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Pixar Composer Giacchino Scores at D23

24 Aug, 2011 By: John Latchem

Michael Giacchino

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Among the array of presentations at the biennial D23 Expo Disney fanfest Aug. 19 to 21, Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino stopped by to discuss his collaborations with Pixar.

Giacchino has written scores for four of Pixar’s animated hits: The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up and Cars 2. The first three are available now on Blu-ray and DVD, while Cars 2 arrives on disc Nov. 1.

Speaking to a crowd of several hundred attendees Saturday, Aug. 20, Giacchino recounted being influenced as a kid by the works of John Williams, Benny Goodman, John Philip Sousa and others.

“I didn’t listen to rock ‘n’ roll,” Giacchino said. “I was the nerdy kid listening to marching band music and polka and all these instrumentals.”

He broke into the business in the 1990s writing music for video games such as Medal of Honor, which garnered the attention of an up-and-coming filmmaker named J.J. Abrams.

This led to a gig writing music for Abrams’ action-adventure series “Alias” (and, subsequently, “Lost”), which led to Giacchino being hired by director Brad Bird for Pixar’s The Incredibles.

Giacchino recalled Bird telling him that “one wrong note can ruin my movie,” and that he expected to be fired at any moment because working on a Pixar movie seemed too good to be true.

But everything worked out, and Giacchino re-teamed with Bird on Ratatouille, which the composer called his most eclectic score.

“One thing I enjoy most about my job is I get to be different with every score,” Giacchino said.

To demonstrate the effect music can have on the audience’s emotions, Giacchino showed a clip from Up, for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Score. He showed the scene of old Carl first launching his house with balloons as it was originally scored, with an up-tempo piece keyed to the action of the scene.

However, he said that didn’t convey the purpose of the scene, so he showed it again with the softer, character-driven music that ended up in the final film, which he described as the final waltz between Carl and his wife.

“It’s much more introspective, and more about the characters,” Giacchino said.

For Cars 2, Giacchino said he was inspired by the music of Dick Dale in delivering a fun “surf guitar” motif. He said there was no pressure to duplicate the sound of Randy Newman, who composed the music for the first Cars.

Giacchino said the great thing about working with Pixar is the creative atmosphere.

“We love to make it feel like a big family,” Giacchino said. “We make it better together. It’s a collaborative thing.”

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