Cogswell College & Stanford University Collaborate on Soundtrack Recording
Cogswell College is pleased to announce a recent artistic collaboration with Stanford University’s Department of Music in recording the soundtrack and movie score for Cogswell’s newest student animation production, Driven. The collaboration involved students from Cogswell’s Digital Audio Technology (DAT) program, their Project X animation production program and students from Stanford University’s music department.
The movie’s score was composed by Dr. Timothy Duncan, director of the DAT program at Cogswell and an award-winning composer, and was recorded live at Stanford with an independent 32-piece student ensemble orchestra conducted by graduate student Michael Repper. Repper single-handedly recruited the volunteer ensemble to play the high-energy score. All students involved will receive a film credit for their work.
“We are honored that an institution such as Stanford chose to collaborate with us and gave us access to a full, live orchestra,” says Dr. Duncan. “Driven is the first Project X film that was done entirely with Cogswell resources – the animation production, the musical score, the soundtrack and the sound effects.”
“The technical demands of this project were exceedingly high,” says Repper. “We rehearsed once a week for about 6 weeks leading up to the live recording.” Repper was elated to conduct the score using a click-track – a series of audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings – which is an essential skill for those in the film music industry. The live recording also required Repper to wear a headset during the recording session, a new element in addition to using the click-track. “These challenging ‘firsts’ allowed me to grow as a conductor and, most importantly, as a musician,” says Repper.
Julius Dobos, distinguished lecturer with the DAT program and a master sound designer, brings an internationally-acclaimed background in music production and major motion picture music composition to Cogswell and this project. Dobos suggested that DAT students bypass the school’s sound library and create their own original, organic sounds recorded in a real-world environment. These included recording a motorcycle and car driven at high speeds, but Dobos isn’t saying just how high those speeds were.
“We made a deliberate choice to create these sounds as a team—we were not just ‘working in the box’,” says Dobos, industry-speak for creating sound effects on a computer. “This project illustrates the way the creative process is honored at Cogswell. It’s an educational environment that fosters creativity and teamwork.”
Stanford music department director Stephen Sano praised Repper’s work and the educational opportunities this collaboration presented. “We have over 1,000 students each academic term participating in courses and ensembles in our department, yet surprisingly, Stanford only has about 50 undergraduate music majors. This project allowed non-arts students, such as students studying to become lawyers and engineers, to participate in an exciting movie soundtrack project, and on a live production.”
Cogswell DAT student Robert Kirby recorded the live Memorial Day session under the direction of Dobos and with the assistance of other students. Juggling a demanding class schedule and coordinating with the Project X animation team, he oversaw the sound synching and mixing of the soundtrack and sound effects under the watchful eye of Dobos.
“I’ve learned the amount of detail that goes into capturing the intricate performance of a musical score,” says Kirby. “Using the click-track, we mixed multiple takes at the exact same tempo to synchronize the music with the animation. I could never have achieved this without the great team of students we had.”
Enrollment in Cogswell’s DAT program has grown greatly in the last year. “The demand for sound production and sound design is soaring for music, film and video game productions,” says Dr. Duncan. “Our audio program curriculum encompasses all aspects of the industry – production, software development, audio engineering and studio management. Our graduates are prepared for the demands of the industry on all levels.”