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Old May 17th, 2003, 11:38 PM   #1
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Location: New Lebanon, New York
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How do YOU score music to YOUR video project?

O. K. A little background. About 21 years ago I received a B.M. (Bachelor's of Music) degree in film composition. Sadly, I never did anything with the degree with regards to film scoring.

This was before midi. This was before digital anything. This was when big movie-olas (sp?) were used to align and sync reel to reel audio tape to reel to reel film. And I've forgotten pretty much most of the craftsmanship involved with THAT type of film composition.

Now I FINALLY have the means to score and sync music to video. All using one computer, no less! Although I've been doing midi sequencing for years (since the late 1980's), I've been doing computer-based audio recording for only a couple of years and computer-based video editing for. . . oh. . . 1/2 a year or so!!

So far, my "bigger" video projects included a taping of a musical for a small community theater and a few projects where I synced short video recordings and photo-stills to already composed music.

I've recently finished my first video taping of a 13 minute (total) personal project to which only the background sound was recorded and with NO pre-composed music. (Basically, its "silent" film that's been edited and readied for musical scoring.) I'm using this project to re-introduce myself to the craftsmanship of film composition.

And it's kind of like staring at a blank piece of paper without a clue what to do next. . . except that music should be written hopefully in a way that helps bring out the emotions and ideas being conveyed in the video. I have all the tools at hand to assist me with this particular aspect of the project. This includes two different sequencing (midi/audio recording) programs, 7 or 8 tone generators, blank manuscript paper, pencils, calculators, etc., etc., and, of course, the video.

And I don't know where to begin!!!

My last "major" film composition project was for college. . . over 20 years ago! It was a 5 minute short documentary (stock film with all pre-existing music gone) about some national park with geysers. Again, it was a 16 mm film (I think). I remember composing and recording several musical scores (for 16 instruments) which I then aligned and synced to the film. . . splicing and taping together with the help of that big ol' movie-ola.

I plan on composing several different musical scores for my current computer-based video project utilizing my midi and soft-synth "instrumentation". . . again, all computer based (I don't have the $$$ to hire real musicians. . . and besides, I want to use my "toys"!). But a few basic questions come to mind:

1) What's the best way to "dissect" the video to set up music cues? Using minutes and seconds? Using frames? Or a combination of of two?

2) Because it will be all computer based, is it best and easier to score the whole musical composition in its entirety. . . all 13 minutes with tempo changes and mood changes, etc? Or is it best to break up the music into several different scores (like I did 21 years ago), record each score seperately and then align and sync each score to the video?

3) Should I use 29. something something something frames per second drop-frame mode? Should I use 30 frames/second mode (like I would to sync ADAT tape machine to midi software)? Does it really matter which frame per second mode I use?

So . . . . How do YOU score YOUR music to your video projects? What software programs, if any, do you use? Do you use stricly live musicians? How extensively do you used midi-type instruments and sequencing? Do you write out each note on manuscript paper prior to recording? Do you compose music "on the fly"? Do you use loop-based music? How do you "dissect" or break-down your video in preparation for video scoring? What frame-mode do you . . . or should you. . . use? (For example, my NLE program is Vegas 4.0 set to 29. whatever frames per second drop-frame. Should I also set my sequencing/audio recording software to this setting as well?)

Consider this an opportunity to "strut your stuff"! Also, you can probably consider this an opportunity to teach an old film composition student the new tricks of the trade.


Mac Pro (12-core 3.33GHz): OS X 10.11.6; 32 GBs RAM; NVIDIA Quadro K5000; 8 internal SSDs; 2 external Raid set-ups via eSATA; MOTU 2408 MK3; various audio/video programs
Ed Fiebke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 17th, 2003, 11:52 PM   #2
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Location: Canton, Ohio, USA
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What I personally do for music, is browse for undiscovered good music, and download a bunch and listen to it all, and if I like something, I will email the artist and ask them if I can use it in a video (they usually say yes, sometimes yes, on some kind of terms, and sometimes you even see some artists with something written on the main page that says like "you can use this music freely, just contact me if you do use it", or something..) and tada, I have great music in my videos.

I only music making experience I have is with Fruity Loops, and it's not all that great of a program...or i'm just not very good with it. :D I'm good with soundeffects though.
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Old May 18th, 2003, 12:04 AM   #3
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Hi Alex

I've done that before, too! Except instead of MP3 files, it was browsing through reel to reel tapes! :)

For one project . . . done, oh, over 23 years ago. . . I used a bunch of stock music from old 1940's and 1950's horror films! I had a great time syncing those old scores to that particular college project. And it worked. . . it fit the mood of the film! Of course that particular film was itself an old stock footage with lots of suspenceful moments.

Sound effects is another craft in and of itself. I like searching and/or recording sound effects that are used for live theater. Now that I'm becoming more involved with video, producing convincing sound effects (either freshly recorded or "borrowed" from stock sound libraries) for my video projects will be a welcomed challenge!

Thank you for your reply!

Cheers to you! :)

Mac Pro (12-core 3.33GHz): OS X 10.11.6; 32 GBs RAM; NVIDIA Quadro K5000; 8 internal SSDs; 2 external Raid set-ups via eSATA; MOTU 2408 MK3; various audio/video programs
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Old May 18th, 2003, 01:18 AM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Lakewood Colorado USA
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I usually use Vocalwriter (Mac) to compose and Reason to tweak and play.

As far as where to start, look for key points in your video. Is there a point where something mega-exciting happens (an explosion for example... ALL videos and movies need to have explosions)? Or maybe a sad death scene? Compose something sad for that scene and work your way back and forth from that. Or you can try "placeholder" music. Take music from anywhere... records, CDs, MP3s, whatever. Play them along with your video and see which tune(s) fit it the best and bring out the impact that you want it to have. Then, without plaguerizing (sp?) compose something similar. Just try not to fall in love with your placeholder music... it is very easy to do and then the new music won't sound as good to you until you get used to it.

Good luck!
Curtis T. Stoeber is offline   Reply

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