Polaroids from the Singularity: Flaming Tubas

Ongoing exploits with the DALL·E 2 Algorithm

Werewolf by Night, the new seasonal horror special from Marvel Studios, was directed by Michael Giacchino, the prolific film composer who has done a bunch of Marvel movies (among them Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Love and Thunder), and one of my favorite TV series of all times (Fringe), not to mention Lost, and Alias, and Star Wars: Rogue One, and The Batman (“the one with Robert Pattinson”) and a lot of Pixar. Needless to say, I was especially interested in how music would be situated in the one-hour, standalone show.

As it turned out, beyond the notable presence of a soprano voice (two are credited: Grace Davidson and Sumudu Jayatilaka) amid the orchestral score, the main things to make a sonic impression were diegetic — which is to say, they were sonic occurrences that appeared on-screen.

One was the presence of a Wizard of Oz tune, which felt almost inevitable, given the (largely) black and white nature of the film. (Fun fact: Giacchino did the theme music for The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz back in 2005.)

The other was a flaming tuba seen during a ritual procession. The next morning after watching it, I asked DALL·E 2 (the text-to-image tool founded on artificial intelligence: labs.openai.com) to produce some flaming tubas in a variety of styles. Shown here, clockwise from the upper left, is the prompt (“a tuba on fire”) in four styles: photograph, pixel art, Johannes Vermeer, 3D render.

One additional sonic fun-fact: all the vocalizations by Man-Thing in the episode were made by the film editor Jeffrey Ford, who has worked on a lot of Marvel movies (and Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, among other films).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *