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January 2015

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Page 41 of 51 40 POST JANUARY 2015 SOUNDTRACKS s managing director at The Mill in Chicago, Jared Yeater has worked on groundbreaking and award-winning post production work ranging from online to gaming VFX, and much more. We caught up with him last month to chat about The Mill's approach to music and audio in its productions. The following is a brief Q&A. Tell us about the work The Mill does? "Really for us, it's just content. Whether it's used for traditional TV, Instagram, YouTube, Oculus Rift, live events or a piece of entertainment like an opening title to a show. There's a strong visual storytelling component to every- thing we do in animation, design and visual eff ects." How does music fi t in? "At one point, audio was done because you had to. You had to air something and there was an audio component, so you put the best or most appropriate thing you could on there. Now, audio can be used to signifi cantly drive con- tent. Some of this content almost func- tions like a music video. So the audio has a much bigger role. How that aff ects your ability to tell a story and create an emotion is changing." How do you tell that story? "Music should be thought about at the very beginning. Every time we sit down to conceptualize with a client, it's one of the fi rst questions we ask: 'What are you thinking with music?' At The Mill, a lot of the CG animation, VFX and design work we do is conceptual, so the music or sound design is thought about pretty early. We use music to help drive the story and set the tone, because it helps us from a visual point of view as well. "It's a useful discussion when you are fi rst looking at a project as well. If clients can articulate what they're thinking about musically, which is often easier, you get a good idea of what they're looking for visually. If they say they're looking for something big and orches- tral, you know the visuals are going to need to be appropriate for that. If they describe music that is cute and hokey, then that might drive a diff erent visual decision. So audio helps clients articu- late and fl esh-out their own vision when we are fi rst talking. In my opinion, music in general is still the quickest way to make an emotional connection; whether it's for a music video, an ad or a movie." What musical elements do you look for to create the connection? "You often need to build the connection in the fastest timeframe possible. A big part of that is in the genre — it helps make it recognizable. If you're making something country & western, you can use the music to instantly make that clear. "Then there is another level where you're really trying to evoke an emotion. Whether it's fear or sadness — there is music you can use to make the hair on the back of people's neck stand up. "And the third and maybe least uti- lized — but most fun — is doing some- thing unexpected. For a while the trend was to use sound design as music, that was a new, inventive thing. There is still an eff ort to be experimental — whether it's mash-ups or what-have-you, not try- ing to tie back to an existing genre, but coming up with something interesting or new to create something identifi able with that brand is less seen but prob- ably the most fun and when you get it right, the most rewarding." What sources do you rely on for music? "People appreciate good quality music, wherever it's from. It used to be that the quality question generally favored composed music. That was the percep- tion up until about 2005, maybe 2008. But that gap has closed. Library music used to be considered cheap and hokey. Now, working with a library is not unlike working with a label. "Now that the barrier to entry of composing — and the ability to release content — is lower, you don't have to be on a label to get your music out there. So the quality of library music has gone up because there's more ability to get good music into people's hands less expensively. The gap has closed; you're after good music and however you fi nd it doesn't really matter." Who gets to make those decisions? "It's collaborative. The agencies still have departments that source and handle this, but they can be spread thin. So it can fall to editors, directors, animators too. The key is for the music and audio to be an extension of the visual piece. So whoever is responsible for that on any given project should have the opportunity to infl uence the music and audio choices. "Music especially is very personal and subjective. The best piece for a project could be a $100 track or that up-and- coming artist you saw in a coff ee house as much as it is a known, licensed, top-40 hit or a well-composed piece of original music. We have a responsibility to push the creative as mush as possi- ble. If we're not pushing for the best, whatever that is — if we're not at least making something we believe in — then our whole industry falls apart a bit." CONNECTING WITH VIEWERS THROUGH MUSIC AND AUDIO A Q&A WITH THE MILL'S JARED YEATER A BY ERIC MORSE HEAD OF MARKETING AUDIO NETWORK US, INC. NEW YORK CITY WWW.AUDIONETWORK.COM Yeater and The Mill's Chicago studio (below).

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