Filmmaking Amateur | Grappling With Music and Garage Band

by Scott
(Georgia, USA)

Have you ever watched a movie without music? Have you ever noticed music in a movie? Oftentimes, the music is heard but not noticed. Especially if the music is good. By good I mean more than simply being in tune or pleasant to the ears. Music in film carries most of the emotion. I've never done it but if you watch The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon you end up having a brand new experience in Oz.

I've been using pre-made music for all of my videos. It's much easier to take a track that has already been created and place it on the timeline to add the emotional appeal I am trying to make. Lately, however, I seem to be running out of music options. Sure, I could use popular songs but that is illegal and I have no desire to be sued over one of my videos. And yes, there are countless other options, both free and paid that will provide me with pre-made music options. But as I mature as a filmmaker I find myself wanting to have more specific timing or music to fit the mood I am creating.

I don't play an instrument (other than the occasional bongo session on weekends). I am not trained in music and I have no professional sense of notes and chords. But in today's world that really doesn't matter. Even the simplest of editing platforms provide ways to create unique songs or soundtracks.

I use iMovie exclusively at the moment for editing. As with all Macs, you also get Garage Band. Garage Band has pre-made music made with a large variety of instruments. All one needs to do is lay down a drum beat, add some guitar or piano. Throw in some harmonica or a banjo and some bass with some shakers or other rhythmic tools and you can create an endless number of tracks. Easy enough, right?

This week I took on the task of trying to create music specific to a video I am producing. I have found this process to be overwhelming. There are simply too many choices. Too many instruments to choose from and too many options for timing and music placement. While I was noble at heart, I am going to go back to using pre-made music at least to finish this project that is so close to being finished.

Making films is hard. Especially if I have to do everything. I can only become proficient at so many things at once. I'm still refining my storytelling. I'm still trying to get the most editing power out of iMovie. But I still need to learn graphics (which iMovie lacks). And I am still trying to figure out how to best render and process videos that I have made.

Music is very important in films. But my time to become proficient in this aspect of fimmaking is going to have to wait a bit longer.

Got comments about music in video or Garage Band? Share below!

Comments for Filmmaking Amateur | Grappling With Music and Garage Band

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May 25, 2012
GarageBand... NEW
by: James

GarageBand is a great program, even to the uninitiated. However, as some are beginning to discover, custom tailoring music to a specific video/movie is no small task, nor is it easy.

There are websites available that provide free, and royalty free music. However, "Royalty Free Music" doesn't mean that it's free, it just means that you don't need to pay a record company, or production company, royalties. However, Royalty Free Music almost always has a charge. It can be very expensive, especially if you're buying music outright.

If you know anything about music at all, then you should be able to take the GarageBand sound loops and begin splicing them together, thereby creating a brand new and unique piece of music. Is it composing? Well, yes and no. Yes, but not in the traditional sense. No, because you're using something that was already composed and created.

However, you should not limit your creativity by not using the Garageband music that you create. It is far easier to create a piece of music that has the mood you're looking for, than it is to create a piece of music specifically tailored and fitted to a video.

First, you need to know how long your movie is. Second, you need to know what the theme is. Often times the theme governs the music, not the other way around. Know your theme and you will be able to create a garageband piece to suit your needs for your film project. It's important to point out, that you don't need just one single soundtrack score for your film piece. In fact, if you notice when you watch movies, documentaries included, the films have a host and an assortment of music choices. It's actually better to tailor the music according to a scene if it applies. Many times during the course of a documentary film, music soundtracks are never used in their entirety and can in fact be only as long as a scene, then it moves on and another soundtrack will play. It greatly depends on what's playing on the screen. Obviously, dramatic scenes calls for dramatic music. In documentaries, the filmmaker will often use the same theme music throughout the film, but will have different variations on a theme of the same music piece. This too can be accomplished using garageband, but with some difficulty.

I actually use 2 different music editing and production programs that include GarageBand, and also, Logic Express. GarageBand is great, but Logic Express allows me to expand on a particular piece of music and I can also tailor the music to fit a video that I'm working on. It's fun, but it is very hard work... Good luck to you all...

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