Robots take all the jobs (composer edition)

Xhail is a new service that offers a unique, custom score for your movie.

Here's the rub: the score is written by software, using real instrument stems. Instead of talking to a composer about what you want, you simply type in keywords like “fantasy” or “melancholy” and the software returns a score which you can customize using the interface provided. Add instruments, take out sections, add percussive emphasis at key timecode to match action on screen. The demo video gives a good sense of how it works.

Lots of details are still missing, like how much does it cost? Still, it's an impressive demo. The track composed for the fantasy short at the end of the demo video and the interface for modifying the video both were much better than I expected. You'd expect nothing less from a scripted demo video, and we'll have to wait for a public release to see if it's all that, but I'm intrigued.

I suspect many will rush to dismiss this service, especially my friends in the filmmaking world, just as people tend to do with any computer-generated art, but some of that, as always, comes from either a general technophobia or reverence for human creation.

If you can afford a real composer, this isn't a service targeted at you. Facetious title of my post aside, I suspect this is a less a case of replacing our existing composer supply than adding supply at the low end of the market.