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I like to Score: Creating a Soundtrack

HeadphonesA while back I was tasked to create a promotional video for a client. Video isn’t a medium I get to work on too often so this project was a chance to do something a bit different.

The first creative challenge for this project was that there was no video content to work with. Shooting video wasn’t an option and stock videos would have been too pricy. So, I created PDF storyboards based on still images and stock photos. After a few rounds of minor changes requested by the client, the “video” was ready to be built. It would end up more like a slideshow than an actual video, but I did my best to animate the images, text and graphic elements using pans, spins and zooms tocreate visual interest. I used Adobe Premier to build out the project, I was still learning the program at the time and I remember having to figure out things like making an image rotate, zoom and pan simultaneously. I was very pleased with the end result but there was still one thing missing… Music!

My initial inspiration came from a commercial by Apple Inc. It was an announcement ad that the company was switching to Intel processors in its line of computers. The music in their commercial, a mix of rhythmic pianos and orchestral strings, conveyed the same “awe” that I felt would work well with my project.

I turned to my laptop and fired up Propellerhead’s Reason software. Reason is a virtual studio rack with all the tools and instruments you need to turn your ideas into music. I’ve dabbled in music synthesis for years, so I was quite familiar with the process. I used sixsamplers, a mix of various sampled grand pianos and orchestral strings, a drum machine for a symbol crash, and one synthesizer for a subtle choir pad.

I started with a simple piano riff and slowly added more elements. A few solitary strings were soon joined by more and more strings, rising and crashing like ocean waves. I remember being very pleased by how this simple melody came together so easily yet conveyed the same feeling of “awe” that I hoping for. After hearing a sample, the client agreed. All I had to do then was to combine the video and audio together. The sample music I made was about 30-40 seconds too short for the video so I went back to Reason and made an extended cut of my score.

The music had a dramatic affect. The final video with the soundtrack included turned out better than I had hoped and, more importantly, the client loved it. The project was a lot of fun to work on. I learned quite a bit about video editing software and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write some original music.