Who here composes music for video/film?

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    • #49372

      Hello –

      This is my first post here. Thought I’d make my first topic about something I (kind of) know about, film composition. First, a bit about me with regards to video. I’m a full-time ICU/CCU nurse. In other words, my knowledge base to videography is “basic” at best. LOL! However, I do a fair amount of video-taping for the hospital where I work. I’m a kind soul and video-tape educational in-services so that employees who are not able to attend the actual in-service can at least see it on DVD. For the past few years, I’ve been doing a LOT of this. It is through this particular video-taping/editing that I’ve been learning about the craft of videography (very much a self-learner). (Keep in mind that when I learned “Film Composition”, there was no computer-based audio/video editing ANYTHING. LOL! I “Cut and Paste” by literally cutting the 1/4″ reel-to-reel audio tape and (literally) taping the spliced ends together. All of this was done on top of a flat-bed movieola. LOL! I also learned how to use an upright movieola! LOL!)

      My favorite part video-editing process of the taped educational in-services is composing music to the video. I never thought that I would end up composing music video. . . . using a computer. LOL! But it is a wonderful creative outlet for me.

      I use Apple’s Logic Pro (9.1.6) for the main DAW software with lots of instrumental libraries including GPO, JABB, Kirk Hunter Studio libraries, guitar libraries from Music Lab, and many others as well. All seems to work well together.

      I am thinking about branching out and lending myself to film students (students in high school or college) who might want original music for their films (videos). I’m thinking that it could become a nice (and serious) hobby. And, should enough work come my way, I would be willing to take on other video-scoring projects to that could turn into (at least) supplemental income.

      I never pursued Film Composition as a career. And, I do love my nursing profession. At present, I’m kind of able to do both with my hospital-work related video projects. It would be nice to do more of the film-composing stuff.

      So. . . . who here does film composition, either professionally, semi-professional or as a hobbyist?? How did you get started? Please share your experience with film composition.

      Thank you. . . πŸ™‚


    • #202190

      The short answer is ‘me’, although it might not be the samekind of music. In fact, I have been waiting to hear from someone else who composes their own video-music, for along time, in view of the fact that I thought I wasa ‘loner’, situated, as I am, down near the bottom of the world (46deg.S) in New Zealand’s South Island. Professionally, I qualify as ‘retired’, although I was at one time part of the design team for a line of electrical appliance ‘whiteware.

      Where I live, the city of Dunedin, is an area very kind to film/video-makers. Within 15 minutes drive of our home on Otago Peninsula there is a wealth of natural-history and historical material. I have been working on a Documentary series dealing with our Province’s 250kMs of coastline since October 2005, currently revisiting key areas and shooting material in AVCHD ‘High definition’, which I archive; but also, due to the advanced nature of my project, transcode to very high-quality mpg2 so that the output is still able to go-out on DVD. Apart from the somewhat backward step from ‘progressive’ to ‘interlaced’ scan, this is capable of giving very good results. I have 107DVD’s of DV-AVI material which is carefully archived as ‘standard’ definition. The best of that, is quite suitable for use in my videos. The ‘High Definition’ is archived separately.

      Being of ‘European’ ancestry, with equal proportions of both French and Italian in my background, it seems almost inevitable, that I would eventually gravitate to composition of my own music. The enjoyable part of video-making, for me, is the hands-on component, in-the-field, and editing that into the best productions possible; not endless ‘arrangements’ such as having to secure rights to copyright music, etc. From age six, I had been lined up with my ‘half-size’ violin by my parents, for the dreaded ‘music-lessons’ as part of each day’s routine, an activity which I absolutely loathed. Gradually, as I grew and learned more about music, it became a central focus of my existence, although active participation was cut short at age 23, when I suffered a stroke, from which, at first, it was thought I wouldn’t recover. So with the dexterity of my left-hand very much slowed-down, I took a back-seat, performance-wise and my interest became more ‘academic’ in nature.

      It was the process of sorting through classical music to try and findsuitable mood and ‘ambience’to help showcase my footage, which led me to the notion that I might be able to compose and ‘perform’ my own. And so, I invested, firstly in the Garritan ‘Personal Orchestra’ set of instrument samplings, then in sequencing software, a Digital Audio Workstation, and’Kontakt’ (currently ‘Kontakt 4’) to help bring-it-all to life. There were teething-problems and things I found were ‘necessary’, for example, I ‘clean’ each instrument-group’s wave-filesto obtain much better signal-to-noise ratios thanI suspect most people experience and almost always, put at least 100 cubic metres of ‘space’ around my brass; but, those things come with experience. And, now three years after beginning with this rather ‘niche’ add-on to my film/video-making, I am pretty pleased with the results I am getting.

      One piece of advice I would give to anyone aspiring to compose their own film/video music, is, to take every opportunity to listen, critically, to good examples of the genre. I sometimes record, and mull-over, audio-tracksfrom such documentaries as ‘the BBC ‘Life’ series.A lot of Documentary ‘background’ music is far more than audible wallpaper, and some of it stands up quite well in its own right. I stick, mainly, with a 96-piece symphony orchestra I have set-up, since that allows for all sixteeen MIDI channels I have available to me to be occupied at any one time, (My music is not ‘played’, however, it becomes ‘wave’ files based upon a music ‘score’ which may be printed-off, not performance on a keyboard). I am, fortunately, able to ‘read’ music, and, if you can read it, there is very little reason why you cannot ‘write’ it as well.

      I do not deliberately plagiarise themes from other music, but with the catalogue of music growing, daily, I am not too fixated upon originality. A recent case-in-point, was a short composition to suggest rough surf around our coast, which I knew, from the outset, had a superficial resemblance to ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’, but which I wrote in a minor key, ‘roughed-up’ a bit and because of its ‘angry’ piano arpeggios, hasnow been ‘saved’, safely, in my computer, as ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Snarl!’The quality of the music, in fact, has provided an incentive to raise other aspects of the video-making process to the much same ‘plateau’, good commentary, quality shots and so-on, and that has benefitted every aspect of its production. That effort, plus the time taken to write and ‘perform’ the music isn’t amenable to ‘quick-fixes’ but it certainly makes for satisfying outcomes.

      Good ‘film’ music is different from the day-to-day ‘classics’. It is essentially formless for long periods of time, which it has to be, to closely follow the screen-action. Both my sequencer, and ‘Reaper’ which I use for my downmixes allow for playback of the visual content (minus its sound), and that is sufficient to enable me to, usually; be able to shoe-horn a short passage of music into a space which has been set aside for it on the timeline. Apart from that, a hand-held calculator and a stop-watch can be very handy as well.

      All in all, this can be an absorbing pastime, probably better suited to someone whose time may be allocated at his/her own discretion. Since, it is necessary to have the footage to start with, I find a good hand-held GPS, tide-tables and an advance view of approaching weather patterns all to be invaluable; so a typical week consists of a day, or two, in-the-field and the worse of the weather used, to maximum effect, in either editing in-the-timeline, or composing and ‘performing’ suitable music. One thing I never have the time to be, is ‘bored’.

    • #202191

      Ian –

      Thank you very much for your revealing and thoughtful reply. It seems that you’re doing what I would like to be doing more often. From watching documentaries filmed in your country, it seems that New Zealand lends itself to stunning nature-focused videography.

      I envy your time that you take to video-tape, edit then compose music to your documentaries. Recently my wife and I vacationed in Sedona, Arizona where there exists a very different type of beauty found in that area. I have over a couple of hundred photos and about 1 1/2 hours of (standard definition) video of our stay there. My plans are to do something similar to what you do and create a finished “documentary” of the area and our vacation there. A lack of time, unfortunately, has kept me from even starting to “put everything together”. Oh, I’m working on a video. It happens to be an educational in-service that I taped on managing acute strokes in the E.R. setting. (As I shared in my original post, I’m a full-time ICU/CCU nurse who also video-tapes educational in-services held at our modest and very small hospital.) This particular project is a challenge. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t able to put (the usual) wireless lavalier microphone on the neurologist who presented the in-service. Instead, I had to rely on the my video-camera’s own microphone (which is mediocre at best) to record the sound. To add to the challenge of providing clean audio, the neurologist has a thick Polish accent. She was very knowledgable, of course. It’s sad, though, that even under normal circumstances, it is difficult to understand her. (Yikes!). So, I’m finding myself supplementing this particular project with lots of “extra” graphics to help get the point across. Although I am enjoying editing this video (despite the challenge of attempting to improve the poor audio), it’s keeping me from editing and setting to music this lovely video “documentary” of our vacation in Sedona. When I get to it, this video will be the first of its kind for me. It’s all set to put together. I just need to put it all together, which includes my favorite part. . . writing the original music. (Oh, and did I mention that I’m a full-time ICU/CCU nurse?!? LOL!)

      It seems that we both own the Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO). I’m a big fan of his products. I own various versions of GPO as well as his JABB (Jazz and Big Band) instrumental library. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out the instrumental libraries from Kirk Hunter Studios. My favorite is his Concert String 2 library, scripted for Kontakt 4. It’s a really great-sounding string library. At present, there is a “Group Buy” on most of the libraries by Kirk Hunter Studios. This particular Group Buy was so successful that one can now enjoy a 75% discount off the cost of his libraries. I think that the Group Buy has been extended. This is a really good deal for great sounding orchestral libraries.

      I’m sorry to read about your stroke. It seems, though, that you have recovered enough to be able to do some wonderful things like video-tape, edit, write music. I see a lot of negative effects from strokes. Please understand that it is significant to me that you seem to have successful “recovery”. In reading the story that you share, I would say that your recovery is at least inspirational. People can recover from strokes (depending on where the stroke took place and the severity of the stroke). Usually, though, the recovery is not without a lot of hard work, both physically and emotionally. I do like to read about positive outcomes from the hard work and effort of recovery.

      Getting back to the subject of “film composition”, what is your take on the more commercial side of writing music to video?? It seems, at times, that the art of composition is being lost to the reality of meeting short deadlines and the convenience of computer-based “music”. Again as I shared in my original post, I learned “film composition” using movieolas (sp?). But learning to use these things was secondary to learning composition. I took a number of composition and arranging courses which were mandatory for the major. Recently, I looked into the curriculum that the college that I attended 30 years ago has to offer Film Composition majors NOW. It’s different. The number of actual composition courses required of its current Film Scoring students is much less. Instead, there are more computer-focused courses. This doesn’t seem right to me. Yes, quick deadlines need to be met and computers make WONDERFUL tools. But why sacrifice the art and skill of composition in the meanwhile? It seems that the “background music”, especially found in the more “recent” television shows and documentaries, is lacking in thought to what’s going on on the screen. It seems very predictable, un-original and exceedingly cliche-ish. It seems like nothing more than just cliche “background fill-noise” to my ears which happens to be “music”. Yes, I know that writing music to video (film) is NOT meant to be an end in of itself. And, maybe I’m just reacting to my jealousy that I’m not writing that cliche “background fill-noise”. LOL! But the art of music composition seems to be taking too much of a back seat to modern, commercial music to video (and film). It saddened me to find out that my college now offers Film Scoring majors LESS opportunities to take music composition courses. For good or for bad, the focus seems to be more on the BUSINESS rather than the art.

      Well. . . that’s my whine for the night. (Trust me, if I ever found myself dependent on making a living as film composer, I would also use the same-old musical cliches if it was expected of me to use them! LOL!)

      Anyone else have any other comments and/or stories and experiences to share with regards to writing music to video???

      Take care. . . and happy video-making and music composing. πŸ™‚

    • #202192

      efiebke, welcome. i also produce my own music. i started on the guitar 25 years ago and like most guitar players, i learned what i learned in the first 5 years and spent the next 15 years just recycling that same stuff. then about6 years ago i got into video, and started gradually recording some of my own stuff and making more and more with it. video and music are a natural combination for creative types. plus, i can use my stuff with any of my videos and i don’t have to look at the licensing or copyright issues. these days i ONLY use my music. eventually i’ll add my own sound effects, too.

      i know a lot of people want the popular music in their videos. i do not. not at all. i want my videos to stand out. i am the only person who uses my music, so they stand out. there’s good and bad to that, but i prefer it that way.

      i only play guitar. but i have a roland GR-20 that synthesizes hundreds of other instruments, so i can create almost anything. even though i’ve been playing rock and blues all this time, i’m recording a mariachi style song these days, for example. the roland is pretty versatile. much more versatile than i am, but i’m learning.

      i also boughtan alesis electronic drum set to add drums to my song. amazing what you can do these days. i don’t play drums, but by adding multiple layers in adobe audition I can sure sound like i do!

      that’s it in a nutshell. i’m not a pro at this, either, but i keep learning and growing and that’s what this is all about for me. it’s my creative outlet.

      again, welcome to this forum. it’s great for this kind of stuff and helps me learn!

    • #202193

      pseudosafari –

      Good to read that you’re writing your own music to your videos. There seems to be a lot that a guitarist can do with regards to layering sounds, etc., especially with the help of midi and guitar-based synthesizers. It seems that almost any instrument can becoming a midi-controller for sequenced-based musical arrangements. With regards to drum machines, Alesis makes fine ones. I have an old one somewhere “retired” in my closet somewhere. LOL! Since about 2006 or so, I’ve exclusively used computer-based instrumental libraries. 10+ years ago, I had a whole rack of tone generators and keyboards. ALL of them are now “retired”. In fact, computers are getting so “strong” that composer/sequencer can use one computer for large orchestral compositions/arrangements. Just a few years ago, I used to have a three-computer set-up to spread the work (the CPU power and RAM) for those larger orchestral arrangements. Ain’t technology just cool?!?!? LOL!

      I’m always learning too. An important part of learning in the field of music (composition) is listening to other stuff. This seems to be especially important for film composers. I enjoy listening to other people’s original compositions, especially if they are more “modern” in nature. This is in addition to listening to jazz, pop, easy listening, classical, etc. I could do more in the listening department, though. If you’re interested, I can direct you to a couple of composer-focused bulletin boards that show-cases original compositions. There are some GREAT talent to be found at these places.

      Anyways, thank you for the warm welcome. πŸ™‚ I’ve been a “member” to Videomaker for several months. I hope to learn more video-related stuff here. I’m sure that I’ll be asking lots of questions (although I tend to be more of a “reader” than a “poster”). In the meanwhile, if you have videos/music to share, I would be interested in viewing/listening to them.

      Cheers. . . πŸ™‚

    • #202194

      ‘efiebke’, One or two points arising from our exchange of views. My stroke paralysed me totally down one side of my body, (the words, ‘sub-arachnoid on the right-hand side’ still haunt me after fifty years or more). I lived at the time in a small rural district and our family General Pactitioner was a World War One veteran; so, for fourteen days spent desperately ill after the onset of the event, he was trying to persuade me to ‘pull-myself together’. By the time I saw a neurosurgeon, I was in a very bad way and expected not to survive. Only lingering result, profound deafness in my left ear; only lingering regret, that ‘stereo’ sound had been launched on the New Zealand market during my three months of hospitalisation, and so, I had never got to experience it. Haven’t yet. Doubt if I will, now

      Sequencer-wise, I use a Canadian product, Sionsoft ‘Quickscore’, which I am shortly going to update (after all the Christmas presents for other people have been bought). I work totally from the virtual ‘sheet-music’ which I write, so I have a ‘score’, if you would call it that, for everything I compose. ‘Wave’ files take up too much computer-storage and I generally delete those, after rendering the final downmix, but as long as I ‘save’ the original ‘Quickscore’ files, the project may be reconstituted at a later date, albeit with a bit more work. Currently, I have a lot of video hanging-fire waiting for those one or two shots to allow me to put the final ‘polish’ on everything. That means that I have a huge amount of footage ‘in-storage’ on eight USB ‘satellite’ devices at any one time, (They are not necessarily switched-on all at once). I am picking that a lot of work will come to fruition at about-the-same-time, one of these days. In a century and a half of European involvement in our Province the Otago Coastline has seen 93 shipwrecks, and in the 1970’s I lugged a heavy 16mm camera and tripod for kilometres down a remote beach and, recorded one of them for posterity. Other key events, a pilot-whale stranding, shots of sealions stealing speared fish offscuba-divers,numerous shots of rare wildlife, and just recently, half-an-hour ofhectic footage, which showed exactly how a sealion deals with devouring a fish which is far to big to swallow whole; a ‘Little-Blue’ penguin, so small that he topples into perfectly ordinary footprints on one of our beaches, and has to ‘climb-out’ again. ‘Natural-History’ shooting paradise, as is much of New Zealand’s South Island.

      My venture, is non-profit-making, it is my way of saying thanks to my city and province for many enjoyable years spent working and living here. Incidentally,there are other people, mostly retired,still pursuing video-making in and around the Peninsula, where I live, one an ex-cameraman of BBC ‘Bristol’ In England; another still ‘involved’ in the industry, whose name is probably known to those who follow ‘Fox’ Natural History programmes, since the ‘Fox’ Natural History Unit is situated in my own city (strangely enough), and has links to a Science Communication Graduate Natural History Film-making course at Otago University, also in Dunedin. What holds a lot of my stuff ‘up’ is extra material coming to light, commentaries having to be re-jigged, and so-on. I make every project so that it is ‘modular’ and may be re-constituted, and all files are carefully stored, catalogued and indexed. I may have mentioned, that there, are currently 107 DVD’s of DV material, plus 37 discs of the same material carefully transcoded (‘Main Concept’ codecs), to high-grade mpg2. All ‘incoming’ AVCHD ‘Transport Stream’ material, is converted to mpg2 for my use, but also archived, as it came from the camcorder. I have a choice between the ‘professional’ version of the Magix Editor (VPX) and ‘MEP 17 Pro-Plus’, for editing, with as many graphics and other programmes able to beinvoked by ‘stepping-through’ the main editor, as possible. Why use ‘MEP17’ when I also have ‘VPX’? Easy, it’s because of MEP’s longer timeline. (I am currently using the new version ‘MX’), all saved files transfer readily between ‘Magix’ editors.

      So, it’s back to what I shall be doing after dinner this evening. A short piece of music, using a rather ‘trudging’ theme, of a long walk up a ridge on our coastline, through knee-high grass. As we proceed, we gradually become aware of the presence of the ‘Pyramids’ three basalt-rock geographical features, the vents of an ancient volcano which was originally sited more than 25 kms away and in one almighty blast created our harbour for us. From slightly above them, (where few people ever get to see them, because crossing the private land calls for permission, which is seldom forthcoming), they are an absolute ‘knock-out’visually. And, I am carefully lulling my audience, music-wise into a sense of false security, because ‘knock-out’ geographical features, also call, for ‘knockout’ music, and, they don’t know it yet, but the chords I have, waiting in store for them, (think lots of brass and timpani), are going toshock them in their virginal simplicity ……..I think you get the idea!

    • #202195

      Ian –

      Again, much gratitude to you for sharing your story. So much has changed in 50 years with regards to treating strokes. Literally at this present time, I’m editing the video (mentioned in my second post) on managing acute stroke in the ER setting. There is a goal of getting a thrombolytic medication to the stroke victim within 3 hours of the onset of the stroke. That means all physicians and nurses have to work FAST to assess and plan for such a potentially “brain-saving” medication. Some of the stuff that I’m listening to (while editing) is new (based on research) within the past 5 or 6 years!! I’ve been nursing for 20 years and even during that relatively short time-span management of stroke and many other ailments has changed and improved. My hat’s off to you, Ian.

      It seems that you have a vast and wonderful library of video footage that’s archived and available for use. Very cool! If you have any videos to share, I would like to view them. Please feel free to send a “Private Message” (PM) with a link to your work if you wish.

      Warm regards to you. . .


      (Back to editing . . . )

    • #202196

      One thing which it is quite easy to do, and which I would recommend, is setting up a sound effects archive. Actually I don’t regard these as ‘effects’ in my case, as they are more in the nature of essentials. Some time ago, I invested in a’Micro-TrackII’ audio recorder and I have put it onto a special pistol-grip, along with a sturdy mini-tripod, for use. It is coupled to a ‘Sennheiser’ microphone which has a particularly broad frequency-response, giving the entire unit a fairly high-performance. Where most of my filming/video is done, there is almost no such thing as a calm day; if there is such a thing, it is usually during winter, when I do a lot of my shooting, to dodge the very harsh lighting characteristic of New Zealand’s clear atmosphere, said to be the harshest lighting, contrast, etc, on the planet. Every time I go out, I now take my sound unit with me. In fact, sometimes I go specifically to record sounds, the calls of various native birds, and so-on.

      However, if you have particularly good audio recorded by your camcorder, it may be able to furnish good ‘archive’ sound as well if recorded in a calm atmosphere.

      If all else fails, you ‘cheat’. Bear in mind that on some days of shooting, I return home with not one scrap of audio I am able to use. If the missing sounds are those of the sea, (it’s always in the background somewhere), I fall back on ‘Plan-B’, which is to synthesize the sounds of surf, open sea, etc, from ‘white noise’ in one of its many forms, which includes ‘pink-noise’ and, my favourite ‘Brown noise’. You listen carefully to the faulty wind-blast affected sound to hear if you are able to isolate which, of many ‘sea-sounds’ it is, then by using one or more samples of ‘white’ to ‘brown’ noise, you may synthesise the exact sea-sound you need. I usually employ about 50pc ‘white-noise’ derived sound, and intermix that with actual samples, where splashes around rocks and other specific sounds are needed. Although, white/pink/brown noise are not frequency-specific, but a mix of all frequencies, they nevertheless respond to being run at speeds different from the originals in a DAW such as ‘Reaper’. A few months ago, I found I didn’t have the sound of thunderto go with a particularly excellent series of shots taken of a menacing sky building up into a thunder storm. What I used, finally, was a deepish ocean roar, slowed down as far as ‘Reaper’ would permit, something like 1/20th of the normal speed, or less. What resulted, was highly convincing ‘thunder’. Frequently the audio from a particularly well-recorded video-clip may be ‘split’ from the parent footage, and the audio cleaned-up to give a better signal-to-noise ratio and added to the archive, as well. I frequently have the need for large flocks of black-backed gulls wheeling overhead. Without the accompanying video,such samples are not location-specific and so, they may ‘taken’ anywhere, (although I draw the line at going to the local garbage-tip to obtain them, all the same). A mere handful of gulls may be built up into a vast flock, simply by adding the same, or similar tracks and mixing together. Needless to say, these need to be staggered a bit in the mixing process, to avoid that ‘squeaking bicycle-wheel’ effect.

      A bit off-topic, and not specifically about composition and music, but brought to mind, by the need for me to obtain the sounds of boots, walking along a gravel road. Harking back to Compulsory Military Training for eighteen-year-olds in the 1950’s, (I was in the Royal NZ Airforce), I characteristically pace at about 120 beats-per-minute. If my music is ‘performed’ at the same rhythm, I can go for quite long periods where the footsteps match the beat of the music. Believe me, nothing sounds worse, however, when the paces drift out of time with the music. Like most things ‘music’, that might seem like something of ablack-art, but in such situations as those I have described, ingenuity generally comes through and ‘delivers’ in-the-end.

    • #202197

      Ian –

      A long time ago (well, at least to me it was a long time ago), I did sound effects for a (one) live theatre production. (The name of the play was “Damien” (sp?). It was one-person play about a Catholic Priest who headed a leper colony on one of the islands of Hawaii.) I recorded each sound effect live using a 1/4″ two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. Forgot the make & type of microphone that I used but it did the trick. I, then, used my handy-dandy knowledge of the low-tech approach to executing the sound effect: I spliced the sound effects together, separating them by cutting & taping clear, blank leader tape in-between each effect. In order to (quickly) get the next sound-effect ready to execute during the show, I simply fast-forwarded through the clear tape until I saw the regular tape nicely lined up underneath the playback heads of the reel-to-reel. Worked like a charm! (And I got PAID for this. . . my one and only “gig” as a sound-effects artist! LOL!)

      And. . . I LOVED every minute of doing that job! πŸ™‚

      I’ve been meaning to purchase a good shot-gun mic just to capture good (ambient) sound, and possibly begin building up my own sound effects library. I do own a small library of CDs that are nothing but basic sound effects. I also own a small library of effects that came with the Logic Pro Studio that I own. I use any combination of these effects when needed on rare occasions. But, unfortunately, rarely do I make the time to purposefully make recordings just for the sound. It would be a nice pass-time/hobby to develop. Been eyeing the Sennheiser’s ME66 for a while. It seems that this could be a good investment. Yes? No? (I really not an expert on microphones, unfortunately.)

      It seems like you know your way around creating sound effects from scratch! Thank you for sharing some very cool and informative tricks in creating some sounds! Ain’t technology just wonderful?!?! One can just sit in front of their computer and create an entire synthetic show, thanks to animation programs, sound-generating/modulating/editing software and audio/video editing software. (I also have an interest in animation. I suck at it, but it’s fun spending hours creating five seconds of a “person” walk from point “A” to point “B”. LOL!)

      Right now, I just want to get the best use out of my video cameras. Been working on video-taping “all manual”. THIS takes lots of practice, I’m finding. I wish I had the luxury of time to practice video-taping in manual mode, and get great results.

      I’m finding out that being a one-person production crew is quite the challenge. Since video-taping the education in-services at work, I hold a deep appreciation to the “camera man”, the “lighting man”, the “sound man”, etc. Each knows their craft and responsibilities well. Me?? I know only a little of everything which, for me, does not go to making a great production. Recently, I’ve been attempting “green screening”. Did two “major” educational videos (for work) with the performers in front of the green screen. First, setting up that green-screen was a bear! (Getting all of the wrinkles out was next to impossible.) Lighting that green-screen AND the performers was even more of a challenge. To my very, very modest eyes, all looked good on the camera (after making a dozen or so adjustments to the lights), but recorded footage did not look good to the editing software as I attempted to put the green-screen effect to use. There was too much variation green to the green screen. UGH!

      With regards to video, I’m getting to the point that I need to do MORE than just self-learn by trial and error. I’m thinking that I might have to open up the manuals (no pun intended) and actually READ the “how-to’s”. LOL!

      In the end, though, it’s all good, even if the footage looks bad. Video-taping and editing is a process that I’m growing to enjoy more and more. Still, my favorite part of the process is composing the music to the video. It’s the icing on the cake for me. It’s why I started this particular thread! LOL! It’s also what I know best even if the process of film-scoring has SIGNIFICANTLY changed over the past few decades!!!

      Regarding the “sounds of boots” and time and writing music. I don’t have an inner clock that can accurately differentiate 120 BPM from 110 BPM. BUT I’ve practiced using a metronome long enough, an sequenced music long enough (going on over 25+ years) that I have become a freakin’ working metronome myself! LOL! Lately, I’ve found the time of some of my compositions/sequences a bit too rigid in time because of this. I actually have to manually “spread” the sequenced notes AWAY from the beat to make the music more “human” or “live”. During the editing process, I’ve only recently started to vary the tempo ever so slightly, also to help achieve that more “human” sound. I started doing this after some fairly harsh criticism from another fellow composer/sequencer who has GREAT chops in doing all of this! One can get TOO rigid, during the sequencing process, to the point of having the music sound to mechanical — like a metronome. So, it seems that all of those hours practicing WITH a metronome and spending all of those hours sequencing can have a negative effect! LOL! I promise you, if you set the metronome to 120, I can march to that beat and create a fantastic “boot sound” most probably without varying in time even to the millisecond! LOL!

      Again. . . I would enjoy viewing any finished videos that you may have to share. I appreciate your thoughtful sharing. I most certainly appreciate the audio effect technical tricks that you shared! Very cool!

      Cheers! πŸ™‚

      (By the way, I never heard of “brown noise”. Just never heard of the term, that’s all. White noise and pink noise? Yes. Of course. But not “brown noise”. To be clear, though, I’ve heard LOTS of “brown noise” at work! LOL! But that’s another topic for another thread for another bulletin board, like a “humor in healthcare” bulletin board, for another day! LOL!)

      (I used to be a volunteer moderator for a HUGE nursing bulletin board, a number of years ago. The humor on that bulletin board used to get a bit brown at times! LOL!)

    • #202198

      Just a few things which occurred to me after I signed-off last time. My Sennheiser mic.doesn’t show a model number, so I am unable to give it. However, it was the usual accessory mic. for use with a range of camcorders and I purchased mine with the black ‘hairy-sausage’ wind-shield option, usually known as a ‘sock’, I believe. It has a single 3.5mm standard mini-jack-plug and requires a 1.5v battery for ‘excitation’. All bog-standard.

      Until eighteen months ago I belonged to a club, which I have since quit due to ‘philosophical differences’, (or more-to-the-point, as a member, I was continually being side-tracked away from my own major-opus). That, plus the fact that the club was high on ‘talk’ and pretty weak on ‘action’. The club, by the way was established in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1936, which makes it the oldest in the southern hemisphere. That makes it the same age as I am, 1936, having been, apparently, a ‘vintage-year’, (Just kidding). In an earlier time, I was its president for two years. In those days, it was entirely film, of course, although I began filming in widescreen, using anamorphics inthe early 1970’s, and have been doing so ever since. Unfortunately, at club (and other) levels, audio tends to be the ‘poor-relation’ and has to invariably take a back-seat to the screen images. You wouldn’t have to sit through many of the ‘competition’ films/videos, that I have done, to realise that whereby some pretty ‘bum’ footage can pass-muster, at times, poor sound invariably produces that ‘finger-nails-on-the-blackboard’ syndrome. Way back, I built quite a bit of audio gear, including a high-fidelity reel-to-reel stereo tape-recorder which worked briliantly, despite the fact that it used the dreaded ‘BSR’deck, because, that was all that was available in NZand there were no second-hand ‘Ferrographs’ or similar, around with good mechanics.

      ‘Our’ club had accumulated some quite distinguished ex-members, (almost as numerous as members, actually), and there is a lot of latent talent available, For example, a friend (expelled from the club about eighteen months ago, on the whim of a member of the committee, who had a ‘snitcher’ on-him), has built, and is still improving, a telecine machinewhich, by their own admission, is better than the one at the ‘Film Archive’, in our capital, Wellington. It uses a standard projector, shorn of just about everything which would ‘unbolt’, shutter, lamp, lens, you-name it. Instead, it uses a pulsed LED as a light source and the video-camera, using a 35mm camera lens, photographs the film in-the-gate,directly, at a huge magnification. When not earning-its-keep this machine is under constant and on-going development.

      I don’t know if any of you people use ‘Kontakt 4’ as an aid to music-making. I have found mine to have many other purposes, and one of the most useful is making sound-loops for video ‘effects’ use. It is usually possible to achieve very good ‘matches’ for the ends of loops in ‘Kontakt’. That consists, essentially, of finding two points where the signal amplitude is similar, permitting a seamless match to be made. Mis-matches, of course, lead to an effect similar to listening to a four-cylinderautomobile engine with an engine ‘knock’ (or a big-end ‘gone’, which is one thing which may cause it). It is very easy, in ‘Reaper’, (for which I have a non-commercial user’s licence), to vary timing of music and ‘effects’ segments. I would heartily recommend ‘Reaper’ over most other DAW’s because of its simplicity of action and the ‘intuitive’ nature of its layout. I have two other DAW’s. One is fine, but its strengths are all directed towards ‘mp3’ as an end-product.The other one would surely require a science-degree to get any worthwhile use out of. However, for all purposes, I use my own kit of carefully chosen VST ‘filters’, which, as you probably know, are accomodated in almost video/audio editor these days. My favourites, have been, for many years,the Kjaerhus ‘Classic Series’, available as free downloads from ‘kjaerhusaudio’ in Denmark. However, ‘Reaper’ comes with an impressive kit of bits,in its own right.

      Of course, if you are of a masochistic bent, you may write your own, by means of script files, and probably wind-up writing script-files for a hobby, but doing no video………..Your choice.

      Must go, my beer glass is empty.

    • #202199

      It seems that you have a long history and much experience with audio, Ian. It’s quite impressive to read that you’ve built your own audio gear including reel-to-reel audio tape deck. Very cool! πŸ™‚

      Regaring Kontakt. . . It’s a great program. Been using it for a number of years. Still using Kontakt 4; haven’t upgraded to version 5 yet. But, I haven’t used it to create sound-loops yet. At tempting as it is to explore that aspect of sound-creation, there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to go down that path for me. Still, Kontakt 4 has been central for my compositional/sequencing needs. I’ve purchased about a half-dozen instrumental libraries (including large orchestral ones) that are powered by Kontakt. πŸ™‚

      My best to you, Ian. I sincerely appreciate the information that you’ve shared. Again, if you have any finished video and/or music to share, I would enjoy watching/listening to them.

      Cheers. . . and Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚


    • #202200

      Greetings! I thought I’d jump on this thread. I didn’t read it all – it’s quite the novel πŸ™‚ but I wanted to say hi. So “hi!”

      4 years ago, I got into video (delicately) and found out that all of my years as a professional composer (www.EpicSoul.com) prepared me for pacing and flow of video and noticing the dramatic content of the story and such. I JUST finished the latest version of the Dave’s Killer Bread Story and I’m pretty happy with it. So is the client! It is the 3rd version in 4 years we have produced and with all the media clips – there are just 100’s and 100’s of shots and B roll to wade through. It’s a little insane but I’m glad we finished.

      The DKB video shows my vision of using music and audio to really help a video move and flow. Using some songs from some of my artist’s also is a nice bonus. I can wade through copyrights with all these things easily and really – I could NOT edit or produce a video without my music background. It frees me up to move a story along the right way and not have to worry about rights and big budgets. I’m trying to bring that sort of freedom to other video people as well.

      If you have specific questions, you can ask I guess. Blessings…Michael Nelson Rizzo

      THE DAVES KILLER BREAD STORY (producer/director/editor/composer)

      I also used some original songs from one of my artists.

      FINDING OREGON(composer only)


    • #202201


      One thing I have found very handy, has been to standardise on ‘beats’per-minute’ timing. I write music, where possible, in either 120bpm, or 60bpm. That seems to make it much simpler to time music to be cut to match screen-action, and also vice-versa, where timing becomes critical. The danger, the only one of which I am aware, is to break up this ‘pattern’ occasionally to prevent the rhythms becoming too predictable. I have recently written an article on the subject, published locally, which also addresses some of the aspects mentioned recently by ‘efiebke’. If anyone would like to contact me, personally, using thisemail address,artsmith@clear.net.nz, I would be quite happy to send a copy as a ‘pdf’ attachment. My reasons, it may be a little too long, and off-topic a bit, for this thread.

    • #202202

      I’d agree it’s a bit off topic – but that’s OK. πŸ™‚

      I would suggest that to approach music from a technical aspect of choosing a tempo (120bpm, etc.) so that you can time and edit your videos easier is a bit “anti-musical” if I may boldly say. That’s like using ONE flavor or color. It’s approaching it from the mindset of an engineer and we’re talking about music and picture – which SHOULD evoke feeling and emotion.

      Music should provoke some sort of feeling(s) and tempo has a massive amount of influence on genre and style – let alone that feeling. I have never approached a musical composition from a static (engineered) point of view. If I did, I would be out of business!! I would strongly encourage you and anyone possibly reading this to approach music as being true to itself – authentic. Then approach your video and story as true to itself – authentic. What is the story? What is the feeling? Is it authentic? Then find the proper partnership between all of those “truths.” Look for the right partnership of media based on the feeling and emotion. Not on a static tempo. It WILL translate much better to many more actual feeling human beings. πŸ˜‰ m

    • #202203


      There are priobably any number of seemingly heretical things I do to create music. Standardising, where possible, on 120/60bpm, is not all that bad.

      Since I usually proceed to/from the places where I shoot on-foot, (there is usually no other option), it is quite, in-order, for me to use (say) 120bpm and an overtly ‘marching’ rhythm for the background at such times. The only danger there, is not to make it so pronounced that feet start tapping in the audience,to the detriment of what is ‘really’ going-on, on-screen. That is not to say that I don’t vary tempo when that is called for, it’s just that for purposes of fitting music to what I produce by way of a story-line, I have to have some starting-point, mine being a script, followed bycommentary, in a process which has someflexibility, but within limits. I doubt if/when my output is used as film/video ‘audible-wallpaper’, much in the way of phrasing orfine nuances of tempo, have a significant amount todo-with-it; but then, I am dealing with natural phenomena, ‘critters’ and aspects of conservation, not ‘people’ with their numerous foibles, complexities and endless demands; so, by-and-large, I am not giving expression to human emotions.

      I change keyconstantly, so I usually write in the key of ‘C’ (major). That way, I have to specify the exact pitch of all notes by means of sharps/flats, as I go. Incidentally, for most wildlife/natural-history documentaries, passages in ‘major’ keys tend to be a rarity. My background was largely in the late 19th/early 20th century ‘romantic’ tradition, and that is, by-and-large, the music I try to create, although music by Aaron Copland has sometimes furnished inspiration to get me started. I am acutely aware of my limitations in that regard. Most aspects of my timing and audio-mixing editing processes are subject to modification right up to a late stage of putting it all together, so a ‘mechanical’ delivery is something I am always aware of, and do my best to avoid. But, if a sort of musical story-board, flow-chart, or whatever, is what it takes to get my message across and shoe-horn the various components together, then, that’s the way I do it. My current video-module, is rather long at almost 45 minutes, but it does cover a lot of territory, and music ‘carries’ the story-line in several places. After-all, we are into story-telling as entertainment, not simply reciting catalogues of facts, figures, and statistics. Above all, for those without specific interests in geology, geography and zoology, I still have a duty to ‘entertain’, up-to-a-point.

      Another very useful device I have adopted, is to compose, usually, in 12/8 time. That, with twelve being divisible by two, three, four and six, makes it very easy to seamlessly switch to another ‘beat’ or to adjust tempo, at the expense, frequently, of masses of ‘dotted’ notes. I have no background in tertiary music education, and when I have to listen to some of the stuff produced in this country, by those with such qualifications, I thank my lucky stars, that my background has been that of a lifetime enthusiast and critical listener, and not that of someone with absolutely no aptitude, who has been educated into-it. I guess you know the kind of stuff, I mean; ‘No, don’t play it again Sam……thanks all-the-same’.

    • #202204

      Hi Michael –

      Just watched the video on Oregon that you shared. Your music seems to fit the video like a glove, especially with “hitting” certain points of the video. Never been to Oregon, but I’ve been to that part of the west coast, near Vancouver, Canada. It’s a beautiful part of the continent!!!

      I don’t have a lot of time right now, but I am going to come back to this particular thread and respond a bit more appropriately. Thank you very much for sharing the video with your music!! Nicely done!! πŸ™‚

    • #202205

      Hi There! Sure looks like a fun place to hang out here.

      I write and produce classis country music with a “Keepin it Country” message for those of us who tire of pop country on the radio.

      Will come back soon to meet ya’ll. Love VideoMaker mag with all the music video tips.

      Happy New Year from New York!





    • #202206

      Ted, Michael and everybody. Despite the weather being just great for Christmas (it is getting on for midsummer here, clear skies for the last ten days and daytime temps up to mid-twenties centigrade). However, I have been keeping out of the worst of the midday heat reworking some music which I wrote during last winter for the climb of a local landmark, ‘Highcliff’,only about 250m above sea-level but spectactular, especially when close to the summit. The music written previously was for a version in standard definition, shot during last winter. The new version is in Hi-def. and all the better for it.

      The climactic moment occurs as you approach the very top. Having slogged uphill for something like forty minutes, you’ve largely lost track of the landscape you have been passing through. Pausing, at the top, reminds you, in a big way, of why you put in the effort, with a steep view down onto a local landmark, ‘Boulder Beach’ and a considerable swathe of coastline fading into the distance. For once, I had abandoned my principles, and thrown the whole (symphony) orchestra at the audience at the end of a longish build-up and crescendo. It was always hugely effective, if bordering somewhat on being ‘over-the-top’. Problem was, the timing of the music no longer fitted the re-edited Hi-Def. version and, worst of all problems, in my experience, I had to write 16 bars of music to ensure a longer ‘build-up’ and graft it on, at the beginning, but still put the (musical) cilmax in the place it was intended to be. Fortunately, sixteen bars is easy to deal with, as it is the time usually taken, (in classical music anyway), for a ‘module’ to work its way to some sort ofconclusion. Sixteen bars of music, was duly composed, made into ‘wave’ files by performing from the ‘score’, (I file-away all scores, on finishing) and mixed in ‘Reaper’. I had to work backwards to a suitable key, as the sixteen bars did not conclude in the key it started out in. However, G-minor was what it turned out to be and that meshed nicely with what I already had ‘in-the-bag’. The nett result I am quite happy with, especially now that the complete unbroken passage of music continues for something like three minutes, without a break, every part of it ‘fits’ and the audience is prepared, gradually, for something momentous to take place, but until the final moment, there is little indication of ‘what’ it is. There is sufficient variation in the screen action, such as changes of landscape, track-gradient, and so-on, and there is a commentary which overlays the whole thing, nicely. So, in all, it was a satisfying day’s work and, for my money the music is as apt as anything I have seen from other sources. The whole thing has a ‘plodding’ theme, quite deliberately, as the nature of the climb, is very much of a sustained ‘plod’, which, looked at from that angle, is what most tramping, (hiking if you like), and climbing on trails with uphill grades, usually is.

      Unfortunately ‘Digimik’, I am on dial-up, here in New Zealand, (waiting, like the rest of the country, for ‘High-Speed Broadband’ which seem to be no closer to fruition that it was a couple of years ago). For that reason, I have not been able to watch your ‘Oregon’ piece, as yet. However, if my daughter, (who has broadband, as it is at present), is able to download the file for me after her return from her holidays, then I may get to see it, then.

      Meanwhile, its’ ‘back to the coalface’.

      Happy New year, everybody,

      Ian Smith

      Dunedin, New Zealand.


    • #202207

      Hi Ian –

      I would enjoy listening to your music. I would enjoy listening to the piece that you describe above. Is there a web-link to any of your compositions/film-scores??

      Regarding the post that you wrote a few days ago, I’m also a fan of Aaron Copland. I enjoy a lot of the 20th Century genre of music including Copland. There are couple “21st Century” composers whom I’ve met on the internet that also write great music. Sadly, they will probably never get the notoriety that they deserve. They do, however, have a modest following. If interested, I’ll share you a link to their home-pages so that you can explore and listen to (what I consider to be) great music written within the past few years. πŸ™‚

      Debby –

      I see that you’re residing in my home state, New York. I’m gonna check out your web-site and listen to some of the country music! πŸ™‚ My father LOVES country music. I’m sure he’ll enjoy listening to the music that you produce as well. πŸ™‚

      Michael –

      Curious. . . what software and instrumental libraries do you use for your film-scoring projects? Although I already use Logic Pro for my modest compositional & scoring needs, I’m thinking about purchasing Digital Performer (DP7) which seems to be geared more towards film composition. Do you have any thoughts on DP7?? Also, what video editing program do you use (if any)? Just curious.

      Anyone else do any film composition?? If so, please feel free to share your work. Please share your work-flow to film composition.

      In the meanwhile. . . Happy New Year to all. . . and Happy Composing! πŸ™‚

    • #202208


      Contact me with your email address and I will send you the file of the music for backgrounding my arrival at the top of Highcliff, as an ‘ogg’ file, (since they are nice and compact, and ‘travel’ well as email attachments.

      My email is artsmith@clear.net.nz

      Ian Smith

    • #202209

      Hi Michael,

      When I imigrated to upstate NY, I brought some St. Lous blues and Nashville country with me. We always heard about NY City but I discovered NY Country. I really fell in love with the Adirondacks, the Hudson River,Lake Champlain and Whiteface! Even Rhinebeck inspires the dickens outta me! Hope your dad enjoys my music! Hugs from New York Country, Debby

    • #202210

      Hi There,

      I have been busy over New Year installing into my computer a music-creation programme known as ‘Quickscore’, a product of a Vancouver-based organisation, ‘Sionsoft’. The upgrade replaces an earlier version of the same programme which I had used since 2008, or possibly late 2007 and it has quite a few useful enhancements over its earlier version.

      In fact, at the time I installed my original ‘Quickscore’, literature detailing how it was to be installed to work alongside ‘Kontakt’ was non-existent and I had to go to various web-sites and see how other software, ‘Cakewalk’ etc, was installed and then return to my own problem and proceed by trial-and-error, intuition, divine inspiration, guesswork and at times, plain bloody-mindedness. The installation I had achieved failed to ‘deliver’ more than 80 percent and the outcomes (eg ‘wave-files’ of each instrument-group for re-mixing), had a background of baffling residual ‘noise’, which, using the knowledge I have accumulated over the last few days, must have bee due to an ‘open’ input somewhere in the system. However, with much better and more detailed literature now available, I have been able to create a much superior installation this time, with no background noise to mar the results, which with (now) a sampling-rate of 48kHz (as against 41k maximum, for the ‘old’ version), and the possibility of 24-bit as opposed to 16-bit’depth’ of the audio previously, I intend to make the most of.Once I understood the inputs/outputs, MIDI-channels and other details of the operation, the simplest way of getting the desired results has been to use the ‘Kontakt’ outputs, using a channel specially set-up as a ‘master’ and with everything outputted throughstereo-track 1 and 2. I tried other configurations, but that resulted in more thantwo tracks, (eg ‘stereo right/left’ feeding out up to eight-track material which was incompatible with any other audio software which I use). Therefore the excellent mixing-mastering facilities built into ‘Quickscore’ have been, effectively by-passed and that work is done in ‘Kontakt’ instead.

      However, I went further and have now integrated ‘Quickscore/Kontakt’ with ‘Reaper’ my DAW of-choice, by means of ‘Reawire’. I am now able to ‘write’ audio material onto the tracks of ‘Reaper’, if/when it is of advantage to do-so, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the various other ‘Rea…..’ facilities yet, so further surprises maybe in-store in-the-future. Trouble is, that most ‘manuals’ I have to deal with these days, run to in-excess of 250 pages, or so.

      And, what does all of this prove? Well not a hell-of-a-lot, as it happens; but it’s one of those tasks which it is nice to have ‘over’ for the present; ‘over’, that is until I set up my long-awaited ‘new’ computer in the coming months and have to do it ‘all-over-again’. Knowing that, from the outset, the installation I have just done was regarded simply as a ‘dry-run’ for having to do it all over again in a couple of months, except that next-time, it will be ‘just that much easier’. Finally, a word of advice. It was an unwritten rule in the design office which I used to work inthat after periods of intense concentration, I (and others), were permitted to go for a walk ‘around-the-block’ (or ‘wherever’), after an hour or so of intense concentration. My advice, when things aren’t going-right, is a brisk walk for about fifteen minutes in a cool, breeze. Nothing else I know of, clears the head better than that……..and, the only cost is, usually,that of the ‘time’. I recommend that, because until yesterday, I had suffered three fruitless days of ‘getting-nowhere’ with it all, returning to the various ‘manuals’ and so-on with my head spinning.

      In the end, it turned out to be so easy and ‘obvious’ that I couldn’t work out what had been holding me up or where I had previously been going-wrong. In fact, I have saved most of the files from previous successful ‘tracks’ and think I may redo them, with the new improved ‘sound’ and finally uninstall the ‘old’ version which I had kept active, ‘just-in-case’.

      Ian Smith

      Dunedin, New Zealand

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