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Scoring to video and timing: Am I doing this right?

gohrev

Newbie Composer
Hi everyone,

I am trying to score to video in Sibelius, as this allows me to learn more about structure, harmonies, and voicing. Playing everything straight into Cubase is definitely more satisfying, but that feels like I would skip a very important part of my development.

One thing I am unsure about, is my usage of time signatures and tempo changes. I feel like this is the only "proper" way to time my music to the images, but I'm a bit worried that I may be overlooking a more sophisticated way to achieve this.

Below a screenshot of Sibelius. I hope you can give me some pointers in the right direction :)
Cheers
-G
 

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marclawsonmusic

Senior Member
Meter changes are very common in film music, so I don't think there is any reason to feel concerned about doing that.

In terms of tempo, I wouldn't be concerned unless you are recording live players. Then you might (?) need to be sensitive to sudden or unexpected tempo changes, but I would think normal rit / rall / accel / etc. would be fine.

Maybe someone with more recording experience will weigh in.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
It's a large topic, fitting music to picture!

Most Media Music is Recorded to Clicks

Most media music has pre-records these days -- whether it's a student film or a big-budget feature, composers are combining tracks recorded at different times:
  • instruments played by the composer at the studio,
  • vocal or instrumental soloists, and
  • orchestral or choral sections
Moreover, when there is a larger ensemble like an orchestra, quite often media music is recorded in sections, rather than having the full orchestra record all together. In other words, you record strings, then clear the room, then brass, and so on. It is not uncommon to record even separate string sections (high and low, or even greater separation). That allows maximum flexibility in mixing.

To keep all that together, the engineer transmits to players and the conductor an audible "click" through their headphones that helps keep everyone on the beat.

Considerations Recording Live Players to Click

Even with clicks, follow some common practices in your writing so that your players can most easily stay together.

1. Favour meter changes over tempo changes -- In general, it's easier for players to follow meter changes than click changes. For example, it's very hard for the players and conductor to follow click changes for a dramatic Ritard -- where the tempo nearly stops -- and then enter in a new tempo at a downbeat. Therefore, if you want to the music to feel less rigidly "on the beat," it's far easier (instead of a massive Ritard) for players to stay together by keeping the tempo itself constant, adding rubato or ritards or other musical tempo changes by adding an extra beat or extra bar. In other words, imagine you're in 4/4 at a slow tempo and you want the music to hesitate or pause -- rather than changing the tempo, make one bar 5/4 or even insert a 2/4 extra bar, rather than using click changes radically. It's much easier for the players and conductor to follow the meter changes.

2. Big Tempo Changes -- If your piece jumps tempo radically (say, from 89 bpm to 155), ideally it's best to insert a bar at the new tempo while the orchestra is holding a chord. That way the players can hear the new tempo in their headphones, so they can all come in together once the musical pulse resumes. While playing the held chord, they can be doing something dramatic --tremolo, crescendo, decrescendo -- but the crucial point is that the players can hear the new tempo in their headphones for a bar or two and then enter together.

3. Subdividing -- If you really want to incorporate a ritard or accelerando or other tempo change that is fairly extreme, you may want to divide the beat in two (or more), so you have eighth note clicks instead of quarter notes (quavers instead of crotchets) for a bar or even for a couple of beats. This can work, but remember that getting everyone to play these tempo changes together can take extra rehearsal time. It also helps enormously if you can have streamers on the video for the conductor, which some DAWs accommodate.
 
Last edited:
OP
gohrev

gohrev

Newbie Composer
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Meter changes are very common in film music, so I don't think there is any reason to feel concerned about doing that.

In terms of tempo, I wouldn't be concerned unless you are recording live players. Then you might (?) need to be sensitive to sudden or unexpected tempo changes, but I would think normal rit / rall / accel / etc. would be fine.

Maybe someone with more recording experience will weigh in.
Thank you, Marc - that's comforting :)
 
OP
gohrev

gohrev

Newbie Composer
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
It's a large topic, fitting music to picture!

Most Media Music is Recorded to Clicks

Most media music has pre-records these days -- whether it's a student film or a big-budget feature, composers are combining tracks recorded at different times:
  • instruments played by the composer at the studio,
  • vocal or instrumental soloists, and
  • orchestral or choral sections
Moreover, when there is a larger ensemble like an orchestra, quite often media music is recorded in sections, rather than having the full orchestra record all together. In other words, you record strings, then clear the room, then brass, and so on. It is not uncommon to record even separate string sections (high and low, or even greater separation). That allows maximum flexibility in mixing.

To keep all that together, the engineer transmits to players and the conductor an audible "click" through their headphones that helps keep everyone on the beat.

Considerations Recording Live Players to Click

Even with clicks, follow some common practices in your writing so that your players can most easily stay together.

1. Favour meter changes over tempo changes -- In general, it's easier for players to follow meter changes than click changes. For example, it's very hard for the players and conductor to follow click changes for a dramatic Ritard -- where the tempo nearly stops -- and then enter in a new tempo at a downbeat. Therefore, if you want to the music to feel less rigidly "on the beat," it's far easier (instead of a massive Ritard) for players to stay together by keeping the tempo itself constant, adding rubato or ritards or other musical tempo changes by adding an extra beat or extra bar. In other words, imagine you're in 4/4 at a slow tempo and you want the music to hesitate or pause -- rather than changing the tempo, make one bar 5/4 or even insert a 2/4 extra bar, rather than using click changes radically. It's much easier for the players and conductor to follow the meter changes.

2. Big Tempo Changes -- If your piece jumps tempo radically (say, from 89 bpm to 155), ideally it's best to insert a bar at the new tempo while the orchestra is holding a chord. That way the players can hear the new tempo in their headphones, so they can all come in together once the musical pulse resumes. While playing the held chord, they can be doing something dramatic --tremolo, crescendo, decrescendo -- but the crucial point is that the players can hear the new tempo in their headphones for a bar or two and then enter altogether.

3. Subdividing -- If you really want to incorporate a ritard or accelerando or other tempo change that is fairly extreme, you may want to divide the beat in two (or more), so you have eighth note clicks instead of quarter notes (quavers instead of crotchets) for a bar or even for a couple of beats. This can work, but remember that getting everyone to play these tempo changes together can take extra rehearsal time. It also helps enormously if you can have striped video for the conductor, which some DAWs accommodate.
@JohnG , a 100x thank you for your post! Very clear, very helpful.

I have just two more follow-up questions:
  • When you mention "crucial for players to hear the tempo in their headphones" you are talking about the click-track, correct?
  • What is a striped video? Is that the same as a streamer video?

Many thanks again.
 
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