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February 2016 Nature Photo selection

I didn€™’t take as many photos in February due to the wet weather unfortunately! However I was very pleased to have a picture I took of a Partridge uploaded onto  BBC South Today€™s Facebook here. I was walking back after a pretty unsuccessful trip around Abingdon Marina when a bird suddenly flew past me. I thought it was a pheasant at first and quickly turned my camera back on. When I approached it I realised it was in fact a Partridge! He happily sat there on the wall as I got the angle right until it flew off.

All photographs by Oliver Daniel Nicholls
Lumix Panasonic DMC-FZ72 Camera

 

Thame Players promotional video music

In July 2015 I composed music to a promotional video created byInquisitive Pictures for The Players Theatre in Thame. I felt a 12-bar blues was the best fit to get across the friendly, fun, cheeky feel the video required. I made the bass line relaxed and using MIDI I made sure not to quantize it too much to make it feel relaxed.

Anybody wishing to join Thame Players feel free to get involved!

(Video also on Vimeo)

Here€™s the audio by itself:

 

January 2016 Nature Photo selection

So, my new hobby: Nature Photography! I recently purchased a Lumix Panasonic DMC-FZ72 Camera, which is very user friendly and I recommend it for any beginner looking to get into nature photography. Most photos I take are locally around local around Oxford and Oxfordshire, (and my back garden)! I still have so much to learn about how cameras work, but for a start I am impressed with the overall quality of the pictures with no post-editing.

It€™s been very mild compared to most Januarys on record in Britain, meaning I€™ve managed to capture some animals out and about you wouldn€™t usually see at this time of year, such as bumblebees, ladybirds, (and also newts, frogs and hedgehogs, but these were at night). The pictures I took this month were from around the River Thames in Abingdon, Kennington, and my back garden.

I was very lucky to have one of my photos broadcast on ITV News Meridian earlier this month! What made it more exciting was it was the first time I took the camera out for a spin. You wouldn€™t believe me if I told you I took the picture stood in a Waitrose car park in Abingdon! Anyway, the picture is on Simon Parkin€™s blog.

All photographs by Oliver Daniel Nicholls
Lumix Panasonic DMC-FZ72 Camera

 

Undergraduate Composition Dissertation

First of all, happy new year! To make up for not uploading anything in December, below is my entire portfolio of music from my Undergraduate Composition Dissertation. This game was unfortunately only for the University project so will not be released. I have uploaded it to showcase what I can do so please do get in touch on olliedn.music@gmail.com if you would like me to compose something for your project.

During my third and final year at Oxford Brookes University I did a project based around video games. I collaborated with a computer programmer called Harrk who programmed parts of the game for his own undergraduate dissertation, and I composed the music to this. Much of my research can be viewed on my Tumblr Account, which is an online scrapbook of ideas with many interesting videos, articles, links to useful websites, and research from other kinds of sources such as books.

I did a write-up of the project describing my compositional processes, references to the research from my Tumblr account, and also included information about Harrk’s game, such as the story, what he wanted from the music, pictures of some backgrounds and diagrams of the characters etc. Most sounds were from Cubase Halion Sonic SE Soundbank combined with recorded audio. My project is based around the character Nyte. For copyright reasons I cannot upload my write-up, so below I have described the game in brief: (As I stated above, this game was only for the University project so will not be released).

It is a Japanese Role Play Game (JRPG) called ‘Perfect Moon: Monster’, and the story follows the main character, Nyte, who is a subject of experimentation in a futuristic world where magic is widespread but banned. The experiments carried out on him created two distinct forms within him, namely his human form and feral form. His human characteristics are calm and mysterious, and his feral characteristics are fury and anger. Throughout the game the feral form becomes more prominent and gradually takes over the human form. ‘Nyte’s Transition’ is the music that goes with the linear scene in the game when this transformation takes place where the feral form erupts and takes over the human form completely.

‘Nyte’s Transition’:

Harrk asked me to create a battle theme for Nyte. Battles are a huge part of most games and JRPGs are often focused around them as they occur every few seconds. See my Tumblr Account for my research and influences, and see below for the final music product.

I composed 14 different battle styles set around Nyte’s theme (based on ideas from ‘Nyte’s Transition’, along with success and failure music). Each battle theme is about a minute in length to get across the feel of each style.
Generic Battles – Battles that occur frequently against enemies that are not too strong or affect the story.
Boss Battles –  A battle that occurs less frequently than Generic Battles and can affect the story, which involves fighting the enemy leader.

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 1 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 2 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 3 – Boss Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 4 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 5 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 6 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 7 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 8 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 9 – Boss Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 10 – Boss Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 11 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 12 – Boss Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 13 – Boss Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Theme Idea 14 – Generic Battle:

Nyte’s Battle Success Music:

Nyte’s Battle Failure Music:

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls

Other sounds in Battle Theme Idea 12 – Boss Battle, from:
www.freesfx.co.uk
Other sounds in Battle Theme Idea 13 – Boss Battle, from:
eng.universal-soundbank.com/index.htm
 

‘Far Away’ film – Final Scene into Credits

See the post €˜Far Away€™ film (below) for more information on the actual film itself, the plot and things like that. This post is about the final scene that leads into the credits that is heard until the very end.

The first thing I set out to do was get the timing exactly right so that the main theme enters at the exact point the credits appear on screen. The Main Theme heard during the credits is a further message to the audience to say that Alex’s journey is complete, enhanced when the film ends on the relative major chord. The scene before the credits appear is another of Alex’s flashbacks as he remembers the many more happy moments he spent with his mother. I have created music that combines the happiness of these memories but also the sadness of the loss. Simplicity in my opinion works best here. I felt more instruments and tracks would have made it too dramatic. The solo guitar gives the feeling of relief that the journey is finally over and Alex can now move on in his life.

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls 2015
Classical Guitar performed by William Knight

 

‘Far Away’ film – Almost There Scene

See the post €˜Far Away€™ film (below) for more information on the actual film itself, the plot and things like that. This post is about the music in Alex’s last part of the journey. It’s the final push after 3 hard days of overcoming problems whilst travelling across mountains, forests and the countryside.

‘Almost There Scene’ is my favourite of all the pieces I composed in this film. James (the Director) asked me to create something like the soundtrack of ‘Lord of the Rings’ when the fellowship are travelling over mountains and through forests etc. He tried to mimic this in his filming and asked the music to do the same. However I don’t have access to a full orchestra, plus I wanted the piece to sound coherent with the rest of the music in the film. All the other pieces use mainly MIDI data combined with a classical guitar, so I wanted to reflect this. I deliberately did the opposite of what James asked me to do. I  used electric-suonding synth sounds so that in the distance shots the music creates the feeling of emptiness, which in my opinion reflects hope – Alex hasn’t quite reached his destination yet, but this empty feeling shows that he realises he’s not too far away – he’s almost there. As soon as he reaches the crop field the main motif comes in but it is heard much slower than previously to emphasise the moment. The electric guitars and ambient background come to life when Alex sees his destination and runs towards it. This is the magical moment which then fades away when he reaches it. This is the piece that made me feel very much for Alex and I spent a long time making sure the timings were right so the music fitted in with the right moments on screen. I mixed in stereo so for best effect of the music listen through headphones.

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls 2015

 

‘Far Away’ film – Lost with Map Scene

See the post ‘Far Away’ film (below) for more information on the actual film itself, the plot and things like that. This post is about the scene where Alex gets lost and uses his map to try and figure out where he is in the middle of nowhere.

When I first looked at the ‘Lost with Map Scene’ footage, my immediate thought was: ‘How am I going to write music that is not in the forefront to the audience by not disrupting the speech but also creates the right feeling for the moment?’ I watched it over and over without music and when I watched other films I thought a bit about how they achieved this in similar kinds of scenes. There are so many films that do this well but the most obvious one to reference is ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, which constantly hints the theme in the background and has many melodies and motifs that come back throughout, often subtly. Done well, background music sounds coherent in style, texture and feeling to the main themes and melodies. I wanted a similar feel with this background music for the ‘Lost in the Map Scene’, which is why it is all on classical guitar with a similar style accompaniment to the main theme, and although the chord progression is different to every other piece in the film, the melody is hinted subtly in several places. I went for a twangy sound on the guitar to hint a banjo-type instrument.

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls 2015
Classical Guitar performed by William Knight

 

‘Far Away’ film – Flashback Scene

See the post ‘Far Away’ film (below) for more information on the actual film itself, the plot and things like that. This post is about the flashback scene in this film, which is heard the first night of the journey as he dreams of happy memories he had with his mother when he was a child.

The flashback scene reflects the sadness of Alex’s loss but also the happiness of the memories that he has as a child playing with his mother.  (See ‘Far Away’ film here that will  be available for everyone to watch€¦ soon) The main theme’s melody is strongly hinted across all parts at the end in the cello as the tension builds and Alex is about to wake up from the memory and carry on his journey.

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls 2015

 

‘Far Away’ film – Main Theme

See the post ‘Far Away’ film (below) for more information on the actual film itself, the plot and things like that. This post is about the main theme for this film, which is heard at the beginning as Alex (the main character) is setting off on his journey.

My intention with the main theme was to keep the motif simple and cool with the sweet melody on classical guitar, building up at the right moment to fit in with what’s happening on screen. (See ‘Far Away’ film here that will  be available for everyone to watch€¦ soon). I feel I have achieved the overall sound I was hoping for, which was to create a sad yet determined feeling to reflect Alex’s dedication to complete the journey. The melody is reflected many times throughout the film, hinted across different parts both at the front of the mix and also floating in the back, in different keys, instruments, and times (it is heard in the background played at half the speed at one point). When writing music for a film such as this the music has to be coherent throughout and hearing the motif melody enhances the emotional connection with the main character (I hope). Deep stuff!

Anyway, more pieces to be uploaded in a couple of weeks time! Enjoy!

All Music by Oliver Daniel Nicholls 2015
Classical Guitar performed by William Knight