Directing and scoring a film about a French rat who wants to be a chef -- as Brad Bird and Michael Giacchino did on Disney's "Ratatouille" -- required mutual trust, a close match in the pacing of the scenes and the music, and a little help from Google.

Bird and Giacchino discussed their collaboration at the Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference today (Nov. 2) in Los Angeles.

The challenge was to differentiate the film from what Bird called the animated "yak and critter" movies that preceded it. Giacchino went to see the movie for the first time thinking it would be "cute," but the story's emotional heft led him to write a main theme that was full of longing and melancholy.

"If you put it side by side with the name 'Ratatouille,' you'd think, 'that's crazy,'" Giacchino said. When he wrote the main theme, "I was afraid to send it to [Bird]. It was one of those things that I threw out there and then ducked," he noted.

But a quirky story allowed for an eclectic mix that drew upon jazz, French romantic and Latin influences -- and Bird gave his composer scenes without temporary suggested music cues, so that Giacchino would have a blank canvas on which to create.

When it came time to find a vocalist for one of the songs in the film, Giacchino shunned the studio's suggestions of top-selling pop acts and instead located a French singer named Camille, via an online search.

"She said something about having to start every day now with a prayer to Google," Giacchino joked.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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