360/VR Audio & Working on Google Spotlight Stories’ Oscar Nominee, “Pearl”
Pollen Music Group’s Alexis Harte, Scot Stafford and JJ Wiesler Talk Specializing in 360/VR Audio & Working on Google Spotlight Stories’ Oscar Nominee, “Pearl”
Pollen Music Group & Google Spotlight Stories has released a behind-the-scenes video detailing their process scoring the music for the first VR project to receive an Oscar nomination and one of the first to win an Emmy, Pearl.
The four-minute video details how Alexis Harte, Scot Stafford, and JJ Wiesler of Pollen put the music and sound design sound effects together for the animated short.
Alexis says that “No Wrong Way Home,” the short’s featured song, is “performed in different contexts by the two main characters. Kelley Stoltz sings the early father version and Nicki Bluhm sings the daughter’s version. The “band” and bridge singers are Pollen members and Emily Afton. I wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music with JJ Wiesler. Dave Lebolt did the horn arrangement. The track was produced by Scot Stafford and JJ Wiesler.”
“In Pearl, there’s a continuous and seamless exchange between on- and off-screen sources of the song. Sometimes the actors perform it, sometimes they hear it on the radio, and sometimes we viewers just hear it in our heads, like a soundtrack,” says Scot.
Speaking to the technical side, JJ says that “object audio, ambisonic audio and headlocked stereo audio were all used simultaneously. Given the high level of technical challenges, our main goal was to make the result feel very smooth and organic. We’ve had some viewers say, ‘I didn’t even notice the sound,’ and that in a way is the highest compliment.”
This year, Pearl took home the Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Programming. Pearl‘s score, based on their original song, “No Wrong Way Home,” also won a 2016 Annie Award, a Proto Award, and a Ciclope Award. Pollen is donating the proceeds of the track, available on BandCamp from Pearl to the Grammy’s official charity, MusiCares.
Previously, Pollen created the scores for Pixar’s Oscar-nominated short Presto, 2015 AICE Best Original Score winner, Duet, by Disney animation-veteran Glen Keane, and 2017 Sundance selection Asteroids! by Baobob Studios. Other projects include sound for Adidas: Project Harden, Oscar-winner Jan Pinkava’s Windy Day, The Simpsons’ 600th episode’s VR couch gag, Planet of the Couches, and the full spherical sound design and mixes on Gorillaz’s newest album, Spirit House.
Pollen Music Group is a San Francisco-based music collective comprised of songwriters, composers, producers, and audio visionaries, which aims to create authentic music and impactful sound design for advertising, TV, film, VR, and games. Pollen has continued collaborations with Google, including scoring the recently released VR animation “Son of Jaguar,” which was directed by The Book of Life’s Jorge Gutierrez.
For more information on Pollen, visit their website (http://pollenmusicgroup.com/).