That’s what I experienced last week at the historic recording stage at Sony Pictures in Culver City. The stage was where musical soundtracks for numerous classic MGM films were recorded, including “The Wizard of Oz.”
I was there at the invitation of Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, who was recording the score for next year’s Disney action release, “John Carter.” The film is adapted from a series written by “Tarzan” creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. Giacchino had an orchestra of over 100 musicians, being recorded in-synch with scenes from the film. Time-coded sections of the movie were projected onto a huge screen at the back of the room, facing the conductor.
Given how rarely full orchestras are recorded with all the musicians together at the same time, it was particularly fun to see. Standing in various parts of the room, with the orchestra playing around me, was an experience I won’t forget.
A particular treat was seeing the number of instruments and miscellaneous toys and devices available to the six or so percussionists. They had one case after another loaded with oddities that could create different sounds – toys, pieces of metal, wood, and plastic. Percussionists clearly look at every object as having unique sound potential.
I was joined on the field trip by “AirTalk” producer Karen Fritsche and “Offramp” producer/reporter Kevin Ferguson. We’re planning soon to add video from our visit and, hopefully, a fully-produced piece for “Offramp.”