Monday, May 26, 2014

A Brief History of Cue Numbering

One of the most important features of the production of a film score are the Cue Numbers.

Since the beginning of music scores on film, there has been one definite way of matching scenes and sound.  With a feature film, the film is divided into reels - or literal reels depending on what time period you are looking at.

When the score is spotted with the director, music editor and composer (among others), the film gets divided into the sections.  All this information is relayed on a Cue Sheet.
Cue sheet example is from Planet of the Apes (Jerry Goldsmith, 1968)
Below it shows the Reel & Part, Cue Title, and how many instruments needed in each section.  Click to zoom in.  

There are 3 main ways that cues have been numbered - they all basically say the same information in a slightly different way.
1. This way is found on a lot of early films through the 1940s, simply numbering each music cue.  In this case, it is M:100, showing the first cue of the film.  It also shows the cue name, "Main Title" and the credit for the arrangements.  Note: this is what is known as a condensed score.  That is, condensing all the instrument parts in a easy to read page for the conductor.
Example 1 is The Quiet Man (Victor Young, 1952) -
M:100 Main Title
2. For a long time (found a lot in the 1960s-1970s), the standard system of cue numbering was Reel Number, Part Number.  For example, Reel 7, Music Cue Part 2 would be written as R7P2.  Telling the same information, as before, but giving the exact music cue placement in the reel.  Note: it's said that Star Wars character R2D2 got his name using this format - this time referring to Reel 2, Dialog Track 2.

Example 3 is The Empire Strikes Back (John Williams, 1980) -
R1P3/R2P1 Luke's Escape

Example 2 is Damien: Omen II (Jerry Goldsmith, 1978) -
R5P4 Broken Ice
3. The now standard numbering system across the majority of composers is the 1M2 system.  This gives the same information as before, this time with "1" representing reel 1 and "M" stands for music, and "2" representing the 2nd music cue in that reel.  So Reel 7, Music Cue 2 would be written as 7m2.  Since most recent scores follow this format, I've included a few examples showing the cue names/numbers.

Example 4 is Broken Arrow (Hans Zimmer, 1996) -
1M1 (untitled)

Example 5 is Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (John Williams, 1999) -
6M5 Droid Battle

Example 6 is John Carter (Michael Giacchino, 2012) -
7m54 Part 5 End Titles

The examples are endless, since every film has some cue numbering system.  Certain composers and music editors prefer certain numbering system.  For a film like Hatari! (Henry Mancini) used 1A, 1B, 1C, etc.  For a composer like Bernard Herrmann, Roman numerals were often used as a cue number or cue title.  For the film like Taxi Driver (Herrmann), he used the 2nd method and Roman numerals combined like this: R3P1 - VI, R3P2 - VII, R4P1 - VIII.  

Of course, that's just the numbering, there are tons more stories to tell about the cue titles...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spotlight On...Transformers

The newest Spotlight On takes a look back at the Transformers franchise.

The Transformers series history has been interesting - huge box office success, critical bombs, Razzie nominations, and Oscar nominations for sound and visual effects.  And that's not even mentioning Steve Jablonsky's much-maligned scores.         

Roll out and take a look back on the Transformers films score by score. 

Transformers (2007)
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Jablonsky uses the Remote Control blockbuster style, mixing heavy electronics and orchestral elements in this divisive score.  Main themes include the All Spark, heroic Autobots theme, Decepticons theme and Sam's theme.  Don't forget the album has completely different versions than the film.  (Just listen to: Autobots, All Spark, Arrival to Earth, No Sacrifice, No Victory

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Jablonsky's second score features a lot of the same elements as the predecessor.  Many themes make appearances, and notably added is Lisbeth Scott's vocals in the many non-action sections of the score.  (Just listen to: Prime, Infinite White, The Matrix of Leadership)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Following the pattern, we get plenty of modern action cues, with reappearances of the main theme, and Sam's theme.  Sentinel Prime also gets a theme sounds too ripped from other scores.  Much like before, the booming electronics, choir, string ostinatos and low end brass make up much of the score.  (Just listen to: Sentinel Prime, No Prisoners, Only Trophies, Our Final Hope)

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Music by Steve Jablonsky
This time, Jablonsky added more names of additional music - Hans Zimmer, Joseph Trapanese, Imagine Dragons and Skrillex.  The result is a mash of score styles that don't mash together.  Most themes and ideas from the past films have also been abandoned (in this semi-reboot).  (Just listen to: Decision, Best Thing That Ever Happened, Dinobot Charge)

Check out the others in the SPOTLIGHT ON.... SERIES!

Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 Sequel Score Guide

There seems to be another sequel coming every weekend in 2014.  Here is the score guide to 2014 sequel films, and what film(s) they follow.  For you fans of series continuity, you'll see lots of repetitive composers!  Also, check out the 2015 sneak peek at the bottom!
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Music by Patrick Doyle
Reboot Sequel to: The Hunt For Red October [Poledouris], Patriot Games [Horner], Clear and Present Danger [Horner], The Sum of All Fears [Goldsmith]

The Raid 2
Music by Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi, Fajar Yuskemal
Sequel to: The Raid: Redemption [Shinoda, Trapanese]

Music by Pedro Bromfman
Remake to: RoboCop [Poledouris], RoboCop 2 [Rosenman], RoboCop 3 [Poledouris]

300: Rise of An Empire
Music by Junkie XL
Sequel to: 300 [Tyler Bates]

Muppets Most Wanted
Music by Christophe Beck
Reboot Sequel to: The Muppets [Beck]

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Music by Henry Jackman
Sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger [Silvestri]

Rio 2
Music by John Powell
Sequel to Rio [Powell]

A Haunted House 2
Music by Jesse Voccia
Sequel to: A Haunted House

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Music by Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six
Reboot Sequel to: Spider-Man [Elfman], Spider-Man 2 [Elfman], Spider-Man 3 [Young], The Amazing Spider-Man [Horner]

Music by Alexandre Desplat
Reboot Sequel to: Technically a reboot, but immeasurably past Godzilla films

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Music by John Ottman
Sequel to: X-Men [Kamen], X2 [Ottman], X-Men: The Last Stand [Powell], X-Men: First Class [Jackman]

22 Jump Street
Music by Mark Mothersbaugh
Sequel to: 21 Jump Street [Mothersbaugh]

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Music by John Powell
Sequel to: How to Train Your Dragon [Powell]

Think Like A Man Too
Music by Christopher Lennertz
Sequel to: Think Like A Man [Lennertz]

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Sequel to: Transformers [Jablonsky], Revenge of the Fallen [Jablonsky], Dark of the Moon [Jablonsky]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Music by Michael Giacchino
Reboot Sequel to: Planet of the Apes [Goldsmith], Beneath... [Rosenman], Escape from...[Goldsmith], Conquest...[Scott], Battle for [Roseman], Planet of the Apes [Elfman], Rise of the Planet of the Apes [Doyle]

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Music by Mark Mancina
Sequel to: Planes [Mancina]

The Purge: Anarchy
Music by Nathan Whitehead
Sequel to: The Purge [Whitehead]

Step Up: All In
Music by Jeff Cardoni
Sequel to: Step Up [Zigman], Step Up 2: The Streets [Zigman], Step Up 3D [McCreary], Step Up Revolution [Zigman]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Music by Brian Tyler
Reboot Sequel to: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [Du Prez], The Secret of the Ooze [Du Prez], III [Du Prez], TMNT [Badelt]

The Expendables 3
Music by Brian Tyler
Sequel to: The Expendables [Tyler], The Expendables 2 [Tyler]

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Music by Robert Rodriguez
Sequel to: Sin City [Rodriguez, Debney, Revell]

Dolphin Tale 2
Music by Rachel Portman
Sequel to: Dolphin Tale [Isham]

Paranormal Activity 5
No music necessary in this film series!

Dumb and Dumber To
Music by Empire of the Sun
Sequel to: Dumb and Dumber [Rundgren]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Music by James Newton Howard
Sequel to: The Hunger Games [Howard], Catching Fire [Howard]

Horrible Bosses 2
Music by Christopher Lennertz
Sequel to: Horrible Bosses [Lennertz]

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Music by Howard Shore
Sequel to An Unexpected Journey [Shore], Desolation of Smaug [Shore]

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Music by Alan Silvestri
Sequel to: Night at the Museum [Silvestri], Battle of the Smithsonian [Silvestri]

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Music by ?
Sequel to: Hot Tub Time Machine [Beck]

2015 is certainly following the trend, with these films coming up:
Taken 3
SpongeBob SquarePants 2
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2
Fast and the Furious 7
Insidious Chapter 3
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Pitch Perfect 2
Jurassic World
Ted 2
Terminator: Genesis
Magic Mike XXL
Hotel Transylvania 2
The Conjuring 2
London Has Fallen
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Mission Impossible 5
Kung Fu Panda 3
James Bond #24
Star Wars: Episode VII