Troy (Gabriel Yared & James Horner)


In 2004, writer David Benioff collaborated with director Wolfgang Petersen for the period epic, "Troy". This massive production received mixed critical reviews, but was a reasonable success, featuring terrific costumes, sets, old-fashioned action scenes, and plenty of glistening muscles from its hunky stars. The music however, proved quite controversial. Composer Gabriel Yared was hired onto the project over a year in advance, traveling to the regions the story is set to research authentic music of the period, and develop his themes. He also hired Macedonian singer Tanja Tzarovska to add vocal authenticity. Ultimately, he created a stunning achievement, a massive choral and orchestral score, featuring several rousing and memorable themes, thunderous action, and heart-breaking romance. While director Petersen was a huge defender of the music, after a test screening, the film's producers felt the music was too "old-fashioned", and without a chance to rescore, Yared was given the boot.

James Horner (who worked previously with Petersen on "The Perfect Storm") was hired on as a last-minute replacement, with only a few weeks to score almost two hours of music. Given the time crunch, Horner and his crew were forced to make some compromises. Horner always had a habit of lifting portions of his scores from classical composers, which is pretty blatantly the case here for the score's two biggest ideas, Achilles' theme and the Trojan fanfare (so much so that the producers of the extended album couldn't re-license the cues featuring the latter). Horner also had to rely on synths for many of the scenes of softer underscore, as well as many of his classic compositional quirks. Nevertheless, the score is still quite enjoyable on its own terms.

Though Yared's rejected score has never been officially released, the composer made the highly controversial decision to publish some of the music on his website after the film's release, and later the entire score leaked online. For me, this whole history is both fascinating and infuriating. Although last-minute composer replacements seem to be more common-place today, at the time, this was a major scandal for soundtrack fans, and personally, I'll always have a spot in my heart for both scores. Working on covers for this, especially for Yared, has always been a passion project of mine. In fact, my earliest attempt was likely one of my very first covers, back in the day using MS Paint. So it is with great pleasure that I present this massive cover set, one of my most ambitious yet, split between both composers. 

Gabriel Yared


Hi-Rez Download Links:   Cover 1   Cover 2   Cover 3   Cover 4   Cover 5   Cover 6   Cover 7   Cover 8

Starting off the Yared covers, this first one adapts one the central posters, used on the film's DVD release. The original poster is an unusual design, with somewhat staggered spacing, with works fine on a taller poster, but very awkward cropped into a square. I toyed with moving Paris/Helen into the center of the image, but it just was too cramped, and they looked terrible hanging out down in the corner. In the end, I just eliminated them completely, which made things cleaner. To do this, I had to comp on a different Achilles, to patch in the shield, and also comp on two different version of Hector (including one from a totally different promotional photo shoot to get his lower body and complete his armor, which was cut off in the main poster). 

I recreated my own title logo treatment to use on all my posters, fortunately I found a hi-rez outline of the shape, and then did my best to match the 3D and texture effects (using marble and rougher rocks). For the other text, I actually had to combine 2 fonts, one for the main one (with the dots masked out of the O's, and then the T taken from a second font, to match the style used on the marketing, sized and spaced to blend in). Also, I had to figure out how to put the credits on these Yared covers as I don't like the look of "The Rejected Score", but also don't like doubling up on the work 'Music'. In fact, I'd almost finished this set giving Yared 'composed and conducted by' credit, only to realize that he did not conduct the score, so then had to go back and re-adjust everything (which is not only a matter of deleting some words, but totally fewer words affect sizing and spacing and re-cropping things slightly).

Cover 2 features the main Achilles poster, this one using the more colorful background. The image I found however, was quite compromised around the sides, either a stretched scan, or a poor fan creation. So I had to source from those parts of the image from the poster of the first cover, then match them to fit into the color scheme of this one to complete the soldiers in higher quality. 

The third cover uses the artwork from the Director's Cut release of the film, though I found a version featuring this mostly-desaturated version, which I liked. So I took that, but then had to match that look into the wider version of the poster. To help the composition, I also decided to shrink Achilles down in scale compared to the army behind him, so I then had to paint around him to match him back in (hopefully this isn't too noticeable). 

Covers 4-6 feature the central three characters in solo posters, from the same style of the first cover. The Achilles and Hector cover were relatively simple, mostly just trying to remove the weird halo effect around their heads in the original artwork. The Paris one actually took the most work, as it was composited together from two main images. Unfortunately the image quality on the images I used for the background was noticeably lacking, but I tried my best to make it match in ok in terms of the look, so hopefully it's passable. 

The sixth cover uses a teaser poster featuring the iconic and clever design for the Trojan horse, made from destroyed ship's hulls from the Grecian fleet. 

Cover 7 uses artwork from the back of the Director's Cut DVD Collector's Edition, which I still have sitting on my shelves (see the Horner section for a paired cover). I love the use of the royal blue color (an accent color used in the film, but sadly lacking from any other promotional artwork). The film's designers represented the Trojans which the horse motif (hence the Greek's gift), and a lion motif for the Greek army.


James Horner


Hi-Rez Download Links:   Cover 1   Cover 2   Cover 3   Cover 4   Cover 5   Cover 6   Cover 7

I originally planned to would keep Yared's covers with the greener design, and then have Horner's ones be all the gold or blue ones, but I decided to switch things up, in case people wanted to have covers which matched side-by-side. For the first cover, I figured I'd give this option of the slightly more naturalistic (yet still very stylized) look for Horner, mostly because I really like this dynamic image which captures the legendary duel between Achilles and Hector. Editing was relatively simple here, other than cloning the title off Hector's arm and the beach in the background. 

Cover 2 again uses the Director's Cut video design used above, though here used in its original gold-colored version, and with the full-sized Achilles, which required different text placement to accommodate. 

The next Horner covers (3-5) feature the solo character posters of the protagonists in the gold-plated look. I like the look a lot, but boy, were they a nightmare to edit! Mostly because of the hyper-detailed backgrounds, not only with the texture, but also with the superimposed text. The Achilles poster always featured the film actors' names slapped across his body. So naturally I had to take this out--but this meant spending hours carefully cloning every letter out to try to keep the background intact--and then re-inserting new text that could blend in with the rest and hopefully not be noticeable. For each image, I also had to combine two images, one the poster, and another a wallpaper version, which gave me a wider image to work with (but only of the top half), but meant that I then had to fill in the blanks accordingly onto the bottom corners of the image, adapting other parts of the existing background. Again, this just takes time and patience, especially with such a detailed background, that requires getting the text to all line up, yet changing the tones to match its new placement, etc. 

Cover 6 cover is just a remake of the official album covers. The Intrada expanded album pretty much used the same front cover as the original Warner release, although they slapped on their own standard text at the bottom, and did some odd butchering of the image to accommodate the text--although I understand the idea of what they were trying to do here, you can clearly tell this image has been poorly slapped pasted together, with noticeably mismatched black levels. For my remake, I took the highest version of the cover I could find, then up-rezzed it even more. I then took a high quality image of the central poster itself to get even more detail into the middle part of the image. I then had to clone out all the text and title, and then insert my own. 

The seventh and final cover now features the front of the previously referenced Collector's Edition box. Though it might be hard to notice at this size, the background here is Achilles' breastplate armor, colored blue. I thought this gave a polished, but very different-looking cover, and one which can be paired with the Yared cover #8. 

So there you go, folks! A total of fifteen (15) covers for your viewing pleasure. Like I said, this was a very personal project for me, one I've wanted to see come to life for a decade and a half. Fortunately there was plenty great artwork to choose from, but it was quite a headache to figure out how to tackle such a big project, knowing which art to assign to which composer, and of course, all the hours of cloning and patching to remove that gods-darned embedded text. There have of course, been fan-made covers for Yared's score online for ages, but imho most of them are terrible. And I really wanted to create the most professional covers for this film online, period, and do this great music justice. Let me know your favorites in the comments below, and enjoy!

5 comments

  1. I've been meaning to make my own set of Troy covers for a while, I still have a folder with some hi-res art, logos, etc. but either inspiration never took root or what I had in mind was too difficult for me to pull off, so believe me I understand how much work you put in to make these covers work.
    Your two sets are really fantastic. Looking at the poster designs there's some interesting colour choices I'm noticing, instead of the ever-present orange-and-teal design of most action-adventure stuff coming out now they went for a green-sky look? Interesting choice. And of course the deep yellow, bringing forth images of old parchment and ancient armour works fantastic for an epic from antiquity. As a fan of the Yared score I have to say I was leaning towards the Trojan horse cover due to that intriguing colour combination, plus the eponymous horse is an obvious choice to symbolize that whole story. But my favourite, and the cover I'm using now, is that last blue breastplate image, I agree that the royal blue looks fantastic and I'm drawn to cover designs that look like they could be a physical object inhabiting the world itself (for example, I'm a sucker for the leather-bound look of covers representing fantasy stories). This cover definitely belongs to that ilk.

    For the longest time I've been using a cover that combined the 3 & 5 posters of the Horner set for the Yared score, looking at that cover now after looking at this brilliant set is painful!

    Another great set, I'm definitely watching this blog closely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to see your Troy covers, if you make them, and curious if you had any noticeably different or new ideas. I'd toyed with the idea of actually creating some kind of brand-new cover art, creating a "new" poster using character portraits, etc. But the project was big and daunting enough as is. Though I still have some vague version in my head featuring the main leads and love interests, using the natural sandy-gold colors, with the blue sky and ocean behind, and the desert sands below... alas, it's not too likely at the moment.
      Yeah, I agree about the overall poster designs. I love that they aren't just the typical blue/orange/sparks posters we always see. I really dig the green-sky look, especially the slightly more neutral one. And yeah, the gold parchment ones are just classy and unique, and highlight that ancient-Greek-hero effect well.
      I agree about the blue-armor covers, they're very striking, more minimal in a way. The inside of the collector's box actually has a second armor, I think it's Sean Bean's Odysseus, which also has a distinct look, but I couldn't find that online, plus he's not exactly a central character. Curious they didn't have a version with the Trojan armor, though that's certainly featured plenty elsewhere. Just overall, I still just love the armor and design of this film in general.
      I definitely know the cover you're speaking of, it's been around forever, and with its painfully smudge-brushed seam, lol. The Idea of combining both those posters is nice, and I thought for a moment of trying to do it Properly... maybe some day. But honestly, it was exhausting enough just trying to clean up those images as is, with that background and all the text--the idea of having to properly line then up so the characters match (and the text size might not), repainting the connection between the two posters wouldn't be that bad, but then I'd probably have to do all the text from scratch in that middle portion... it's just a headache, lol.

      Thanks again for the kind comments and support!

      Delete
    2. Trying to cast my mind back what my though processes were back then, a lot of the posters are the same as what you have, so I'm pretty sure most of my ideas would've been similar to yours. At the very least I'm certain that I was planning to do a version with the royal blue armour, as well as a recreation of the cover I was using at the time. But there's also some other art in there that you haven't used, I'm not sure if it's official or not. And I think I had an idea to go abstract and use no material from the film whatsoever and instead base the cover of various printed versions of the Iliad. I might return to it one day, I don't know. Thanks for the kind words, but don't expect anything on the same level as what you've done.

      And yes, you know the exact shitty cover I was using! Yeah the blending was pretty bad and was sourced from low-poly images, but actually what I hated most was the font they used. So many fonts you could use for this subject material, and they use some blocky office printer font. Awful, awful, awful. In theory it could be an interesting cover but not only would it be a headache to do it would only be marginally different from the already existing poster with both of them in the same positions, with Helen & Paris in the middle. So it's not worth it in my opinion.

      Delete
  2. Awesome work, I never comment on blogsposts, but boy is this good!
    Thanks for making these, and more, for FREE!
    I was adding several iterations of the Troy score to my library and all of the covers were really bad, but yours are great!
    Thanks for making these public! You make awesome work, you should post on reddit.
    Ill see your blog once im finished, and great explination too!
    Once again great work :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pepe, and welcome to the site. I understand the feeling, I rarely comment on blogs myself, but I appreciate you taking the time to say hello and leave feedback!
      Yeah, everything is free as I want this to be a service for other fellow soundtrack fans, though it would be nice if there was some way to get a bit of financial compensation back, for all the time it takes me. I never use reddit, but that's something I should look into to try to build my audience.
      Yeah, I agree pretty much all the old Troy covers were terrible, so this one was really a personal passion project.
      Hope you'll check out other projects on the site, and feel free to follow the links on the side to Facebook, if that's easier to follow/comment. Thank again!

      Delete