Friday, December 17, 2010

The Power of Music v1.0


Many years ago when I was working as a film sound editor, I was asked to score a film for a giant corporation that had recently acquired a very hi-tech electronic assembly company. They wanted to make a film about their new capabilities, the clean rooms, the robotics, microcircuits, etc.

As with many corporate projects, the script had been written by committee, and vetted by teams of lawyers. The process had taken months. The film editor had cut the picture to the voice track, which literally started about five seconds in and never stopped. With wall-to-wall voice-over, there was barely any room for music at all.

I tried a few different library music tracks, but everything I tried was fighting the voice-over. At one point, I tried one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.  I couldn't quite hear how the music was working, so I shut the voice track off temporarily And bingo! - it was one of those magic moments when the music and visuals are so perfectly matched that the whole thing just sings. We didn't even need the voice over! The intricacies of the music combined with the graphic visuals did it all.

The next day we showed the video to the clients. We let the music do its magic, muting more than half of their precious voice-over track. They were shocked. Stunned. And luckily for us, thrilled with the result. They loved the video so much that even after spending months working on the script, they left the final version just the way we had it, with half of the voice track gone.

We were lucky to have such good clients. Not every producer understands the power of music to communicate, and not every client is willing to let go of their precious script.  I wish it would happen more often.

Doug