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Creating a Video From Start to Finish

Lesson 26 of 37

Selecting a Soundtrack


Creating a Video From Start to Finish

Lesson 26 of 37

Selecting a Soundtrack


Lesson Info

Selecting a Soundtrack

As we kind of move off of this idea of like storyboarding, and this idea of editing choices, there is a major choice that we do have to make and it involves a soundtrack, okay? And that soundtrack can be really, really challenging for us because a lot of times, we don't know the perception of music, we don't know how the client's gonna respond to it. With client profiles a lot of times, you've gotta be so specific with the type of music you pick because if it's too fast or too slow or too rocky or too, you know, country, or whatever it is, it could detract away from someone who's watching that video. So picking the most neutral and picking the most non-invasive song is probably the best, and then picking something that's gonna just gradually, slightly, lightly push your edit, okay, and give it a beat and a tempo. That's what selecting the soundtrack will do. So the thing that I like to hang on is just not pick songs you know. There's a million reasons why you shouldn't do that, okay. A...

few of them is like often times we pick songs we know, we have emotional attachments to them, okay. We pick emotional songs, we're like, "Oh gosh, I love that song," you know, "That Adele song is so good," you know, and you put it in the edit. Just 'cause you have an emotional attachment to that song doesn't mean your client has the same emotional attachment. Whereas a song may be reminding you of something very great in your life, it could potentially be reminding them of something horrible in theirs and now you've just attached this video to that horrible memory. That's just the obvious one. The next one is it will date your film. It will date your film because I can think of a lot of wedding videos, right, a lot of wedding videos that had some music on it and you're like, "Outside of the fashion, I know this was the '80s." All right? So, in addition, don't use copyrighted material. We're at the point now where if you upload a video to YouTube and it's got copyrighted music, they'll kill it. They'll tell you to take it down, so don't even do it. For a number of different reasons. It's expensive. If you end up using it, getting the rights for it is expensive, lawyers. And then there's plenty of music elsewhere, and I use a service called Triple Scoop Music. Triple Scoop Music provides royalty-free music, so you purchase a license for something and then it allows you to use that song in perpetuity for whatever you're using it for, okay, and you can buy different levels of it and whatnot, but it's all royalty-free and the music is actually pretty decent. They've got thousands and thousands of songs, which is both a benefit and a curse, you know. But anyway, I've got a question back there. Do you offer your clients like options for songs? I do, I do. Like and let them pick? I do. This one I didn't. Because of the speed of the edit, what I tend to do is during the rough, okay, I did this with a couple where I provided the same rough with three different songs or I ask them a lot, like, what type of music they think they want and then usually I go in the opposite direction, you know, just to kind of give them something that's a little bit different than what they're used to. I know what my musical tastes are and so typically a lot of people don't like my musical tastes, so I'm pretty safe not like using my stuff, so it's pretty easy. And your question? Do you have any thoughts about the Triple Scoop Music Service in particular versus, I know that there's a royalty-free music available through the Creative Cloud on Adobe. You know I haven't used Creative Cloud's royalty-free service. You know, I think what I like about Triple Scoop is they've been doing this for a long time. They've been in the business of providing royalty-free music as long as I've actually been a photographer and I know that they're very passionate about providing their users with new, fresh material. Their system, which you can pick a song, is actually pretty neat. You can pick by like mood, you can pick by genre, you can pick by instrument, right, you can pick by different things and pick a key word, for example. And I think like the tool of selecting a song on that website I found to be more I guess easy than some of the other sites that I've tried, and I'm a little biased 'cause I've known them for a long time, and so I just think that they have such an intimate familiarity with the needs of photographers and filmmakers that the service they provide is really top-notch. And they come from the photo space, you know. They have lots of roots in the photo space so they know what photographers want and they know what photographers need, but a lot of their artists are actually like signed artists that are recording under a different name, you know, a lot of their artists are phenomenal real musicians that are creating this royalty-free music but not just publishing under their band name or whatever it is, so it's really, really neat. It's a really, really cool service, okay. So selecting a soundtrack. Dedicate time because it's important. You can spend so much time crafting your story and then what ends up happening is you pick the wrong song and it tanks it. It just makes it just go whooooo, right. When you're picking a song, so do you only go for like music only, or would you actually pick a song that has singing in it and when? You know that's tricky, that's tricky. I'm an instrumental guy and that's me. I'm an instrumental guy and that's me because I don't want words competing against what my client's saying. But I do know that there's a possibility for you to use like lyrical songs underneath what someone's saying, like if it's a really emotional piece. You know, you could do that to kind of drive that emotion. I've just erred on the side of instrumental just simply because I don't want, I really just don't want anything to distract away from what the client is saying. So picking that emotion, picking that thing that you can really hang on is something that is gonna really help your edit. I'd rather prefer you do that because you've gotten yourself so far at this point. You're actually about ready to deliver. All you gotta do is get it to color grade and then back through and you're done, so the last thing you wanna do is pick the wrong song and then have to go back and pick another one later. Now when I talk about dedicating time, I actually like to listen to music when I edit, but a lot of times, that can be distracting and you know, if I'm editing on my laptop and I try to do Spotify that can tank it, you know, so what I'll do is I'll cue up Spotify on my phone and I'll put my headphones on and as I'm working I'm just editing, you know, and you're wondering, "Well, how can you hear what he's saying?" I will a lot of times put my headphones around my neck and just let them play ambiently as I'm working and trying to listen, 'cause I need something to drive me. I need to hear something in terms of rhythm so I can get the internal rhythm of this film going. Some people like to generally pick a song. They pick a song, they go onto Triple Scoop, they download a test song, they throw it to their timeline and they edit to that, just generally. They don't really edit to it, they just throw something in there just so that it can actually take up that empty space, that open space a little bit, so you get that opportunity just to be like, "Oh, okay, here's what it could sound like." Then a lot of times my first song that I pick is, I don't ever use it. It just gets me in the general direction of what I think or feel like this edit's gonna be. I'll show you, I went through like a ton of songs for this edit because I was looking for something that would just help drive it, but not overpower it because here's the thing, if I picked a rocking song and paired it here, it would be so intense, right. If I picked a too soft song, they'd seem wussy. If I picked like a medium song, that might be it, but if it had like too many high notes, it would seem silly. So these are words that I'm using because these are the types of words you have to think about as you're listening. Is it silly, is it fierce, is it scary, is it funny? Okay, question. Are you ever using more than one song? Try not to. I try not to use more than one song because remember our edits are two or three minutes and thirty seconds. Our edits are very, very short, so think about all the work that goes into picking one song and then multiply it by two for a two-minute video. That's almost unbearable for me, right? I need to know when to say no and that's what I say no to for myself is like I'd only use one song, but however, there's always a caveat, right? If you like the beginning of one song and you like the end of another, you could cross fade them if they're on the same key and there's like other things that you can just fade one and go into the other. You can do that and that's something that is possible as well. Timing clips and edits with the beat of the music. I mean, obviously if it's a dance track, that makes sense, but I mean is that always critical or only in certain cases? That's a great question. I think stylistically as you guys reach into your edits a little bit more, you're gonna find out that when you cut to the beat, it's gonna give you a feeling. When you cut to the offbeat, it's gonna give you a feeling. When you don't cut to the beat at all and just let it play, it's gonna give you a different feeling, so I encourage you to practice with that because it's gonna provide you an understanding. Like I, for example, if I'm filming a piece and it's fast-paced action, I will cut to the beat every single time because as we're like, 'cause the song's in there, yeah, and they're gonna watch it, yeah, yeah, yeah. But, if it's like the beat's here and it's like all the cuts are off, it's like, oh. If the beat's one thing, and you're cuttin' to the offbeat, right, it's gonna be really, really offsetting and that could be a thing you want, to get people to stop, "Whoa, hey, it's like syncopated." "I get this." Oh, yeah, I delved in a lot of music too. See I had a lot of interests growing up. I guess that's why I'm so different, I don't know. Different. All right, so moving on. So tips for picking a soundtrack. Use a three-word system. A three-word system is like pick three adjectives. Happy, silly, fun. And try to pick a song that's gonna hit those three words. Think about the film that I'm trying to do for Ivan. I wanted do inspirational, I wanted to do family-like and I wanted to do does it feel like a community, you know, is it camaraderie? So things that invoke or evoke that type of emotion from you, that type of, you know. Think about adjectives. Think about three words that you can use to truly, definitively identify that song as part of your film. Then think about how it makes you feel, and please, please, please, use something royalty-free. And it's only because if you guys were to go to a website and see your image and your movies on someone else's site, uncredited, how would that make you feel? And I know that it's like so different because sometimes recording artists are making multi-million dollars, but there are a lot of recording out there that aren't making anything. So I'm kind of like a big karma person, right, so let's make sure that as a group, as a collective, as a group of artists, that we respect all forms of artwork. That is so important to me, you know, because there are so many things out there that people pour their heart and soul into and you guys are gonna do the same thing and we've got to respect everyone who's on this side of the art wall because we are all really, really struggling jus to find a voice to be creative. And when we have the privilege of using other people's work in our own, we wanna make sure that they're compensated for it. All right, so Hollywood uses music and these next two slides, I love them so much that I resurrected them from my last class. And I love them so much because it just hammers home just the way music makes us feel when we watch a piece of film. So Hollywood uses music for emotional impact. So here we go, ready? Ready. Some of the best cinematography in the world is about to happen right now. (piano music) (laughs) All right, right? So that, that felt really, really love and like feelings and stuff, right? No words, no audio, right. Stripped all the audio out. Really, really simple shot. It was in the parking lot. I was at a workshop learning how to use a red, you know, and we shot that and I was like, "You know, we're gonna use this." And the thing is right. What did I say earlier? What did I say earlier in the class? Every time I get back to this ground level with everyone, it's we were able to watch that silly, horribly shot, horrible cinematography piece of clip because it said something. It was silly, it spoke to us. You don't need to make your first project something astronomically amazing to say something. You just gotta shoot something now so you can learn how to say something. So now this one. Hollywood uses music to enhance the mood of a scene. So what are you gonna think about this one? Same scene, same exact scene, different music. (triumphant orchestra music) Okay? That was, uh, I was like Superman like yeah, let's go do something. Same clip, different song, different feeling. This is so, so, so powerful for us because now we're gonna look at the heart of the story. What's gonna be here, what's gonna be here? It's gonna change the mood, it's gonna give and evoke something different for us, and. (light piano music) Not quite love, it's just more sweet. Yeah, it's less different, but I mean, same clip, same clip, different songs. It's like two best friends, right, as opposed to two lovers before, you see? And that's what's so great about what music can do for us when we actually pair it with an edit. That's why you have to pay attention to this. That's why I'm dedicating that time to this. So important. So important, and I love that because there was no other way for me to convey that simple message than by just to resurrect those old slides because it was just too perfect. So what do you guys think? How we doing? Do you ever listen to royalty-free music on your off time or like if you're. My biggest issue is listening to Spotify walking going, "Man, this would be great to an action scene." "How much is a Beastie Boys license?" $12,000. Do you ever intentionally try and pick music out so that when you do have a project come up or like keep songs in a can where this song won't work for this project, but man the next one I have really action heavy one, I'm gonna save this one for later. So what I do in my daily life is I'll listen to a lot of Spotify or to like my iTunes, you know, and that kind of thing and I'll take note of what I feel when I hear a certain instrument or a certain beat. What I feel when I hear a certain type of music. And then what I'll do is when I go into an edit, I'll switch from listening to my personal music and switch to listening to royalty-free music that feels like what I have cataloged in my brain for those adjectives of like funny and silly and happy and all those things. So there is a definite switchover. I think that streaming royalty-free music like on a device like an iPod right now is a little difficult for me 'cause you gotta go to the website kind of thing, but it's really easy when I'm at a station, to just cue it up and just let it play, and you can build. You can go through and just build every time you click something and build a list and you just play that playlist as you're editing just so you can kind of get a feel for what types of music would work for this edit. That's exactly what I did for this one. I went to Triple Scoop, I cued it up, just streamed it and then just kind of edited, just kind of edited. And I was like, "Ah, I don't like that one." Just kept editing, and then once I got to a song that I kind of liked, I put that in the timeline. And Triple Scoop's got a great little feature. You can download a track and it says, "This is a test" every like few seconds, but you can put it into a timeline and can actually edit to it and just keep workin'. So it's a really, really. That's how I do it and I think it's practical. To stand up here and say, "Yes, I listen to royalty-" "free music all the time." "It's good, it's good." You know, it is good, but I like my music that I listen to. I listen to a lot of like electronic music and I think it's really, really something that I'm passionate about and so I consume a lot of that type of music because there's so much of it coming out right now, but because I listen to a lot of EDM, it helps me understand what sorts of electronic music would work for this type of stuff and I think there's a lot, a lot of quality royalty-free electronic music that is different, is just different enough that will allow you to kind of like give yourself an edge when you're picking a song for a client and a song for a video. Can you, going back to sort of the tempo of things, can you describe again the difference between fast-slow and long-short? So fast-slow pertains to how fast you're cutting between clips of video, okay. So if I've got one clip here and one clip here and I wanna cut multiple clips together, is the time between each cut slow or is the time between each cut fast? In the terms of long and short, are the clip lengths long and short because the clip lengths can still be long and short but you can still cut quickly between them or slowly between them 'cause you pair two long clips together, it's gonna be a long, but then you can put other stuff on top of it. As you edit, you're gonna start to think in timelines. Your base timeline is gonna be constant. It's gonna be constant. And what you're gonna do is that second timeline's gonna be an accent. And how many times you put stuff into that accent is how fast or slow that cut's gonna be. So I think of it. My roommate in college played drums and I like to think I'm a drummer, but I'm not. If you just think of your video track one as your base drum, the constant dut, dut, dut, dut, dut, your video track two is that snare, is the ka every four beats, so dut, dut, dut, ka, dut, dut, dut, ka. So all of that is what I think about. It's all I think about that second track is it's my accent. It's my accent. It's either the ring of a cymbal. That's how I think when I edit. Because I think in tempo when I edit. How does it feel, feel, feel, now, feel, feel, feel, now. And then based upon how that tempo feels, I'll put clips into there that will either make it slower or faster. But I keep that first timeline very constant and I accent all of what's happening on that first timeline with things on top of it. With regard to transitions, there's like a billion and one transitions and half of them are pretty goofy looking. For me personally, I find just the direct cuts sometimes just look professional, they're just clean, they're simple or graduated fades or whatever. What's your kinda feeling on transitions? I think practically speaking, we are in an era right now I think where we're slowly shifting back to like a dissolve. For the longest time, we were on a hard cut. You'd cut, cut, cut, cut and it just goes hard cuts. And it's very aesthetically pleasing for a lot of us. But I think given some of the types of stuff that we've seen recently, there have been a lot of dissolve cutting where you know to show passage of time, to show kind of like things happening at the same time. There's also been a lot of in-frame cutting where it's like different components, you know, framed up into different things, so I think that's stylistic. I think at this point, transitions are stylistic. I'm really a hard cut person. I don't do dissolves except at the very end and at the very beginning. If I do a dissolve, it's typically to show that something has happened over time on the same thing. But that's for me, I think that dates me. If I were to try to change my editing style a little bit, I'd probably try to think about what sort of things I could use in the way of transitions that wouldn't be hokey, right, that wouldn't be dated in a few years. The benefit of doing a hard cut is it's always gonna look, at least in some way, shape or form, current because you're not throwing a treatment on top of it. You're not throwing something on top of it that says, "Well, this is what we did in the 2016s." And a good example of that is back in like the early 2000s, there was like that green cast finish that everyone was adding to their films because of The Matrix and then when you look at something now from that era, it's very, very easy to tell what era of film that came from. And then, there's also that bleach bypass look from 300 that people started using a lot, so you can really start to look at pieces of film and go, "Ew, well that's dated." Right? And you want someone to look at your film with fresh eyes so the least amount of stuff you do to it in the way of treatment or transitions generally keeps it have a longer shelf life, you know. You want that, you want a long shelf life out of your stuff.

Class Description


  • Confidently make a movie from start to finish
  • Expand your photography skills to motion pictures
  • Tackle pre-production and post-production essentials
  • Capture video and audio expertly
  • Edit in Adobe Premiere Pro and Audition


Photography and videography have several things in common -- but what about factors like audio and telling a story using video editing? In this filmmaking class designed for photographers, learn how to use the DSLR or mirrorless camera that you already have to capture high-end videos. In this start-to-finish course, you'll master everything from planning to post-production. The goal of the class is to teach anyone how to create a video from start to finish.

Dive into video production from the planning and pre-production phase, where you'll learn how to choose an idea, scope out locations, research the client, and more. Jump into video gear -- and what's really necessary on a low-budget -- and learn the essential filmmaking tips for recording. Discover how to capture excellent audio and tackle those B-Roll shots.

But this filmmaking course doesn't just teach you how to use editing software -- you'll learn the editing process, start to finish, from storyboarding to exporting. Work in Adobe Premiere Pro to perfect your footage and Adobe Audition to fine-tune that audio. Tweak color in DaVinci Resolve. Add soundtracks, titles, and keyframes. Then, finalize and export your project.


  • Photographers eager to add motion pictures to their repertoire
  • Beginner filmmakers
  • Self-taught filmmakers ready for additional insight

SOFTWARE USED: Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve


Previously a photographer, Victor Ha is now a filmmaker. His experience working with both stills and motion pictures helps him guide other photographers through the same process, from photo to video. He's known for his straightforward, practical teaching style that's easy to follow along with.


  1. Class Introduction

    In the first lesson, meet your instructor and learn what to expect during the class. Know what's up ahead by pinpointing the goals for this class at each production stage.

  2. Putting Ideas Into Motion

    Start the filmmaking process with an idea. Learn how to flesh out ideas and turn them into successful projects.

  3. Client Profiles

    Video projects come in many different forms, from cinemagraphs and short films to commercials and features. A client profile is a type of video telling a story about a person or business. Learn what's involved in this simple video type as an easy format to get started with.

  4. Choosing Your Subject

    Video projects start with a subject -- but just how do you choose? In this lesson, Victor discusses how to narrow down your ideas to choose the best one.

  5. Scouting Locations

    Part of the planning process is scouting out different locations, an essential part of pre-production. Learn what to look for when scouting out different locations and how to spot good camera angles. Then, work with that information as you prep for shooting.

  6. Researching the Client

    Understanding the client -- and what they are looking for in a video -- sets the stage for a successful video project. Learn how to research your client and the essential pre-production questions to ask.

  7. Choosing Equipment

    You don't need an elaborate amount of gear to shoot video -- Victor goes through the essentials for video, and how that list may change for different products.

  8. Waveforms and Scopes

    Waveform monitors show a visual of the video's exposure. Using waveforms along with vectorscopes can help you get the best results in camera as you shoot. While confusing at first, these tools offer big advantages on set.

  9. Shooting Strategy

    Build a strategy to organize those thoughts from pre-production and create a shooting schedule for the project. Incorporate these factors into a shooting strategy for success.

  10. Interview: Setting Up for Success

    The interview is an essential style for filmmaking. In this lesson, learn how to set up an interview for the best results, including audio suggestions and pitfalls to avoid.

  11. Prepping for the Interview

    Before you head into the interview, have a list of questions -- and practice asking them. Master the essentials for interview prep, including research.

  12. Capturing Audio

    Video and audio go hand-in-hand. Gain tips for capturing the best audio for your video, from dual system sound and setting levels to working with audio gear.

  13. Capturing Room Tone

    By recording the ambient noise in the room, unwanted background noise is easier to edit out. Learn how to capture the room tone and tricks to create better audio by adjusting the room.

  14. Audio Q&A

    Audio is scary stuff -- learn from the most frequently asked questions from students like you.

  15. B-Roll: 3 to 1 ratio

    B-Roll is supporting footage for your video, helping to add interest and fill gaps. In this lesson, learn why B-Roll is important -- and how much you need to shoot.

  16. Planning for B-Roll

    B-Roll should help tell your story -- so what should you capture, especially when the scene doesn't seem so interesting? Find out how to plan for B-Roll and ideas for the most interesting shots.

  17. 5 Rules to Capturing B-roll

    Use these guidelines to capture better B-Roll for your project, from gear tips to determining what's important.

  18. Using B-Roll to Shape an Edit

    B-Roll is secondary footage -- learn how to tackle video editing with B-Roll in mind. Then, jump into editing with Adobe Premiere Pro editing software.

  19. Introduction to Footage Review

    After recording, you may have hours of footage -- how do you decide what goes in and what stays out? Make footage review less daunting by tackling your fears first.

  20. Asset Management

    Organizing footage saves time and helps you get a jump start on that edit -- but the organization doesn't have to be elaborate. Learn how to manage the assets for your film project.

  21. Edit Setup

    Before you edit, preparing helps get the film project off on the right foot. Learn how to prep for editing, from working on audio first to identifying mistakes.

  22. Edit Audio in Adobe Audition

    Victor suggests photographers edit audio first to get the aspect that we're least familiar with out of the way. Build an understanding of audio editing and skills for using Adobe Audition, including eliminating that room noise.

  23. Syncing Your Footage

    Set up for a successful edit by creating "goal posts" and allowing enough time to reach each one. Start working on the edit by laying out the timeline and syncing footage.

  24. Conceptual Storyboarding

    Building a storyboard guides the edit and helps you tell a story, without meandering away from what's important. Create a successful story -- and learn why Victor creates his later in the process -- by working with a storyboard.

  25. Editing Choices

    Video editing is full of choices -- but you can always change your mind. Learn how to get over hurdles and make the best choices for your filmmaking project.

  26. Selecting a Soundtrack

    Soundtracks give your edits a tempo -- but what song should you choose? Victor talks about choosing neutral soundtracks, avoiding songs you already know, understanding copyright, and everything you need to know about soundtracks.

  27. Building the Rough Cut

    Start turning that storyboard into an actual edit by building the rough cut. Learn how to shrink down long footage, decide what to cut and what to trim, and start organizing footage.

  28. Refining the Story

    Take that rough cut and turn it into something less rough. Start moving footage around to match that storyboard. Victor explains the "meat and potatoes of editing" -- going through footage, listening, cutting, and repeating that same process again.

  29. Adding B-Roll

    With the shape of the video in place, work in footage from the second camera and B-Roll footage to fix continuity issues or simply add more interest. Develop not just an understanding of the editing software, but a workflow for editing your film project.

  30. Rough Cut to Final Cut

    Move from that rough cut to the final cut with an overview of the last stretch of the editing process, including mastering transitions, color edits, and polishing that timeline.

  31. Color Grading in DaVinci Resolve

    Create color-graded videos inside DaVinci Resolve. Learn how to use the software, import and export, and color grade your project.

  32. Three-Way Color Corrector in DaVinci Resolve

    A three-way color corrector allows you to fine-tune RGB values. Walk through the basic color correcting process to correct issues like color cast.

  33. Export from DaVinci Resolve to Adobe Premiere Pro

    With the color correction finished, be sure to export your file properly for a seamless transition back into Premiere Pro.

  34. Add a Title in Adobe Premiere Pro

    Adding text and titles in Premiere Pro is simple. Learn how to add text frames to your video project without leaving Premiere Pro.

  35. Export Project from Adobe Premiere Pro

    Once your edit is finished, it's time to deliver. Learn how to export your project from Premiere Pro.

  36. Adding a Keyframe

    Keyframes are simply markers in the video that signify the start and the end of a change. In this lesson, Victor uses keyframes to adjust the audio of only a small portion of the video.

  37. Creating Multiple Projects from Your Edit

    With the main project done, what else can you build from your material? In this lesson, Victor discusses additional options to add to smaller supplemental projects to your main work.


Cheryl Winkles

You're awesome, I learnt a lot from you, this is like a must-have first course for anyone who wants to step into video or filmmaking world. Highly recommended and thank you a million Victor Ha.

a Creativelive Student

Fantastic course, Victor is one of the finest instructors I have encountered. Great stuff, I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to work in video