Music and audio techniques for film

Music and audio techniques for film

Posted on Posted in Film Industry Tips

Music and audio techniques for film. Creating Atmosphere, Depth, Purpose and Focus for Your Audience and Actors using believable and immersive music and audio techniques for film.

Music and Audio Techniques for Film. The best music and audio techniques for film, like all other elements within a film project, relies massively on attention and a high level of detail. An audio professional on a filmset is highly skilled. It is not about technology – the audio and music in a film 30 years year is still as good as it is today. The delivery, like all art, is in the application.

Getting the right music and audio techniques for film implemented into your indie work can will lift the work out of the amateur and into the professional. It doesn’t cost much to get right, and the first hurdle is a solid foundation of knowledge. So, here is our post on getting the most from your own work by creating and developing decent music and audio techniques for film.

Music and Audio Techniques for Film. An Indie Filmmaker Guide.

Music and audio techniques for film. What is the clapper board for?

Music and audio techniques for film. If you’re a filmmaker and you don’t know this – don’t worry – but understand that you absolutely should know all the elements associated .

The clapper board syncs the picture to your external sound. The scene 1 take 2 chalk markings visually indicate to the editor where you are and the clapping sound is heard on the sound file. When bringing the picture and audio together, if you match the clap sound to the clap happening on screen then the sound is synchronised. Lips move to voice, impacts move to thuds.

External sound recording to the picture is vital in filmmaking. Never use the cameras mic or make do with any other alternative. To get good sound is fairly inexpensive and pretty simple to get right. If your sound isn’t right, you won’t get your film into film festivals, certainly not the ones which are worth the submission fee – like ours.

It is obvious that the most overlooked element that combines both the shoot and the post production stages is the sound recording and, of course, the background music to any film project.

It is a very easy thing to miss out and a common, yet vital element, to forget, but sound and music in a picture can lift ones work from novice to professional without much expense. All it takes is a fair understanding of what you’re doing, a bit of the production budget, and a strong willingness to apply attention to detail — if you’re a future Lift-Off Filmmaker then this post is for you.

Here are our top music and audio techniques for film which you can incorporate into your indie filmmaking habits that will, hopefully, greatly increase the quality of your output, and the chances of your work showcasing at festivals and to various agents around the world with the right kind of quality and delivery.

We will split the advice into the two elemental tip lists covering both music and audio techniques for film.

Starting with Music…

Music and audio techniques for film. Music tips.

1. Music is important. Why is music so important? Watch the following films to understand why…

  • The Social Network
  • Inception
  • The Dark Night Trilogy
  • Star Wars
  • Superman The Motion Picture
  • Jaws

Big films, big songs. But it isn’t the larger/epic scenes I want you to listen to, listen to the scenes with dialogue, from the restaurant scene in The Social Network, to the class room scene in Inception, many of the non-training montages in the Dark Night, the Lex Luthor and Otis scenes in Superman…you’ll get the picture. Music adds an extra layer of depth if chosen correctly it adds loads of depth. if you can get the music part of the music and audio techniques for film right, then you are totally half way there!

2. Use a character driven piece to give focus. Otis played by the brilliant Ned Beatty in Superman the motion picture is backed up by an exceptional theme tune, which absolutely matches his character. It’s bass’y and brassy, like a plod along tune, Otis is stupid, overweight, clumsy.

The character music is there to create focus and to pin point our attention to maybe the lighter elements of then human being we are being told to believe.

3. Music creates environment. A recent film I watched was an exceptional documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune, I’ve mentioned it a few times on these posts over last few weeks, and I think it’s important for most filmmakers to give it a look.

During the documentary they talk about music. The filmmaker wanted different types of sounds to associate beside different types of planets, doing it to create atmosphere and depth.

4. Use royalty free sites. A Lift-Off Filmmaker in LA this year brought to our attention the exceptional website called Moby Gratas it is literally a website of Free to Download music created by Moby. Some of the music is hard, some of it is soft, there is lots to choose from here.

Getting the right tracks to fit in with your work and not having to pay for it has been a huge revolution in the world of Indie collaboration. Moby whether you like his work or not, is doing your industry a great service, so if you do decide to get a few tracks from his site, be sure to add him on twitter and thank him direct.

5. It’s not just about music on screen. If you are an actor friendly director – give each of the actors a track that best describes their character.

For example…

If you have a murdering malevolent beast of a man in your film, give your character a heavy, slashing track – something that instantly comes to mind, Slayer or Iron Maiden (Daughter to the Slaughter), just as an example.

If your actors character is a Florence Nightingale type, perhaps something way more soft, with flutes and pads.

The character music helps an actor to focus prior to rehearsals and it will help get them into character before any takes happen. If you hire professionally trained actors you’ll notice that they probably already have picked a song.

Music and audio techniques for film. Sound tips.

1. Use radio mics, for dialogue. Oh yes don’t rely on a boom, they pick up wind and when knocked can totally and unknowingly ruin an entire take. Using radio mics ensure that dialogue is always captured and it limits massive mistakes – use them.

2. Capture atmosphere and pick-ups like a pro. You need to watch films with your ears to get a full understand as to how important this is. From walking on gravel to doors creaking open, capturing the mechanics and fricative energy of movement adds that extra depth.

As for atmosphere, always try to capture neutral background noise of each venue. Even if you’re in a quiet place, spaces still hold particular vibrations and distance echo’s, get them.

3. Have a sound assistant marking the frame. When using radio mics or a directional boom you ideally miss out unwanted noise, however if in a shot, and directly in shot, a car drives past the action, it will make sense to jot this down and then get a car drive past into your pick ups – just incase it wasn’t picked up properly.

4. Use an efficient and professional standard “action-call”. Always check the levels and ensure sound is recording prior to all takes.

The action on set calls. This is by far our preferred routine in insuring everyone is ready, the camera is rolling, sound is recording and that the clapper is clapping…

“Camera?” – “Speed!”
“Sound?” – “Speed!”
“Attack on the Daisy Chain, Scene 4, Take 1.”
…CLAP!!!…
“Action!”

5. Data protection. Don’t loose the data. Digital Imaging Technicians on set transfer the data from the cameras and upload and backup everything.

Music and audio techniques for film. In Summary.

Music and audio techniques for film. It is becoming obvious now that the secrets to making your film awesome without having to spend to much on it is by getting granular with the detail, covering everything off, making sure that all of it is marked off, ticked off, and given it’s own individual importance, effort and focus.

If you apply these rules to your work, if you give the sound technicians and composers enough importance to create as any of the other artists on set and during post, then we’d love to see the results.