Just a short post today honoring a very tall man – Abraham Lincoln: sixteenth President of the United States, born today in 1809. For those of you astute in the mathematical sciences, good ol’ honest Abe just hit the bicentennial mark! This month he is appearing on new postage stamps, new coins, new books, documentaries, and apparently even in my sketchbook.
I have two great loves in life. The first – I love to draw. The second – I love to listen to music from film scores. The best is when I get to combine the two. Often, this only means that as I sit down to my drafting table, I load up the CD player and listen to the sounds of galaxies far, far away, or those of dusty sepia streets where two squinting gunmen are about to “discuss” the finer points of a disagreement, or the sounds of missions too impossible to complete. One day this past fall, these two loves collided in a big way.
I first moved to the Los Angeles area of California in 1997 to come work in the movie business. Granted, my area of expertise has always been in the world of cartooning, so who would have thought that my love of film score music would yield in anything more than a better selection in the used bins of LA’s music stores? I first began to work for Disney Feature Animation on the film Mulan. The legendary Jerry Goldsmith was writing the music for this movie, and I had the great and unexpected pleasure of meeting him a few times. And so the fever began.
In those early years with Disney, I was fortunate enough to attend scoring sessions with Mark Mancina during the making of Tarzan, and I was in the studio with Randy Newman when he recorded the opening sequence to Toy Story 2. All wonderful privileges I truly cherish. I attended music seminars, chats and concerts with Elmer Bernstein, Christopher Young, Thomas Newman and many others. Somewhere in there, I realized that while I enjoyed drawing at home listening to the work of these wonderful artists, I should sketch while actually in their presence.
Michael Giacchino is quickly becoming one of the go to guys for some really terrific film music. He got his start composing for video games like Medal of Honor and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and moved on to television shows like Alias and LOST. His film work is as diversified as The Incredibles to Ratatouille (for which he received an Oscar nomination), to Mission Impossible III. He is really amazing. (Check out his website http://www.MichaelGiacchino.com)
I first met Michael at a concert at UCLA where he conducted a piece from his then new score to The Incredibles. It wasn’t long afterwards that I was able to attend a recording session for LOST at the famous Capitol Records building in Hollywood. It was in these very rooms that artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and many others had recorded their hits (a fact they don’t let you forget with all the photos on the walls). The air there was electrifying! I brought along my sketchbook, and really immersed myself in recording with a pencil those that sat before me who were recording audio digitally.
Over the years, I have been to a few sessions with Michael, and each time I take my sketchbook. This past October, an interesting opportunity arose when I attended a scoring session for the new Star Trek movie that Michael was working on for his friend and director J.J. Abrams. My friend Dan Goldwasser, from the terrific film score news website http://www.ScoringSessions.com, wanted to post some photos of the day’s events on his site. Since this new movie is not due out until May of 2009, Paramount didn’t want any photographic promos of anything related to the movie to get out too early. Michael Giacchino looked over at me and suggested that since it’s all hush-hush, maybe I could do some courtroom style drawings of the session that they could post instead.
So, that day I sketched like a madman. I sketched Tim Simonec (the orchestrator/conductor), J.J. Abrams (director), Dan Wallin (scoring mixer), Andrea Datzman and Chad Seiter (orchestrators), and Giacchino, of course. Together with the aid of Goldwasser’s terrific photos (that will probably be on his site closer to the release of the movie), I completed my “courtroom” sketches later in my studio.
Drawn with brown Prismacolor pencils, the illustrations were colored in Photoshop and made their appearance on ScoringSessions.com right before Christmas. You can see them here, but you should also see them where they were first intended at http://scoringsessions.com/news/169/
Hope you enjoy these pieces. I look forward to the next opportunity to sketch live like this!
UPDATE: APRIL 21, 2009 – As of today, photos of the actual Star Trek scoring sessions have been made public. Click HERE to see my post about the photos that includes a link to see all of them.