NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Animation

I’ve written and added film scoring to this extraordinary animation of both Perseverance and Ingenuity. Includes Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Animation.

This composition was built using Cubase Pro 11 and Spitfire Audio’s BBCSO Pro library.


Thanks for sharing you music Clinton. Would you please add some technical insights to the compositions as well? I feel we can learn a lot from each other if we share some of the inside secrets. For example: Key and signature, main chord progression, instrumentation, arrangement etc. And most importantly, sharing the “why” of your creative choices in the music. :slight_smile:

Hi Mikael,

Yes, I can share some inside secrets about film scoring.

In answer to your question, “And most importantly, sharing the “why” of your creative choices in the music,” let me explain.

In all the world of music, film scoring is a very different duck. Though it’s not a sound effect, it does try to mimic what we see and hear onscreen. An excellent example would be Carl Stalling (Warner Bros. Cartoons 1936-1958). Another example would be the piano player who added an improvised score to a film during the performance of a silent film.

Because of this compositional oddity, the creative choices are driven by what we see and hear onscreen. It’s a unique form of accompaniment. And because it accompanies the performance, it is the last story layer to be added to the film. Its musical form follows the function we experience within the other story-telling layers.

This brings forth another compositional oddity. This type of music is built while locked to picture.

The process goes something like this. The filmmaker supplies you with a locked copy of the film. Then you and the filmmaker meet for a spotting session to determine where all the accompaniment (cues) will occur. The film is loaded into your DAW and you build a tempo map for each cue. When the writing begins, you need to work around the dialogue and sound design. This is what defines your key signature and your choice or instrumentation. Your job is to accompany the performance without smothering any other story telling layer (or any frequencies in those layers).

The first question to ask of a film score is, “Did it assist in telling the story as the filmmaker envisioned?” The second is, “As an audience member, did the score bring you closer to experiencing what the characters were experiencing onscreen?”

If you can answer, “Yes” to both, then your score solution was successful.

I like to add a third. “Was it memorable?” How many Marvel film scores do you remember? Try humming something that you remember from a Marvel film. Now, try humming or whistling something from a John Williams Star Wars film. How about the two notes in the Jaws film?

As a final tip I can add, that rolling off the low end in your score mastering mix helps to stay out of the Sound Designers way. First roll off the reverb’s low end. Then, roll off the pre-verb low end. Otherwise, you will muddy waters for both you and the Sound Designer. I usually do this by group (woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp/guitars, keyboards, choirs, and strings).

Hope that helps . . .

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Great job. Nice changing feels and elements matching the video. Great orchestrating including the balancing of the different elements. I really enjoyed it and think it shows you have great talent, understanding, and gear to create professional underscores with. Thanks for sharing it!

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Thank you Matthew! Much appreciated . . .