Going to be a short one today, folks. Why? Well, what I want to unpack here doesn’t exactly take long to explain—but it is pretty important.
Lately, I’ve been looking for shorts to discuss for the blog—I’ve been discussing episodes of TV shows & individual scenes from movies for the last few weeks, & I want to look at more shorts. From my own experience as a film composer, I know a short’s score can do quite a lot in a very short time, so elevating shorts that do this well via the blog seems like a great next step. As such, I want to do at least a few posts about short films in particular.
That’s how I ended up discovering Cosmos Laundromat on Netflix (which took a while—there isn’t an easy way to find short films on Netflix [why?!] so I browsed until I found one that struck my interest). It’s also officially available on YouTube right here, so go for whichever platform you’d prefer.
Now, let’s get to what I want to tackle here: audio transitions.
Cosmos Laundromat has only one scene with music. In fact, it went so long without a score—almost half the film, mind you—that I thought it’d be unscored ‘til the end. However, that changes about 2/3’s through, as our protagonist Franck is waiting for the collar to do something, & our other character Victor backs away. All we can here is the wind around them. But then, something changes, ever so slightly.
At first blush, I thought this was some sort of new wind ambience. But then I realized that it was music—a gentle pad, which was soon joined by very soft strings.
Now, why did I get fooled into thinking, at least at first, that this was more wind foley? Well, for starters, that type of ambience primarily makes up the film’s soundscape until right at that moment. But there’s another more important reason. You see, the softness & low quality of the synth bears some resemblance to our wind foley. We think we’re hearing the wind. But, in fact, the music is coming.
If the audio had come in more suddenly, it would have been uncomfortably abrupt because, until then, there was no music. But because its qualities remind us of that wind foley, the music slips right into the film.
And that’s a clear lesson on how to do audio transitions right.