Michael Giacchino scores Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Dan Goldwasser

This past spring, Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino was at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox to the record his score for the highly anticipated sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The film marks the third time Giacchino has worked with director Matt Reeves, and opens in theaters today. ScoringSessions.com is thrilled to bring our readers photos from the scoring sessions!

Conducted by Giacchino’s long-time orchestrator Tim Simonec, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was recorded with an 89-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as a 70-person choir. The music is evocative of Giacchino’s music from "Lost" but larger and grander, while hinting at the otherworldiness of the Goldsmith scores from the original film series.

Composer Michael Giacchino and orchestrator/conductor Tim Simonec make edits to a cue

The brass, woodwinds, and basses

The piano has been prepared with screws

Trumpets Jon Lewis and Rick Baptist

The cellos and basses

As expected, the music employs a large percussion section (eight players), including the legendary Emil Richards, who has performed on every Planet of the Apes movie.

Percussionist Emil Richards, who has performed on every Planet of the Apes score since the 1960s!

Percussionists Dan Greco, Alex Acuña, and Walter Rodriguez

Director Matt Reeves was at every session, and very hands on with Giacchino, giving feedback and even playing percussion on a few cues. For his part, Giacchino kept the session super-classy: the first day he had the musicians dress up in 1940s attire (shirts and ties), and on the last day, he asked them to show up in formal attire (black ties, tuxedos and gowns)!

Composer Michael Giacchino and director Matt Reeves give directions to percussionist Dan Greco

Check out this video of Giacchino and Reeves playing percussion on a cue, courtesy of Michael’s sister, Maria!

Conductor/orchestrator Tim Simonec and composer Michael Giacchino looking spiffy in their tuxedos

The score was a family affair, with Giacchino’s youngest son Griffith composing a small cue (“Ain’t That a Stinger”) which Giacchino conducted and Griffith performed percussion on.

Composer Michael Giacchino introduces his son, additional cue composer Griffith Giacchino, to the orchestra

Percussionist/additional cue composer Griffith Giacchino and percussionist Emil Richards

In the booth, Giacchino’s team worked through recording the 115-minutes of score. Scoring mixer Joel Iwataki handled the recording and mixing, and score coordinator Andrea Datzman helped keep things running smoothly. Also on hand was music editor Paul Apelgren, assitant music editor Warren Brown, ProTools recordist Vinnie Cirilli, and contractor Reggie Wilson.

Orchestra contractor Reggie Wilson, assistant music editor Warren Brown, music editor Paul Apelgren, and ProTools recordist Vinnie Cirilli

But never let it be said that a Giacchino session doesn’t have some really fun moments! Not only was a vintage 1975 Coleco Planet of the Apes Playhouse in the booth for people to play in, but an ape mask and even the bust of Caesar (created by Weta Workshop for on-set lighting reference) made appearances, for some lighthearted moments.

Composer Michael Giacchino goes over a cue with Caesar

Even a monkey could explain Giacchino’s score to director Matt Reeves

Caesar monkeys around with Andrea Datzman

Caesar sits at the board with scoring mixer Joel Iwataki

A soundtrack album for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is available from Sony Classical Records.

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