – From the Studio
The long musical journey of Welcome to Harmony is coming to an end, and this last stage, which began with the recording of the soundtrack in Cordoba in early November, is closing these days in a mixing studio that Asturscore has had the opportunity to visit.
In a villa of Las Rozas, on the outskirts of Madrid, is where the renowned sound engineer Jose Vinader has his mixing studio (including a recording room attached), and is where he and the composer of the music for the film, Sergio Moure, received Asturscore last Friday.
In the ground floor of the villa, is where both spend hours immersed in the creative process that implies the mixing, equalization and adjustment of the soundtrack to a finalized version of the footage, isolated in a dark chamber, like two bears that were hibernating in a cave, but with a much higher rhythm and activity.
Jose Vinader, veteran in audiovisual world since 1971, has been on nearly 300 films, and over the years has worked with composers such as Roque Baños, Alberto Iglesias, Pascal Gaigne or Angel Illarramendi, giving life to music from movies like Captain Alatriste: The Spanish Musketeer (Agustín Díaz Yanes), Common Wealth (Alex de la Iglesia) or the recent Automata (Gabe Ibañez).
But let’s start telling the story from a little earlier, since the recording of the soundtrack in Cordoba.
As we reported 10 days ago, the recording of the soundtrack was held the first week of November in the Polifemo hall of Gongora Theater of Cordoba, taking 6 sessions divided in 3 days. As Sergio Moure told us «Conditions of Polifemo hall of Gongora Theater are ideal for soundtrack recordings, as it has some great features of warmth and reverb. The willingness and professionalism of the Cordoba Orchestra has exceeded my expectations, and I think it is perfectly prepared to continue recording soundtracks with a high level of quality».
Microphones were strategically deployed around the musicians, and a control center with 3 screens was established in an adjacent room, where 2 screens were used for equalization tasks and controlling what was being recorded, whilst the third screen was used as a reference with a finished version of the film.
The recording sessions were performed by specific sections of the orchestra in some cases, and the whole entire orchestra in other cases.
The Cordoba Orchestra, conducted by Alfons Reverté, was structured for the recordings like this: string (22 violins – 12 first violins and 10 second violins, 10 violas, 6 cellos and 6 contrabasses), metals (4 horns, 4 trombones and one tuba), percussion (with a complete set of drums), prepared piano (a piano on which special items are placed) and wood (2 clarinets). Additionally, an extra recording session was held the fourth day at the Conservatory of Cordoba, but this time, only for the piano.
After obtaining all the material, the second phase of music production began, the mixing phase, a process that tends to last about 10 days, since the director has decided that the film should have a lot of music in it (about 70 minutes).
In this mixing phase, recordings that were made in Cordoba are selected, to decide which ones are optimal for the footage that is going to be musicalized. After that, they’re edited and equalized to achieve the desired loudness and balance, plus to eliminate those defects or impurities that could be found in the recording. Thus, during the mixing process, a cohesive sound is achieved for the recording, finding the desired sonority of the final and adjusted mix for the film.
Once the mixing is complete, the director, Miguel Angel Vivas, will go to the studio and oversee the final version of the soundtrack, and after making some adjustments and corrections (if necessary), will give his ok to the music.
The soundtrack, in line with other works by Sergio Moure, is full of quality, having moments dedicated to the innocence of the child, the redemption of the characters, and sacrifice and hope among others, but without forgetting the tension the history requires, with moments of action and fighting, that mark the counterpoint in the film. Using the full potential of the orchestra, and aided by background electronic elements and effects sometimes, Sergio composes a captivating music, dynamic and highly descriptive, fantastic in our opinion, as we’ve had the opportunity to listen to some pieces during our visit to the studio. As it is usual in Sergio, orchestrations are by Alejandro Roman, collaborator in his last works.
The soundtrack will be edited by an internationally recognized label specialized in soundtracks, and the process of designing and editing of the soundtrack is quite advanced. As Sergio Moure told us «once the music for the film is finished, the work does not end here, since we still have to think about the CD edition. This involves deciding which cues should be included on the CD, the order in which they should be arranged, and supervise if there are any necessary additional adjustments, besides remixing the soundtrack from 5.1 to 2.0 for the CD».
With a cast including Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan, Valeria Vereau and Clara Lago among others, the film is set in Harmony, a small mountain village of Maine (USA), where two old friends, Patrick and Jack, and his daughter Lu, survive after the almost total disappearance of human life from the face of the earth. To achieve this, they will be forced to put aside personal grudges that have been separating them for many years, if they want to survive to a problem they thought it was forgotten, but that’s returning to chase them.
The film will be released in the first half of 2015, at a date yet to be determined, although it will make its debut in the US in the first place to arrive later to theaters around the world.
From Asturscore we wish them a great success, and we look forward to enjoy the final version of the film in theaters.
CONVERSATIONS FROM THE MIXING STUDIO
Jose, tell us about the computer you use in your studio. We see you have a lot of technological elements arranged in racks with screens, speakers, etc … but tell us how does this whole assembly work?
The truth is that I have a lot of equipment in the room, but the core of the whole the system is Protools software with a MacPro. I have 3 Protools cards dedicated to control inputs and outputs, as well as an interface with microphone preamps from DAD (Ax32 model). The microphones we used for the recordings were DPA microphones.
To control the mixing process I use 3 screens, a central 4K screen where I review the final cut of the film, and two auxiliary screens on the table where I control the recorded tracks and their equalization. All this is controlled with a mouse and a regular keyboard, plus some additional panels for mixing/equalizing/volume adjusting that are integrated with the entire system.
The speakers I have in the room are BW 802 speakers with Clasee stages and I perform 5.1 mixes with 4 stages. The subwoofer is auto-amplified.
All the work is recorded in the internal hard drives of the MacPro, and I usually launch backups to external hard drives, being some of these discs the ones I use to deliver the final version of the work.
In addition, I have a MGE UPS giving me protection from voltage peaks and blackouts, which by the way, needs a new battery!
Sergio, a new «musical son» is coming to adulthood. What parts of the whole process would you like to highlight?
It is a project in which I have put a lot of effort and great enthusiasm, that began almost two years ago (if I’m not mistaken).
When composing for a movie, if possible, I like to get involved in the process from the beginning. In this case, due to the relationship that I have with Miguel Angel Vivas, it has been possible and I am delighted. When I can work this way, I make the first musical notes on the script, and I discuss them with the director even before he starts shooting. This way, I make sure I fully understand what is expected from the music in the film, and I can provide my ideas to the creative process itself.
The case of Miguel Angel Vivas is special, since it is a director who is well aware of the music and knows how to use it, both dramatically and rhythmically. He is a director who conveys very well what he wants, and lets you know what he expects from the music, making my work easier.
Regarding the recording, I’d like to emphasize that I have been surprised for the quality and the work done by the Orchestra of Cordoba. They have perfectly understood my music and have played it as I imagined. The Orchestra of Cordoba it’s a great discovery, which shows that you don’t have to go to the Eastern European countries to find quality orchestras to record soundtracks.
I have composed the soundtrack of Welcome to Harmony considering three emotional levels, in the style of layers, that represent the different levels underlying in the story. It has a rhythmic thematic base, a dramatic layer that overlaps the previous one, and an emotional layer that brings together the whole music.
Welcome to Harmony is a very special project for me, because it is a production of international projection, with renowned actors abroad, where I have dedicated a lot of effort and enthusiasm, and I hope it’s a great success, allowing me to address similar projects abroad.
Update – News (2014/12/24)
Asturscore got the news that Welcome to Harmony’s sound section has been completed last week!
After finishing mixing the soundtrack in mid-November in Las Rozas in Jose Vinader’s studio, the team moved to Cinemar studios in Santiago de Compostela to make the sound mixing. It is at this point that the sound effects, special effects and background sound are added to complete the film.
There, and for more than a week, Sergio Moure and Miguel Angel Vivas have worked with Nacho Arenas, sound design manager of the film and Jaime Fernandez, responsible for making the final mix, to prepare the finished product.
As Sergio Moure has told us «The results have been ideal, and I think the film will have a great sound design, made with judgment and taste. Now there’re only some technical details left, such as color grading and preparing the master copy … and most important … setting a date for the distribution of the film, which is expected to be within the first half of 2015«.