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Film scoring questions...


drumadima

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Hey everyone! I've been driving myself nuts trying to figure this out without luck, so I thought I'd ask the community.

So I've got 2 questions.

Firstly, say I have an episode where the music starts with a scene cut at a certain tempo. The next scene cut is the beginning of a chase scene and the tempo must be shifted to be much faster. But before the chase there is a place where the tension builds up in the picture and I want to insert an accel in the music which should lead it to the new (faster) tempo. How do I go about syncing the tempo curve with the picture? I've made a scene marker at a point where the new tempo should start and I'm trying to hit it with the tempo curve by moving the node on the tempo track but it's very hard manually. Is there an automatic way to calculate the right curve angle and start point to hit the new tempo at the desired scene cut?

Secondly, I have a cue which is perfectly in sync with the video. I've beat mapped it's beginning to a scene marker and inserted a new tempo right at that spot. So a bar before the cue starts, the tempo is different but it starts to be correct with the beginning of the music. I now want to insert a few bars of music before the old cue start to introduce it more naturally. How do I insert the tempo a few bars before the old scene marker and keep everything after that in sync? As soon as I change everything in the tempo track before the scene marker, the cue shifts and is not in sync with the video track as you can guess.

I'm on logic 8 if that helps.

Thanks a lot

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To your first question, Logic does indeed have a way to calculate a tempo curve between two locations. Look for the Tempo Operations function. However, a couple of things...

 

a) it's very hard to figure out how to make it work

b) when it does work, the results may not be musical

 

I recommend a different approach than trying to get the machine to figure this kind of thing out for you. Here are some choices (fair warning that none of them are "push a button" kinds of approaches):

 

1) play in the accelerando (tap in a click, or play a passage on piano or whatever) and then beat map what you played. The resulting tempo curve will apply to the entire song and you can continue composing from there. This will result in the most deliberate and musical tempo curve.

 

2) a bit of trial and error by creating a tempo curve in the Global Tempo Track.

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Indeed.. I find I use the 2nd option Ski mentioned, more often than not.. as the alternative choices are less than easy.... Not to say option 2 is easy either but once you get a hang of how to do it, creating curves in the Global Tempo Track seems, for me at least, to be easier of the two and you can get very effective results with a bit of tweaking here and there.
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Thanks a lot for the replies. I should've mentioned I tried the tempo operations and couldn't get it to work properly. I have also been drawing accel in the global tempo track and adjusting the curve manually to try and hit the scene cut but it took me half an hour to make it work and I got totally frustrated. I'll try to tap in the tempo next time. Can't believe there's no way to make the process clean and user-friendly. I know many people use Logic for film scoring so I thought this feature is something people use quite often and it should be well implemented.

Any help with the second question? Thanks again

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Please post your second question in a new thread (we like to keep one topic per thread here at LPH).

 

To your first question again, it's not always possible to get a tempo curve that's going to hit precisely on a particular frame and end up giving you a desirable accelerando, or even a desirable number of beats over the course of the tempo change. Without knowing the specifics of what you're doing (i.e., seeing the project itself, the scene, and how you're trying to get from point A to point B) it's really kind of hard to suggest how to best nail the accel. and arrive at the new tempo. That said, here's what you have to keep in mind...

 

Let's talk about timecode locations A and B...

 

A is the point in the film where the tempo starts to increase

B is the point that you want to hit in the film at the end of the accel.

 

The time difference between A and B is a finite period of time. But... does that amount of time translate into an even number of beats over the course of your accelerando? And how will the curve of the accel affect the outcome? Example...

 

Let's say that the distance in time from A to B is 4 seconds. Time signature is 4/4. Tempo at A is 80. Tempo at B needs to be 110. Can you accel from 80 to 110 over 4 seconds with a linear increase in tempo and end up with an even number of beats in 4/4? For argument's sake (because I haven't tried out these numbers -- they're just for example) let's say that indeed, with a linear increase in tempo from A to B you end up with an even number of beats.

Congratulations! You just beat the odds of that working out! But there's a much higher probability that a linear increase in tempo might leave you a beat shy, or you end up with an extra beat. In other words, you might need to have a bar of 7/8 in there, or a bar of 5/4 to make the beats work out between the hit points.

 

Or...

 

You can take a creative approach that suspends the rhythm over the course of the accel and creates a perceived increase in tempo another way.

 

So therein lie some of the difficulties you'll face when trying to accomplish what you're after; and it's for this reason that I find that playing in a part with the purpose of beat mapping it is the most successful approach. This way you're playing music and performing the accelerando in real time. You'll know instantly whether or not your ideas for the part and the tempo increase will work out (as opposed to fudging the tempo curves to find something that works).

 

Back to work now...

 

Ski

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ok, thanks a lot for the help! I can't say I understand everything but I'll try what you suggested. Wouldn't playing the accelerando manually and then beatmapping it shift the video once I start to change the tempo to fit my manual accel though? The main idea was that I really need to have a tempo track that represents 100% of what's in the music. Every single accel, rit. , all the tempo changes must be precisely followed by the click track because sometimes I will need to later record the music with live musicians. So the click track must be 100% correct, I can't allow to have regions where the click track is off or a sudden bar of 15/16 in a piece of 4/4 to *catch* up with the scene. I would then have to write it in the score which is totally not what I would want to do instead of writting a simple "accel" and conducting it to a precise and calculated click track.

Does the method you suggest allow me to achieve this? Thanks again for the help.

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You're welcome! But respectfully, based on your reply I don't think you understand some important concepts about how all this works, so I'll try to clear up a few things for you.

 

Wouldn't playing the accelerando manually and then beatmapping it shift the video once I start to change the tempo to fit my manual accel though?

 

No. Movie playback speed never changes in response to changes in tempi.

 

...I can't allow to have regions where the click track is off or a sudden bar of 15/16 in a piece of 4/4 to *catch* up with the scene.

 

Actually, you can. And in fact, you might have to. See, there's no guarantee that the music you want to write -- including the accel -- will fit picture if you maintain the same time signature. It all depends on the length of time that you have to create the accelerando, your time signature, and your starting and ending tempi.

 

As I mentioned above, you're working against a fixed amount of time in which to create the accelerando. The difficulty faced by any composer in this situation of trying to maintain the same time signature is making the music fit the length of the transition. To explain it another way...

 

Let's say that you've written a piece of concert music (i.e., not associated with picture in any way) in 4/4 time that starts off at 80 and accelerates to 110 over the course of 4 measures somewhere during the piece. A music supervisor discovers this piece of music and wants to use it in a film. Now, to you, it's 4 measures of accelerando in 4/4 time. But to the film editor, it's not 4 measures; rather, it's X-number of frames that he has to cut picture to. See?

 

You have the opposite situation. Here, picture is cut and you have X-number of frames to write an accelerando within. That number of frames translates into X-number of seconds (or seconds + frames), not musical beats or measures. You started at one tempo and want to arrive at another over a fixed number of frames of film. If you insist on maintaining the time signature and write a musical-sounding accelerando to hit the start of the next scene, arriving at (per my example) 110 BPM, here are the possible outcomes:

 

1) you'll hit it right on the money

2) you'll be a beat (or more) shy

3) you'll be a beat (or more) long

 

So which of those outcomes you arrive at has everything to do with the tempo you're starting at, the tempo you want to end up at, the length of the film you have to work within to make the transition/accel, and the time signature.

 

Yes, I think my suggestion of playing in the accelerando -- even before you do any beat mapping -- will prove to you very quickly whether or not your initial concept for how the accelerando will work, if at all. By simply playing against picture you are going to arrive at a conclusion about how to handle this very quickly. But by trying to figure out ahead of time by plotting a tempo curve, you're going to be pulling your hair out. There's nothing wrong with playing against picture to try and figure this out.

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Ski, thanks so much for taking the time and explaining all this to me. I think I understand what you're saying I just have this last question. I get that if I was to create a perfectly straight 4 bar accel I would either hit the spot perfectly (not very probable) or would have to include uneven bars etc to hit it. But I intended to create an accel with a curved tempo line. And depending on the curve shape the same 4 bar accel would take different time in seconds, correct? For ex if the curve is made so the accel is very slight in the beginning (ex. 3 bars from 80-85) and then begins to really build up in the last bar (from 85-110) it would take much more time to complete, than if I had a perfectly even accel or with a curve, where most of the accel happens in the first bar (say in the first bar from 80 to 105 bpm and in the remaining three bars only from 105-110). The curve type plays a big role in determining the time which it takes to complete the accel, right?

So I was trying to figure out, what's the way to calculate the curve type and angle in order to hit the scene cut.

Thanks again for all your help! I hope I'm not too much of a bother

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No bother at all. I love this stuff! And the good news is... the answers to your questions are "yes"! :D

 

To further illustrate this, see the attached screenshot. Concentrate first on the two images on the left. There you see two different approaches to an accelerando curve over four measures, going from 80 BPM to 110 BPM. Top left -- a simple approach. Bottom left -- a more complex approach.

 

Sticking with the images on the left, note that the bar ruler is showing bars and beats. So at first glance it might seem like you can indeed get an accelerando to work over 4 measures and hit the top of measure 5 at the new tempo in two totally different ways, maintaining 4/4 throughout.

 

HOWEVER... Looks are deceiving! Over on the right, we see the same two tempo curves, only look at the bar ruler --- it's showing time, not measures and beats! And this is what you are dealing with: trying to fit a fixed number of accelerating beats into a fixed amount of time. So in the images on the right the truth is revealed! With the first accel curve, your measure 5 ends up being closer to the 12 second mark, whereas with the second curve, measure 5 ends up closer to the 10 second mark.

351375212_Screenshot2011-11-14at11_24_14AM.thumb.png.2ed46b017caa8904288847227aa79178.png

Edited by ski
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Additional commentary and Conclusion... (and my last post on the subject for now, as I have to get back to making music :D )

 

In this example, the idea would have been to hit the 10 second mark at the end of the accelerando. But in both examples I missed the mark. Now, as you can see, you can create any tempo curve you want to musically span X-number of measures, but hitting a fixed point in time in that same number of measures will potentially require having to adjust something along the way. If you're lucky, you'll end up with a musical-sounding tempo curve that accommodates (per this example) four measures spanning those 10 seconds. If you're not lucky, something may have to give: the shape of the curve, the time signature, or the approach to the music you write.

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Thanks a lot again, Ski. I got everything you explained. I think I understood this from the beginning I was just trying to figure out if there was some way that logic could calculate that curve for me instead of manually trying to hit the 10 mark by adjusting it. Thanks a ton for taking the time and providing all the help! cheers
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