The Most Iconic Christmas Movie Soundtracks of All Time

The holidays are finally here. It’s time to rest and recharge after a long and challenging year.

Everyone spends the holidays differently, but we think it’s safe to say that the best Christmas activity is to snuggle up on the couch with a hot beverage and a feel-good, classic Christmas movie. A close second is, of course, singing along to the soundtrack. Music plays a huge role during the holidays, as it can get even the biggest Scrooge in the Christmas spirit in no time.

From timeless holiday classics to new releases, each Christmas movie sounds amazing in its own way, and there’s nothing like a good holiday song to awaken feelings of comfort and joy within us. Here at Cutting Room Music, we believe the greatest Christmas movie soundtracks are those that play on our nostalgia, evoking pleasant and cozy memories, snuggly feels and relaxation. We decided to handpick a few of our favorite Christmas movie soundtracks, and share them with you.

Holiday Inn

Let’s start our list with a timeless gem. “White Christmas” is arguably one of the most recognizable Christmas songs of all time, and Holiday Inn is a true classic. The 1942 movie is stitched together by a beautiful Christmas soundtrack, with the film even earning an Oscar. Apart from the beautiful soundtrack, viewers can also enjoy the flawless dancing in the musical. If you’re into classic black-and-white movies, or if you’re curious how a 1942 movie captured the essence of Christmas, you would definitely enjoy Holiday Inn.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Next up is this wholesome animation movie from 1965. Even though it’s a kid’s movie, it can be enjoyed by the whole family, and its unique soundtrack really touches a cord. The way the team produced the soundtrack for the movie is truly amazing. Rather than hiring famous musical stars or filling it with pop music, the Bay Area production team behind the movie turned to local artist Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi then crafted a sophisticated jazz score for the film, which became one of the best-selling Christmas soundtracks of all time. 

Gremlins

Gremlins is one of those movies that captures 1980’s culture in the best way possible. Its soundtrack is very impressive and in-tune with the trends, filled with captivating songs full of keyboards and synths. The film goes from sounding like a full-on Hollywood classic fanfare, to an offbeat experience later on with impressive musical twists and turns. It’s a very entertaining and fun movie, perfect to cheer up the whole family.

Die Hard

Of course, Die Hard is a Christmas movie – this is not up for debate. Unlike the previously mentioned titles, Die Hard isn’t filled with Christmas songs throughout its entirety, however, the hints are all there. Michael Kamen is a genius for crafting one of the most intelligent Christmas soundtracks of all time. His ability to rework classic Christmas songs and mix them with action tracks just goes to show his pure talent, further proving that Die Hard is indeed, a Christmas movie. Fun fact: Run-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis” is also included in the movie.

Home Alone

A holiday movie list couldn’t be complete without including Home Alone. It’s perhaps the most popular and most beloved Christmas movie ever, and its soundtrack is also a true classic. The movie is filled with amazing songs, and each scene is accompanied by a perfect track. For many of us, it’s a Christmas staple that sets off the holiday season. The music, composed by John Williams, is a beautiful blend of festive warmth and magic, and fills up any household with joy and a holiday spirit.

Before you go…

The list can still go on, because there are countless other amazing Christmas movie soundtracks that capture our hearts and souls each year. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, The Polar Express, and The Grinch all sound Christmassy and can evoke the holiday spirit in no time. All that’s left to do now is to brew a hot cup of tea, get a fluffy blanket, and choose a holiday movie to get lost in.

If you’re in need of help with a musical project, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cutting Room Music team. We’re a trio of passionate composers that can’t wait to work on new, creative and exciting projects.

Taking a Deep Dive into the Eerie and Outworldly Soundtracks of Denis Villeneuve’s Films

Denis Villeneuve is arguably one of the most artistic, imaginative and visionary directors in Hollywood right now. He approaches each project with elegance and thoughtfulness, creating incredible worlds that are visual masterpieces. The stories he tells within these worlds almost always have a deeper meaning and a profound effect on the viewer. The way he combines grand-scale worldbuilding and cinematography with philosophical undertones is a skill not many can master, and the music he uses to convey the tension in his scenes underlines his desire to completely immerse the viewer.

Villeneuve’s latest installment, Dune, is the director’s biggest film in terms of scale, and the movie’s original score doesn’t shy away from absorbing us completely into this incredible world he managed to put on screen. He never fails to continuously raise the bar, whether he is showcasing breathtaking landscapes in Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, the inner turmoil of his characters in Prisoners and Enemy, or the nail-biting tension in Sicario. But how does the music in his films express so incredibly well the way he wants us to feel?

With this article, Cutting Room Music is taking a deep dive into the music of Denis Villeneuve’s three distinctive films: Dune, Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival. We’re looking at how the director and the composers who worked on these films managed to breathe life into these projects, and how the perfect manipulation of music makes viewers more engaged and invested, without them even realizing it.

Dune – Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer said in an interview with the New York Times that Dune was one of his most ambitious projects ever. The acclaimed composer has been fantasizing about scoring Dune ever since he first read Frank Herbert’s novel as a teenager, almost 50 years ago. He even turned down Christopher Nolan for Tenet in order to work on his dream project.

Zimmer worked with a handful of musical collaborators who sang, made music from banging and scraping metal, and even invented new instruments for the score. The movie’s soundtrack is Zimmer’s most unorthodox and most provocative project yet. He made use of synthesizers, bamboo flutes and Irish whistles, and even the sound of the desert in Utah to bring forth the outworldly sounds of Dune.

The combination of all these elements resulted in the sounds we all fell in love with during the movie. The weird, futuristic, and Saharan-esque soundtrack accompanies us throughout the entire film, tying us, the viewers, closer to this intergalactic civilization and their struggles – and of course, to the giant sandworms. The score can be described as spiritual, and it plays a key role in the narrative of the film.

Blade Runner 2049 – Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch

Another epic tale that takes place in space is Blade Runner 2049, a visual masterpiece that embraces the elements of outer space mystery and emptiness. The soundtrack, helmed by maestro Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, manages to tell a story of its own. Following up the original Blade Runner soundtrack must have been a daunting task for the composers, but they managed to deliver.

Benjamin Wallfisch told FACT in an interview that they tried to create a contemporary sound using 40-year-old technology. It was hard, but the process gave soul to their compositions. Zimmer added that Villeneuve’s films are often hard to describe using words, insisting that music is the only other language that can convey the intended message, and most importantly, the heavy feelings. 

Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s score accompanies Ryan Gosling’s “K” throughout the movie. Truth be told, it’s nearly impossible to imagine those breathtaking visual shots without the two composers’ incredible musical contribution.

Arrival – Jóhann Jóhannsson

The late Jóhann Jóhannsson crafted an impeccable work of art in the form of music for this global crisis science-fiction movie. Arrival is a story about alien contact, but also a deep, personal story about a mother and her child. In an interview with NPR, the Icelandic composer shared that he knew from the start that the score needs to move the audience and to have a “humanity” feel to it.

Arrival is dark, and to create that feeling of dread, Jóhannsson often used both conventional and non-conventional elements when producing the tracks. Strings, low and high horns, and woodwinds are present in some of the tracks, as well as eerie loops and overtone singing. Jóhann Jóhannsson was highly inspired by the shapes and signs that are conjured by the aliens throughout the movie when it came to crafting the soundtrack.

As communication, or the lack of it, is one of the main elements of the movie, the music sometimes serves as the bridge between Amy Adams’ character and the visitors.

Before you go…

It’s incredibly hard to put into words the atmosphere Denis Villeneuve and the composers he works with conjure on screen. These films take you on an epic visual and sound journey, often leaving you wanting more, and having more questions than answers when the credits start rolling. Villeneuve is a genius when it comes to making the viewer experience and feel certain emotions, and he strategically works with composers who can bring out the best in his work with music.


If you want to breathe life into your projects with music, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cutting Room Music team. We’re a trio of passionate composers that can’t wait to work on new, creative and exciting projects.

What is the Music from “Squid Game” Trying to Tell Us?

The world is obsessed with Netflix’s Squid Game. The South Korean drama is the #1 show in 90 different countries and recently became Netflix’s most-watched show of all time—in less than a month since its release. The story centers around a group of people drowning in debt, who are invited to a remote location to play a series of Korean childhood games, but with a deadly twist. Although the games are usually the front and center of the show, Squid Game also focuses on human connection. It explores the different emotions the players go through during the games, including trust issues, betrayal, hopelessness, sparks of love, and utter dread.

The story is compelling, but another area where the show shines lies in its incredible and strategic placement of music and use of sounds, especially during gory, horror, and uneasy sequences.

How does the music in Squid Game add to the story?

Squid Game is filled with Western classical music, as well as unique Korean tracks exclusively composed and produced for the show’s soundtrack. The way they utilize the music is very intriguing. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk mentioned in several interviews that during the games, Korean music is being played to further add to the show’s cultural identity. The traditional games unfold with Korean compositions playing in the background.

On the flip side, Western classical music is used at the beginning of the games, and at the end of them. Let’s explore two tracks:

Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto

Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major is used in scenes where the helplessness of the contestants, as well as the power of the hosts and VIPs, are showcased. The track is often played at critical points, bringing a sense of unease to both the participants and viewers throughout the series.

Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto was previously used as signal music in a popular Korean quiz game named Janghak Quiz. The classic show ran from 1973-1996.

Due to its fanfare style, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto is a perfect fit for the scenes leading up to the games. The first morning, the players are also woken up by this song. In the real world, fanfares were usually used at opening ceremonies or at the start of wars and battles. That’s why this song was such a strategic choice, as the games combine both elements of war and ceremony.

Johann Strauss’ The Blue Danube Waltz

Back in 1866, Strauss was commissioned to write a piece in order to lift the spirits of the people of Vienna. Austria had just lost the Austrian-Prussian war and over 100,000 people lost their lives. This is how The Blue Danube Waltz was born.

Squid Game utilizes the song in the same fashion. The song is used by the hosts to lift the spirits of the players before and after the games. Each game ends in carnage, with people losing their lives and players witnessing tragic losses, similar to what the people of Vienna went through after the war.

Classical music streaming went through the roof on Spotify

According to new data shared by Spotify and published by Pigeons & Planes, classical compositions featured in Squid Game have seen a huge increase in streams.

The data shows that streams of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major (3rd movement) have increased by more than 325% since the show was released. Strauss’ By The Beautiful Blue Danube” saw an increase of nearly 80% and another classical song highly featured in the show, Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Minor (2nd movement), surged 50%.

You can also listen to the original Korean soundtrack on Spotify.

Before you go…

In essence, the show depicts the huge discrepancy between the rich (VIPs) and the poor (the players). The rich bet on these human lives, similar to horse racing. There’s clearly a massive divide between the contestants and the hosts, and the Korean vs. Western soundtrack helps distinguish the two groups immaculately. 

A great score and a great soundtrack can add layers upon layers to any production. Music usually tells a story of its own, but sometimes, it makes a completely separate story even better. Scoring a project is hard work, but the end result is always worth it.

If you’re in need of help with a musical project, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cutting Room Music team. We’re a trio of passionate composers that can’t wait to work on new, creative and exciting projects.

Study: 43% of Americans Would Rather Watch a Movie Premiere at Home Instead of the Cinema

There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting down in a cinema with a bag of popcorn and a soda, and experiencing the premiere of a film with a crowd. At the same time, there’s nothing like the feeling of relaxing with a couple of close friends, or alone, and streaming a movie that was just released in the comforts of your home.

Both statements are correct, however, people are a little bit divided regarding which of the two they actually prefer. At Cutting Room Music, we got curious to see just how divided the preferences of movie lovers are in 2021, so we created a survey and asked all the right questions. With the whole COVID-19 situation still unfolding, it didn’t come as a surprise that, if they had the chance, 43% of Americans would prefer to pay a fee and watch the premiere of a movie in the comforts of their home, rather than going to the cinema.

Currently, some streaming services provide this luxury,” but it’s still unclear if this trend is here to stay, or if it’s just a passing phase. With this survey, we tried to find out how the pandemic, frequent shelter-ins, the temporary closing of cinemas, and the rise of streaming services have affected the audience’s preference when it comes to movie premieres. The results we obtained are pretty interesting, and we’re excited to share them with you.

32% of Americans don’t like going to the cinema

With the pandemic still unfolding, some people are not yet comfortable enough to go to a movie theater. Even though 32% of movie lovers still choose to not go to the cinema, 20% say they enjoy seeing a flick at the movie theater at least once a month. 17% say they go to the cinema twice a month, while 16% go between 2 and 5 movies per month. 

Overall, 37% of the respondents reported they watch at least 1 movie each month, at home or at the cinema. 25% said they watch between 5 and 10 movies each month, and 18% said they watch more than 15 movies each month. That’s a lot of movies!

72% of film lovers say straight-to-streaming-service releases affected their habit of going to the movies

The rise of streaming services had already started “threatening”  theatrical releases even before the pandemic. A couple of years ago, companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime started hashing out numerous movies, exclusive to their platform. Slowly, people embraced the idea of watching a brand new movie straight from their living room. The pandemic only escalated this trend, and some theaters were even at the brink of closing in 2020.

Now, 72% of film lovers say straight-to-streaming-service movie releases affected people’s habits of going to the cinema. It’s quite a high percentage, and with more streaming companies deciding to release movies both at the cinema and on their platform at the same time, more and more people will choose to skip theatrical releases. Marvel’s Black Widow was one of the first release experiments of this year, being available to watch both at the cinema and on Disney+ starting July 9. Although it was well-received, backlash followed soon after.

Before the pandemic, 63% of film lovers went to the cinema more often

Before COVID, cinemas were usually packed, especially at big-budget releases. Things have changed since then, and now, movie theaters are slightly emptier. Some of this has to do with both the audience’s preference of watching movies at home, but also with ongoing indoor restrictions in some areas. Nonetheless, 63% of our respondents said they used to go to the cinema much more frequently a couple of years ago.

When asked what they prefer to do now when one of their highly anticipated movies releases, 30% of the survey respondents said they choose to see the film on opening weekend, or even the day of release. 25% said they prefer waiting for a digital release, so they can watch it in the comforts of their home. 

If they had the chance, 43% of film enthusiasts would pay a fee to watch a movie premiere on a streaming service

Even though almost half of the survey respondents say they enjoy watching the premiere of a movie at home, 20% still prefer to go to the cinema. However, 37% would mix it up, and depending on the movie, they would watch it at home or at the movie theater. 

We mentioned the release of Black Widow on Disney+ in one of the previous sections, however, Disney+ isn’t the only streaming service to have released a huge production both on its platform and at the cinema. In 2021, Warner Brothers decided to release their movies both on HBO MAX and in movie theaters—on the same date. 47% of the survey respondents said they’ve seen some HBO MAX premieres at home, and really enjoyed them.

Those who enjoy watching the premiere of a highly anticipated movie at home choose to do so because it’s more comfortable and convenient, it’s safer, they can take breaks whenever they want, and love the fact that other people don’t distract them.

On the flipside, cinema lovers enjoy the big screen, the sound effects, audience reactions and the overall atmosphere of the cinema.

Where would Americans watch 2021’s most anticipated movies?

When asked which movies are they most excited about in the last months of 2021, the respondents said they can’t wait to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Matrix Resurrections, No Time To Die and DUNE. 

Although most of the survey suggests that people would prefer watching movie premieres at home, huge blockbusters can still pack cinemas for multiple weeks and weekends. When asked where would our respondents see the upcoming Fall/Winter blockbusters, 57% said they would go to the cinema, while 43% would watch the films at home.

When it comes to streaming platforms, 44% say their top choice is Netflix, 22% prefer Amazon Prime, 13% like HBO MAX and 12% enjoy Hulu.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt the pandemic has almost completely altered the habits of movie lovers. Most people nowadays prefer to see films at home, and if given the opportunity, they would even pay a fee for the chance of watching the premiere of a movie from the comforts of their couch. However, huge blockbuster releases still have the power to persuade people to the cinema. Although streaming services are changing the game, it’s safe to say that cinemas aren’t closing anytime soon; it’s just that a few seats might stay empty.

Methodology

The survey was created with Google Forms, and distributed with Pollfish in the United States.

Six Actors Who Went Above and Beyond To Learn an Instrument for Their Role

Envisioning the music that will play key elements in a movie is no small feat for writers, producers, directors and composers. Composing a score for a feature-length film, as well as assembling artists and musicians for an original soundtrack requires a lot of coordination, planning and experience. When “live” music also plays a key role in a film, and songs need to be performed on camera, another challenge has to be overcome—this time, by the actors. Acting is challenging on its own, but the idea of learning to play a musical instrument for a role can make the job that much harder for the actor.

Mastering an instrument can take years of dedication, but sometimes actors are expected to learn to play the piano, guitar or drums in only 6 months. This takes countless hours of work and perseverance, and actors are often put through harsh practice sessions just to have them prepared for several key scenes. However, the final result is usually astonishing, and tremendously enhances the authenticity of the film. At Cutting Room Music, we decided to take a look at several of our favorite actors who went above and beyond to learn an instrument and make their movies as authentic as possible.

Our favorite six actors who learned to play a musical instruments for their roles

We all love listening to music, but the ones who understand its craft or play an instrument themselves appreciate it tenfold. The actors mentioned below have no doubt gone to cherish music even more after the credits rolled on their movies, reminiscing the rigorous training sessions they withstood in order to get here.

Adrian Brody – The Pianist

The Pianist centers around Polish virtuoso Wladyslaw Szpilman in German-occupied Poland during World War II, who manages to survive both the Holocaust and the destruction of Warsaw. For this role, Brody was expected to learn to play the piano to a high standard. Director Roman Polanski insisted he practice the instrument every day, both before the shoot and during, to portray the most authentic Szpilman ever to be seen on screen. The hard work paid off, earning Adrian Brody an Oscar in 2003 for his incredible performance.

Miles Teller – Whiplash

Whiplash tells the story of a young drummer with dreams of greatness who enrolls to a harsh conservatory where he is mentored by a relentless instructor. Andrew, played by Teller, is subject to endure pure cruelty by instructor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who will stop at nothing to realize Andrew’s full potential. They both deliver stunning performances, and Miles Teller’s drumming skills add enormous value to the project. Although Miles has been playing the drums since he was 15 years old, he took additional lessons to prepare for the film with Nate Lang.

Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

Portraying Johnny Cash and June Carter, the two actors were rumored to nearly quit over the sheer difficulty of learning to both sing and play the guitar for Walk the Line. Learning, then unlearning and then relearning Cash’s iconic strumming style was excruciatingly difficult for Joaquin. Reese Witherspoon also told MTV in an interview that the rehearsals, learning to play the autoharp, learning to sing and recording an album were the most challenging and horrifying experiences of her life. Nonetheless, they both prevailed, and Joaquin Phoenix got himself an Oscar nomination for the role, while Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress. Roger Love prepped the two actors for Walk the Line.

Keira Knightley – Begin Again

Begin Again is a musical-comedy directed by John Carney that follows the bond between struggling record label executive Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo) and talented indie musician Gretta James (Keira Knightley). Although having no previous experience with any instrument or singing, Knightley delivers a stunning performance. She fell in love with singing and the guitar, and managed to stun everybody in the final musical performance of the movie, where Knightley seamlessly blends her soft voice and fragile persona with upbeat and stylish strumming.

Samuel L. Jackson – Black Snake Moan

In Black Snake Moan, Samuel L. Jackson embodied his inner blues artist and delivered a formidable performance. Lazarus is arguably one of the most underrated roles of Jackson, the actor stating that playing him was far more complex than any other character he had portrayed up until then. Samuel L. Jackson practiced up to six or seven hours a day in a span of seven months and learned the guitar by the time shooting had started. He often practiced during the production of Snakes on a Plane.

Conclusion

These are just some of our favorite performances, however, countless other incredible actors learned to play a musical instrument for their roles, including Christopher Walken in A Late Quartet, Taron Egerton in Rocketman, Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born, and so on. It’s fascinating to see how an actor is willing to go to such great lengths to nail a performance, which ultimately makes them and the audience appreciate musicians, composers and songwriters even more.

Are you looking for a team to help you compose music for a feature-length film?

We are a team of highly passionate composers that can bring any visual work of art to life with the help of music. No project is too large or too small for us, so whether you need an original composition for a Hollywood blockbuster, an indie movie, or a documentary, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Our Round-Up of the 8 Best Video Game Scores of All Time

In one of our recent blog posts, we talked about the process of writing music for video games with Mark Roos and Tom Salta, and explored key elements of video game music production. While discussing the sheer amount of work that goes into these projects, and how technology helped push boundaries for this medium, we couldn’t help but think of our favorite titles.

We know that it’s really hard to come up with a shortlist that can feature every video game that has an incredible score, but we tried our best. Of course, the list is not exhaustive, and it will also be inevitably subjective, but we think we’ve got something here. Check out Cutting Room Music‘s round-up of the 8 video games that had some of the most amazing music, enhancing the overall gaming experience for the players.

1. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

The remastered Mass Effect trilogy came out not so long ago, and we’re more in love with its music than ever. Mass Effect has one of the most iconic video game soundtracks ever, blending 80’s electronic music with modern orchestral scoring, heavily immersing the player in a space opera adventure that spans over 80 hours. 

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 is regarded as one of the best open-world games, thanks to its incredible story, amazing world building and characters, as well as unique music. From start to finish, the game’s score takes you on a musical journey filled with relaxing songs, as well as suspenseful and energetic tracks to keep your heart pounding.

3. The Last of Us & The Last of Us Part II

Gustavo Santaolalla added an extra layer of genius to Naughty Dog’s masterpiece with his original composition, bringing unparalleled levels of depth and emotion to The Last of Us series. The first game’s music emotionally resonates and emphasizes how Joel, Ellie, and all the characters in the game perceive the world around them, while the music in the second game enhances Ellie’s emotional journey, which is filled with grief, trauma, revenge, and PTSD. It’s basically what you’d call an emotional rollercoaster.

4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Exploring and getting lost in Skyrim is still one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences ever. Accompanied by your trusty sword, powers, and enchanting music, you can spend hours on end in the game without even realizing it – play this game at your own peril. Jeremy Soule composed the entire music for Skyrim, jokingly stating that he only used a midi keyboard and his hands for the digital recording process. He makes it sound pretty easy, doesn’t he?

5. Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima created a breathtaking world, ravaged by a deadly disease that resulted in a broken, isolated society—oddly similar to ours in the wake of the pandemic. The suspenseful and spine-tingling music composed by Ludvig Forssell, as well as songs from Low Roar, CHVRCHES, and Bring Me The Horizon completely envelop you in the game that stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and Guillermo Del Toro.

6. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Including only one Halo game into this list would have been a disservice to the series, if you ask us about it. Halo’s main theme is one of the most popular video game songs ever released. Almost the entire franchise’s score is produced by heavyweights Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. The melodies, chants, and symphonic touches lead you on an epic journey spanning multiple games.

7. DOOM

If you’re into horror, demons, and heavy metal, DOOM is the perfect game that covers all of these areas in a very entertaining way. There’s nothing like exploring a demon-infested space station on Mars and being swarmed by unholy creatures, while Mick Gordon’s heavy metal score pumps you up and keeps your adrenaline levels elevated. 

8. Cyberpunk 2077

While the game itself left many fans disappointed, the music in Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the best elements of the game. Marcin Przybyłowicz, P.T. Adamczyk, and Paul Leonard-Morgan did an extraordinary job bringing Night City to life with synthwave, industrial techno, and darksynth. The game also features a rich soundtrack and original compositions from Nina Kraviz, Run the Jewels, Grimes, and more.

Final notes

The list can go on, with titles like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Shadow of the Colossus, as well as the Final Fantasy and Silent Hill series. All of these games manage to stir up different emotional states with their music, which makes the entire gaming experience that much better and more enjoyable. It’s no wonder so many of us are addicted to video games…

Looking for a team to help you compose music for your video game?

We are a team of highly passionate composers that can bring any visual work of art to life with the help of music, including video games. No project is too large or too small for us, so whether you need an original composition for a triple-A game, an indie title, or mobile game, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Process of Writing Music for Video Games, with Tom Salta and Mark Roos

Video games are arguably among the most creative mediums that can offer deep levels of immersion when it comes to entertainment. Gameplay, story mechanics, and graphics work together harmoniously to bring us captivating moments, however, the experience wouldn’t be complete without the addition of original music and compositions.

Tom Salta, a true veteran of video game music production and composition, sat down with us for a couple of minutes and offered some personal insight on the subject. Tom Salta composed music for several Halo games, including Halo: Spartan Assault. Tom says that the soundtrack for the original Halo game was what inspired him to start composing video game scores in the first place. He worked on the soundtracks of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, PUBG, the Tom Clancy Ghost Recon franchise, and more.

“I feel that games are immersive experiences that take you to endless places and endless times, and I just love being immersed in those kind of worlds. It also really connects with me because I’ve been a gamer since the late 70s, so it kind of keeps me young and engaged.”

Tom Salta, composer for several Halo games, PUBGPrince of Persia: Forgotten SandsNFS: U2, and more.

Tom Salta

Video game scores have greatly evolved since the classic 16-bit sound bites found in arcade games. Nowadays, composers work with dozens of instruments and even orchestras in recording studios to capture the overall feel of a game with music. Although video game scores are similar to movie scores, the implementation and recording process are a bit different.

“I see the technology of digital music making it easier and easier to take an idea that’s in your head and turn it into reality. We really have to find new ways to challenge and navigate technology and find the things that inspire creativity to realize our ideas.”

Tom Salta

The process behind creating a video game score

When it comes to music in movies, viewers experience it pretty much in the same, linear way, the only distinguishing aspect being their interpretation. In open-world video games, for example, music is often experienced uniquely, as players can approach an event differently and play through areas with unique playstyles, triggering different types of sounds and music. Stealth approaches can trigger suspenseful music, while a more direct approach can set off an upbeat track.

Mark Roos, one of the co-founders of Cutting Room Music, also worked on a Microsoft game called Links in the early 2000s, and was kind enough to share the entire recording experience with us.

Mark Roos

“When Microsoft approached me to help them compose music for Links back in 2004, the game was almost picture-locked. We had to compose 77 live tracks for different sections of the game, including menus and highlight reels, similar to how music in FIFA and NBA 2k is set up nowadays.

The first demo we sent was actually recorded in one of my friends’ basement, and we recorded it on an analog tape machine because that was the only thing we had. We used live drums, guitars, and bass, and sent it. Their first reaction was: Wow, this has a really garage band feel to it!

For the final cut, we made it sound a little bit cleaner and we also recorded additional tracks in a studio. I finished the writing, mixing, and mastering the 77 tracks, with all the metadata, in three and a half weeks and sent them to Microsoft. They loved it.”

Mark Roos, co-founder of Cutting Room Music and composer for Amazon Prime’s Trending CrimesAmerican PickersCatfishKeeping Up With The KardashiansPixarMicrosoft, and more.

Composers try to come up with different tracks for various scenarios during the recording process, to provide the player with an immersive experience. Recording a video game score involves composers constantly seeing footage of the game’s different areas, as well as being up-to-date with the plot and its characters, and how different scenarios would play out. If composers are brought in really early in the game’s development process, they might be asked to start recording music with only the help of concept art.

Back then, what I did was just a simple stereo mix. Now it’s much more sophisticated and the overall scope is much larger. With the help of AVR, developers can add music and sound effects anywhere and make it change in real-time to sound better on specific devices, including surround systems and headphones. Basically, there are very few limitations, that’s why a lot of people enjoy scoring video games rather than film, because they feel like they’ve got more creative freedom.

Mark Roos

Looking for a team to help you compose music for your video game?

We are a team of highly passionate and dedicated composers that can bring any visual work to life with the help of music, including video games. No project is too large or too small for us, so whether you need an original composition for an indie title, mobile game, or a triple-A project, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

When Technology Paves the Road to Success: Animation Movies Made $51 Billion at the Box Office During the 2010s

The synergy between technology and art has paved the way for film directors and animators to tell compelling stories and breathe life into their creative work. Animation tools and film technology have evolved and reached new milestones over the course of the years, and thanks to these technological advancements, we get to enjoy Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks animation masterpieces.

Digital filmmaking is at its peak, and the creative freedom that storytellers have nowadays when it comes to animated movies is astonishing. Studios are now using cutting-edge software to create feature-length animations, and tech-savvy filmmakers are still discovering new ways to improve upon this technology. “The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art”—these are the famous words of John Lasseter, former CCO of Pixar and Disney, and we couldn’t agree more with this statement.

Fascinated by the evolution of technology and the success of animated movies, here at Cutting Room Music, we did a little digging to see how the popularity and worldwide box office success of feature-length animations have changed over the decades. We stumbled upon some pretty interesting results on BoxOfficeMojo.com, and decided to share our findings with you. We also wrote a story on how movie genre popularity and worldwide box office revenue changed through 1980 and 2020, if you want to check that out.

For this study, we looked at the same time period (1980 through 2020), but we focused exclusively on the evolution of animated movies. Read on to see what we’ve found and make sure to check out the chart below.

Animation Movies Box Office Earnings  1980 to 2020 | Cutting Room Music
Click on the image for a full-size view

Animated movies gain popularity in the ‘80s, scoring a total of $3 billion at the box office

Cinemas weren’t always filled with impeccable, 3D computer-generated animations. Filmmakers and animators in the 80s were still using classical methods like hand-drawn animations or 2D animations. Still, animated movies managed to earn up to $3 billion at the worldwide box office in the span of 10 years.

During the 1980s, animated movies were still only popular among children, and adults usually watched these movies when accompanying their kids to the cinema. It took almost one-and-a-half decades for the industry to consider creating animated movies for a broader audience. Nevertheless, movies such as The Little Mermaid, An American Tail, and The Secret of Nimh were huge successes.

Released in 1989, The Little Mermaid grossed $84 million at the worldwide box office. This movie was the starting point for Disney’s streak of animations that were soon to follow throughout the next decade. The Little Mermaid was the first time Disney introduced the Computer Animation Production Systems (CAPS), a tool they fully integrated in the 1990s in their feature-length animations.

This was also the decade when a live action actor and an animated character would share the screen throughout an entire film, in the iconic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? animation. The movie earned $238 million at the worldwide box office in 1988.

The 1990s: The Disney renaissance and the rise of computer animated movies

Following the success of The Little Mermaid, Disney went on to release multiple animated movies that are considered classics to this day, including Beauty and the Beast, which grossed $249 million in 1991, and Aladdin in 1992, which earned $346 million at the worldwide box office. The Lion King, released in 1994, became a huge hit, peaking at #1 and earning just over $859 million. Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Hercules also came out during the 1990s. Most of these movies were done with CAPS, allowing animators to color sequences that featured hand-drawn characters in digital spaces.

This decade, more specifically 1995, also marked a new beginning for animated movies with the release of Pixar’s Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-generated 3D animation movie. When it came out, it was unlike anything else in terms of quality and animation, and soon other studios would follow suit, including Dreamworks. Toy Story earned $245 million at the worldwide box office, peaking at #3 in 1995, while Dreamworks’ Antz grossed $172 million. Following the success of Toy Story, Pixar Animations and Walt Disney Pictures released Toy Story 2 in 1999, which earned $487 million at the worldwide box office. 

Space Jam, starring Michael Jordan and the entire Looney Toons gang, was another iconic live-action animation movie released in the 90s that scored big-time at the box office. Furthermore, in 1993 Tim Burton released the iconic stop-motion animation The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Disney and Pixar dominated the 1990s, and as a result of their critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite movies, the animation genre grossed a total of $7 billion during this decade. With computer animation catching steam towards the end of the decade, the 2000s saw a plethora of incredible releases thanks to the evolution of technology.

In the 2000s, animated movies earned more at the box office than the previous two decades, combined

Advancement and innovation in technology opened new doors for movie producers during the 1980s and 1990s. It wasn’t long until other major or independent studios started making top-notch animated movies by leveraging state-of-the-art animation software. However, this was a rough period for classical animators, with most of them being afraid of losing their jobs due to rapid technological advancements. With many professionals being used to the classical form of animation, the transition period wasn’t smooth for everybody. 

As far as movies go, animations managed to rack up a total of $24 billion at the box office, thanks to popular releases such as the Shrek franchise, Ice Age, Shark Tale, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, 9, and many, many others. During the 2000s, more and more adults were also taking an interest in animated movies, as many of the titles had incredible stories and breathtaking visuals. 

Wes Anderson released arguably one of the most iconic stop-motion and clay animations during this decade: his 2009 classic Fantastic Mr. Fox. In 2010 alone, animated movies earned $5.2 billion at the box office, just $1.8 billion short of what they earned during the entire previous decade.

Animation movies break new records in the 2010s, earning over $50 billion at the box office

As computers and technology continued to evolve at a rapid pace, so did the software products professionals used. During the 2010s, animators and filmmakers were able to create even more spectacular animations, as a result of fewer and fewer technological limitations. 3D and CG animations reached their peak, and the animation genre became more and more popular among movie lovers.

During the span of 10 years, from 2010 to 2019, animation movies grossed an astonishing $51 billion at the worldwide box office. During this period, 10 animated movies earned over $1 billion each, including the Lion King Remake ($1.6 billion in 2019), Frozen ($1.3 billion in 2013), and Toy Story 3 ($1 billion in 2010).

Conclusion

With technology continuing to advance at a rapid pace, we’re positive we’ll get to see a few breakthroughs in animation throughout this decade. And hopefully, we’ll witness some interesting box office records, too. As for the immediate future, we’re curious what the next Space Jam movie has to offer, which is hitting theaters in July 2021. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, The Addams Family 2, The Bad Guys and Rumble are also highly anticipated titles we look forward to in 2021 and 2022.

Methodology

For this story, we used public data from BoxOfficeMojo. We completed our data sets with proprietary research and used Flourish to create the charts and visuals.

Are NFTs the Future of Digital Art & Music, or Just a Bubble?

It seems like every time you go online nowadays you stumble upon some kind of opinion or news piece on NFTs. Clubhouse, LinkedIn, and Reddit board discussions on this topic are trending on the daily, with investors, digital artists, as well as curious day-to-day people sharing their thoughts, expertise, and speculation on this new craze. But what exactly are NFTs, and what’s the big fuss about them all of a sudden?

Here at Cutting Room Music, we’ve hopped on the internet and gone on a research spree to understand exactly how NFTs work and try to explain the sudden surge in popularity from the perspective of both artists and investors, to finally eliminate any confusion surrounding this subject. We’re sure most of you know at least a little bit about NFTs by now, but might struggle to understand the small details and the mechanism behind this new wave.

With this article, we aim to address every little detail about NFTs in the most understandable and consumable way possible, including their presence in the music industry. So let’s jump right in.

What exactly is an NFT?

NFT, or a Non-Fungible Token, is a unit of data stored on the Blockchain that certifies a digital asset (in this case, an image or song) to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. Confusing, right? You can think of these tokens as unique signatures of artists who create the artwork, gif, image or even a song. The digital artist has to buy a token for their content to certify its authenticity. You can only buy NFTs using cryptocurrency, like Ether, for example.

Once an artist stamps their content with an NFT, it becomes one of a kind. Whether it’s an image or a song, it can be copied and shared on the internet, but only the original will have the authenticity stamp. Think of famous paintings, for example. Arguably Van Gogh’s most famous work is The Starry Night, and even though the world is filled with replicas and posters, there’s only one original with his name on it. Same case with digital artwork barring a non-fungible token.

When it comes to music, artists are getting really creative. Huge names in the industry like Grimes, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Deadmau5 and Shawn Mendes, just to name a few, have all jumped aboard the NFT train. Whether they’re producing music on Twitch and stamping them with an NFT badge, or releasing extra songs from their albums as NFTs, artists in the music industry have been keeping busy trying to release unique content and making a name for themselves even in the crypto world.

NFTs are not interchangeable like Bitcoin, Ether, or any other cryptocurrency. Both money and cryptocurrency are fungible, and can be exchanged, but NFTs are unique, and can’t be swapped for something similar. That’s what makes them so sought-after. Once you buy one, you’re the sole owner of the unique digital content. Just like cryptocurrency, NFTs are stored on a digital ledger (Blockchain), where you can see the buyer, seller, and transaction info, however, the data is encrypted and safe, in a similar fashion to cryptocurrency.

As An artist, should I venture into the world of NFTs?

Many artists have found success selling their artwork or music as NFTs, with some of their content selling for exuberant prices. Famous NFTs are even auctioned online: Christie’s auction house sold a digital artwork by Beeple for a record-breaking $69 million. Grimes auctioned off her digital art pieces for 5.8 million within 20 minutes, while electronic musician 3LAU sold 33 digital albums for a staggering $11.6 million in NFTs. Kings of Leon are also releasing their upcoming album as an NFT.

If you’re not an established artist in the market, chances are your content won’t be sold for an insane amount of money as soon as you start creating it. However, there are a couple of websites where you can start uploading your work if you’re just starting out, like Rarible. On Rarible, you can upload both original musical compositions or artwork, or combine the two. It’s really a great starting point if you’re looking to hop into the NFT trend. SuperRare is also an awesome website worth checking out.

Should I invest in NFTs?

The whole buzz around NFTs came from the idea that if a piece of content is unique, its value could increase as time passes. The reason NFTs are so popular now is because everybody who’s either creating or collecting believes it to be the next best thing. But what happens if people decide NFTs aren’t cool anymore? It’s still pretty early to tell if this is only a phase or something that’s here to stay.

According to a new report by NonFungible.com published by The Wrap, more than $2 billion was spent on NFTs during the first quarter of 2021, an increase of roughly 2,100% from Q4 2020. That’s insane. Clearly, there’s an NFT bubble at the moment, but that is expected when a new technology starts becoming popular on the market. For the NFT market to remain stable, investors need to think long-term when buying these unique pieces, instead of trying to make a quick and easy buck short-term. Long-term investments are usually what sustains the market when trends contract.

Conclusion

Now that you know how NFTs work and their place in the market, it’s up to you whether you want to venture into this field as an artist or an investor. Here at Cutting Room Music, we’re deeply fascinated by this new art form, and if you’re ever in need of an original composition as an NFT, you know where to find us. Plus, if your a skilled digital artists who wants a backing track to your NFT artwork, we can deliver on that, too.

Which Movie Genres Earned the Most At the Box Office Between 1980 and 2020?

Key Takeaways:

Not everyone is a cinephile, but it’s safe to say that most people enjoy a good movie now and then, whether it’s something deep, action-packed, or just a casual feel-good popcorn flick. Nowadays, highly talented people around the world are involved in film making, but by far the most influential and popular place for this business is Hollywood. 

Directors, writers, composers, and sound and light engineers are the creative part of the industry, while machines like Hollywood are all about the business and making sure movies turn a profit. When it comes to huge blockbuster titles and big-budget films, studios have to make sure the movie they produce will be successful, however, the audience’s taste also plays a huge role in the overall schematic – and this taste can change dramatically, as we’re about to learn.

This interactive timeline shows exactly how audience preference and box office revenue changed throughout the years

It’s no secret that the Hollywood formula has changed many times over the years, but so has the audience’s preference. Here at Cutting Room Music, we were curious to see just how drastically the popularity of certain movie genres changed over the course of several decades, so we hopped on BoxOfficeMojo and did our research. We came across some really interesting results, and we managed to create an interactive chart that showcases how much money each genre has made worldwide from 1980 to 2020.

Take a look at the video below. It explores the evolution of all the movie genres and how much they made at the box office, in a span of 40 years.

The 80s and 90s: the golden days of Comedy and Drama

Up until the early 2000s, comedy and drama flicks ruled the box office. In the 80s, for example, comedies earned a total of $20 billion at the box office. Then, during the 90s, comedy flicks earned $32 billion, while during the 2000s, they made a total of $73 billion. During this time, movies like Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Big Lebowski, The Truman Show and Groundhog Day packed cinemas worldwide and made millions of people laugh, while also making millions of dollars at the box office.

Dramas, on the other hand, made around $16 billion in the 80s, $42 billion in the 90s, and $75 billion in the 2000s. Movies like Titanic, The Breakfast Club, Dead Poets Society, Dirty Dancing, Forrest Gump, or Good Will Hunting were massive hits during the 80s, 90s and 2000s, and are still considered classics to this day. 

It’s also worth pointing out that romance movies, although highly popular in the 80’s, gradually lost their appeal to audiences, and by 2020, the genre was among the least popular.

Between 2010 and 2020, Action and Adventure movies earned over $300 billion, combined

Before 2000, people mostly enjoyed comedies and dramas, as we’ve already seen, but action and adventure movies were also very popular before the turn of the century. Titles like Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Top Gun and The Terminator paved the way for what was to come after the mid-2000s. The new James Bond movies, the Mission Impossible series, the Bourne series, as well as the Fast & Furious series made these two movie genres more and more popular.

As technology evolved, the 2000s also marked the start of many action-packed superhero movies. In 2000, 20th Century Fox released the first X-Men movie, and the series went on to span across a total of 13 movies until 2020. Sony also found huge success with Spider-Man flicks for many years, while Marvel Studios and Disney created an incredible cinematic universe with the MCU, releasing 23 movies in just 11 years. DC Comics and Warner Brothers Studios also kept busy with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, as well as with the DC Extended Universe movies.

As a result, adventure and action movies made around $26 billion and $29 billion, respectively, during the 90s, and by the end of 2010, these genres were miles ahead of the competition. Action movies grossed $149 billion from 2010 to 2020, while adventure movies earned $164 billion in the same time span. The two genres combined earned over $300 billion between 2010 and 2020.

Technology pushes boundaries when it comes to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Animation 

As technology continued to evolve, CGI and special effects in movies became increasingly better between 2010 and 2020. Inception, Interstellar, Ad Astra and Blade Runner 2049 are just a few sci-fi marvels released in the past decade that did incredibly well at the box office. Studios like Pixar, Dreamworks Animation and Walt Disney Studios pioneered when it came to unique animated movies, and pushed the genre forward. The fantasy genre, however, outshined both sci-fi and animations during the 2000s, due to the immense success of the Lord of the Rings movie series and Harry Potter series.

During the 2000s, sci-fi, fantasy and animation movies grossed $29 billion, $49 billion and $24 billion, respectively. From 2010 to 2020, sci-fi films earned $90 billion at the box office, fantasy movies grossed $87 billion, and animation movies $51 billion worldwide.

Our obsession with true crime opened new doors for the Thriller, Crime, and Horror genres

David Fincher, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Guy Ritchie, James Wan, Guillermo del Toro and many, many others blended and pushed the horror, thriller and crime genres forward in the past decades. Their incredible, and sometimes twisted, work continues to impress and leave audiences in awe, shock, and disbelief after finishing their movies.

In the past decade, thriller movies grossed $73 billion at the box office, while crime and horror films earned $33 billion and $18 billion, respectively. The three genres gradually grew at the box office each decade, and their influence on pop culture is undeniable. We also have Netflix to thank for fueling our true crime obsessions with documentary series like Making a Murderer, Tiger King, Killer Inside: the Mind of Aaron Hernandez, and many, many more.

Methodology

For this story, we used public data from BoxOfficeMojo to extract the revenue data for the top grossing movies of each year, from 1980 to 2020. We completed our data sets with proprietary research and used Flourish to create the charts and visuals.