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Old 04-21-2012, 06:47 PM   #1
Mimi910
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Question How do you select music or sounds for your film?

The thing I currently have the most trouble with is adding sound. I am never quite sure where to add music or if I should add any at all. And if I should what type of music, how could I be sure it truly goes with the subject or if I should keep looking.

Any advice or comments, on how you choose music for your shorts or scenes or features and how you find it, is greatly appreciated.

Last edited by Mimi910; 04-21-2012 at 08:14 PM. Reason: My original post wasn't clear enough :)
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:12 PM   #2
Alcove Audio
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What are you trying to say with your short? What is the mood you want to set? What do you want to be known about the characters?

Sound works on us in very subtle ways, and even in instinctual ways. The roar or hiss of a predator can still raise the hackles on the back of your neck. There are many sounds that we automatically associate with certain responses, like a car horn or a siren. Many of us associate crickets with late summer, and small water sounds with peacefulness. Music clichÚs also have strong associations for us - some of them even come from films.

You need to choose appropriately and carefully so you are consistent with what you want to say, even if you go with a contrasting sound or piece of music. But that is the first step; what is it you are saying with your visuals? Once you have answered that question the rest of them get easier.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:47 PM   #3
WalterB
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Finding music that fits like a glove is always difficult.
That's why a lot of films use composers to create a score that does fit.

You can try to browse stockmusiclibraries. (I'm not familiair with US libraries)
On the other hand: Tarantino just seems to browse his own music collection
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:17 PM   #4
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I wrote this tutorial Choosing And Using Music For Film And Video recently. It is a bit more of a general guideline on using music in your film rather than getting really specific on where to use what music, but you may want to read it.
Using the right music and sound is crucial to really make your film cohesive and compelling to watch.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:42 PM   #5
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For any type of music whether it be name artist, movie, tv, video game, or royalty, I usually just sit down briefly listening to random ones. I do this until I find one that hits me as the mood that I'm going for. You also have to decide if it's crucial to add music. Especially when you had a scene that a originally had no music and add one in later, it changes the dynamic of the scene completely whether it hurts or helps it.
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:21 PM   #6
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Thanks guys for your input!! I guess the process will get better and I will increase my accuracy with practice. I hope any ways.
For my last assignment I actually went to my music library and found something that sort of matched.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #7
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I would have to imagine sound design and music would be a daunting task for film makers who aren't already skilled in those areas.

I can't even start cutting a film without music to set the mood and guide the tone. Since by the time you are cutting, most film makers won't already have original music written, personally, I like to find music from films that I really like and simply lay it in the cut just so I get an idea of how I want it to feel. The trouble with writing music yourself and especially asking someone else to do music for you, there's always some trial and error you need to allow. What if your composer isn't quite nailing it? What if as the composer you're just not inspired enough? This is why I always and HIGHLY recommend getting music you love from other films and placing it in the cut. You can try out many different pieces as you progress in the cut, switching them out, putting them back, experimenting with just the right tone. Trial and error. And when you think you got it, then show a composer what you want. Have them listen to it. There's nothing wrong with making something sound similar. Chord progressions are recycled ALL THE TIME in film scores, even the very best ones. What's more important here, in my opinion, especially considering this is music for a FILM, tone needs to take precedent over trying to do something too radical. A good score sinks into the scene and doesn't float on top of it.

TL;DR Insert in your cut music you love as a guide for tone and pacing. Try out as many pieces as it takes to feel just right. When satisfied, turn it over to a composer to mimic the tone with an original piece.

As for sound design, this is an extremely subtle, misunderstood, tedious, and can be extraordinarily technical art form. If you want your film to shine, hand this job over to someone who really loves to do it and knows how to do it right. I'm sitting here erasing my thoughts and rewriting them. Then staring at my monitor unable to think of anything that doesn't sound scary. Maybe someone has a simpler way of explaining acceptable sound design for independent film makers?

One of the best tips I can give is don't be afraid to let the sound design become part of the score and vice versa. Some really cool and interesting things can happen.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:12 PM   #8
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Different procedures how to find sound and music

To my mind there are several ways to find perfect music for a film. The first way to my mind is to use you intuition first. How does a scenery in your movie look like. Are there scared people, happy people, crying, laughing or whatever.....feelings are easy to see and so to select the right direction of music also.

In other circumstances you just use your brain instead of instinct or intuition...if there is a car chase or something scary you wouldn't use slow but happy music....at least...you do it like all the others do it))....
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGBarnes View Post
I'm sitting here erasing my thoughts and rewriting them. Then staring at my monitor unable to think of anything that doesn't sound scary.
Thank you for your post it was helpful. And it is a daunting task, like i am missing a link. A link that could make or brake the whole thing. But your tips were really usefull and I will definately try that approach.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
Mimi910
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And thank you Ken. I think my biggest problem was not having that much knowledge about music, as of late i've started to explore more, and listen to sounds in films as oppossed to just looking at camera movements, lighting, tone. Hopefully I will get better with time
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:43 AM   #11
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The beauty of the process is you can try it first. Put various types of music under a scene or a transition, what effect does it have? If you find something that makes the scene better, then find something (or in my case have something written) that evokes the same mood as the trial or temp music.
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Old 05-10-2012, 02:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGBarnes View Post
...I always and HIGHLY recommend getting music you love from other films and placing it in the cut. You can try out many different pieces as you progress in the cut, switching them out, putting them back, experimenting with just the right tone. Trial and error. And when you think you got it, then show a composer what you want. Have them listen to it. There's nothing wrong with making something sound similar.
This is not an uncommon workflow but in practise I believe it to be a mistake, for several reasons. By getting a composer to essentially copy (let's say paraphrase for legality's sake), you are to a large extent defeating the purpose of hiring a composer in the first place, because you are placing strict constraints on their creativity and ability to aid the emotional content of your film. A good score not only under pins individual scenes but evolves with the film and the characters to help drive the story and character development. This can't be done if all the composer is doing is paraphrasing various pieces of music already chosen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGBarnes View Post
Maybe someone has a simpler way of explaining acceptable sound design for independent film makers?
In essence, Sound Design is the art of using psychoacoustics, the perception of sound, to manipulate the audience's attention and emotions. BTW, it's no where near as tedious as filming!

G

Last edited by AudioPostExpert; 05-10-2012 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 05-10-2012, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioPostExpert View Post
This is not an uncommon workflow but in practise I believe it to be a mistake, for several reasons. By getting a composer to essentially copy (let's say paraphrase for legality's sake), you are to a large extent defeating the purpose of hiring a composer in the first place, because you are placing strict constraints on their creativity and ability to aid the emotional content of your film. A good score not only under pins individual scenes but evolves with the film and the characters to help drive the story and character development. This can't be done if all the composer is doing is paraphrasing various pieces of music already chosen.
I half agree with this. I mean, if you're just giving a temp score, no further direction and telling the composer "off you go!" then yeah, I definitely agree with you. But if you take the time to say "hey, I like the rhythm of this piece" or "can you do an arrangement instruments like this piece," and that sort of thing, a temp score can reall help communication. Let's face it, music folks and film folks don't always speak the same language. There's a lot of cross communication learning that should be done on both sides!

I don't expect a director to say "hey can you do a modal shift on the viola line at measure 23" but that might be what they want. For them to say "hey, can you do something like this piece does at the 2 minute mark?" is an effective way to communicate. Gets everyone on the same page! So familiarizing yourself with different types of music, and as Gonzo says, experiment by just dropping different things in place, is definitely a good thing.

Of course, I've worked with Directors who have just said "that's wrong" until I came up with something that was barely distinguishable from the temp score, so you definitely don't want what you're hearing to be locked in to that. But directing the composer to get the emotions you want to convey correctly is a good thing, and at the end of the day you should end up with music that you are both happy with.

So, yeah, listen to music, try stuff out and don't let yourself get locked in to specific melodies. And treat your composer well
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:35 PM   #14
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... and don't let yourself get locked in to specific melodies.
This is the big problem because if they cut in a temp music track, the director and editor may hear that temp music a hundred times while editing. The music gets burnt into their brains and then anything other than an exact copy will sound shockingly wrong.

Of course, it depends to an extent on budget but as a general rule the composer should be able to advise the director on where the music should be used and the style and feel of the music appropriate to aid the story. A director of course does not have the experience or knowledge of how to use music compared to a dedicated professional specialist (the composer). To not involve the composer in the decisions of where and how to use music is the height of arrogance as well as a waste of what the director is paying for! The composer should be a collaborator not a slave.

G
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:32 PM   #15
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It can be complicated hiring a composer to make the music that truly fits, and it can also be expensive. That's why stock audio websites are out there to give cheap songs for just about anything. If I was choosing music for a scene, I would have the scene play in my media player with the sound muted, while at the same time playing music from stock audio sites to see if the mood is a match.
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