Writing Music for Corridor Digital's "Nerf Team Fortress"
OUR Scoring Process
Right off the bat, we knew this would be a fun one. We've been following these guys since 2010, when the first episode of their Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing short series appeared on YouTube channel FreddieW - now known as RocketJump. Needless to say, we're big fans, which made the whole experience that much more fun and exciting.
The ORIGINAL PITCH DEMO
Based on what Nick and Niko (one of Corridor Digital's co-founders & creative directors) told us, we were aiming towards a 60's spy/surf rock vibe. To start, Daniel got to writing a pitch track to demonstrate the direction we wanted to take the score.
Meanwhile, Nestor, one of our leads here at Outlier Studios, got to designing ambient tracks with brass and guitar foundations. You can hear more of the sounds we've made at The Sound Library. This ambient track was made specifically for Nerf Team Fortress, which you can hear at the beginning of the score:
After four hours of laying down musical ideas and incorporating ambient tracks, we had our first working demo. Check it out:
A Little Bit o' Back-and-Forth
Common practice for us at spotting sessions (where we go over the film and figure out the story and music placements) is asking the following questions:
- What words best describe the story?
- What's the general mood we want to impart?
- What colors do you want the audience to feel? (yeah, "feel" - that one's a little abstract, but we've found that it encourages critical thinking, and the end result is always worth the temporary confused stares... plus it makes for a good laugh!
We take the filmmaker's answers and apply them according to what we think fits best. For something so action-y and movement-based, it also helps when we get their insight on the emotional/movement dynamics... which is what they did! Here's an example of what they sent us:
- 0:00-0:16 Opening. Tense. Everything is quiet, but we should have a sense of danger and daring. The hammer could drop at any second.
- 0:18-0:26 Baddies reveal! Now we know what kind of fight we're looking at. Hold on to the tension because the fight hasn't started, but add some force as we're watching both sides getting ready to fight. Maybe use drums to kick things up here?
- 0:29 Fight is on! The slow-motion shot of the soldier firing the Nerf rocket is the tension breaker. Jump full on into the song now.
We loved that they never told us what to write - just what they thought would be a fun way to approach different scenes. They also gave a couple notes on instrumentation after our first draft - one of them was to experiment with a bass guitar solo during the bat/wrench fight, which we ended up doing (1:08). It was a creatively efficient process that the guys at Corridor Digital made a whole lot of fun by having a firm grasp on the inner-workings of music/film dynamics.
The FINAL SCORE
To pull off a swingy brass section inspired by the Main Theme from Team Fortress 2, it took 33 individual trumpet tracks all recorded in-house, some ol' fashioned rock guitars, and a serious amount of drums to beef it up. The final score ended up being 67 tracks, with 70% of that being live instruments. Here's what we came up with:
TEAM FORTRESS 2 THEMES USED IN THE SCORE
- Playing With Danger was used from 0:13 - 0:30 and 2:44 - 2:52
- Main Theme was used at 0:35, 0:51, 2:53
- A variation of Intruder Alert was used at 2:23 (it's in the bass!).
- Victory Theme was used at 3:16 to signify the completion of Red Team's mission: return the shopping cart back to its rightful place. Victory!