Behold the mesmerizing world of animation with Swan Cake,” an animated short that carries the ineffable charm of its creators, Amos Sussigan and Nikitha Mannam. This tale imbibing dreams and reality in the paradox of life unfolding in the life of a chubby Parisienne patisserie chef set against the backdrop of Paris, dreaming of becoming a ballerina, makes for a delightful and thought-provoking narrative. Crafting an enthralling journey from the idea conceptualization to reality, Sussigan and Mannam judiciously handpicked an international team of proficient animators who lent their artistry and passion to this cine spectacle, thereby galvanizing this culinary-come-ballet spectacle into existence. 

Like my previous collaboration with Sussigan and Mannam on “Broken Wing” the musical score had to carry the emotion narrative of the film. There were more location sound effects in “Swan Cake”, footsteps, sounds in the kitchen, but essentially the story is told visually and with music alone. Setting the scene in Paris was easy enough, and making references to ballet music. However, the central part of the film was a dreamlike dance sequence of cooking a delicious dessert. For this we resolved to compose the music at the same time as creating animatics of the action. I literally worked in the room next door from Sussigan and Mannam and between us we nailed down the timings and climatic elements of the sequence. 

“The creation of Swan Cake was a process steeped in dreams and reality, sweet endeavor and passionate artistry, ultimately culminating in a visual and auditory banquet that has charmed audiences and critics alike. It has the flavor of a victory, a ballet dance’s finesse, and the subtle nuance of an impeccably decorated pastry shop in Paris.”

Swan Cake made its grand appearance in multiple film festivals, captivating audiences with its unique narrative, visuals, and music. Its winning streak followed its predecessor’s footsteps, “Broken Wing,” adding several more laurels to its creators’ hats. The film’s notable success becomes apparent when you glimpse the accolades the team received, which include acceptance at eminent film festivals and several prestigious awards. 

Awards and Recognition 

  • Entry in several prestigious global film festivals
  • Recognition and awards for the original soundtrack
  • Favorable reviews and accolades from critics and audiences alike

How was the music composed for Swan Cake?

Sussigan and Mannam, maintaining a collaborative ethos emblematic of their creative process, invited me back for another round of musical composition after the successful creation of the Broken Wing soundtrack. Swan Cake, while distinct in its thematic premise and narrative structure, shared the same commitment to aural storytelling that had proved successful in their previous works. 

The music for Swan Cake was a delicate and intricate task of collaboration and sharing ideas. The process began with composing musical pieces to a storyboard, and making adjustments as the animation developed and became time locked. The dance number depended essentially on pre-deciding the style and tempo of a waltz, coming up with a melody, and then extending and orchestrating the music to catch, or hit, key ideas the animators were hoping to bring to life. The music, therefore, wasn’t merely an add-on or afterthought, but a fundamental building block of the entire sequence. 

Mark Slater composing themes for Swan Cake at the piano

Once the foundational dance number was established, most of the other musical elements fell into place. There were changes along the way up to the final hour, and we decided to drop music in favor of silence in some places. It’s important to have a flexible attitude when collaborating on films.

I leveraged a variety of instruments and musical techniques to capture the spirit of the narrative. The soundscape of Paris used an accordion of course, metallic sounds as pots and pans in the patisserie, or the idiosyncratic orchestral sounds of the ballet, and a few slapstick elements – all found their way into the music, creating a soundscape that was as vivid and engaging as the animation itself. 

Just like a patisserie chef carefully choosing ingredients for their creations, we selectively chose and combined musical elements, to capture mood and evoke emotions appropriate to a particular scene or character.

At the end of this intricate process, we felt pleased with our Swan Cake. The soundtrack in these kinds of animatiom projects is more than an accompaniment to the visual narrative – it is a compelling character woven with sound, which plays a pivotal role telling the story.


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