Ace Wonder Production Post #2

Posted on May 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm, by Ben

I’m entering the final stages of the scoring process for Ace Wonder: Message From a Dead Man, and thought I’d include a teaser of some of the music I’m working on right now. This clip is from a segment of the film where mysterious turning point meets inquisitive youngster.

Ace Wonder Score Teaser #2 by BenBotkin

Here are a couple screen-shots of a cue in progress. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Workspace #1 - Master View

Workspace #1 - Master View

Most cues in this film use between 10 and 50 tracks, So it’s important for me to keep the main edit view as uncluttered as possible. Believe it or not, this is as “uncluttered as possible.”

Workspace #2 - Instruments View

Workspace #2 - Instruments View

A word on libraries: Though I have a decent number of instrument libraries I still have only one machine currently running and it’s equipped with a now-paltry 8GB of ram… but I still rarely max it out and I commonly have no more than 4GB of instruments loaded. The key to eliminating unnecessary memory usage is knowing ahead of time what you need to achieve with a cue and how to accomplish it. By the time I’m done with a cue, I rarely have more than one or two patches loaded that I didn’t use, and it’s because every track counts. This should be a composer’s attitude whether he has unlimited computer resources or not, and chances are, he doesn’t. Being limited by your system is the not greatest enemy of creativity… granted, it can be a headache, but it can also be the tutor that forces you to learn economy of notes and clean instrumentation.

In addition to that, if you know your libraries well, you will not only know the difference between a “lite” and “powerful system” patch, but you will know that the “lite” works just as well in most scenarios. By the way, having a good idea of how you’re going to go about the process beforehand speeds up the process significantly– you don’t end up improvising a million things (maybe only a thousand) that you end up sliding to the back of your project, plus there is less clutterage to get lost in.

Back in ’09 when I was working on The Mysterious Islands I was caught with a cue assignment one morning while on the road a couple hours from home. I didn’t have to drive, so I took those few hours on the journey home to watch the clip over and over and think through my approach in my head–even jotting down a few ideas the old-school way… ON PAPER. I got home at about noon and by midnight I had a 5 minute cue finished and uploading. Obviously, God was merciful to me in that tight situation (and my sisters brought me food), but being restricted by my circumstances from reverting to lazy improvisational habits actually sped up the process a lot.

I will be posting more clips, teasers and announcements about this film, so stay tuned!


  • I can’t wait!

    Posted by Daniel Lamb on May 28th, 2011 at 12:50 pm
  • Really neat, to have a peek at the computer screen. I’ve always wanted to do film scores…don’t think I’m anywhere near techno-savvy, but the desire remains to create music behind films that matter….thanks!

    Posted by Elise on May 28th, 2011 at 5:30 pm
  • Awesome. When’s Ace Wonder coming out? I’ll look forward to listening to your soundtracks while I watch the movie. Should be interesting. I’ve attempted to create some of my own soundtracks with Finale 2008 and it is indeed very involved….. and doesn’t really sound half as good as yours do. But I know it comes with experience. Good work. God has blessed you.


    Posted by Zachary on May 28th, 2011 at 9:42 pm
  • Good stuff. Sometimes I wonder about the artistic value of improvisation for film scores… sometimes I feel guilty about doing it myself… but sometimes it fits pretty well, too…

    Nevertheless, good thoughts, and I loved the choir in that cue.

    Posted by Gabriel H. on May 29th, 2011 at 8:56 pm
  • I get a front row seat to this creative process. And now *I* bring you food. This is a really good deal. Love you!

    Posted by Auby on May 30th, 2011 at 12:35 pm
  • Really impressed with what I hear. Good stuff. Excited to see it all play on screen. Thanks for the screen shots to show your process. I love to see what others do. Keep it up!

    Posted by Neal Barlow on June 4th, 2011 at 12:10 am