Join Norman Hollyn for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding the place for music, part of Foundations of Video: The Art of Editing.
Norman: Okay, now let's figure out how to use music to get an audience involved with our story. For our purposes we are going to track a scene. Which means that we are going to use a piece of preexisting music to score the scene. But the same ideas will be used if a composer is writing a piece of music for the scene too. We're going to look at a scene from a short film called Castles, which was directed by Tyler Wilson. It's a story about Joseph, an architect who works in the family architecture firm.
He has had a string of failures, and is completely blocked creatively. When he is forced by his father to deliver a proposal by 6PM, he cannot do it. Until his father sends him a message to go back to where it started. By returning to the beach where his dreams got their start. He is both reunited with his talent and his father. So what does this log line tell us? First, this is Joseph's film. He is the one with the struggles. He is the one that we empathize with.
He is the one that changes by the end. So now let's do our adjective search. At the start of the film, Joseph is very pressured and tense. He is very sad and frustrated. He feels disconnected with his art. And he feels disconnected from his father. At the end of the film, he's no longer tense and pressured. He is pleased with his ideas and happy that he found them. He has found a reconnection with his art and as a result, with his father.
In other words, this is Joesph's arc in the script. This is what the filmmakers want the audience to feel. So now we're going to put music to an early scene in the film. And it should accomplish the same goals. So let's take a look at the scene as scripted. This is the first scene after the credits. And we've already learned a number of things by now. First, we see Joseph at the beach. We cut to flashbacks of him building a castle in the sand. And in being interviewed about his philosophy of art and architecture.
We cut back and forth to a table with models on it, and hear an interview with Mr. Dalton as he makes excuses for Joseph's failed work. Then we move into our scene. The rule of threes tell us that it's important to know where this scene is heading so that we can make sure that the music leads us to that. So in this next scene, Joseph is in his office, despondent that he hasn't been able to create anything. The pressure is rising on him and he's going to crack. Now that we've figured out the log line for the film and examined the scenes on either side of this one, well, let's watch the scene as it was edited. Mr.Dolton: So, how's the coffee? Jospeh: It's cold.
Mr. Dolton: Did you finish it? You know, I'm taking a big risk, putting you on this Columbia project. Firm could be on the line here. 6pm tonight. Simple deadline. Beat it. Joseph: That's it? 6PM, huh? And if I'm a risky choice, then don't use me.
We all know what risky decisions lead to. Look, the company's in free fall, and you want to take risk again. It's a creative approach. Mr.Dolton: My creativity. Has nothing to do with us. I did my time. My job now is to wear this suit, please clients and make sure you do your job. Nothing more, nothing less. Understand? Six pm. Deliver.
Oh, and this design better not resemble the last few of your strip mall inspired creations. Get out of the safety zone, Joseph. Do your job. Norman: If I was a music editor, I would have gotten this from the picture editor. If I'm the picture editor and I'm doing the music tracking myself, then I will wait until I finish editing the scene before placing music onto it.
I'm going to be shaping the music to fit the edited picture, not the other way around. Note that there is no music on this yet, nor are there any sound effects. This is straight out of the editing machine. The script for the scene indicates that Joseph is not the rising star that he'd imagined himself to be. He and his father are in danger of losing their firm because of his artist's block. So let's do our scene analysis. We can identify that this scene is Joseph's.
Then let's get some adjectives for the beginning and the end of the scene. We know that he starts the scene lost, not working, sad, unsuccessful at this work. By the time we get to the end of the scene, he's still sad and unsuccessful. But he is now desperate and trying to work. The script uses the word frustrated to describe how he feels when his father leaves the room. Joseph is really feeling the pressure from his father and from himself.
Those two pressures are at their strongest when his father accuses his last works as being like strip malls and orders him to get out of your safety zone and do your job. So this is our lean forward moment in the scene, this is the moment when the audience is meant to realize that Joseph is finding all of this very difficult. Notice that I didn't say that the moment happened when Mr Dalton said his line. We've already determined that this movie and this scene is not about him, it's about Joseph.
So the real lean forward moment happens when Joseph reacts to that line. Be aware of that difference, and that is where the inpoint of the music should be. The character who was on screen at the start of music is the one that the audience will always pay more attention to. So we should be very conscious of where the in point of the music is. So, now that we've figured out where the important moments are in the scene to accent with music, it's time to start putting music into it.
Start with an overview of concepts like the rule of threes, review a sampling of footage from films past and present, and then dive into script analysis. Find out when and when not to make cuts, how to collaborate with clients and directors during recutting, and how to ground the emotional backdrop for your piece with music and sound. Norman closes with a look at adapting to different genres and filmic styles.
- Exploring the history of video editing
- Controlling what the audience sees
- Identifying the logline
- Performing script and scene analysis
- Coming up with an editing plan
- Cutting from on-camera to off-camera action
- Understanding the value of recutting
- Shaping moments with music
- Working in a specific genre
- Mixing editing styles together