Home | News | 'Chasing Ghosts' Debuts at Cannes Today

'Chasing Ghosts' Debuts at Cannes Today

Document Actions

Chasing Ghosts, a new crime thriller from director Kyle Dean Jackson, makes its debut at the Palais de Festivals in Cannes today. Composer Scott Glasgow created the dramatic score with a mix of live orchestral recordings and samples, produced in a studio he keeps "filled with MOTU gear and hardware."

In Chasing Ghosts, a serial killer taunts the police with clues and photos left behind at the scene of the crime. A veteran cop takes on a rookie partner, hoping to crack one last case before retiring. As the web of deception and lies unravels, the truth slowly begins to reveal itself—with deadly consequences for all involved.

Glasgow talked with MOTU about the film scoring process, and shared an insider's view of his studio and how he puts it all together to produce the kind of soundtrack that makes it to Cannes. "I couldn't do it without DP and all the MOTU gear," says Glasgow. "You guys make my work happen!"

Glasgow on the scoring process

As with many films nowadays, Chasing Ghosts had a limited budget, but I knew I wanted to record a chunk of the score live. After calling a few fellow composers I was put in touch with a contractor who works with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in Slovakia (about 30 minutes from Vienna). I decided to record just strings with the largest orchestra we could afford (34 players, or 10-8-6-6-4) and fill in the rest with my samples back at my studio. All the brass and percussion are samples. I overdubbed a live oboe for some wind variation, and for the sweet girl character. The score ended up to be approximately 100 minutes of music.

I was talking with the director as early as November 2004 about the direction of the score. I started writing the score somewhere in February 2005 and recorded in Europe in April 2005. I even visited the set (Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles) to see what they were working on (see the photo at left—I am in the white shirt).

At the session, I asked for an AES feed and was able to work in real time recording from my laptop and talk with the conductor down in the auditorium via a talkback button. The MOTU Traveler came in handy for my session because I was able to record a stereo feed from the main system at the session, then take it back to the hotel and listen to the day's work (like dailies for directors).

The Traveler sounded great! I was so happy to have purchased it before leaving. In fact, I bought it by selling off one of my ProTools farm cards because ProTools hardware just wasn't working well on my sequencing systems (and I could not afford to turn it into my Mix Systems audio hardware—I would have needed more ADAT bridges than I was willing to buy). The Traveler was perfect for my main system and as a portable, high-quality audio device for my laptop.

It wasn't easy getting the Traveler through all the security checks. Going to and from the United States, I had to take it out and send it through security in its own bin. Also, I had to explain to the security each time what this weird-looking blue box was ("no really—it is not a bomb or has parts to become one!"). Even so, it was all worth it and I look forward to using it on my next orchestral score. I am going back to Europe to record an orchestra in July or August 2005 for the sci-fi feature Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. That will be a big sci-fi epic space opera score in the vein of Star Wars or Star Trek. This time I will be recording strings and brass live, at least.

Glasgow's Gear

My studio is filled with MOTU gear and software. After working for a couple of other Hollywood composers, I found that MOTU products are the best for me.

I've been using DP for many years now. For a year or so, I switched temporarily to Logic to see if it was something I would like, and to be more varied for working with composers. Logic has some nice features but just doesn't work for me the way DP does.

I feel DP works better with traditional film scoring, with paper and orchestration families. Logic works great on the pop stuff, though even those lines are blurring now that DP works with REX files. In any case, after my year-long experiment, I am DP all the way now, again.

Main (sequencing) rig

  • G4 PowerMac 1.25GHz Dual-Processor / 2GB RAM
  • Audio: MOTU Traveler, ProTools TDM (3 cards) + 888/24
  • Software: Digital Performer 4.52, MachFive
  • MIDI: MOTU MIDI Timepiece A/V (2), MOTU FastLane(2)

Mix rig

  • G4 PowerMac 1.25GHz Dual-Processor / 2GB RAM
  • Audio: MOTU 2408mkII (2), MOTU 1224
  • Software: Digital Performer 4.52
  • MIDI: MOTU micro express

Giga systems (four rackmount units)

  • Pentium-III 1GHz / 1GB RAM
  • Audio: MOTU 828 (four of them—each Giga has an 828 on it)
  • Software: GigaStudio 3.04

Display systems

  • 1 Apple 22" Cinema Display
  • 2 ViewSonic 15" monitors
  • All on KVM switches, so each Mac has dual displays (Gigas use one display).

Portable rig

  • iBook G4 500MHz / 1GB RAM
  • Audio: MOTU Traveler, Echo Gina
  • MIDI: MOTU FastLane

Going with the flow

I send all the audio from each of my four Gigas (Strings-Winds-Brass-Percussion) out their 828 lightpipe to the 2408s on the mix system, so each GigaStudio has eight channels of lightpipe coming out of it. Because I have 1-sp PCs for my GigaStudio systems I needed a FireWire audio solution that also had a GSIF driver. The MOTU 828 was the only option a few years back (and I think it still is). So I have four 828s to work with my four Gigas. Then I have the Traveler on my main rig to send out samples on that lightpipe to my MachFive and other softsynths.

So now we have all the Gigas and the MachFive lightpipes going into my mix rig on five of the six banks I have available on the 2408mkIIs. I use the analog 5-6 of the Traveler to send out the main audio on my G4, which in my case is the QuickTime track of the film I am working on (usually just dialog plus FX) and the analog 7-8 to send out the click sound.

OK, now this is where it all gets interesting (and complicated): All of these signals are controlled using a Evolution UC-33 MIDI controller. All of this is because of the awesome ability in DP4 to assign any controller number to any fader (or pan knob) in the DP mixer.

So on my mix rig I have created a template, which has these assignments already programmed (including inserts for my Lexicon PCM-91 and other reverb plug-ins). I even control the amount of reverb each incoming track gets from this same fader box. The fader box midi is also split off to the Gigas for MIDI volume/mod wheel and foot controller (I use cc 04 in a special way with my very customized samples).

So that one little box controls everything from master volume, set by the first 2408 main volume knob (yeah I went in and changed that jumper)! I use the 1224 to receive all the analog inputs from the Traveler, and the AES is for my Lexicon. All of this is clocking off the word clock out on the MTP A/V. Next the main rig sends MIDI Timecode to the mix rig, which is put into "slave to external sync" mode (I also have a button to control that on the UC-33).

When I'm ready, I play the main rig with all the MIDI, sending MIDI Timecode over to the mix rig, which is in slave mode waiting for MTC signal, to record my delivery breakouts (usually 8-wide which means 4 stereo tracks being recorded with the various assignments like 1-2 STR or 5-6 PERC, etc). This is all done in one pass ready for delivery. So far it seems to work, though I plan to expand the system to record about 20 or so tracks at once. That way, my engineer will be able to mix straight audio files, and not worry about MIDI and its madness.

Also the mix rig is playing back the QuickTime video in DV format out through a Canopus box, which is connected to a 15" Sony Production monitor. I sometimes run the video on my main rig (using an Igniter card), but at the end it goes back to the mix rig for the delivery of the audio stems. On this project I even delivered OMF files to the dub stage which they opened up in ProTools using the DigiTranslator plug-in. All the cues were in the correct place and timestamped perfectly.

I couldn't do it without Digital Performer and all the MOTU gear. You guys make my work happen!

Chasing Ghosts debuts at Cannes May 11, 2005, at 3:30 p.m. on the Riviera 5 screen. There will be an additional screening May 12, 2005, at 5:30 p.m. on Riviera 1. For more information, contact American World Pictures at +1-818-715-1480. American World Pictures will be showing at Cannes Riviera F6 (local phone: 04-92-99-88-48).

Chasing Ghosts: http://www.chasingghostsmovie.com/

Scott Glasgow, composer: http://www.scottglasgowmusic.com/