Soundtracks for Dummies Part 1
Soundtracks for dummies. I borrowed that title from a book that I once read. Anyway, so the public service announcement, and I'm going to stall again, is if you can get some good headphones, or some headphones at all, please grab them, and if you can get some good speakers, that will work too. Fortunately in here we have wonderful speakers. So soundtracks ... I think we can get into a variety of discussions when it comes to music. And we can get into a number of discussions that, I think, get us off topic. It can get us wading in legal jargon and copyrights and really scary and big words that I don't think as photographers, one, we're equipped to handle. I'm definitely not equip to handle. A funny side note is when I came to college in 1999, I entered college as a computer science major. Before I wanted to be a computer science major I wanted to be a lawyer. Yeah, that didn't work out, so I tried computer science, and that didn't work out. And then I tried something called management s...
cience, and that didn't work out. Then economics, then psychology, then communications, and then I settled on theater. So theater and sociology was my double in college, and what I'm trying to illustrate here in my long winded explanation, is that I'm not a lawyer, so I don't want to talk about legal stuff. I want to talk about what we can use music and soundtracks for. In our films and how we can enhance what we're already doing, okay? So let's keep it that way. So when we talk about soundtracks, I want you to tell me what does your story sound like. I can probably think of a couple of songs that would exemplify my life, and you kind of have been with me for the past three days, so Pharrell's "Happy" I guess could be one of them, right? How does music help you tell your story? So the way that it would describe me versus how I would use it to describe myself could be two different ways, right? So putting you on the spot, what would you pick? A song, if you had a song that would describe how you are, what your story is, what would it be? I know it's ...
[Male Audience Member] Something jazzy.
Something jazzy. That's a great ... See, he didn't even need to go to a song title. He said, "Something jazzy." And what does jazzy sound like? It's like ... (singing jazz high hat beats)
[Male Audience Member] Right.
Add the bass. (singing jazz bass beats) Right? And you can kind of get a feel for what his story is going to be. You can imagine him walking down a street, nodding his head, snapping his fingers kind of like a little beatnik because he lives in New York. Right? You think about it. We all have our own stories that we can tell, and we can tell it in a variety of different ways. One of them is through music. You know? And then so, how does music help you tell their story? Right? So if I were to characterize my experience here at Creative Live in a song, initially, like day one it would be ... (singing upbeat circus music) (clapping) (singing upbeat circus music) Right? Because it was just crazy. We're just going from one thing to the other, and we're just ... Oh my gosh is this done? Is that? And you're flying around trying to get things done, but you can imagine that is a really wonderful way to add emotion, and add feeling, and add something compelling to what you're already creating. All right? Victor, I love that one song from ... Well I love that one song from ... And I already have so much more music ... And no one is really gonna care anyway ... So why should I even bother about copyrighted stuff? Okay, so let's think back to high school. I know some of us it was a long time ago. Some of us it might not be so long ago. And when you're sitting in your car with your boo, okay? And you got the tunes cranking. You guys have a song, right? Let's say it's like U2 "Where the Streets Have No Name." And it's like ... (sings beat) And whenever that song comes on you're like ... Look at each other lovingly, and you cuddle up next to each other. And then the day happens when you break up, and then six months later you hear that song, and you're like, "I hate that song! I hate that song! I can't listen to that song anymore!" Think about your clients. I love this Coldplay song, so I'm going to put this Coldplay song into this slideshow, or whatever it is, and little do you know that before you played that slideshow for the bride, that Coldplay was the song that she shared with her boyfriend before her fiance. Right? So now you got a problem. Because now you've put pictures of her fiance to a song that reminds her of her past love. So these are some things that you just want to side step and avoid, man. I guarantee you. Music, for me personally ... I can't go 90 days, 60 days, even 30 days without trying to find new music to listen to. I'm always listening to new bands because I get sick of my old stuff, and I'm always trying to find new stuff to listen to because I develop emotional and memory attachments to what I listen to. To this day if I'm driving down the street, and an Eisley song comes on, I'm thinking immediately about the time I drove up the East Coast with one of my friends when we were doing the tour together. You know? And these are memory attachments that recall themselves when you listen to these songs. So the last thing you want to do is pick the wrong song, put it into a piece, and then have your clients be emotionally attached to that song in a way you don't want them to be. You want a clean slate, so that's why we use music that's original. That's why we use music that doesn't necessarily have any roots in the real world, okay? So we want to be unique and different. It's about picking something very specific for what you're doing, and then it's about enhancing the experience of watching your film, and it's about standing apart from everyone else, okay? So when you actually really think about picking a soundtrack, these are kind of rules of thumb that you want to kind of guide yourself with. It's all about using it to enhance what you're already doing, okay? So now we take a look and go, "Okay, use something original. Don't use something familiar. Pick the song first." Those are your three rules. Don't use something familiar. Use something original, and pick the song first. So we're going to play a couple tunes here, and I don't know if that's going to work the way I want to, so I'm going to kick out, and we're just going to mirror my display really quickly. That's my cat. Sorry about that. His name's Crush. He's about 10 months old. In that picture, he's like four. He's my baby. Okay.
[Female Audience Member] Is that an orange soda?
[Female Audience Member] Is that an orange soda?
Exactly. He was orange, and I like that soda, so ... Okay. So we're just going to go ahead, and I'm going to play this. So I want you guys to close your eyes. We're gonna just play some music, and I want you close your eyes, and I want you to think about how these songs make you feel. (country western music) So I'm going to talk over it just a little bit. Imagine you got a character, and they're walking now. And are they bouncing as they're walking? Okay? What part of the country are they in? Are they in a city or in the South? They're in the South? Okay, all right. They're from Texas. They're walking in boots, right? They got spurs on. They got a cowboy hat. All right, so I'm going to change the song now. Change the song. (hip hop music) All right, okay, here we go. Turn it up a little bit. All right, so where are we? Dance club maybe? All right? Oh? Oh yeah? Okay, all right. Take it outside. We're somewhere urban. Okay, so I've got my like cool little jacket on. I got my hands in my baggy jeans, right? How do these songs make you feel? Okay let's pick another one. (80's techno music) It's like retro, yeah? Yeah. All right, yeah. Okay. Another one. (lounge music) Ah, it's kind of like lounge-y. Where would you be? Sipping on a glass of whiskey? After hours somewhere with a cigar? Right? Okay, let's do one more. Let's see random. (jazz music) Ah, this is for Mike. I feel like it's like 1920's. You know maybe like "Guys and Dolls"-y. "Caberet" maybe? You know? Maybe, yeah, everyone's dressed up, and they're walking around. It's like carnival fair, you know? So hopefully that exercise that we just went through ... Everyone at home and everyone in this room probably had a different experience listening to that music. And just thought that if it were any different than if you would've listen to a song on the radio. It's not popular. But the thing is music evokes emotion. Music evokes action. Music evokes feelings. If it's fast, it can be happy. If it's slow, it can be thought provoking, right? And that's what we use music for, so when you're a photographer, and you're putting together a project, and you're ready to hit the editing room, the first thing you should be doing is listening to music. You should be listening to music so that you can pick the music that you want to attach to whatever you're creating. So let's jump back in over here into my proper Keynote. Okay, and all right, so let's focus on Hollywood, okay? Learning from Hollywood. So Hollywood uses all this stuff. They use photos, music, video, voiceovers, text, graphics, visual effects, editing, and off over here in the distance really attractive people, right? (audience laughing) To get your attention. They sale movies based off all of these things. Let's focus on the music. So Hollywood uses music for emotional impact. All right? Emotional impact. So if we remember this, what does this sound like with music? What emotions are evoked inside of you as you watch this with this song? (slow romantic piano music) (audience laughing) So someone give me some words.
[Male Audience Member] Love and friendship.
Love, friendship, adventure, right?
[Female Audience Member] Accomplishment.
Accomplishment. You know, intimate, trust, right? One clip. We saw it the other day. We laughed 'cause it was funny, but what did that song all of the sudden do? It changed the way we looked at the video. It created an emotion for us. I look at that, and it's hilarious to me because it's something that's just a simple action, right? I'm doing the "Dirty Dancing", right? But to that song it's so different. Music also is used to enhance the mood of a scene. So same clip, different song. Think about the mood. (triumphant marching band music) So what do you think about that?
[Male Audience Member] Awesome.
It's like Superman.
[Male Audience Member] Yeah.
I feel like you guys have been trying to do that for so long and finally got it.
Exactly right, and the song changed the way we watched the video. Guys, that was the same clip. Nothing changed. We change a song, and all of sudden things started going differently. So can you think about it? Had I picked this song, and I wanted to get the other message across ... I got myself a problem. Don't I? 'Cause that makes me feel a certain way. So how are we doing in the chatroom? Any questions?
Good, we're doing good. I just wanted to say it's so interesting because I use Triple Scoop Music for all my videos, and I always think about, "Oh it would be nice to have a Coldplay song, or to have like a pop song that I like. But it's so cool to hear you say use original music so that you are kind of creating that space between peoples' known emotions or ..."
So I think that that's an amazing point, and I just think that makes me excited.
Yeah, and I think it's like, I think for us, I don't want to rely upon a popular song to drive my creative work, right? I want to pick a song, and I want the creative license of picking that song based upon how it reflects upon my work. All the legally stuff not withstanding. Let's not even talk about that stuff. Let's just talk about you have the ability to control a project from start to finish. From the way you capture the image, to the way you light it, to the way you work with your talent, to the way that you edit it. Why not pick the song? And why not be able to pick from thousands of songs that have no emotional attachment to you or your clients? That's where you got to look at it, right? That's the way we really have to break it down and look at it. Hollywood also uses music to reveal the heart of a story. Okay, so we looked at it, and it was like emotional impact, the mood of a scene, and it can be used to reveal like the inner most workings of that story. So, again, here's that clip, right? Here's that clip. (ethereal piano music) What do you guys think about that one? How'd that make you feel? It's a little bit different than the first one. Kind of similar but different. There was like more heart to it, right? There's like, "Oh, gosh, you just want them, you want them to nail that, that whatever they're doing." You know? That's just weird, but you just want them to do it right. You know? Music is a very, very powerful tool. It's a very powerful tool because it allows us to really open up a level of emotion and a level of understanding on a subconscious level. Because you think about it, right? You think about Hollywood. You think about Hollywood, and by and large most Hollywood films bring in someone to write a score. Okay, John Williams comes in a writes a score, and it's completely original music. Think about "Jurassic Park." Helicopters coming in. (sings trailblazing music) And it's just like ... You're just picturing it. These vast things coming in. It's like ... (sings trailblazing music) Right? (sings trailblazing music) It's crazy. They spend all this time and all of that effort in creating a musical score, an original musical score for a movie, and they're not really borrowing from other people. They make it themselves, and sometimes, you know, there's a little overlap like an artist will write a song that then will be played on the radio for the movie. But they usually, generally, write that song for the movie, and so that becomes attached to the movie as a way of emphasizing that movie. So you look at the way Hollywood does things, and they're not really borrowing stuff. You think of musicals. Musicals are really funny because musicals are very hyper real because a person's so excited about what happens that they all of a sudden burst into song, right? But if you think about the structure of a musical, and what drives a character to start singing, it's because it's the emotion inside of that character, especially with Disney movies, that propels them to sing, propels them to create that music. Frozen and "Let It Go," right? It's like the all-time most-grossing animated film. Read that statistic the other day, and "Let It Go" won an Oscar for best original song, and it all came from in the plot of the movie she had hit this point where she was gonna just be finally done, and she's like, "I'm just going to let it go!" And boom! She burst off into song because the emotion inside of that character could no longer be contained by just words. It needed to be put into music. And when we watch things that do that, that should be an indication to us that music is the underbelly, is the underbelly, of what we watch. Because at some point, at some point, you're going to watch a movie, and then you're going to realize that at a really intense part the music goes ... (sings suspenseful music) And then like someone looks at ... (sings suspenseful music) You know, it's like they use it to enhance and to create nervousness inside of you. That's why music's so powerful. So as you pick music, and as you work to look to find music that will fit what you're doing, pick three words. And then you match the music to those three words, and, hopefully, you match it to support the content. The material, all right? So happy, innocent, and fun. Okay, think about what happy, innocent, and fun sounds like to you then close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about it. (hip hop music) Listen for a little bit. Think happy, innocent, fun. Does that sound happy, innocent, and fun? No, not in the least bit. What does it sound like? Sounded almost sultry.
[Female Audience Member] Raunchy.
[Female Audience Member] Yeah, powerful.
[Male Audience Member] Competitive.
Competitive. What was that?
[Female Audience Member] Like powerful.
I would say it might sound fun but not necessarily happy or innocent.
Ah, so some songs can apply to some of the words, but you want to find a song that applies to all three.
[Male Audience Member] Awesome. Okay so this next one: happy, innocent, fun. (cheery waltz music) Actually my dimple's on this side. (audience laughing) Right? What'd you picture? Like a girl in pigtails with like a cape and a basket? You know? Happy, innocent, fun. And you think about it's such a simple way to pick songs, such a simple way. You look at your piece, okay? Let's think about some things that we've already seen, so that video of that motivational speaker, okay? The video of that motivational speaker. What would be three words that we could use to find a soundtrack for that video?
[Male Audience Member] Change.
Change. Adjectives, think of adjectives.
[Male Audience Member] Intense.
[Male Audience Member] Powerful.
Hopeful. Hopeful, powerful, intense. So now you have a laser focus as you listen to these songs, and go, "Okay, I need to find a song that's hopeful, that's powerful, and intense." I'm crazy in the sense that I will write stuff and tack it to my wall as I'm working, and I'll look up and be reminded hopeful, powerful, intense. If you guys saw the behind the scenes portion during that last demo, I had key words to remind me to do things as I was talking to you because I didn't have my computer in front of me. And it's the exact same way. It provides laser focus. Hopeful, powerful, intense, and you look at those words, and you listen to some songs that evoke hopeful, powerful, and intense. Okay? What's up?
Going back about seven slides you had one line that I didn't understand. It said pick song first. You mean before the edit? Before the shoot?
Yeah, so that slide is, I think, right here.
Yeah. Definitely a lot of people have questions about process, and where you're selecting those, at what point you're selecting the songs, have you picked the song first prior to shooting. Is it part of your pre-production planning? How do you deal with when you're shooting for clients? Are they going to input?
Okay, so let's actually breakout here and actually have that discussion. So you guys remember the video that I did of the clothing store? That lady, when we sat down and did our pre-production and did our pre-interview, we were talking about different things. I said, "Okay, I'm going to do you in the store. Capture you in the store, and then take a look, and we'll do some b-roll. We'll kind of create some scenarios to capture." And the first thing she asked me after that was, "What's the music going to be?" And I said, "Well, here are a couple different songs that I'm kind of going for." And that was an open dialog with the client about what music, so a lot of the times the client will drive that discussion. And you want that song picked as early as possible, so that when you go into production, you already know what the song's going to sound like, so that the edit and the footage can match the style of that song, okay? Now Hollywood does it a little differently. They will record the movie, edit it, and then an orchestra will come in, and they'll literally watch the film as the conductor conducts the orchestra. We don't have that kind of budget. We don't have the ability to hire original musicians to do that, but if you have the fortunate pleasure of having people who are creative and who can create music after an edit for you, that's just specific, by all means that's where you would do it is at the end after the edits done. But if we are going to rely on royalty music sites, like Triple Scoop Music that have thousands and ten thousands of songs online, we have an ability to kind of pick a broad range. You don't have to be ... You don't have to pick the song right away. Maybe pick your top 10 songs that you're going to want to use or have the same feeling or evoke the same emotions out of you, and have those saved. And you're going to work with your client, and you're going to work with the person you're working with on picking the right song for the edit, okay? So typically what you're going to do is you're going to pick the song, or songs, that kind of create a box for you to play in, and then you're going to go through pre-production. You're going to go through your work. You're going to go through your editing. And then in your final edit, that's when you make that final choice on the group of songs that you selected, okay? And that's how I do it, and it's really, it's been a really fluid process doing it that way because then you get your client involved as well. Does that answer the question?
Definitely, and just Katrina's Hungry says, "Choosing music for a project can be so time consuming. I'm known to take hours to find the right song."
Does that sound about right?
Absolutely. When I was picking the songs just for those three short little videos of me doing the jump, I mean it did take a lot of time because I wanted to pick the perfect song that would get the right emotions out of whoever was watching it. And so you're going to spend a lot of time listening to music, which is why, before you do the project, it's so much more beneficial because you can listen to a lot of music, kind of earmark certain songs for different projects. Right? Or for one project. And then that way, when your project gets further along and your due date's coming up, you're not scrambling to find the right song. You want to do all that work prior to. You want to give yourself the ability to kind of just use time as an asset. Listen to a lot of music. Stage the music so that when you're done with your project, you're done with the editor working on the edit, you're not breaking the cycle of editing to look for a song because that's going to be so ... It's really so non-sequitur. You want to do the edit having already picked some songs. You know?
All right, question from Anthony Michael who says, "I'm going to ask this question, and I'm sure you'll go over it, but I get requests all the time from high school seniors to use music from artist like Pink or Justin Timberlake or Katy Perry, but because of copyright law I don't use them and feel bad because they are a paying client, and I feel like I'm not giving them what they want for their video. And then, in addition, what about making videos for your family and friends that are just going to stay in the house like as far as copyright music?"
So, I mean, here is ... I'm going to take it up a level, okay? And we're not going to ... I'm going to address the question, I think, from a different angle, okay? And I'm going to say if I had a client that's really pushing me to put in a song that they like, especially if they're high school senior ... And I don't ever want to get into a like a, "well I don't want to get sued," sort of thing 'cause that's a topic you really don't want to bring up with clients, nor ever. That's just weird. We live in a really legislated society, and that's not something you want to talk about. And I think the best way to address that would be, "Well, you know, I really appreciate that you'd love to use that song. You know what? I would really love to use it too, but unfortunately my hands are kind of tied. And I know it's going to be something that you're probably going to just use in your family. And I would love to do it for you, but unfortunately I can't." And you got to stand your ground. You just got to stand your ground. I mean be respectful. Respect their wishes. Acknowledge, empathize with them, but then put your foot down and say, "You know what? I can't do it and here's why. Because as an artist it would really hurt me if I found my work on someone else's website, and it would really make me upset if I found out that someone was using my work to promote their business. So in the same way, I don't want to use someone else's music, that I haven't got permission for, to put into your video. You know it doesn't make me feel good about what I'm doing." You know? And that's a really, really honest and understanding way of approaching a question that could be very hard to navigate sometimes. Is because, as image makers ... I've talked to image makers that have found their images on other people's websites, and it's like getting punched in the stomach. Right? And I think there's a code of honor. There's a code of ethics in terms of creatives that if you're going to really create ... Then if you're going to borrow, you should ask permission. So all these videos that I've gotten for this class, I got permission for. You know and we got releases for because I wouldn't feel good about putting their content into my class and then having it be presumed that I created all this content. No, that's not cool. And you should think the same way when you answer that question. You be really honest, be open, be human about it, and say, "You know what? I would love to do that, but here's my stance on it." And if they say no, and if they don't agree with you, and they walk out, and they just think, "You didn't think so? Well I'll find someone else that will do it for me." Well you know what? I'm going to say letting that client go at that point is probably going to be the best decision you've ever made in your life because if they're going to fight you on that, think about what they're going to fight you on later.
Victor, what about if you're just making a video for your family to watch at home?
So if you're making a video for your family, and you're just going to watch it, I guess I can be lenient in that sense. The thing is you don't know, at the end, who is going to watch it, okay? And how are you going to share that video? You going to share it on YouTube? You going to share it on Facebook, and share it on Vimeo? Things go viral, right? Just, I mean, I just want to always be ... One of mentors in college always said, "Victor, you'll always want to be above reproach." You always want to be above reproach. You always want to leave a situation with your head held high, and you want to be above reproach. So I think, when it comes to music, if you can honestly answer that question in that way, then I think you're good. Okay?
And maybe one other thing to finally consider. Philographer points out that, "I've tried to post wedding videos to Facebook or YouTube, and they've been denied because of those copyright issues." So if you are using the music that is copyrighted, that you don't have the rights for, you're not going to be able to share your videos.
And like that technology is only going to get better.
Yeah, absolutely. So you guy's have all used like SoundHound and Shazam, right? You hear a song on the radio and you're like, "Oh what's that song? Boom." Well if you've got that song in your mobile phone, chances are like the internet's got it too. So you know, again, I don't want to get bogged down in the fact that, "Oh, you could be caught." I think that's a really poor place to operate from. A great story is I had a friend ... 'Cause we were talking about speeding on the freeway, and one of my friends loves speeding, and one of them just doesn't love speeding. And the one that doesn't love speeding says, "You know what? I don't like speeding just because I hate checking my rear view mirror all the time for a cop. I just want to know that I'm driving the speed limit and that I'm not looking over my shoulder every 10 minutes to see flashing lights." And I think that's where you want to be, okay? And I don't want to ... I never ever want to scare anyone into do something, but it's just like, "You know what? If you got another opportunity, why not just use that and not have to worry about anything else, you know?" So ...
The suggestion that I've done with people that've done that is I just tell them, "I'll look into it, but the cost might be prohibitive. You know it might be. I'll look into it, but you'd have to license it, and it's usually thousands of dollars." And that usually just ... Instead of being negative and saying, "I can't do it for you." "I'll look into it, but are you ready to spend whatever it might be?" And then it's shot down in a second, and they get the idea you have to buy a license.
Absolutely. So a good example of this is there are some artist out there that will respond to you if you write them and email them. So if you guys remember yesterday, I showed you some footage of the helicopter from the quad-copter, aqua-copter, whatever it was. And initially that edit, before the video hit Creative Live, had a song called "Volcano" by Damien Rice, so Blane, who was the film maker, emailed Damien Rice and said, "Hey, here's a copy of the video with your song in it. What do you think? Do you mind if we use this song?" And Damien Rice wrote back to us and said, "Absolutely use the song. I mean you're not going to get paid for it anyways, so it's totally cool. P.S. - I love your job." Right? So there are really great artist out there that will respond to you, but it takes that added level of attention to detail where you can email them, you email the publishing company or whatever it is, and then you do run the risk of never getting a response, okay? So I'm not saying that, "Okay, well don't use popular music." I mean there's a way to do it, and there's a way to do it right and well, but it can be very time intensive, and sometimes the opportunity cost there ... It's not there.