Resident Evil: Afterlife (Soundtrack) by Tomandany



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September 2010


Composer Tom Hajdu (Tomandandy)
Resonant Residence




Thomas Hajdu was born in Canada and moved to the US to work on his graduate studies at Princeton University. Tom has sat on many award juries and chaired and spoken at international conferences about the impact of technology on content including TED, CalTech/MIT Enterprise Forum and Digital Hollywood.

Andy Milburn was born in Texas and went to Princeton University for undergraduate as well as graduate work. At Princeton, his primary focus was creating computer music and computer music applications. During that time, he helped build the early computer music system called "CMIX".

Milburn and Hajdu moved to New York after Princeton and started collaborating with film director Mark Pellington at MTV and film editor Hank Corwin. Soon their work was being used in commercials, TV shows, feature films, art installations and record projects. tomandandy quickly grew and they built a number of recording studios in New York and later in Los Angeles. At the same time, tomandandy invested in technological innovations focusing on digital entertainment.

(from SoundtrackNet)

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Composers Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn - TomandAndy

"I think itís a combination of things that are either inorganic, or are very organic but have been made inorganic through various levels of degrading and processing to be made into basically noise. So itís various kinds of noise, on one end of the spectrum, and various kinds of inorganic kind of dreamy special-sounding ambient sounds on the other. "

Tom Hajdu

Tom Hajdu, part of the seasoned scoring duo Tomandandy, joins us to discuss their involvement in scoring RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. Tom explains how the writing process was different from other projects, how the score stands apart from other work that they've done and that others have done, and what his speculations are for the future of film and its music. - Interview by Marius Masalar


Look for an audio segment from this interview in an upcoming episode of The Soundcast!

MM: In a lot of cases when scoring a film, it seems like the toughest part can be just discovering and establishing the sound palette that youíre going to use ó can you walk us through what that process was like for RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE.

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): [laughs] Yeah, that was the toughest part actuallyÖso youíve got that right! Basically Paul Anderson, the director, showed us the film, which was absolutely striking. Itís a very immersive, beautiful 3D, lush visual experience ó and then he said Ďok, now I donít want you to use orchestra. You can do anything you want, but no orchestra.í And so we kind of started from a negative space, which was wasnít what we could do, but rather we were very mindful of what we could not do, and it was from that space that we started to explore creating a soundscape or sound palette that would work for defining the new voice of RESIDENT EVIL.

MM: Do you typically find that having that kind of vast freedom is empowering or kind of daunting?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): No, actually itís wonderful! Itís wonderful for a director whoís created such a strong and impactful visual palette to challenge us to do something that rises to that level, and then say Ďdonít make it something like what Iíve heard before.í That is actually very gratifying. But it is certainly a process then to get to the point where the actual sound palette begins to emerge and become clear.

MM: Of course.

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): The first track, the opening of the movie, is actually the first thing that ended up really working. So once we got that right, it became a little bit easier because the first several minutes of the movie is just images and music; no speaking, no sound designÖitís just a very big musical and image-based visceral immersive experience. So that was helpful to get that as a flag in the ground, so to speak.

MM: I can imagine that being convenient so that you actually have that opening stretch to establish your sound and then everything else can flow from that initial palette.

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Yeah, not only sound, but thereís some pitch material there as well as some sort of percussive elements. There are elements of that entire acoustical space, from a musical perspective: production quality, aesthetics, pitch, rhythms, harmonies, timbres that all play a role going forward in the movie, to a greater or lesser degree.

MM: Now youíre also a gamer yourself, and were familiar with the RESIDENT EVIL series before you came onto the film, is that correct?


MM: So I was wondering, because youíre in this unique position where youíve been immersed in both properties, how do you feel about the direction that the film series has taken the games themselves in terms of departing from the original plots and moving in a different direction?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): I really think that theyíre apples and oranges. Or maybe theyíre more like wheelbarrows and oranges or something ó they donít really have much necessarily to do with each other, although in this particular RESIDENT EVIL movie, there are in fact direct quotations from the game visually in 3D which are just stunning to look at and experience. But I kind of think that they are, at the end of the day, different franchises in a sense.

MM: Thatís true and itís not really a fair question, but the reason I ask it is to follow up and see if you have any thoughts about why the RESIDENT EVIL series as a film adaptation has actually been extremely successful whereas many other attempts at translating a game franchise into film just havenít worked.

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Well I think the RESIDENT EVIL gamers are very loyal to the brand, or to the franchise, and they bring a lot of enthusiasm to the movies. But yeah, it is a phenomenon, and I think that Paul Andersonís vision for the first film, which he directed, and I know he oversaw the second two ó and then to come back and essentially really re-brand the franchise has really played a role because I really think that this new film is a rebranding not unlike the way Terminator one was rebranded into the completely different Terminator two years ago. So itís a pretty significant leap forward in terms of an immersive experience.

MM: So youíd say this film is taking the series to yet another level?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Oh absolutely. I think itís taken the experience of going to a movie to a different level! Itís really the first film thatís been done since Avatar using the PACE camera, and itís the first live action movie using the PACE 3D camera systems, so itís definitely a very rich experience.

MM: You mentioned that in terms of the visuals there were actually some references to scenes from the original game. Did you have any similar references from the gameís music?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): No, no we wanted to create something completely new. So no, we purposely did not nod to that.

MM: So you were actually not seeking any sort of sense of familiarity when it comes to fans going in and thinking Ďoh, I recognize that themeí or whatever?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): No, because what we were trying to do was create a voice for the movie ó well, actually go further: create not only a voice for the movie, but actually an approach to scoring that was a little bit different from what was expected in film scoring. Basically, the music ó I donít know if youíve heard the soundtrack CD ó

MM: I have!

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Oh you have, good. So itís produced like a serious record project. The production quality and mixing is not quite the same as a regular score CD, and thatís because the entire score which is 82 minutes long is produced as if it were a record. And as a result of that, the techniques and the methodology and the process that goes into making that type of music, or that type of end product, is quite different than whatís involved in traditionally making a score. So as a result, in effect what you have is a hybridization of scoring and contemporary music production which creates something that is new, but actually oddly familiar because weíre familiar with record production. What weíre not familiar with is the melding of record production and scoring. And that in itself...touch(es) on a new entertainment experience.

MM: I agree with you, and like I said Iíve actually had the pleasure of listening to the score and it is certainly an experience. It is unlike any other score Iíve heard in recent memory. It is very much its own musical entity. The reason I was asking if you had any specific kind of influences is because Iím curious to know how you would describe it stylistically to someone who hasnít heard the score before. How would you introduce them to it?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Well I think itís a combination of things that are either inorganic, or are very organic but have been made inorganic through various levels of degrading and processing to be made into basically noise. So itís various kinds of noise, on one end of the spectrum, and various kinds of inorganic kind of dreamy special-sounding ambient sounds on the other.

MM: Can you talk a bit about what tools and techniques you used to produce some of the more characteristic sounds? Did you make use of any completely new techniques?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): The sounds and sonic sequences are produced in several ways. Often an organic sound is processed with so many effects that the original signal is no longer recognizable. This is true using inorganic sounds as the original sound source as well. Layers of these sounds create a sonic fabric where different elements poke out or are stripped away to reveal yet another layer of sonic fabric. The material is fragile so making things sound big and solid is a production challenge.

MM: As specialists in music across many genres and many forms of media, how do you find the film scoring process as compared to some of the other working environments you've encountered?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): The film scoring process is exhilarating. The projects are generally large and hopefully our contribution helps to enhance the final product.

MM: If you had to guess, what direction do you think that the film industry is headed in ó on its own and then in terms of its relationship with music?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): It seems that 3D is getting a lot attention as well as independent projects. In terms of music, it seems as though some film makers are interested in trying new approaches to enhance their work.

MM: As composers, of course it's very rewarding to be given the freedom to be truly courageous and creative with the scoring process, so it must have been amazing to earn that kind of collaboration with RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE.

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Yes we loved it!

MM: Since you two are known for fostering that manner of working relationship with directors and producers, is there any advice that you can offer to aspiring directors and even composers that might help them achieve similarly rich collaborations?

TOM HAJDU (TOMANDANDY): Learn to listen and to be responsive to your collaborators. Each person has something valuable to contribute to the process. Good luck!


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