Music!?!?

A warm welcome to all. Here we talk about films, which people put onto YouTube or Vimeo and embed here. The idea is to allow useful, friendly discussion.
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Dave Watterson
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Music!?!?

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:36 pm

I have heard much muttering about how many award winning amateur film makers use professional actors (working for sandwiches and bus-fares). But no one seems to worry about the fact that most amateur films use professional music ... and professional music which has been paid for at the going rate.

A few of us either use no music or compose and play music ourselves or with friends. The majority of us buy royalty-free discs or use the IAC's Music Service to get "production music" not normally available to the public. Some get permission from the various bodies and artists to use commercial tracks on their films. Some download music from various subscription services.

For the moment let us not divert into stories of those who use commercial tracks without permissions or payments!


My real concern is that no matter how we do it, we often use music badly. What made me think of this? An exception to the rule. Ernst Auhuber's Mosel Gold film uses royalty-free music from several sources - some of it quite tacky when heard on its own. But he matches it perfectly to the powerful images and moods of the film. He uses many pieces of music with a broadly similar "feel" to them, but each variation is precisely chosen to support and enhance the movie at that point.

But he is the exception. We have all suffered the sort of travel films and reportages which simply slap on a track or two from someone's range of "appropriate music for xyz films". After watching a couple of those you want to wear ear-muffs ... except that you may miss some interesting snippets of commentary or the occasional piece of dialogue.

Imagine a world where no-one used pre-recorded music for their films and had to generate it themselves or invite friends to make music for them without a fee. Would it actually mean better films?

Dave

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Willy
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Re: Music!?!?

Post by Willy » Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:11 pm

Dave Watterson wrote: Imagine a world where no-one used pre-recorded music for their films and had to generate it themselves or invite friends to make music for them without a fee. Would it actually mean better films?

Dave
Own music
I am very lucky. One of the members of my club composed music for my films "Breendonk", "Masquerade" and "Mi Tio Pacco". The music is melancholy and that's what I needed. So that music is unique. However, it is synthesizer music and I know that Dave hates that kind of music.

Personally I think that music is not always really necessary or useful. Music must help to create an even stronger atmopshere. It must be functional. Otherwise it's better to leave it.

Live sounds
Live sounds without any music can be very useful. I already bought many CD's for my films. That was very stupid. I spent a fortune on them. On the other hand I could already help many friends. Now I go to the library and I hire some CD's.

Track sounds
Track sounds may be very useful, though it is always better not to choose wellknown melodies of wellknown films. They may take the minds of the viewers off the story of the film that they are watching.
Willy Van der Linden

Graeme Webb

Post by Graeme Webb » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:06 am

There is no doubt that the soundtrack to a film is a major part of the experience, an audience will quite often forgive technically inferior visuals but not technically inferior audio. Film makers who disregard this do so at their own peril. Audiences expect production values to be high its what they are used to.

Using commercial well known music allows you instantly recognisable 'tunes' and lyrics and can help you hook into the audiences existing emotional responses for the song, TV and cinema do this all the time. This may give the perception that the film is a better one for this approach, but even applying this technique requires thoughtful crafting. Personally I feel now after a few years that this approach is creatively lazy and less interesting, and I tend to spend a large amount of the 'time' budget on the audio track either working with independent composers or bands I have built up a relationship with in London.
Apart from our conventional dialogue efforts like 'Last Drop', 'Carpark' etc our more experimental and subjective films like 'Head' have the music and ambient soundtrack taking the lead, the visuals become a sub level of the audio. When we take this approach we don't think of it being better then another approach but right for this piece, the music and visuals are planned together with the dialogue .

Dave said:

My real concern is that no matter how we do it, we often use music badly.

Yes Dave I agree because we need to place that consideration at the front in pre production not at the end as a 'well I better put some music on it now'. One thing we started doing a couple of years ago was prior to shooting we would design the 'look' of the film (the elements we would use in post to give it its 'color and tone') I would then put a pallet of music and ambient sounds together to get a feel for the way the soundtrack would go, even playing it on set when the actors were resting or we were setting up shots (an old David Lynch trick).

Film makers must give equal time both disciplines.

G

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:46 am

Music is a fundamental key to a good film, 99% of the time. It helps create drama and helps the viewer get into the film better.
Watch a film with the sound off and it sucks! Try it with the opening credits and first two minutes of Starwars.

It brings together ALL of the human senses (er...except smell!).
So really, it`s almost just as important as the visuals. But we ALWAYS tag it along afterwards as an afterthought!

Be good....

Stingman
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Brian Saberton
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Post by Brian Saberton » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:42 pm

To make a film as a lone worker already requires so many skills. We have to be accomplished photographers/camera operators and sound recordists We need to be able to write coherent scripts, either for fiction films or for commentaries. We need to understand the techniques of editing. We have to be able to assemble soundtracks. We need to understand film structure and grammar. If shooting drama we need to know about lighting. I guess there will be a few movie makers out there who might be able to compose their own music but where does it all end?

Sometimes royalty free music is appropriate, on other occasions a classical piece or a pop tune might be better for a scene or sequence. Personally I see nothing wrong in using commercial music as long as you have the appropriate IAC licenses etc. However I do think that in the commercial world, particularly TV, the use of music tends to be overdone nowadays and very often used as a kind of sledge hammer. There are quite a few dramas now, especially from the USA, that use music virtually the whole way through and it can be very distracting if it conflicts with the dialogue. This is something we maybe need to try and avoid.
Brian Saberton

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fraught
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Re: Music!?!?

Post by fraught » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:54 am

Thought i'd dig this one up again as having recently had the joy of working with the likes of Martin Westlake and Andy Bastow on the music front... i will never pick up another Professional CD or Copyright Free CD again! Just look in the small ad's section of this site and you'll see a number of composers all looking to get some experience composing for films.

Use them! I implore you! Both the musicians i have mentioned have seriously turned around both the films that they have composed the music for. Not implying that my films are cr*p... but they have quite literally "Polished a T*rd!" :)
Only Boring People Get Bored
http://www.fraught.net

azazelo
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Re: Music!?!?

Post by azazelo » Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:13 pm

...and what if the main inspiration comes from the actual music?

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Dave Watterson
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Re: Music!?!?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:09 pm

Then you have a problem, unless you can get the composer and players to agree to let you ... even then they may have sold their rights to the record label or a management company and you would need their permission too ...

Yes, I know that video hosting websites are full of movies inspired by various songs and sometimes the copyright owners do not object. Within the UK an agreement between YouTube and the main music organisations permits such use unless the artists object, but they do not have rights outside UK nor does the deal apply to ALL music.

In UK the Musicians Union have been very helpful to amateur film makers in obtaining permission for screenings in film clubs and occasional film festivals ... but not on the web.

Naturally what you make at home purely for your own artistic satisfaction is not going to cause trouble. (It may still be illegally using the music but who would know?) The trouble comes when you want to show the movie to anyone else.

Dave

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