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Michael Giacchino - Scoring for Primetime: ABC's Alias

  ABC''s Alias

Film and television scoring is a balancing act of matching just the right soundscapes with constantly changing visual information. No matter how beautifully a scene is shot, if it doesn''t have the right music that brings it to life, the connection to the audience is lost. Film and television composer Michael Giacchino has managed a similar balancing act throughout his career. From his studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City to independent composition studies with Broadway musical director, Alki Steriopoulos, and from the Juilliard School of Music to UCLA''s film scoring program, he has never lost sight in perfecting the art of bringing the worlds of audio and visual together.

"I actually prefer composing music to visuals," says Giacchino. "Sometimes the limitations of creating music for a certain scene can bring amazing results. On the other hand, when I''m scoring a classical piece, it''s easy to become overwhelmed with the limitless possibilities. Scoring to film can rein you in and help your focus."

Being focused is a necessity when dealing with a schedule as tight as Giacchino''s. Imagine composing and recording over 20 minutes of orchestral and electronic music in only four days. Try doing this every week for 22 weeks—then you''ll have an insight into what it takes to be a successful Hollywood composer. "There''s nothing like a deadline to help the creative flow," he laughs.

His latest project is the ABC series Alias. Created by J.J. Abrams, screenwriter of such films as Armageddon, Forever Young, and Regarding Henry, as well as co-creator and executive producer of Felicity, this one-hour, weekly drama follows the life of Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) as she divides her time between working as an international spy and grad school studies—a sort of La Femme Felicity.

Giacchino, along side engineer Dan Wallin (Fugative, The Crow, Waiting to Exhale), use a Mackie Digital 8•Bus console and two Mackie HDR24/96 recorder editors to record and mix the entire project. "The D8B''s automation makes projects like this much easier," says Giacchino. "Being able to recall exact mixes is an integral part of a job like this."

A film industry veteran, Giacchino has scored numerous video game soundtracks including Dreamworks'' The Lost World and Medal of Honor series, as well as movie and television scores like Semper Fi and Redemption of the Ghost.

He mixes the tracks in his home studio where he has learned to appreciate the D8B''s Surround Sound mixing capabilities and 3rd-party plug-ins. "The TC FX II is an excellent, realistic sounding reverb," says Giacchino. "I was also able to get some pretty amazing effects happening by applying the Antares Auto-Tune to certain instruments and de-tuning them."

Giacchino has of course, run the gamut of mixers and recorders over the years. "I used to own a 02/R and I still have Pro Tools in my studio, but I can''t imagine going back after using the D8B and HDR," says Giacchino. "Even other engineers that I''ve played my work for are amazed at the sound of the Mackies."


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