L.A. Grapevine, November 2008How the L.A. company Immediate Music developed into one of the leading providers of film-trailer music 11/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern
The most gratifying careers begin when passion lines up with aptitude. For film-trailer composer/producer Yoav Goren, the co-founder of Immediate Music, it started with getting hooked as a kid on Beatles mind-benders like “A Day in the Life” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” along with the sweeping scores of widescreen epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago. Throw in some childhood classical piano training and studies at NYU Film School, and you've got the building blocks for a vocation.
Meanwhile, out in L.A., Goren's future business partner Jeff Fayman was drumming in local prog-rock bands and becoming aware of a nascent facility for manipulating electronic instruments while studying percussion and basic theory at CalArts. By the time the two hooked up in 1991, each was a budding composer with dreams of writing for the movies. The pivotal moment came when Fayman was hired to create a piece for a trailer.
“A lot of people didn't know then that that area even existed,” says Fayman. “A friend got me the opportunity to try it — he told me it was fun writing to picture — and it seemed like a good first step toward doing music for films. But after doing a few non-high-end trailers, I realized that if it started taking off, it would be a really demanding job, working around the clock. They'd want John Williams' score replaced using the gear that was available 15 years ago, which was not nearly as sophisticated as now. In the beginning, I was using an Atari with three Mackies chained together. So to get something that didn't hurt your ears and sounded a little like an orchestra was a challenge.
“I'd met Yo, we started playing music back and forth, and we realized we had a facility to finish each other's pieces quickly,” he continues. “We put together a demo on a cassette and sent it to the half-dozen trailer companies that existed back then — now it's more like 60 — and one of them responded. Within a year or so, we had more work than we could handle.”
A decade-and-a-half later — until this year working out of their homes — Goren and Fayman have built Immediate Music into one of L.A.'s chief suppliers of original music for major-studio movie trailers, specializing in cranked-up hybrid pieces combining orchestral and electronic elements. Some jobs call for custom scoring, but a good many projects draw from a now-sizable library of original pieces in the full spectrum of modes — Goren refers to these pieces, composed free of deadline pressure, as “imaginary trailers.”
In recent months, the partners have created music for the trailers of such biggies as Hancock, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Hellboy 2, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Dragonball and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Those pictures further beef up a fat CV that includes the X-Men, Spider-Man and Harry Potter franchises. Their extensive work in TV has included the creation of original music for the Beijing Olympics on NBC, their third straight Olympic foray, after snagging a 2007 Emmy for their work on The XX Olympic Winter Games: The Stories of Torino.
All this activity has prompted a major expansion, as Goren and Fayman moved into an airy Santa Monica commercial space that now encloses two newly built studios, as well as offices for a staff of seven, from composer and technical expert John Samuel Hanson to director of operations Emily Weber, who spent the past five years at RipTide Music. Engineer/sound designer Greg Townley is not on staff but is an essential part of the team.
To get that “massive” sound people are looking for these days, the company scouts up superior acoustic environments from SoCal to Seattle, from college halls to churches, sends in a crew and creates a remote 5.1 scoring soundstage. Townley chooses the locations, oversees the setups and captures the sounds, a process that can take as much as 10 days and involve as many as 90 musicians recording dozens of pieces. Working with a Pro Tools template he designed himself, Townley records at 96k using high-end Neve, Millennia and Grace preamps.
The hub of the main room at IM's new headquarters is an SSL AWS 900+ board and a pair of 64-bit dual quad-core Mac Pros running Pro Tools HD4 and using MIDI over LAN and MADI for audio streaming, all of it hooked up to a superfast fiber network. The interface combines Digital Performer (for sequencing and tempo-based instruments), Logic (the host for the sample library and all non-time-based soft synths) and Pro Tools.
”The biggest frustration for a composer,” says Goren, “is to sit down at a workstation, and say, ‘Why am I not getting sound out of this thing? Is the MIDI working? Am I on the right drive?’ So part of what Greg is designing are these templates where everything is there, and you just click on whatever sound you want or whatever track you want played, and you've got it.”
The wicked-clever interface enables anyone working at the SSL or any of the composing stations simultaneously and seamlessly to access data off any drive in the system. Simply by addressing their own needs, these guys may have come up with something unprecedented. Says Hanson, “West L.A. Music handled the installation, and they told us no one else had done anything like this. That was surprising to us because it seems like such a logical thing to do — to cut down on your computers, cables — all this stuff — and make it better.”
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