• Young Film Critics: Jaime Grijalba in conversation with composer Hans Nieuwenhuijsen

    Young Film Critics: Jaime Grijalba in conversation with composer Hans Nieuwenhuijsen. A new wave of film critics has been invited to IFFR’s Young Film Critics trainee project. During IFFR 2020, six promising writers will be producing critical festival coverage. For their first assignment, the critics spoke to the Dutch composers featured in the IFFR Pro x Buma programme.

    Chile, where I am from, is in turmoil, as society is actively changing in front of everyone’s eyes. At this essential political and social moment of my country, coming from Chile feels like a mixture of carelessness and responsibility. I feel careless because I shouldn’t leave this moment behind and responsibility to be able to faithfully communicate what it’s happening to the rest of the world. Being part of the Young Film Critics programme is something I take humbly, because my intent was always to find a reason behind doing the things that we do, in the context in which the whole world is right now. What is the purpose of a film critic or programmer in a world that seems to be saying that those kinds of things won’t matter for much longer? My main goal during my first visit to IFFR is to search in what my colleagues do and what the institutions there are doing for us to continue to matter, to continue doing both what we love and what we think is essential to the film viewing experience: discussing and talking about it.

    Speaking of discussing about the craft and sense of audiovisual media, I had the chance to exchange some words with Hans Nieuwenhuijsen, a Dutch composer who has been invited to be part of the IFFR Pro x Buma programme at CineMart, alongside other five composers of the same nationality. His work has been heard mostly in short film subjects (both fiction and documentary), but he’s also worked in art installations and most recently in television. In a world that seems to value music composers as titans of established style, the breadth of genres and lengths in which he has worked is inspiring. I was eager to speak to him about what he thinks about the current scoring scene and how he develops his work in that context.

    There’s lots of variety of work you’ve done. Would you say that it’s more of a necessity nowadays for composers to have a wide-varying array of sounds available for different kinds of genres and types of projects?
    One of the most beautiful things about composing for media is that every project is different. One day you are writing for an orchestra, and the other day you are patching cables on a modular synthesizer. Instead of pursuing a constant musical style or genre, I prefer to investigate new interests and sounds. I do not think that composers need to work like this necessarily. Lots of composers I know are mastering a specific skill really well. I would say that it is not a necessity, but rather a possibility that comes with the time that we live in.

    Buma collaboration

    IFFR continues the partnership with Buma Music in Motion (BMIM).

    Read more

    What about the personal sound or feel of a composer, how is that achievable in today’s music work landscape?
    Composers often get musical ideas just by reading the screenplay. The search for the musical identity for the film starts from that point. By sharing sounds and playlists, this feeling can be communicated to the director and producers. In my experience, there is space for the composer’s personal sound, though it should be functional for the film. Sometimes existing tracks are temporarily used during the film’s edit. These so-called temp-tracks are used as a blueprint of how the composition should sound, and it can be a challenge for the composer to create his own interpretation of the film from that point. Every composer has a different opinion about this. Best friend or worst enemy; this can be different for each composition.

    Has colour, shapes, plots or even actors ever influenced the way that you’ve created music for specific pieces?
    As a composer, every element of film can inspire me, just as much as external sources. Drawings from the art department, locations, actors, sounds or pictures. That is why I love staying connected with the crew as much as possible. Every piece of information connected to the film helps me to shape the score. But I noticed that it also works the other way around. For instance; a while ago I wrote the score before filming even started. None of it reached the film in the end, but it truly helped the director and the crew to shape their world, as the music was being played on set!

    What do you expect to experience and achieve at IFFR 2020?
    So many inspiring people to talk with! It is a place where our love for film comes together. I’m looking forward to the CineMart and connecting with other filmmakers, and to spend some time with the other 5 Buma Music In Motion composers. I’m curious to see their work and hear them talk, get inspired for coming projects. Besides attending the CineMart, you will probably find me in the cinema watching (short) films. Luckily the IFFR is 12 days, so plenty of time to get involved!

    What are you working on right now?
    At the moment you can visit the Bes, Small God in Ancient Egypt exhibition in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. Together with Still, we created the sound and music for Mirjam Debets’ beautifully drawn animation that guides you through the exhibition. For the score, we mixed ancient instruments with modern digital sounds. This summer I finished the music of Tessa Pope’s documentary short Overtijd, which is out now, and we’re about to create music for her new series of portraits. Also, together with Jelle Verstraten and Chrisnanne Wiegel (as Musikpakt) we are writing the score for the tv series Fair Trade. Lots of stuff to come, but first let’s enjoy the IFFR!

    Source: https://iffr.com/en/blog/jaime-introduces-hans

  • New Hansen Custom Velvet Microphones


    Inspired by the sound of the 70’s, we put together large diaphragm condenser long body microphones. Equipped with a Funkenwerk T13 Transistor and RK-87 capsule, the microphones have a very smooth top and well balanced low end. They have three polar patterns: omni, cardioid and figure-8 and also two switchable knobs for low cut and dB pad. It is an all round workhorse for in the studio, but perfectly used for vocals which instantly pop out of the mix.

    Condenser microphones are also known as capacitor microphones. Inside a condenser microphone are two conducting plates.  The backplate is fixed, the front one is an actual moving diaphragm. When sound waves strike the diaphragm, it vibrates and the distance between the two plates changes. As this happens, the capacitance varies in like manner, causing a variance in its output voltage. An electrical signal similar to the incoming sound wave is then generated.

    The process of putting them together took some time. Mainly because the materials were gathered all over the world. From Germany to the US, from Canada to Asia. After we received the items, we soldered the wires and the components on the pcb and to the capsule. Putting them together took a bit longer than a day. After that the New Hansen logo was designed, and the concept of the velvet suitcase was created and custom tailored. After another month of waiting for the logo coins, the microphone was finished and used on a daily base.


  • ‘Hoed en de Rand’ Podcast about Filmscores & Synths

    In this latest Dutch podcast of ‘Hoed en de Rand’ I was invited to talk about filmscores, synthesizers and more;

  • Catastrophe music library

    In every recording session you probably have collected a ton of unique sounds and samples for your film. You choose the best parts for the master project, and probably left all of the ‘faulty takes’ on your hard drive to slowly die. It is when you are asked to do another movie in a similar music style, that you are searching through all your old projects to find the stems of this awesome sound that aren’t there anymore. But why would you, if you had the possibility to easily collect all of these samples, and create your own sound library? Some reasons why this would be a good idea:

    • Create your unique sound to distinguish yourself as a composer – music producer
    • Play your samples instead of dragging them into your DAW
    • Create order in your chaotic music sample folders
    • Borrow unique instruments to use it forever!

    It is because of these reasons, that every time I finish a movie, I build a virtual instrument based on the music recordings of that particular movie. Lets check what I have done in the latest library I created. It is a cinematic string quartet library with convolution reverb and the option to toggle between microphones. It uses the samples that are recorded for the film Catastrophe.

    Mic positions
    For Catastrophe we recorded a string quartet with 6 microphones. Four Neumann KM184 close to capture the attack of the strings. And two AKG 414Cs in MS setup high above the players somewhere close in the room. The cool thing about this setup is the flexibility in adjusting the microphone position in Kontakt later on. So every sound I collected for the library, had two versions (close and room). Whenever you press a key, you probably would not notice the multiple microphone placements that the sample has. Though, if you play the sample again with the room button closed, you will definitely notice the change of placement. It now sounds like if you are really close to the string players. Though, whenever you will do it again with the room button open and the close-button closed, it sounds like you are further away from the players. Now, this choice in position is very useful. The option can intonate scenes in a total different way. The load of a scene can change by the choice of microphone placement.

    Key switches
    All the samples are ordered and are given some nice tabs to choose from. The categories include: runs, staccatos, staccato cellos, marcato cellos and clusters. Every category is linked to one of the keyswitches down at your keyboard (C-2 to G-2). In this way it gives the option to also activate the tabs without clicking. Keyswitches are coloured red, and the active one is coloured green. Only the blue keys have playable samples.

    Convolution reverb
    The convolution reverb in this library is nothing but an extra option. As you know, the reverb gives the option to make the input sound ‘wetter’. For instance, an impulse in a church has a wetter sound than an impulse in your bedroom. In this way you can trick the audience by faking the place where the recording is done. We usually like to record dry, and fake the reverbs in the mix. This way we have the option of a wide range of different reverbs. This would not be possible to achieve whenever you recorded the source wet already.
    The convolution reverb is a reverb that simulates the reverberation of a space. In this particular reverb, an audio file is used (impulse response) that is recorded in a real space. This impulse response is loaded in an engine that makes it possible to use this reverb digitally. There are lots of plugins that support the convolution reverb, so the option within the Catastrophe library is only for fun. Though, the reverbs supported here are recorded by me in some very cool places in Amsterdam; Haitinkzaal in the Conservatory, the Burcht in the plantage, and my apartment hall. Download the instrument here:

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