USC Expands Film Scoring Program

By • February 9, 2007

In Los Angeles one of the nation’s top film scoring schools has been making some great leaps in terms of curriculum, faculty and production facilities. The University of Southern California (USC) has recently expanded the format and faculty of its one-year film scoring course program to include course instruction offered by working professionals presented in modules.

The new program, also known as Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television (SMPTV) incorporates a modular program that breaks the traditional 15 weeks semester into two sections of 7 and 8 weeks or three 5-week sections. The overall experience is intensified and enriched to include more areas of discipline in the film, television and multimedia arts.

“In this way, we can have Steve Juliani cover music preparation in Finale and Sibelius for five weeks, Pete Anthony, Jeff Atmajian and Brad Dechter for five weeks of orchestration and J. Eric Schmidt for five weeks of classes in animation writing and another five weeks focused on conducting”, said SMPTV program director Brian King.

Veteran composer Christopher Young shares a fifteen-week course with agent Richard Kraft in which they alternate weeks, providing the instructors with some flexibility in their teaching schedules. King explains that for students, studying with Chris Young as he scores Spiderman 3 or visiting with Pete Anthony as he orchestrates and conducts for Teddy Shapiro’s score to the upcoming Will Ferrell movie Blades of Glory at Sony and having agent Richard Kraft educate students on how to break into the business are good examples of the benefits of this new format.

The same philosophy applies to the SMPTV technology track which includes modules in music editing taught by Chris Brooks, Protools taught by Rick Schmunk, Logic Pro taught by John Frizzell and Freddie Wiedemann, and Digital Performer taught by Sean Dougall and Jeff Toyne. To facilitate this, the school has added a new classroom with 20 individual workstations plus a teaching station. Each station is equipped with all of the hardware and software needed for the students to learn and apply the latest technology in their work.

Also new to SMPTV is their two-week intensive technology boot camp which begins in August, 2 weeks before the start of regular classes. This gives the students a chance to work exclusively on technology with instructors for 6 hours a day including intensive work with digital sequencing programs and sample libraries. By the end of the two weeks, each student scores a scene from Hidalgo in Digital Performer and Collateral.

On the television side, composer Jon Ehrlich has joined the faculty and the program continues its third year of internships with composer Michael Giacchino for the Lost series where each student gets an opportunity to work on a different episode with Giacchino and his staff, experiencing the entire process from the spotting session to the final dub. They also have a chance to conduct an orchestra in a live setting for music that is used for broadcast.

On the production side, partnered with the USC School for Cinematic Arts, SMPTV student composers have numerous opportunities to work with student filmmakers while producing the music for more than 80 films per year.

At the time of this press release, the new SMPTV program website
is still under construction, however information about the SMPTV program is available at the USC Thornton School of Music website which features a guided tour of the program including detailed information about the faculty, scoring sessions, master classes, application requirements and procedures, calendar and more.

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