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Music for Travel Films?

Dale Johnson Posted by Dale Johnson in Blogs November 30th, 2011

I think it is written, “Let there be light, find coffee.”  That becomes a daily odyssey for me.  Stimulated by that amber liquid, I may set to work trying to create something, hopefully, worth watching for the casual viewer.

There have been a number of imperatives written within our community of Producers, exhorting us all to produce better and more entertaining pieces on travel.  That’s a challenge of course, and to my mind music plays a most significant role in heightening the entertainment value of any video sequence.

One of my colleagues, who is quite good with music and uses it most appropriately, is adamant about using the music as created by the composer.   I don’t especially share that particular constraint.  I can only speak to my own methods of using music, and submit herewith some samples I hope may encourage more attention to this aspect of producing.

In contrast to my above-mentioned colleague, I’m quite cavalier about the way I cut up (butcher?) a prerecorded music cue.  At times I may need only a bar of one music cut for the opening shot of a sequence, and then employ a theme from a completely different que, even from another library, to continue with scoring that sequence.

Sometimes the mood of the video may require yet a third blending of music from still yet another source.   This sample contains music from about five different sources in order to support the mood of the sequence as the scenes change: Music Clip 1

Another little sequence employs music of completely disparate styles.  But because each style supports the action on the screen, and the action plays to the music, it works.  (This clip is minus narration):  Music Clip 2

Music often tells me how to cut a video sequence.  It may dictate the pacing and flow of a sequence itself, especially if, like my colleague above, I’m using the music as written.  It seldom happens in my work though, that I will use a music cue in it’s entirety.  But there was one occasion when the music was the inspiration for the visuals before they were even shot.

In listening to music from my library one time, I heard a particular cut that generated vivid images for me.  As I listened I could visualize the sequence shot by shot, which I later went out and filmed just to fit this certain piece of music.  Some adjustments were necessary to both the visuals and music to realize the final sequence, but the entire piece was motivated originally by the music.  Music Clip 3

One practice that is absolutely anathema for me is simply fading out a piece of music before it’s natural ending.  I even see this in some pretty high-level entertainment films.  By contrast I will always find the proper ending and segue or dissolve to it juxtaposed to the ending of the visual sequence so that both come to an end in sync, so to speak.

Produce it well.  Make it interesting.  Entertain.


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