How to make music for advertisements, movies and video games?

GROOVE STUDIO is a group of music producers coming from Slovakia, it was founded by brothers Emil and Juraj Čambál in 2002. The studio produces mainly music for advertisements, movies, trailers, video games and another media products as well. We interviewed them to find out more information  about music in advertising , its place there, purpose and the whole process itself.

Hello guys, could you shortly introduce yourself? Since when have you been dedicated to making music, what have you already experienced?

We have started to do it  professionally since 2002, when we took a part and composed some of signature tunes for in that time new face of public television STV (currently RTVS) under  the leadership of Mr. Rybníček. I remember exactly how Martin Vančo from ALIEN studio called me and asked, whether we are able to create theme music for TV session prepared by public television STV. It is said: ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’, so we decided not to be doubtful and tried it. It was our first success and the first step into the media world. Frankly spoken, it was not easy at all.

How did you get into the media world and TV, was anything special, you had to get used to it?

According to advertising requirements, it is necessary to adapt to different music styles. Furthermore, time pressure can not have any impact on the quality of work.

It has been a long time since 2002, can you briefly say, what projects you have already managed?

We have created music for dozen of advertisements, events, games, short movies and trailers as well. That makes us strong especially in orchestral music (Hollywood style), but we do not have any problem to make music also in another style because since we are in this business we had to study and compose music for a wide range of styles – electronic music genres, jazz, metal, pop, film orchestral music. After that you find out that all music styles, you were not really into them, they have also specific charm (laugh).

What is actually the role of music in advertisement, is it really necessary?

It is a similar question as if we asked, whether music is necessary in the movie. In both cases music influences viewers subconsciously, they do not realize it, however, it shapes their feelings, emotions. Its task is together, hand in hand with the visual part and voiceover to ‘sell’ the product, in other words, to tell the story of the picture in musical language.

According to your words, music plays an important role in advertisement, doesn´t it?

Absolutely, it does. Well, sometimes music really stands in the background and it is covered by SFX and mainly by voiceover. On the other hand, it can play the crucial role in advertising, e.g. in the TV spot Verbena, which we composed for Apollon Studios or the latest Vibovit farm for LimaCharlie. There music is very important, it highlights and evokes the mood, the plot and the purpose of ad. Voiceover appears either in the beginning or in the end.

What does music of advertisement have to have?

Music in advertisement has to meet  either the director´s requirements or the client´s requirements. However, the goal is always clear – to evoke in listener different range of emotions or a message.

Could you explain that to our readers in detail?

Of course, gladly. When advertisement should be joyful, the role of music is to support optimistic mood. When we want to think deeply about something, music has to be calm, supporting such mood. Last but not least , there are also qualitative parameters which good music has to fulfill.

Some people share the opinion that music in advertisement is not so important or professional. They do not understand that it is also serious art. How do you perceive it?

The fact is, that music in some spots does not have such high sense of dramaturgy. Voiceover is present from the beginning until the end, while music is only an accompaniment. In such cases, there is a tendency to choose cheaper and low-quality solutions. However, there are cases when the budget is higher and the client has a clear imagination about original and highly professional product, quasi mini movie. Then also music is supposed to be in high quality and it requires know-how.

Can you give us an example?

For example the TV commercial for Arcobiotics junior, which we did for the client S&D Pharma s.r.o..It is actually a small animated action mini movie in the style of Pixar (stunning animation made by ALIEN studio), where the story is told visually but necessarily hand in hand with music. The TV commercials has to include introduction, action part and epilogue. The TV spot lasts approx. 30 seconds. All of this is done in a very short time, nevertheless,it has to look like coherently and naturally. Voiceover appears only in the end. There are approx. 10 hit points in the video part (the cut or the part which has to be supported by music), that means almost every third second. In such frequent intervals, it is difficult to synchronize music to image, because music has its fixed rules comparing to video – pace and tact. It requires a lot of experiences as well as knowledge. We do not have to explain, what a disaster it is, when after composing music , the director moves a cut, doesn´t matter whether it is just one second…very often it is necessary to create completely new solution.

How does the process of making music for such TV commercial look like?

Everything depends on requirements and their specifications. When the project belongs to easier ones, the client let us to do it freely or he sends us the reference which we follow. When the project is more demanding, it is necessary that the director, the representative of the agency, the representative of animation studio, the representative of the client and me as well meet together in one place – spotting session. Such kind of meeting is very pleasant and creative, where we have the chance to discuss everything; each detail, shot, effect or even cut of the short movie. Moreover, everybody has his own ideas and imagination of music. All already mentioned members of this meeting are professionals in their fields, however, in terms of music they are usually laymen. They keep following instruction: ‘In this cut I imagine ostinato viol moving slightly through the crescendo to Dmol tutti unisono.’ These are usually adjectives and descriptions of emotions which music can evoke in the given moment. Our role is to comprehend them and transfer to our musical language. After that we come to studio work, composing, validation and small details / obstacles due to which the track is improved and becoming better. We always prepare several initial variants (2-3), the client has then the possibility to choose the direction and we can focus on the chosen alternative.

You´ve mentioned music banks, what is the advantage, why should the client choose composed music and not to rather buy it from a music bank?

The huge advantage of music bought from a music bank is its immediate availability and price. On the other hand, its disadvantage is that it is not shapeable as needed. It is not possible to change the end or introduction, to remove or add something, to exchange the voice or instrument. The next disadvantage is that music can appear in another bunch of TV commercials wherever in the world. In such case, the whole spot loses its originality (at least in terms of music). Such problems can be solved by composed music which is created precisely according to requirements and suits to the context.

Guys, I would like to thank you for this interview. I wish you all the best and many interesting projects in the future.

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