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Making music for your video and film projects

You can do it with loop based apps and royalty free music By David Hague

An eternal dilemma for the amateur (and pro) video/film maker has been that of adding music. Not that there is not a lot around of course, just simply that by law, except in rare circumstances, you cannot use it as it belongs to someone else. They tend to get a little angry if they find their best seller backing Shazza and Dazza’s recent holiday to Club Med in New Caledonia.

They get even more angry if they hear it behind a commercial job such as a TV commercial. Except Celine Dion perhaps who has probably given up by now as her warbling must back 99% of the world’s wedding videos. Can’t help bad luck.
So how is this problem addressed? Well as it turns out, there are a number of ways and it is nowhere as expensive as a law suit.

Roll Your Own
The easiest and possibly the cheapest is to write your own, assuming you can play an instrument of course or have access to a musical bunch of friends. I for one decided this was a path worth pursuing despite a lack of any musical bone in my body, even if my heritage is Welsh – and allegedly they can all sing albeit with no vowels. What I did was buy a Casio keyboard, taught myself the basics using a Dummies book and then paired with Cakewalk Sonar, managed to cobble together enough bits and pieces to suit my modest needs. For the more technically inclined (and virtuosos), a step up from there would be perhaps Cubase 3.

Casio CTK 900

Another option is to find a local garage band; many of these will donate you an original piece for the fun of it and to gain some exposure. Alternatively, befriend a local music teacher if you need more soothing pieces such as piano, oboe and so on. Use bagpipes at your peril however.

Royalty Free
There is a plethora of royalty free music around you can buy from many sources. Just in my magazine alone (Australasian Camcorder – www.australasiancamcorder.info) we have something like five advertisers all selling CD collections of pieces they have generated themselves. The risk here of course is that you could end up with a music bed that someone else has paired to their masterpiece. Having two films in the same festival with the same background is almost as bad as seeing the same party dress on two different girls at the annual debutante ball … unforgiveable and like, so embarrassing.

Mix ‘n’ Match
Software can be really clever. With a little bit of human input it can also be incredibly artistic. Take applications such as Sony Cinescore or Sonicfire Pro. With some of the libraries available (and these are growing all the time) and the abilities of these packages to switch tempo and other attributes of pieces of music contained in these libraries, entire concertos and film scores can be created very easily. And while claims are made that the possibilities are “infinite” in effect they aren’t – but infinity minus a couple is still a hell of a number of options in musical styles available.

SonicFire Pro

The REALLY Fun Way
There are a bunch of applications out there that are universally classified as “loop” based. The most popular – and probably the first – is Acid from Sony but there are others such as Fruity Loops and a lot of applications such as Garage Bands (Apple) will also import Acid loops.

Best explain here; an Acid loop is a snippet of music played on a real instrument. It might be a snare drum hit, a guitar chord or riff, a bass slap or run – you get the idea. A massive number of libraries of loops are available to purchase. When these loops are placed on individual tracks, stretched, duplicated, tempo changed and mixed down, you can build an entire music score. There is a complete environment dedicated to artists who have built music pieces that is called Acid Planet (www.acideplanet.com) and this showcases huge amounts of music you can purchase at a nominal price.

Sony Cinescore

Possibly the most ambitious piece I have seen was compiled by a friend of mine. I gave him a copy (no not a pirate Ethel!) of Acid and forgot about it. A year later, he gave me a CD and asked me to let him know what I thought of it. I rang him next day saying I didn’t know Pink Floyd had produced a new album – and then he told me he had built it in the preceding 12 months with Acid!

As you can therefore see, there are many ways to add original – or nearly original music to your movies / films / videos without gaining the cocked eye interest of the music coppers. And it can be fun – and if you get good at it, even make some money out of it. Give it a crack – you have nothing to lose, as most apps have a tryout version

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David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via  [email protected]

Related Keywords:music creation, music, audio creation, audio editor, loops, acid loops

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