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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daft Punk's path to 'Tron: Legacy' was not an easy one


This is Part 2 of Chris Lee's story from his rare interview with Daft Punk. Today, we see how the duo worked on the score for "Tron: Legacy" and whether more soundtracks are in the works. (To read Part 1, click here.)

Daftoldbw_g9hm1mkeAfter a year of reflection in which "Tron: Legacy" director Joseph Kosinski continued to detail his vision for "Tron: Legacy" to them, Daft Punk duo Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter agreed to take the plunge as a means of learning to "widen the palette" of Daft Punk's sound. And in 2008 Disney arranged to have the band mates meet with several of the most successful soundtrack composers working today about potentially collaborating: Hans Zimmer, Harry-Gregson Williams, John Powell and Christophe Beck among them.
Bangalter, 35, said: "They were very generous and very open, sharing a lot of technical advice."
"And warnings," De Homem-Christo, 36, added. "They said, 'You have to make your vision understood. It's not easy. You're serving a movie. You're not just serving the director, you're serving a team of people. It's always about changing and going back.' "

The band ultimately scrapped any collaboration plans. And the task of telling the studio fell to Kosinski, a successful commercial director with no feature film background. "It was considered a huge risk for Disney," Kosinski said. "A director who had never done a feature before and composers who hadn't scored a movie before."

'Electronic sketches'

After the two relocated to Los Angeles, scoring began in earnest in January 2009. Nevermind that "Tron: Legacy" still had no script, only concept drawings to illustrate set pieces and characters. De
Homem-Christo and Bangalter decided that an orchestral score employing subtle electronic cues -- rather than vice versa -- would be most appropriate to "paint that epic quality" the film dictated. So the duo applied the same kind of musical cross-pollination responsible for its gold-certified 1997 debut album "Homework" and commercial breakthrough "Discovery" to recording violin arpeggios, surging horns and roiling timpani.


"In dance music, we've always tried to combine existing genres -- heavy metal and disco or funk, something that contrasts associations," Bangalter said. "[For the film], we liked the idea of a dark influence reminiscent of some electronic scores of the '70s. But at the same time, we wanted the scope of classic Hollywood. To mash up those things that usually exist on opposite ends of the spectrum."

The group hooked up with music arranger and orchestrator Joseph Trapanese, whose job was
to translate Bangalter and De Homem-Christo's ideas into symphonic arrangements. They provided him with "extensive electronic sketches" -- synthesizer approximations of orchestral music and iTunes playlists running the gamut of 20th century film composers that were indicative of the "timeless" vibe they wanted.

"They had this very clear and distinct idea of what the orchestra should sound like," Trapanese said. "They gave me an overall tone to work in. Maybe they couldn't physically transcribe what music for, say, a cello. But they know how a cello sounds and how to translate ideas to it."

Tonally, Bangalter explained: "We thought it was very important that the score not sound like real world music. It could not feel 2010 in any aspect."

In July 2010, Trapanese helped actualize Daft's vision for the score over a five-day recording session with an 85-piece orchestra at London's AIR Lyndhurst studios. "My role was as the interface between the robots and the orchestra," he joked.

Daftgetty-400_ldawiync For his part, Kosinski says he understands why Daft Punk wanted to diverge from the repetitive, sample-and-synthesizer-based template that has served such epochal dance floor anthems as "One More Time." And he feels the new music fuses electronic and orchestral music in ways that serve the scope and sweep of "Tron: Legacy."

"It was always conceived as a blend," Kosinski said. "What evolved over that first year was the ratio. The original thinking was more electronic music with classical orchestral lines in it. As the process evolved, when they got down to writing the final cues, it became much more orchestral than any of us initially anticipated. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out."

Even in the face of acclaim for the group's new musical direction, though, the influential music review website Pitchfork panned the soundtrack, lamenting the "gloom of blown expectations" and basically calling into question whether Daft Punk had sold its soul to Hollywood.

Bangalter and De Homem-Christo said they have no plans to record another soundtrack anytime soon and hinted at the release of new Daft Punk music: "Making music for a movie is very humbling," Bangalter said. "We've been working on some of our music concurrently." (They declined to specify touring or album release plans.)

With typically Gallic shrugs, the band mates also said they have learned to live with being tarred and feathered as "commercial."

"We like the idea of trying to experiment and do different things we haven't done in the past," said Bangalter. "Our idea of selling out is a different one, though. I imagine it would be finding a successful formula and sticking with it and always doing the same thing. That is not what is exciting to us."

-- Chris Lee

South Park House!!!

Cups Made of Jell-O To Become a Real Product

by Jaymi Heimbuch


jello cups eat photo

Photo via The Way We See The World

Back in July we showed you Jelloware, cups made from Jell-O that make a far less wasteful solution for parties, festivals, and other events where minimizing trash is a must. The cups can be eaten, or simply tossed on the ground where the ingredients break down and help grass grow better (also a big plus for outdoor music festivals). After our coverage during the summer, the design company The Way We See The World had so many requests from people wanting to buy the product that they've come up with a solution for getting the colorful and creative cups to store shelves.

Jelloware now has its own Kickstarter page, where you can help get a sustainable product to market. The team is working to raise $10,000 in the next 30 days so that they can do prototyping and user testing to perfect the product. Plus, there are a lot of cool gifts that come back to you from the design team depending on how much you donate -- for instance, a $20 donation earns you a one-page solution to any design question or dilemma you send in, and a $50 donation earns you an invite to a Jelloware testing party.

Beers Filling Up Through the Bottom!

Thanks Joe!

Bottoms Up!

Welcome to GrinOn Industries, designer and fabricator of the Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispensing System®. GrinOn’s proprietary Bottoms Up Dispensing System® is the fastest dispensing system in the world and fills at a rate of up to nine times that of traditional beer taps. Here are some of the benefits:

* Improves speed-of-service increases customer satisfaction and sales
* World’s fastest beer dispensing system
* Reduces draft beer waste, saving money and time
* Improves operational efficiency
* Product consistency
* Grow sales in good times, reduce labor costs and inventory in slow times
* Reduces the stress and cost of “foamy beer problems” to management through GrinOn’s rapid education system that conveys valuable steps for volunteer and service labor to take without calling management for solutions
* Novelty that won’t wear off
* Dynamic sponsorship opportunities for dispensers and cups

'Seinfeld' actor hails Festivus' legacy

From CNN

Jerry Stiller talks about the legacy of Festivus, a secular holiday popularized in an episode of "Seinfeld."

World's Smartest Dog Knows More Than 1,000 Words

If you thought Rover or Sparky was smart, think again: Chaser just took him to school.

A border collie named Chaser has learned the names of 1,022 individual items -- more than any other animal, even the legendary Alex the parrot. But it's all in a day's work for these researchers. 

Psychologists Alliston Reid and John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., wanted to test if there was a limit to the amount of words a border collie could learn, so they taught Chaser the names of hundreds of toys, one by one, slowly and patiently, for three years.

"We put in a lot of work on it," Pilley said in a conversation with While border collies are an especially smart breed, he said, the research doesn't allow them to conclusively call it smarter than, say, pit bulls or dachshunds.

"We can't say anything definitive about this, but there is agreement among breeders," he said, citing decades of breeding for herding that makes the dogs particularly attuned to learning words. "The hypothesis is that they do have a special propensity to language, they listen to the farmer."

Pilley stressed that the training technique more than anything resulted in the incredible skills of the dog.

"In the first experiment where we talk about the learning of proper nouns, the procedure we use is one where she was taught in a way that she couldn't fail," Pilley said. "We would place the object right on the floor, somewhere the dog couldn't miss." 

Then after a period of several months, Pilley and Reid would work with a different object, slowly training the dog on each one.

"Most people when they try to teach a dog, they put too many objects on the ground. That's called simultaneous training," Pilley explained. "Our method was a successive technique."

The pair regularly tested Chaser on her vocabulary by putting random groups of 20 toys in another room and having her fetch them by name. Chaser, now 6, never got less than 18 out of 20 right, in 838 (!) separate tests over three years.

It takes 16 plastic tubs to hold all the toys.

Watch Pilley give Chaser some impressively complex commands -- combining three verbs with three nouns -- in the video below. She understands the verbs “nose,” “get” and “paw.” Her reward is playtime with “Blue,” a little ball she chases across the room. For a whole collection of Chaser videos, click here.

She learned common nouns that represented categories, such as “ball,” and she learned to infer the names of objects by their association with other objects.

Rico the border collie, from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, was previously top dog — he had a vocabulary of about 200 words. Chaser’s feats are chronicled in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Popular Science contributed to this report.

Camera On the Tip of a Sword

These guys had a crazy idea to duct-tape a camera on the tip of the sword and do some swings to see how it looked. All recording are done in real speed. 

A crazy idea was born

Early sunday on Swordfish 2010 we got a crazy idea of duck-tape our GoPro Hero camera on the tip of the sword and do some swings to see how it looked. 

We started slow just to see if the camera was holding together, then stepping it up.

All recording are done in real speed.

Moving Building - Rehearsal Sessions December 2010

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3