Hitting cuts

Ctd

New Member
Hi all,

Just wondering whether the majority of composers on here go down to frame accurate detail for hitting cuts or don't bother?

I've been playing with Reaper and found it pretty good for my amateur needs but noticed there's no way to move the transport forward/back by frame as I have in Logic.

Thanks

Chris
 

Rctec

Senior Member
Hi all,

Just wondering whether the majority of composers on here go down to frame accurate detail for hitting cuts or don't bother?

I've been playing with Reaper and found it pretty good for my amateur needs but noticed there's no way to move the transport forward/back by frame as I have in Logic.

Thanks

Chris
Of course you want to hit the cut! But... Sometimes you want it to be a little more relaxed and let it breath a little, so you go a few frames late. Or there is a big sound-effect on the cut, like a gun-shot. If you go a frame late, you'll get to hear both the impact of the sound-effect and the start of your music.
If you want to jolt the audience, be a frame ahead of the cut. Works great in action scenes. But if it's a more 'poetic' scene, be late to the cut. 6 to 12 frames late make a huge difference to the "feel" of a scene.
But you do need to start with software that makes it easy to scroll by frames, so that you have the artistic choice of how to approach the cut...
-Hz-
 

wst3

my office these days
Moderator
"it depends"...

As mentioned above sometimes you need to hit early or late for a lot of reasons. It still amazes me how the ear and eye coordinate, or how moving from the exact frame may - or may not - make a difference. HOWEVER, in order to do those things you still need to be able to advance by frames...
 

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
I love RTEC post above.Written from miles in the trench just doing it...we all know this.

I submit some further thoughts,as this is very dear to my heart,and I think is a fundamental building block of scoring.Especially comedy,which I love to hate ,and hate to work on,but enjoy when done to satisfaction.

First thing is to think about where the cue should maybe start and end.It tends to frame your thinking about what the music arc will be like inside that sequence.You might want to go through the sequence and put markers at anything that "might" be a candidate for a hit point,or sync point to your music.As I go through it once,I get the feeling for tempo as well,and the correct tempo will tend to hit alot of those markers fairly well.That's when you know you've got into the same groove as the video editor.Nevermind the temp music,unless your video editor and director has annointed it as very close to correct.I've gotten nailed getting too close to the temp in terms of hit points and tempo far too often,frankly,these days,I enjoy pushing off the temp early on,just to refresh my thinking once I've understood what the temp brought to the sequence in the first place.
Once again,you should think about music arc inside this sequence,where is the possible climax point,if any,and what might be a good ebb and flow.You can start to think about how to get to that highest intensity moment,as THAT moment should be in sync with the image in some form,at least as far as the emotion is concerned,be it a moment of epiphany ,or triumph or absolute failure or major plot point.Whatever pushes the moment higher.

Once you are fairly certain you have your hit points lined up,you can then get into the details of lining up the important ones by using micro tempo adjustments.I'll try and do these over as large a sequence area as possible,mostly to avoid large tempo moves if possible.I also will use signature changes to line up points that need to be on the "one",no matter where they happen to be sitting at the current signature.So for instance,I"ll throw up a 2/4 bar ,assuming I'm in common time,if I want to start a new 4/4 after two beats.Or sometimes even more altered,such as one bar of 5/4 and adjust the music so the more important beat "one" of the new hit point is BANG on.It's amazing how much you can mold music tempo-wise and play with adding or subtracting a few measures without the audience being aware of the manipulation.It works best if the music supports the dialog,as in adding the pauses,or taking them out to sync around the words.Take for example lines like in the Terminator "I'll be back",I'd step aside for stuff like that,and the audience would forever forgive me the manipulation,they would most certainly welcome the hole I created.

Somewhere in all this,the time you take upfront to set up your roadmap will pay you dividends later.A very well laid out sequence ,even with drastic tempo and signature changes,where major hit points are exactingly located and accounted for,and the score should practically write itself from that point on.

One cue I recently wrote involved me setting up my hitpoints.This sequence had three different bad guys in a fight scene that was bonkers.Without really having an idea of how to write the music,I set out to map out the hit points,and loosely play with tempo options.Well by the end,I had some squences at 6/8,some specific ones at 5/8,and one middle section at 11/8.I thought I'd written myself into a complete corner,but decided i'd try my hand at my whacky roadmap.After some soul searching and thoughts about movement and flow,I ended up realizing the changes invited key changes and ended up winning the day.I used the 11/8 as 3+3+3+2,and it created a nice tension that anyone would pick up on,just being any odd meter tends to sound unresolved(at least to me).It also created a pause in the sequence that I would never have thought of had the signature change not occurred.The end result was that the changes in tempo(slight) and signature(large) created a kind of synergy with the action that wouldn't have been obvious had I not taken the time before hand and mapped out some plan.The rest was just filling in the blanks.

So much to learn,so much to still explore,but at least with some kind of approach,you can get productive,rather then stabbing wildly in the dark for some kind of "idea" that might win the day on that sequence .

Structure tends to invite creativity,as it limits your options and gives boundaries.
 
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mverta

Probably Dead from Corona Virus
Feel it. Sometimes a little early, sometimes a bit late. No shortage of iconic filmscores in history were done to punches and streamers, ebbing and flowing. Sometime, get out a metronome and check it against a few great vintage scores to appreciate the value of organic flow. Sure, we can time things to the frame now, and there's a time and a place for that, absolutely. But believe me, when it comes to crafting a good score, you've got a million more important things to focus on than frame-accurate hit points.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Or just writing to a stopwatch. Get off my lawn these kids today.

In my experience - which is not quite at the level of Hans' or Mike's :) - it's the cuts you want to *miss* that are the biggest issue.

I was a Film Scoring major at Berklee just before the digital revolution, when even the UREI digital metronome beat in frames/eighth frames, and they taught us the Earle Hagen rule for hits: within two frames early or three frames late. 24 frames a second, so three frames is 1/8 second, two is 1/12.

The larger point is that above a certain tempo you hit everything on a beat or off-beat.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Earle Hagen probably didn't come up with the 3-frame rule, by the way.

As an aside about my favorite subject (myself), I published The Beats-Per-Minute Click Book when sequencers first came out in the early '80s. Charts with the timings of every beat at every tempo, just like the Project Tempo frames-per-beat click book.

It was riveting reading.
 
OP
Ctd

Ctd

New Member
Thanks for the feedback guys. Great advice about early/late hits for different moods and reminding there was a time before DAWs
 

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
Feel it. Sometimes a little early, sometimes a bit late. No shortage of iconic filmscores in history were done to punches and streamers, ebbing and flowing. Sometime, get out a metronome and check it against a few great vintage scores to appreciate the value of organic flow. Sure, we can time things to the frame now, and there's a time and a place for that, absolutely. But believe me, when it comes to crafting a good score, you've got a million more important things to focus on than frame-ccurate hit points.
Actually Mike,I did a few score entirely rubata in regards to the grid.Kept the grid at 120 bpm,or 90,which works well re-seconds,and just wrote that way.There's no quantize of any kind,so you have to play everything in and you get this different kind of motion and flow and soft fuzzy timing across the board.
But markers are your friend even if just as a starting point.Lot's of times I ignore a marker even if I initially place it there for a reason,but the music I eventually wrote made that marker no longer have it's intended hit point value.Funny thing this music scoring business.

-edit-

you know,it's strike me that this isn't a one size fits all process.I admire the precision of the earlier Transporter films,that very precise techno french style ,or the comedic approach by Cristophe Beck,that very timed comedy and groove based thing he does so well.The JW style,it's obvious the post romantic approach,stopwatch in hand.These styles would approach hit points from a radically different POV,because the music is so different.JW won't usually hit anything so specifically,but his mood will change on a dime to reflect the change.Nothing wrong with glossing over the action either,a la video montage in Ocean's franchise series by Powell.
Style and POV matter.But I think it's fair to discuss such differing approaches as all is fair in love and war.I'm not right,just trying to do what works for me and those that hire me.

as always,curious to hear the thoughts of others,if it isn't always evident.
 
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mverta

Probably Dead from Corona Virus
Agreed, which is why I said there was a time and place for frame accuracy. Horses for courses!
 

bupper

Member
actually in reaper it is possible, just change the grid settings to frames & then the left & right arrows on your keyboard move the curser by one frame at a time. Simple
 
OP
Ctd

Ctd

New Member
actually in reaper it is possible, just change the grid settings to frames & then the left & right arrows on your keyboard move the curser by one frame at a time. Simple
Oh awesome thanks. I've been searching for days to find that
 

Daniel James

A Nice Guy
I usually try to get my important hit points to land on a quarter note. Then its a case of working out the tempo i need to make that happen....then its a case of changing the time signature to make that quarter note a down beat.

One of the first Youtube videos I ever did was how I work out the tempo for landing on hitpoints. Sorry for the shitty mic quality but here is the video, and site I use.

http://www.fransabsil.nl/htm/eventhit.htm


-DJ