How Music Can Complete Animation

This week we were introduced to the Royal College of Music students who will work on the music for our animations.

While preparing a pitch for them, I realized I always took the music for granted, never really realizing the effect it has on the animation.

An animation or movie without music can feel very empty. Tom and Jerry was based on the sole principle that animation is amplified by music. So are the early Mickey Mouse shorts and later on the Disney feature length movies.

Music can even introduce a character, define it. Such as the Hobbit melody in Lord of the Rings for instance. Everytime the Hobbit would come on screen, these notes would start playing, in a such a manner that every time someone hears this song, he/she immediately links it to these characters, expects them to appear.

It can accompany a situation, like it does in How to Train Your Dragon. One scene called “First Date”, follows a clumsy dragon trying to attract its mate. In this instance the music changes with the situation. In the beginning it is clumsy, and finally when the dragon gets confident, it gets happy.

Music can also set a mood. We know a scene will be scary when we hear slow, spooky notes.

I started thinking about my animation in terms of music and notes, trying to describe to the RCM students what I was looking for.

Finally, a few of them were eager to work on this project. Each added an element to the table. We agreed the best option was the “Mickey Mousing” technique which syncs the accompanying music to the actions on screen. This allows the music to participate in the action and value it even more.

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