Film Music

What Makes a Freelance Composer Easy to Work With

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

So are you someone who’s thinking about whether or not to hire a freelance composer for your project? Or maybe you’re a composer yourself and are wondering how to set yourself up as someone who’s trustworthy and easy to work with?

If so, perhaps this article will offer you a few tips and ideas. I’m a freelance music composer myself (learn more about me if you like!) and have been doing this for a few years now. I create music for a variety of projects, from game music soundtracks, to films, to creating theme tunes for shows, podcast intros, outros and other jingles, and more! It’s a whirlwind of awesomeness all music-related, which I absolutely love!

If you’re thinking of working with a freelancer, you may have your concerns about how it may work and whether you can really work efficiently with them or not. It’ll be important to find someone who feels trustworthy and reliable, and who you believe is capable of delivering what you want. So here are my tips on what to look out for and what I believe makes a freelance composer easy to work with:

1. Always being fast to respond

For me, I make it a priority to always reply back to my clients as quickly as possible so that they know I’m there and are easy to communicate with. It’s hugely reassuring I think, for you to know that although your composer isn’t sitting right next to you, you can always get hold of them.

So, as a freelancer, I think it’s important to be quick to respond to clients and to be easy to communicate with. I’ve found that it shows reliability, builds trust and a stronger connection and it makes it clear that the client’s needs are important.

Also see: How to Communicate Effectively with a Composer

2. Managing expectations

I believe that it’s vital to be as clear as you can about what’s happening and when a client can expect to hear back from you. If you’re hiring a freelance composer, tell them if there’s a certain deadline required or timeline that the project and you are hoping to working to.

Otherwise if you forget, an attentive freelance composer should ask you whether your have certain deadlines in mind and should keep you apprised of their progress. 

As a freelance composer, I’ve found that if you manage people’s expectations early on and throughout the composing process, it makes things clear for everyone and usually makes the process an enjoyable one for all.

3. Being transparent about what the composer can and can’t do

I find that it really helps to be upfront about what I can and can’t help with. I don’t do sound effects for example, but can create short stings, jingles or tones that can be useful for games or shows. I also don’t do lyrics or vocals or live recordings of music, and so if I think that a client may possibly be wanting or expecting this, I’ll let them know upfront that it’s not something I really specialise in or usually offer.

You may find some jack-of-all trades but in reality I’ve found that people tend to be better at certain things than others. So, be aware of this and try to find someone who is honest with you about what they can deliver you or not. Don’t be fooled by those who will say ‘yes’ to everything, as it may not always work out well.  

4. Having plenty of examples of previous works

If you’re thinking about working with a freelance composer, check out their portfolio, website and music show reels. Listen to their music and see how you feel about it. It’s one of the best ways to get a sense of them in terms of what they’re capable of and what kind of work and projects they’ve been involved with before. As the hirer you must do your due diligence.

If you’re a composer looking to offer examples of your work, try to showcase your best work or a good range of what you’ve been involved in. Make them easy to find on your website and also have a clear credit list and testimonials available so that people can see what you’ve done and what others say about you.

5. They ask lots of questions

To fully understand a music brief, the context of the music for your project and to understand your needs and what you’re hoping to achieve – a freelance composer should be asking you lots of questions!

They should be interested in understanding as much as they can about your project and about what you’re looking for in the music. It’s their job to realise your vision and so if they aren’t asking you any questions, how can they deliver you anything useful?

Perhaps I take this to another level, since one of my clients testimonials seemed to mention my deep questioning before getting started, but I find that it really help me to fully understand what they’re looking for and to therefore not waste time going back and forth iterating a track that may have initially missed the mark. I ask lots of questions upfront to gather all the information I need to create music that fits, and then try my best to fulfil that vision. Amazingly, nine times out of 10, that works beautifully and I rarely get asked to make any adjustments to the music that I make.

Read: 8 Top Tips on Building a Strong Working Relationship with a Freelance Composer

6. A genuine interest

If you feel that your freelance composer is genuinely interested in what you’re doing, they should be great to work with! I don’t tend to take on any projects that I don’t think I’ll enjoy or have some interest in. I want to see all the games, films and shows that I create music for succeed. They’re usually really interesting, quite unique and I end up feeling ultra proud to be a part of the whole process.

By choosing to work on projects that I find interesting and really like – it means that I have a real passion for it and will be giving my clients my all. It’s not just ‘another job’ for me but is instead a real joy and something that I want to be involved in.

There are my 6 key thoughts on what I think makes a freelance composer good to work with. Hopefully there are a few ideas in there that may help you with your search for the right composer to work with. If there are other thoughts that you feel are important, feel free to share them with me, as it’s always useful to know how else we can improve the process of working as a freelancer and remotely.

If you want help with music for your project, feel free to message me or to browse my site to get to know me a bit better! I hope this has been helpful and goodluck with your project! 

Next see: How to Work Well with a Game Music Composer


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About the Author:

Ninichi is a freelance composer based in the UK, with clients all across the globe, from the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She has created music for games, films, tv shows, commercials and more. Visit her homepage now and explore her music.

How to Choose & Use Music in Your Film

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

There are many things to think about when putting together a film.  One key area to think about is the music soundtrack and how to choose music to fit and enhance the film overall. 

As an indie film music composer, I’ve worked on a variety of really interesting films and film projects (see some of the film music I’ve done here and view my credits).  I believe that music plays an important role in films but it isn’t always the easiest aspect to get right. When done well though, the music can really help to enhance a viewer’s experience and understanding of your film and so it’s definitely worth taking the time to think about and to find the right music for your film.

To help you a little bit with this, here are a few things to think about…

1. The Mood or Tone of your Film

Music can be used to set the tone and to create the overall mood or moods across a film. As scenes change, so should the music.  Think about what’s going on in your film and try to be aware of what kind of music might be needed to help create the right mood for each part of it.

2. Emotions

The most important function of music in films is often to enhance the emotion and emotional elements in a film. Identify the key moments in your film and use music to your advantage in those scenes. Use it to bring out the emotions and to help your audience to feel and to connect with what’s going on.

Music touches us in many different ways and it’s important to combine the visual and musical elements in your film to help build a stronger emotional connection with your audience.

3. Silence

Not all of your film may need music or benefit from it. The lack of music can also be quite powerful.  Think about where you want and don’t want music across your film. Make sure that when you have music, that it’s there for a reason and isn’t just filling in the gaps.

4. The Pace

Music can be used to drive the pace and rhythm in your film. It can be used to build up tension, to relieve it, and to create a sense of urgency or not, depending on what you need.  Think about where you may need the music to help move things along versus where you may need it to calm us down.

5. Other Films & their Soundtracks

Which films and film soundtracks do you like? Why? It may sound obvious, but a great source of inspiration and ideas is to watch other films and to listen to the music used in them. Listen to what works and doesn’t work for you when watching the film.

Listen hard and try to identify exactly what it is that you like or don’t like about the soundtracks that you hear. This means noticing things like the instruments, the style, the amount of music used etc. This can be really useful in identifying what sort of music style(s) you like generally and what you may want for your film. Feel free to browse through some of my film music if it helps to give you a better idea of what's possible for your film soundtrack. 

So there you have it! 5 different things to think about when trying to choose and use music in your film. I hope that some of these thoughts are useful to you, and if you’d like to explore things further, I’d be very happy to learn more about your film and to help with your film score. See more examples of my film music here and contact me now to start talking!


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About the Author:

Ninichi is a freelance film music composer and game music composer, who's music has featured in numerous films, tv shows, games & more. She has worked on a variety of indie films & would be delighted to help you with your film project. Check out examples of her film music here & contact her to explore working with her.

8 Top Tips on Building a Strong Working Relationship with a Freelance Composer

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you thinking about hiring a freelance composer to work with but aren’t quite sure about how it might work or how to ensure that it works well? If so, don’t worry. It is a completely natural feeling especially if you’ve never worked with any freelancers before and it’s important to address your concerns and to make sure that you find the right person for you and your project.

I’m a freelance music composer and have worked with clients and projects all over the world – including working with game developers, filmmakers, podcasters, TV producers, marketers and more (see my homepage to get to know me, Ninichi a bit better!). I work from my home office and have never met many of my clients, yet my working relationships with each one feels really strong. There’s a sense of trust, my clients know that they can rely on me to get the work done and done to a high standard, and that I will always do my best to create music that embodies their visions. They also know that I will always be there to respond to their needs whenever they have something to say, ask, explore, feedback on or to work on further.

I can only share what I have learnt through my own experiences but hope that these will be helpful to you in ensuring that you are able to foster strong working relationships with the freelance composer and actually all freelancers that you decide to work with. So here are a few tips and ideas that come to mind but in essence most of it comes down to good communication.

If you aren’t able to communicate effectively with a freelancer, whether that is a freelance composer or any other freelancer, you won’t have any chance of building a strong relationship with them. This may sound obvious but is so critical and important that I believe it’s definitely worth mentioning. So…

1. Be open, honest and upfront

That is about what you want, need and are hoping for in relation to the music you require for your project. The more you can say about what you’re looking for, the easier it will be for your prospective freelance composer(s) to determine whether or not it’s something they can help you with or not.

2. Offer constructive feedback

Make sure that you are clear about what you like and don’t like about what they’ve done and guide them towards what you’re looking for, but don’t be harsh and be sensitive to the fact that they are most likely trying to deliver good work to you, so if it’s not right the first time, try to be patient and understanding. To do this well check out: How to Communicate Effectively with a Composer.

3. Keep your communication channels open

Make sure that you’re there when they need you. They may want to ask you some questions or get feedback from you on their music. Try to be as prompt as you can in offering your thoughts and in keeping the momentum going. If you’re both available to each other when you need each other, working together will feel quite smooth and easy.

4. Make sure that there isn’t a language barrier

It’s a little tough to say but in truth, everyone needs to be able to communicate with a work colleague (freelance or otherwise) at the same sort of level, so if you feel that they aren’t understanding what you’re asking for, then they aren’t the right freelance composer for you.

5. Don’t get hung up about terminology

Your composer is the specialist in music. You aren’t expected to be nor should you try to be as it could end up confusing everyone. Just try to explain in as simple terms as you can, what you’re after – in terms of mood, style, context for the music etc. and you should be fine.

I myself tend to ignore most music terminology. Obviously I know some and have been trained but I don’t find it helps to use it. I believe that keeping things simple is much better for everyone. Music is universal and there are many different ways to describe it – so go with whatever makes the most sense to you and a good music composer should be able to turn that into something grand! Also see: How to Work Well with a Game Music Composer

6. Listen to their music before contacting them

I find that the people I work best with are those who have taken the time to look around my website and listen to a few examples of my previous works. That means – checking out my music show-reels, looking at my credit list, listening to different examples of my music, and generally getting a feel for the type of music I compose.  If you understand what your freelance composer is capable of, you can get a sense of what’s possible for your own project and you can determine this yourself to some degree by listening to what they’ve done already and seeing if you like it. 

It’s also easier to work with people when they pick out certain tracks that they liked from your previous works as it gives me a great indication of the type of sounds, style and moods that they particular like.

Also see: How to Choose a Composer for Your Indie Film or How to Choose a Composer for Your Game

7. Offer reference tracks as a style guide

In order to help your freelance music composer understand what you’re looking for and what you have in mind music-wise for your project, it can really help to have reference tracks.

This can be there to offer inspiration and to help the composer understand the mood you’re hoping for, the musical instrumentation that you like and are imagining for your project and the flow of the kind of pieces you like.

8. Don’t micromanage but don’t be elusive either

In order to build a strong working relationship with your freelance composer, don’t micromanage them. The last thing they want is to be having to report back to you every hour or so. They need time to get into the creative zone and to focus on creating great music for you and your project. So, you need to be able to trust whoever you’ve chosen to work with, to be able to get on with the task at hand and to deliver great music to you when they’re ready to.

At the same time, don’t be elusive. Don’t be hard to contact or slow in responding to them if you can help it. Getting feedback on music quite quickly after it has been done is really helpful for composers since they’ll be ‘in the zone’ and it can be really useful to keep that momentum going and to continue working on your project whilst it’s ‘hot’!

If you're looking for a freelance composer to work with and want to have a chat, feel free to contact me now. I'm more than happy to help and explore things further with you. Also check out some of my other articles in case they're helpful too:

Need help with music?

Let me help! Get in touch now :-)!


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About the authorNinichi is a freelance composer and music enthusiast. She has composed the soundtracks and music to several indie games, films, podcasts, web series, commercials and more. Contact her: to explore working with her on your game, film or media project.

Follow her @ninichimusic

How to Choose a Composer for Your Indie Film

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you thinking about hiring a composer for your film? If so, this can be a really fun and exciting process, but it can also be a little tricky. It’s important to take the time to get it right and to find a film music composer that you’re comfortable and confident working with. It’s not always easy to determine who might be a good or bad fit for your film, and so that’s why I’ve put together a few pointers to hopefully help with that.

I’m a freelance composer and have worked with numerous indie filmmakers on the film music soundtracks, for their amazing creations (get to know me & my music!). It is always an honour for me to work on an indie film and with such talented artists, and knowing that those who work with me trust me with their film music soundtracks means a great deal to me. However, I also know that they’ve taken the time to do their due diligence and to get clearer about what they want and need, before deciding to work with me. So – you must do the same when thinking about which film composer is right for your project.

Here are a few things to think about:

1. What do you need?

This may sound simple and perhaps obvious but really – what do you need music-wise for your film? Do you know how much music you need, where it would go, when you need it by etc. etc.? Also is it a one-off project or are you looking for a composer that you can turn to for on-going projects?

Knowing the answer to these types of questions will help you to narrow down your search when looking for a suitable composer – since it means that you need someone who can do all of these things for you.

If you’d like someone that you can rely on for future projects, it will definitely be worthwhile to spend a bit longer finding the best person for the job.

2. Credibility & Experience

Now that you have some idea of what you need, think about the type of person you want to work with and what sort of experience and track record you would like to see from them. Check out the composer’ portfolio to get a sense of who they are, what they’ve done and generally if they are credible and reliable or not.

Having a strong track record can be important since it is often a sign of their capabilities and knowledge of the industry and the process. The more experience they have, the less hand-holding should be needed and the more you can trust their ability to deliver great music for your film. See what others say about them i.e. if they have any testimonials. 

They’ll also be seen as part of your overall team, and so you must choose someone that you can proudly say is a part of your production. Everyone that’s been involved in the making of your film will be associated with each other at least on paper if not in real-life and so it’s important to feel confident that everyone who you work with is a good representative of you and your project.

3. Style / Moods / Emotions

Think about what kind of music you need for your film in terms of the moods, the tone, the emotions and the styles. Music is an incredibly important component in films and it is often used to enhance key moments and to bring out the emotions onscreen. Making sure that the composer you decide to work with can handle this well and compose in the style or styles of music that you like and are hoping for, is really key.

Take the time to listen to their work and to explore their music. Can they compose in the styles of music that you need? Do they have range and versatility? Are the melodies they compose memorable? Does the music suit the films they compose for or is the music distracting?

For some ideas, feel free to check out some of the music I've created for films - see my film music. Listen to the different styles and imagine what kind of music might work well for your film.

4. Personality

Just as you will be hiring for other roles for your film – like the cast & crew, your composer is part of that team. You need to like, trust and respect who you hire. Think about the kind of personality you’re looking for and what traits you feel are important to you and to this project.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to interview potential composers and to make sure that you feel comfortable with who you are about to work with. Communication is key for any kind of work relationship but especially so for the composer to filmmaker relationship.  If you can’t communicate easily, get on the same wavelength and discuss your ideas together, it won’t work. 

5. Budgeting

Ok, so you’re an indie filmmaker and thus, your budget (or lack of budget) may make things challenging. However, don’t skimp on the music to your film! You’ve put your time, energy and money into creating your awesome film – don’t let the lack of attention and investment in music, bring the whole thing down.

If you want to hire a composer, then you must budget for them. They will be creating custom music to fit your film and to help bring your vision to life. This takes time, talent, thought & care, skills & equipment. Your composer deserves the opportunity to give you the best of their talents and that will almost definitely come at some cost. However, don’t be scared. Most composers will have some flexibility with their rates and if they like you and your film, will be willing to negotiate with you. They want to work with great people and on great projects too, so don’t be afraid to open up a conversation and to explore what’s possible! 

So there you have my 5 tips on how to choose a music composer for your project.

Still feeling  a bit stuck? Want more help with the music for your film? 

Let's chat! I'd be happy to talk through the process in a bit more detail, answer any questions you have and to explore working with you if you think there could be a good fit!


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About the Author: Ninichi is a freelance film music composer and game music composer, who's music has featured in numerous films, tv shows, games & more. She has worked on a variety of indie films & would be delighted to help you with your film project. Check out examples of her film music here & contact her to explore working with her.

Introducing Animated Short Film: Warmth

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

If you like animations, touching stories and short films, you will absolutely love Warmth! I was so pleased to connect with Erik Boismier, a super talented animator, when he commissioned me to work on the music to his wonderful animated short Warmth. He's been so kind as to let me interview him and to give us all a bit more insight into the creation and thinking behind Warmth. So, let's get to it...

Who are you and how did you get into animation?

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'My name is Erik Boismier. I was born in Chatham, Ontario and grew up watching just about every animated series I had the time and capacity for.  When I was 8-years-old, I had something of a revelation when I realized that making cartoons was a job, and ever since then, it was what I wanted to do for a living. I went to St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario for their “Tradigital Animation” program; it was a great program for learning several forms of animation (hand-drawn, stop-motion, 3D, etc.).

Some time after graduating, I made an impulsive decision to move to Vancouver, BC and look for work in the animation industry there. A former college classmate was already working in the area and introduced me to a number of her colleagues. In 2013, I got my first job in the animation industry, at Bardel Entertainment as a builder* on the show “Mother Up!”.

I've since gone to work for Atomic Cartoons and have been taking contracts from them exclusively for a few years now.'

*The job of taking finalized designs of characters and props and turning them into animate-able digital “puppets” for lack of a better term.

Where did the idea for Warmth come from?

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'A long time ago, in part thanks to an online discussion about animation I was lurking on, I got the idea to do something where I could animate two characters with different animation styles interacting with each other. Clara, the girl in the short, is entirely hand-drawn frame-by-frame. Meanwhile, the robot Aleph is a build; digital cut-out puppet with the pieces pre-drawn and then manipulated to create motion.

Certain elements of the story were definitely influenced, whether subconsciously or deliberately, by Big Hero 6 (a robot with health care abilities) and The Little Match Girl; another short story and animated short(s) about a young orphan struggling in the winter.
Visually, Disney's Renaissance-era movies had a heavy influence on me. Additionally, the new servant robot model seen briefly in the beginning of Warmth is very similar in both design and concept to Robot-1X from Futurama.'

What is Warmth about?

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'Warmth is set in a nondescript distant future where robot servants are a household item.  When the newest model of robot servant is released, people begin throwing away their old ones.  Clara, a young orphan who lives in a junkyard, one morning finds one of the discarded robots at her doorstep and quickly establishes a bond with it.  The robot seems to have some malfunctions however, and Clara wants to keep her new and only friend running.'

Were there any challenges in the making of it? Also what are you most proud of from all of this?

'Like a lot of things, the first major challenge was getting started. I had certain story beats worked out very early on but could never figure out a way to tie them together. I began discussing the idea with a friend, and he brought up the idea of a junkyard setting. Once I had that piece, everything else started to fall in place and I began writing the original story treatment.

The next big challenge was the background painting. My skill set is primarily that of a character animator; environments have never been my strong suit, and painting is something I have never excelled at. I took some time to look up and learn painting techniques I was unfamiliar with. There are backgrounds in the short I'm quite proud of, but there are some others that I still sort of wish I could have done a better job on.

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Using coloured line work proved to be the most time-consuming part of the animation. For Aleph, it wasn't much of an issue since the nature of his animation meant there weren't too many unique drawings. For Clara however, it meant breaking up the lines around every specific colour fill (skin, hair, scarf, etc.) and then filling those lines with the correct line colour; and doing that for every single drawing of her. I don't regret doing it because I love the look of coloured line work, but it was enough to make me decide against it for whatever my next personal animation will be.

I would say I'm most proud of finishing the short. I've always had a bad habit of starting personal projects with a lot of ambition that end up going nowhere. That, and there are a couple shots I laid out as a deliberate challenge to myself.

When Clara first walks up to Aleph, you see her reflection in his eyes. The moment I got the idea for that shot, I knew I had to do it, but expected it to be complicated to put together. Honestly, that one really wasn't that bad in the end.
The shot of Clara setting up a new TV, on the other hand, was probably the most difficult to animate. I feel like it looks deceptively simple, but there were a lot of layering challenges to work with (her arms and the TV having to go behind and in front of the table in the foreground for example).'

Who was involved in the creation of Warmth?

'Visually, Warmth was basically a solo effort; I wrote the plot, drew the storyboards, painted the backgrounds and animated the characters and effects; but I did have help and support from friends. My friend and roommate Grant, as alluded to earlier, helped me put the story together with the idea of the junkyard setting. He also assisted in updating some of the backgrounds (adding a little more scrap and junk).

Another friend, Rachel, was consistently supportive while I was regularly showing progress updates to her. She also named her daughter “Claira” after I suggested the name (albeit spelled differently) based on the character in the short.

My on-going employment at Atomic Cartoons was also extremely helpful. The experience they've given me has improved the quality of my animation and my proficiency with software like Toon Boom Harmony dramatically.

What part does music play in it?

'While I believe that good animation can sell its mood with or without sound, music is a great tool to emphasize that intended mood. A good balance of music and silence is important too. I'm not a fan of wall-to-wall music placement that some shows use and made a conscious choice early on not to do that with Warmth.

The nice thing about a fully produced piece of media is that each element can compliment the others and elevate them; for instance, good music can often carry an otherwise weak scene. Pacing is something I agonized over throughout the production, often extending or shortening scenes, even by a factor of 3 or 4 frames sometimes. The final timing still had some bits I was unsure of, but your music pulled them together really well.

So the music's role in Warmth was to highlight the moods of the scenes whilst also helping along some of the moments that were maybe a bit weaker on my part.'

Why did you decide to work with me and how was that whole process for you? What do you think of the music now?

'When doing any kind of self-funded production, it's incredibly tempting to use as many free resources as you can to keep the cost down. While I didn't have too many qualms with using public domain sound effects, music was a different matter. The name Kevin Macleod springs to mind as probably the most popular source for free background music. His music is great, but it presents a problem if you want your material to stand out: Everyone uses it.

I watch a lot of YouTube content, and I've noticed a lot of different content producers using the same music. A friend of mine even described the phenomenon as, “the sound of having no audio budget.”

And because I really wanted Warmth to have an individual identity, I decided it needed to have an original (or at the very least, less ever-present) soundtrack. So I began searching for a composer to commission.

I encountered a couple of dead ends along the way, but a Google search did eventually lead me to your website. I listened to a number of the tracks you have available and was impressed by the range I was hearing. While the music on the site is great, I had trouble envisioning the tracks I was listening to as music to use in Warmth, so I opted to contact you directly.
Working with you was fantastic. You composed the soundtrack much faster than I expected and I only ever felt the need to call for a couple minor changes.

I'm quite satisfied with the music too. All the right moods were hit. The “Saving Clara” theme even gets me involuntarily clenching my teeth with worry during the final scene.  Exactly the feeling I want the audience to experience.'

Let's take a look at your wonderful creation Warmth...

What are your plans for the short animation?

In my final year of college, I attended the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), which features several screenings of independent animated shorts. I would really like it if Warmth could be included in one of those screenings, so I'll absolutely be making an effort for that to happen. I'll be looking into other festivals as well.

I'd also like to spread it around online. I'll likely be dropping in on a number of animation communities across Facebook, Reddit, etc. to share the YouTube link.


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About the authorNinichi is a UK-based freelance music composer. She has composed the soundtracks to various games, films, shows and more. Contact her: to commission music for your project now.

Follow her @ninichimusic