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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > May-18 > MUSIC FOR PICTURE THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

MUSIC FOR PICTURE THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

There are more videos being produced right now than ever before… and every single one of them can be improved with decent sound effects and a great soundtrack. MusicTech looks at some of the rules – and non rules – when it comes to putting music to picture, from scoring movies to music videos, and we’ll even score our own trailers along the way…

MT COVER FEATURE

Whatever your moving images, be they holiday memories on your phone, corporate videos, amateur plays, or even full-blown Hollywood masterpieces, we can guarantee that each and every one will be enhanced with a decent soundtrack. The art of putting an audio track together with visuals has never been so important. As a music producer in the 21st century, you should, at the very least, be engaged with the idea of getting your music soundtracked to video. If you want an outlet – paid for or otherwise – there are now more TV channels and other content platforms churning out video than ever before, and there are also more library (or ‘sync’) companies. As a working producer, it’s easy to get involved and grab a part of this action, so learning the art of soundtracking – so you can demo your music alongside video – is an absolute must.

This feature is primarily focused on producing scores for films but in reality, of course, there are probably only half-a-dozen composers in the world right now who can, hand on heart, call themselves A-list movie scorers. But don’t let that dishearten you. If we aim for the top, the same fundamental rules and practices can be applied to any music-topicture project. That applies to producing music for anything including college drama projects, corporate videos, music videos or web adverts. The same principles apply to all soundtracks. The art of spotting, composing, ordering, and using trial and error – all of these things apply just as well to producing music for a friend’s promo video as they do to a short two-minute, tension-building sting for an international movie trailer.

Over the following pages, we’ll look at the many various ways that top TV, film and documentary composers work with directors when producing a soundtrack. We’ll look at some of the fundamental practices involved in a typical composition, explore some of the tech terms that go with it, detail the numerous pieces of software that can help you produce moving scores – from synthetic to orchestral – and finally even produce two very different pieces of trailer music so you can see how the dynamic of a typical trailer track evolves. It’s not just deep voices, percussive builds and lots of overthe- top impact (although that does all help). So grab your popcorn, sit back and follow our simple guide to producing the perfect soundtrack…

image © Lee Kirby/Spitfire Audio
A busy spotting session at Abbey Road’s incredible Mix Stage studio

CREATE YOUR OWN SPOTTING SESSION

A spotting session is where you sit down with the film director to discuss the music. At Abbey Road – on our recent visit for a MusicTech cover feature – we visited the ultimate spotting location in the form of the studio’s brand-new cinema room: the Mix Stage. This state-of-the-art room is for dubbing the film score music usually recorded in Abbey Road Studio One direct to picture. It features a 44-speaker Dolby Atmos system (as commonly used in cinemas today) alongside a mini-cinema, complete with cinemastyle seats. Like we say, it’s the ultimate place to discuss movies and music together – you really can imagine J.J. Abrams or Rian Johnson sitting here with John Williams discussing musical cues and themes to one of their new Star Wars movies…

THEME PARK

While we don’t expect you to create your own 44-speaker room for your spotting sessions, you should always prioritise sitting down with the creator/director of the visual piece you’re scoring to discuss the project; what that director has in mind about the music: what sonic themes they’d like to hear; which scenes they want music in (and, conversely, which scenes should have no music at all). This is the time to go through the rough cuts of the film and get an overall idea of the creative intent of the project – the mood and the tone, both visually and sonically. Are there any subtexts that you should know about? And, of course, what is that all-important deadline? It’s time for your own ideas to begin and hopefully marry with the director’s, so create your own spotting session upfront and use it as the foundation to build the sound alongside the visuals going forward.

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About MusicTech

Imagine some of those iconic cinematic scenes without the music. The scintillating establishing scenes of Blade Runner’s futuristic Los Angeles, Elliot and E.T. soaring past the full moon on their flying bicycle or Luke Skywalker staring up at the twin suns of Tatooine. In our cover feature this month, we present the complete guide to the process from a professional standpoint, with industry advice and even step-by-step guides to try some of the unique creative processes yourself. In addition to our main feature, we also speak with in-demand composer Junkie XL about his work on top-tier blockbusters and commemorate the 20th anniversary of Air’s Moon Safari in this month’s Recording Spotlight. Our expanded tutorial section now (once again!) covers Pro Tools, as well as our usual range of reviews, tips and the second part of our Essential Guide To Plug-In Effects. We hope you enjoy the issue…