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Topic: Film scoring questions...

  1. #1

    Question Film scoring questions...

    Hello fellow GPO users!

    Well, so far I've scored music for a commercial and now I'm doing my first "real" movie. When I say "real" I mean that I've scored to storyboards and scripts, but this is my first score that I actually have a movie (DVD in quick time format). I apologize if this is a bit off topic, but I know that from lurking on this forum that many of you have experience in scoring film and such. Excuse me while I ask permission to pick your brains... ready, this won't hurt if you hold still!

    I'm am currently in school now for composition and music theory. When I create scores I use Logic Pro on my MAC G5 and I use GPO. Now, the movie was sent to me and I copied it to my HD and I have it as a quick time movie. It's a short, approx. 20 minutes long.

    I do realize that you all use many different methods of scoring and different software programs to accomplish the task. What I'm asking for is the different ways that you do your scores for movie using software. Once I'm done with school, I'll be able to score my music on paper and then have it played. One of the other perks of being a music student is that I know enough people that play instruments to have a small orchestra

    I'm working with a small team in Hollywood and no one is gettng paid as of yet. These guys are on the ball though, they filmed 5 movies last month. They'll send me new film each time I'm finished with the other one. For now what I do is lay out the movie in Logic on a video track and then score small parts of each scene. My question is should I do a scene and save that song and then open up a new song and score a different scene and on and on. *OR* Should I just score the whole movie in one Logic song?

    The only problem with the latter one is that the movie could requirea great number of tracks which shouldn't be too hard on my Dual G5, but I bet it can get taxing. Any info is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    Sorry for the novel!

    The Capn

    Captain Hook (if you see Pan let me know!)

  2. #2

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    Absolutely break it up scenes. You may want one sound loaded for one scene, and won't want to have it chewing up cpu during another scene when it isn't needed.

    Another reason to do it that way is that you can give the director the scenes one by one as you finish them. While he is reviewing your drafts, you can be working on new scenes, or making changes to scenes based on his previous comments.

    Last of all, a high-quality audio file of an entire movie is quite a hefty size, if you plan on doing anything like submitting them online to each other.

    Good luck!

    - Jamie Kowalski
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  3. #3

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    The few films I did were all single-file in Cubase. I used temp sounds on external synths during the scoring process to avoid overtaxing the computer (my machine was never at the driving edge of technology) and only exported to audio tracks and did all the mixing and polishing-up when all notes were at their proper places It's easier to view the movie as a whole that way, especially if you're going to use music for scene transitions.
    Oh, if you're also in charge of sound effects that tend to repeat (footsteps, clock ticking...), map them to a virtual sampler or drummachine (even such as the free DR-002 or DR-005 is a great help), it makes the work a lot easier

  4. #4

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    I personally use one big long 'timeline' for this, in one nuendo project. Indeed you might load some sounds that u you use only once in a while, but with a fast G5, who cares?
    In this manner you can keep the overview. You can export just pieces of the thing, not nesecerely the enitre track. So the splitting up into scenes is possible anyway. The latter is more convienient probably to the director/editor allso, again to keep the overview (I can say that from experience)

    In can be a pain in the **** to have to slice up a big long score when you decide to change a scene and change the entire timing film doing so...


    (I'm not entirely sure if my english is correct here, please tell me if I made really weird scentences...thanx)
    And then, all of a sudden, NOTHING HAPPENED!

  5. #5

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    This is one area where MOTU's Digital Performer reigns supreme. That software has the notion of "Chunks", which is what many film score composers use to assemble all the cues of a film. Because each chunk can have its own tempo, meter, etc...you can compose/arrange one cue with all of that stuff intact, but lay that chunk down on to a master SMPTE timeline...so if you change one cue (or chunk) it doesn't change the other cues). IN addition, each chunk(cue) can have a completely different combination of tracks and instruments, etc..

    Many people have asked Emagic for this type of functionality in Logic for years, but so far...they haven't done it. If I read the SX3 promo materials correctly, it may be that Cubase is finally going to have something like it in the near future. But for now, DP absolutely handles all issues related to SMPTE timelines and different cues in the best way..

    All the people I have heard explain how to do it in logic present complicated ways of doing it using multiple song files or something. Check the archives of the logic-users@yahoogroups.com and you'll probably find details there..
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  6. #6

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    I use Sonar 3.1.1PE. Never heard of the chunks concept, but that sounds like a great feature. With Sonar you do have the ability to lock into SMPTE time, which works for me at least.

    Capn, I'm not sure, but it sounds to me like you are doing one scene at a time for the movie before they did the final editing. My humble opinion is that you are setting yourself up for a nightmare when the director and editors start to put everything together. They never keep even remotely to the timing. I never tried to work that way before. I only start when I have a fairly final cut or a "locked" picture. If you have a movie file, make some time to ask the director where he thinks they may change timing by cutting or adding clips. Next I'd make sure to know at which points they need exact syncronization (hit points) etc and mark those on the SMPTE timline.

    Before I enter a note in Sonar I "plan" the score on an spreadsheet (or use paper). I basically need about three columns, one for the scene descriptions, one for descriptions of the moods / sounds the director wants and one column where I make my notes for instrumentation. Before I start I will go over the ideas in first 2 columns with the director. Note, I have never attended any official "spotting sessions" as I only get my stuff over the internet.

  7. #7

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    Yea...I have to agree...don't do any in depth editing or composing until the final cut is given to you. However, there is no reason you can't start working on some thematic ideas..
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  8. #8

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    My personal opinion is to use separate files. Although the DP chunks thing sounds intriguing, I could never get my head around that program in the first place. Just stuck in the Logic mud I guess.
    Having worked on many feature films, I have always liked to compartmentilize my cues for various reasons.

    You don't have to deal with constant altering start times of individual cues in a timeline when you adjust tempos, ritards, etc,. It's better to have a separate master file with the entire movie to cut and paste your cues to from your individual files if you like, to get the "bigger picture", but work on your individual cues in separate files. It's simpler, and time is money.

    You don't have to tax your computer's resources as much, you just load in the plug-ins you need for the individual cue. You should have a master template file to load in all the common plugs and track assignments you need for the majority of your work.

    Stuff happens. Even if a picture is locked, you'd be surprised how often it gets unlocked for a "minor final edit" which can throw everything off. It's easier to deal with when it's crunch time if you only have to deal with one cue that may be affected and some adjustments to other cue's SMPTE start times.

    Being able to send individual cues to an orchestrator as you are in the process of finalizing arrangements. I know lots of people on this forum are doing everything themselves and don't have the need/luxury of hiring an orchestrator, but if and when you move up a notch, you sure as hell are gonna need one or more when the stakes are higher.
    Logic 9 | OSX Snow Leopard | 2x3 Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon | 4g ram |Dual Cinema Displays | MBox 2 | MOTU 2408, MTP AV | AlphaTrack | BlueSky 2.1 |

  9. #9

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    I have to agree with you that if I ever have to work on a feature film my workmethod will have to change. Currently I've only worked on short films / videos with no orchestrators and I am only lucky if I get out the project making any money at all.

  10. #10

    Re: Film scoring questions...

    Another reason to break your cues into different files, especially if you are sketching before the locked film is ready, is that 3 years from now, you're going to be scrambling around for that idea that you developed but then didn't get to use - compositional recycling has a long and venerable history!

    -- mo

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