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Matching Music to Video "Hit" Points with Sony Acid

The real power of scoring to picture is how you can match the music to specific onscreen action By Jeffrey P. Fisher

One of the most powerful aspects of Sony Acid Pro is how you can use it to score music soundtracks for video. The Pro iteration allows you to easily import a video to the Timeline and score it as you watch the program progress.

The real power of scoring to picture is how you can match the music to specific onscreen action. When music corresponds with something in the picture, it’s known as a “hit” point. Be careful, though. Match too closely and/or too often and your video starts to resemble a cartoon where every action gets underscored by music. That said, a well timed music event can make an impact on your audience. They will feel the whole score was timed perfectly.

Where you choose to start and stop music are the most obvious and easy-to-pull-off hit points. Next, try back timing. Line up something in the music, such as a cymbal crash, with an appropriate part in the video, say the bad guy jumping out. Then, work backwards editing and arranging the music to fit before the hit.



With ACID you have another tool that lets you adjust the tempo to fit the timing. Since ACID automatically matches the tempo and key information of every musical loop to the project tempo and key, altering the project tempo will slide the musical timing around. You can then fit the music to the video better. And that is a powerful idea that this tutorial explores.

If you’ve never added video to the ACID timeline, simply use the Explorer to locate the rendered video file and drag it to the workspace. Only one video can be on the Timeline at a time. Any audio already associated with the video gets placed on its own track in the program. This helps you plan and mix the music to work under voice-over or other dialog.

To see the Video, click View > Video Preview to open the video preview pane. You can preview on an external video monitor via Firewire and either a camera or converter box. It would be nice if ACID previewed on a secondary Windows display like its brother Vegas. But it doesn’t.

The Beat Ruler across the top of the workspace shows musical measures and beats based on the project tempo and the grid spacing you indicate in Options > Grid Spacing. Along the bottom of the workspace grid is the Time Ruler which shows the length. Right-click the Time Ruler to set the format to display.

This video has a 3-D title that sweeps in from off screen. This entrance would make an ideal musical hit point. There is also a suitable point in the song – a vibraslap – that kicks off measure 4. Unfortunately, the two events are over two measures apart. Here’s how to bring those two events into sync.

Position the cursor at the point in the video, in this case the entrance of the title. You may need to disable snapping to position the cursor more precisely. Either click the Snapping icon off or press F8 to toggle it on/off.

After placing the cursor, type the ‘H’ key to insert a Hit Marker (a.k.a. Time Marker). Notice a new lane opens up under the Time Ruler with a purple flag marker. This marker is now anchored to a specific time and will stay with the video no matter how the tempo fluctuates.

Now move to the music event you want to line up with the video. Make sure snapping is enabled to make it quicker to move the cursor to the correct beat. Typing ‘M’ inserts a standard Marker above the Beat Ruler. You can right-click either this or the Hit Marker to rename them if necessary.

Place the cursor at the Hit Marker by clicking it once. Without moving the cursor, right-click the standard marker and choose Match Tempo to Match Cursor to Marker from the pop-up that displays.

Release the mouse button and ACID adjusts the tempo as needed and subsequently slides the Hit Marker over to match the music event. In this case, ACID plays the song faster to sync the two events. Remember the Hit Marker is anchored to the video, so only the music time changed based on tempo; the Vibraslap happens earlier to correspond to the title entrance.

If the tempo change exceeds the possibilities offered by the program, ACID will display a dialog box and prevent you from performing the function. Though this tutorial used only a single tempo shift, it’s possible to have many tempo shifts to help get the music to fit better with your video. You now have a powerful and versatile tool to get more from ACID when scoring music.


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Jeffrey P. Fisher is a Sony Vegas Certified Trainer and he co-hosts the Sony Acid, Sony Sound Forge, and Sony Vegas forums on Digital Media Net (www.dmnforums.com). For more information visit his Web site at www.jeffreypfisher.com or contact him at [email protected].


Related Keywords:Sony Acid Pro ,score music soundtracks , video editing

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