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film, 5.1, surround, etc.

Eric VB

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Just did a quick search and didn't see what I was looking for.


This may be slightly OT, but as a songwriter writing for film, for your demo cut what format do you use? Standard stereo mix? 5.1 surround? Something else?


How far are you involved in the final process? Do you just provide a printed score? Do you oversee/produce the tracking/recording? Do you mix/master to 5.1? Do you sync to the video? At what point do you hand off to someone else?


Here's why I ask. I've seen some ads by small, independent filmmakers (i.e., probably just one guy and a camcorder) asking for music for their film. For this kind of project (one that is more for the experience/exposure than any chance of making money) I'd prefer to keep my costs minimal. I can provide a final stereo cut with my current equipment, and then it would be up to them to sync it. For some I'm sure that's all they're looking for.


One ad mentioned that their film will be "HD", which -- after a quick googling -- I took to mean they will have 8 sound channels, so they can do for example 5.1 or 7.1 surround. I don't expect that they'd have the software to take a multi-track recording and cut a surround mix, and I don't have that capability either. Neither of us are likely to be willing to hire someone else to do the mixing. So, sure, I can always offer just a stereo mix.


But looking to the future (pro film?), would it be worthwhile for me to invest in the software and hardware to make my own surround cuts? Or would such an investment only be useful for working with these small independents? I'm looking at US$999 for something like Logic, and I can't imagine the small guys can afford much for a song (let alone an entire score), so even if I were to charge $100 per deal (cheap!) ... and that's not including the cost of 5.1 reference speakers, etc.


For bigger projects I can't imagine having to do more than a demo stereo cut and maybe a printed score. Am I just being naive?

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Good questions, and something I have been thinking about as well.

In my very limited soundtrack experience, it was a stereo mix that I served up, and that was fine. But it was one of those "guy with a camcorder" things.


I would welcome informed input on the matter, or at least an experienced voice.

Any Forums or discussion groups on the topic of music for film out there besides this esteemed locale? :)






I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Nothing says that you have to provide a 5.1 mix, but nothing says you have to be limited to stereo either. Most directors actually prefer to have the music just in the front L/R, although I tend to prefer otherwise. After you hand off your recording and/or printed score, it's usually up to the music editor to sync it up and all.

I don't have any experience in the film industry per se, but I'm a student of the craft, and this is the way it's being presented to us. Good luck.

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