Bedrock of Music
Musicbed DV ($249) from Synk Audio is an easy to use and straightforward royalty-free music generator for the Mac platform. If you don’t have the cash for synchronization rights or a garage band willing to do the work for a pizza and some publicity, then you’ve got to turn to canned goods. Thanks to several new music creation software titles, including Musicbed DV, no longer are you limited to just a song in a box. These applications are feature-rich and allow the novice just enough control to customize a track to your liking without needing a deep knowledge of music theory or composition. This is a perfect tool for producers, whether it’s a short web video or a low-budget documentary about your hometown. Enough said. Let’s get our feet wet.
Sound It Out
One of the most critical parts to any music generation software applications is the music library. This is your sounding board for what kind of mood and style you’ll be able to execute in your video. Musicbed DV with Seasons 1 and 2 music libraries offers a vast number of tracks and variations geared towards the narrative storyteller. Producers of dramas and action flicks will find these two libraries a great fit for their productions. Season 1 is the modern cinematic storytelling package and Season 2 is the commercial trends and mashup sound library.
Within every music package and unique non-linear block, Musicbed DV has a Favorite check box associated with that particular item. This makes keeping track of your favorite tunes much easier. We really like this Favorites feature, and we hope to see all music generation software applications adopt this feature, if they haven’t done so already.
Get It On
Installing Musicbed DV on an iMac (1.8GHz PowerPC G5, 512MB RAM) was simple enough. You’ll need 17 GB of free disk space for the application and music content. It’s available for purchase as a download (2 GB download) or on DVD-ROM.
Mess It Up
The true strength of Musicbed DV is its simplicity. The interface is very approachable, making the task of creating a score for your video production a doable one. In fact, there’s not much of a learning curve to adapt to this program. You may not even need to use the help section, ever. This interface is perfect for beginners, students and anyone who appreciates a clean user interface. To say it’s simple is an understatement. But it won’t disappoint the creative types who want to tweak a track to make it sound like an original score for their production.
Musicbed DV will allow you to change tempo, pitch and many other musically descriptive parameters to a single track. (There are 9 parameters in total. See tech specs for more details.) If a song sounds a little too synthetic or electronic, you can swing the slider towards the organic side of the scale. The result is definitely noticeable, even more so on certain tracks. How about more melodic? Or, how about less percussive or syncopated? The options here really make your track stand out and fit the needs of your production. These qualities can be keyframed in each song as well making subtle changes over time a possibility you can control. We were impressed with the simplicity of the keyframer, too. Each parameter shares the same track layer, saving a lot of desktop real estate. When you want to change a keyframe of a particular parameter, you can toggle between all of them in the single track. This makes for a little extra clicking when you’re manipulating different musical qualities (including volume), but we appreciate how it reduces clutter. Finally, there is also a Keyframe Snapshot and Generator tool that will allow you to manipulate multiple parameters or a single one, including the ability to generate keyframes over time intervals. For the advanced user, this application this will help save time as you become knee deep in keyframing.
Make It Right
We really appreciate the ability to slide different sections of the song forward and back along the timeline, changing the duration of each section or the song as a whole. Each track in the timeline is comprised of different blocks, which make up the entire song. You can swap out these blocks if you like or extend and shorten them too. Having so much control with the timing of the each element will help producers change the mood of the song at the appropriate times. Musicbed DV also includes markers, so you can lay visual cues to note important changes in the music. In our test, we spent a good amount of time trying to create a moody track that constantly changed throughout time. We found that when we manually changed blocks within a song, oftentimes we would have to also slightly change musical parameters and timing to massage the transitions between blocks. This is really where you’ll find the limitations of music generation software-if you were composing music from scratch, this wouldn’t be a problem, obviously. The time you’ll save from bypassing the music creation stage, you’ll probably spend in perfecting the timing and musical parameters of your track. We think that this is a fair trade, especially for those who are not musically inclined.
Overall, Musicbed DV is a great software application for generating music for the narrative video. We are highly anticipating new scores that further strengthen this product. If you’ve got a story to tell, Musicbed DV has a robust library for every plot point and emotion that you’ll want to reinforce. For most of us, that’s just what we intend to do with our production music. Check out the trial version on Synk Audio’s Web site to learn more.
CPU: PowerPC G4, G5 or Intel processor
Display: 1024×768 resolution or higher
OS: Mac OS X v10.4 or later
Disk Space: 17GB available for application and music content
Audio Device: 44.1kHz stereo output capability required
Adjustable Musical Parameters: Synthetic/Organic, Background/Prominent, Melodic/Percussive, Sparse/Dense, Soft/Intense, Dry/Spacious, Smooth/Punchy, Pitch, Tempo
Music Content Provided: Seasons 1 & 2 (23 music packages, over 6100 non-linear tracks)
- Ease of use
- Relatively inexpensive
- Moody tracks
- None, really
MusicBed DV is a simple yet powerful music generator for the Mac platform.
Mark Montgomery is Videomaker’s Technical Editor.
$249 (with Seasons 1 & 2)
Synk Audio Studios, LLC
3501 N. Southport Ave., #219
Chicago, IL 60657