Score to Film, Matrix - EMusician

Score to Film, Matrix

Don Davis and Ben Watkins received their Matrix Reloaded footage as Quicktime files, which they imported into MOTU Digital Performer. How did they get the footage into their sessions, sync to tempo, enter hit points, and exchange conductor tracks? Here’s how: Importing a QuickTime movie or DV-formatted digital
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Don Davis and Ben Watkins received their Matrix Reloaded footage as Quicktime files, which they imported into MOTU Digital Performer. How did they get the footage into their sessions, sync to tempo, enter hit points, and exchange conductor tracks? Here’s how:

Importing a QuickTime movie or DV-formatted digital video clip into a DP4 project.
Choose Movie from the Project menu.

• Make sure the DP project frame rate matches the imported movie. Composer Don Davis tells us that the Matrix Reloaded videoclips he received from Warner Brothers were digitized at 30 frames per second (fps). So Don would choose Setup menu > Frame Rate > 30 fps. This is a crucial step. It’s important to match the clip’s frame rate, especially with 29.97 fps drop and non-drop video rates.
• Set the movie start time and sequence start time. Most often, digitized film cues are supplied with a timecode start frame. Don tells us that his Matrix Reloaded cues all started at frame zero (0:00:00:00). On other projects, cues would have other start times (such as 2:13:37:05). To set the movie start time, choose Set Movie Start Time from the Movie window mini-menu. This ensures that Digital Performer’s markers and hit points accurately match the frame times used by the film’s sound effects editors and music editors.

• To set the sequence start time, click the Start Times button in the Tempo Control section of DP4’s control panel. If no pre-roll is necessary, you can make the sequence start time match the movie start time. If pre-roll is needed, set the sequence start time earlier by the desired amount.

• If the imported movie is a DV-formatted digital video clip, you can view it on a separate full-screen video monitor via FireWire. To do so, connect a FireWire video camera or FireWire-to-video converter to your Mac’s FireWire port. Turn it on. If possible, check the connection with iMovie or Final Cut Pro to make sure the FireWire video connection is working properly. Then, back in DP4, go to the movie window mini-menu (in the title bar), choose Video Output, and choose your FireWire device from the sub-menu.
• If you want to view the movie on a timeline side by side with hit points, meter changes, and tempo map, open the Sequence Editor (Project menu), click the Track List button in the title bar and click the movie track to highlight it and display it.

Spotting hits and building a tempo map in Digital Performer.
The backbone of any musical score are the “hit points” — edits and other notable instants in the picture — along with the tempo and meter changes used to match up the music with the hit points. Hit points serve as a framework for a meter and tempo map, which in turn serves as a framework for the music. Digital Performer lets you identify hit points with Markers and then build a tempo and meter map called a Conductor Track.

DP4 provides many powerful ways to spot Markers and build a Conductor Track for a movie cue. Here are just a few.

Importing a Conductor Track.
• Don received Opcode Cue files from the Matrix Reloaded music editors. These files already contain markers (timing notes) for each cue. He built his conductor track in Cue, exported it from Cue as a standard MIDI file, opened the MIDI file in Digital Performer, and then copied and pasted the entire conductor track (including markers, tempo changes and meter changes) into the Conductor track for his Digital Performer scoring template. After opening the movie clip as described earlier, he’s ready to write music.

Spotting hits (markers).
• To create a marker (hit) list, open the Markers window (Project menu).
• Press the space bar to begin playback, and while watching the movie, press control-M (this hot key can be customized in the Commands window) to add a marker at any notable hit points. No need to be exact — just let the movie roll and crank out the markers.
• You can edit their precise location later, as follows: choose Setup menu > Time Formats and choose Frames as the global time format. Open the Conductor Track graphic editor and set the edit grid to 1 SMPTE frame. As you drag markers left or right, the movie window chases your edit, so you can watch the movie frame by frame to easily drag the marker to the exact hit point.

Programming a fixed tempo over a specific section.
If the cue calls for a steady tempo, such as a driving techno mix for a chase scene, you can easily program a constant tempo between any two points in the cue.

• To do so, choose Preferences from the Setup menu and turn off the Fix Partial Measures Automatically option. Now open the event list for the conductor track and insert a 4/4 meter change (using the Insert menu) where you wish the music to start. Cue the movie to the end of the section (using the arrow keys if necessary to nudge the movie window to the exact frame). Note the SMPTE frame time in the main counter.
• Now choose Project menu > Modify Conductor Track > Change Tempo.

• Make sure the start measure matches where the 4/4 meter is.
• Click the Options button and enter the current main counter frame time in the Change Tempo End time field.
• Now enter an end measure that approximates the length of the music for the section — say eight bars. As soon as you do, the tempo will be calculated automatically. Add or subtract bars to increase or decrease the tempo.
• When you have the tempo you want, click OK. Now the sequence plays the specified number of measures at exactly the specified tempo for the entire section, with the final downbeat landing precisely on the hit you indicated.
• You can use a similar technique to program gradual tempo changes over short — or even longer — passages using the other tempo curves provided in the Change Tempo window.

Searching for a tempo based on multiple hit points.
Digital Performer’s Markers window has a powerful feature that can automatically find a tempo that matches multiple hit points. In other words, it can find the tempo that lands the most downbeats on markers.

• First lock the markers you wish to include in the search, and click a check mark next to their name in the Find column in the Markers window. Be sure to include one at the very beginning (downbeat) of the section you are searching for. If desired, you can give each marker a level if importance (weight), hit range (if it is more than one frame), and position (skew) within that range.
• Choose Find Tempo For Locked Markers from the Markers window mini-menu.
• In the Find Tempo window (below), choose the range of tempos you would like to consider at the top of the window. The list of resulting tempos dynamically updates as you change the settings. You can even make changes to the marker list and it will update on the fly.

• To find the tempo with the most hits, click the Total Hits column heading. For a more detailed view of exactly which hits a certain tempo successfully makes, click the tempo, and view each marker in the section at the bottom of the window. This powerful tool can help you zero in on the perfect tempo in minutes.

HOW-TO!
Score to Film, Matrix style

Don Davis and Ben Watkins received their Matrix Reloaded footage as Quicktime files, which they imported into MOTU Digital Performer. How did they get the footage into their sessions, sync to tempo, enter hit points, and exchange conductor tracks? Here’s how:

Importing a QuickTime movie or DV-formatted digital video clip into a DP4 project.
Choose Movie from the Project menu.

• Make sure the DP project frame rate matches the imported movie. Composer Don Davis tells us that the Matrix Reloaded videoclips he received from Warner Brothers were digitized at 30 frames per second (fps). So Don would choose Setup menu > Frame Rate > 30 fps. This is a crucial step. It’s important to match the clip’s frame rate, especially with 29.97 fps drop and non-drop video rates.
• Set the movie start time and sequence start time. Most often, digitized film cues are supplied with a timecode start frame. Don tells us that his Matrix Reloaded cues all started at frame zero (0:00:00:00). On other projects, cues would have other start times (such as 2:13:37:05). To set the movie start time, choose Set Movie Start Time from the Movie window mini-menu. This ensures that Digital Performer’s markers and hit points accurately match the frame times used by the film’s sound effects editors and music editors.

• To set the sequence start time, click the Start Times button in the Tempo Control section of DP4’s control panel. If no pre-roll is necessary, you can make the sequence start time match the movie start time. If pre-roll is needed, set the sequence start time earlier by the desired amount.

• If the imported movie is a DV-formatted digital video clip, you can view it on a separate full-screen video monitor via FireWire. To do so, connect a FireWire video camera or FireWire-to-video converter to your Mac’s FireWire port. Turn it on. If possible, check the connection with iMovie or Final Cut Pro to make sure the FireWire video connection is working properly. Then, back in DP4, go to the movie window mini-menu (in the title bar), choose Video Output, and choose your FireWire device from the sub-menu.
• If you want to view the movie on a timeline side by side with hit points, meter changes, and tempo map, open the Sequence Editor (Project menu), click the Track List button in the title bar and click the movie track to highlight it and display it.

Spotting hits and building a tempo map in Digital Performer.
The backbone of any musical score are the “hit points” — edits and other notable instants in the picture — along with the tempo and meter changes used to match up the music with the hit points. Hit points serve as a framework for a meter and tempo map, which in turn serves as a framework for the music. Digital Performer lets you identify hit points with Markers and then build a tempo and meter map called a Conductor Track.

DP4 provides many powerful ways to spot Markers and build a Conductor Track for a movie cue. Here are just a few.

Importing a Conductor Track.
• Don received Opcode Cue files from the Matrix Reloaded music editors. These files already contain markers (timing notes) for each cue. He built his conductor track in Cue, exported it from Cue as a standard MIDI file, opened the MIDI file in Digital Performer, and then copied and pasted the entire conductor track (including markers, tempo changes and meter changes) into the Conductor track for his Digital Performer scoring template. After opening the movie clip as described earlier, he’s ready to write music.

Spotting hits (markers).
• To create a marker (hit) list, open the Markers window (Project menu).
• Press the space bar to begin playback, and while watching the movie, press control-M (this hot key can be customized in the Commands window) to add a marker at any notable hit points. No need to be exact — just let the movie roll and crank out the markers.
• You can edit their precise location later, as follows: choose Setup menu > Time Formats and choose Frames as the global time format. Open the Conductor Track graphic editor and set the edit grid to 1 SMPTE frame. As you drag markers left or right, the movie window chases your edit, so you can watch the movie frame by frame to easily drag the marker to the exact hit point.

Programming a fixed tempo over a specific section.
If the cue calls for a steady tempo, such as a driving techno mix for a chase scene, you can easily program a constant tempo between any two points in the cue.

• To do so, choose Preferences from the Setup menu and turn off the Fix Partial Measures Automatically option. Now open the event list for the conductor track and insert a 4/4 meter change (using the Insert menu) where you wish the music to start. Cue the movie to the end of the section (using the arrow keys if necessary to nudge the movie window to the exact frame). Note the SMPTE frame time in the main counter.
• Now choose Project menu > Modify Conductor Track > Change Tempo.

• Make sure the start measure matches where the 4/4 meter is.
• Click the Options button and enter the current main counter frame time in the Change Tempo End time field.
• Now enter an end measure that approximates the length of the music for the section — say eight bars. As soon as you do, the tempo will be calculated automatically. Add or subtract bars to increase or decrease the tempo.
• When you have the tempo you want, click OK. Now the sequence plays the specified number of measures at exactly the specified tempo for the entire section, with the final downbeat landing precisely on the hit you indicated.
• You can use a similar technique to program gradual tempo changes over short — or even longer — passages using the other tempo curves provided in the Change Tempo window.

Searching for a tempo based on multiple hit points.
Digital Performer’s Markers window has a powerful feature that can automatically find a tempo that matches multiple hit points. In other words, it can find the tempo that lands the most downbeats on markers.

• First lock the markers you wish to include in the search, and click a check mark next to their name in the Find column in the Markers window. Be sure to include one at the very beginning (downbeat) of the section you are searching for. If desired, you can give each marker a level if importance (weight), hit range (if it is more than one frame), and position (skew) within that range.
• Choose Find Tempo For Locked Markers from the Markers window mini-menu.
• In the Find Tempo window (below), choose the range of tempos you would like to consider at the top of the window. The list of resulting tempos dynamically updates as you change the settings. You can even make changes to the marker list and it will update on the fly.

• To find the tempo with the most hits, click the Total Hits column heading. For a more detailed view of exactly which hits a certain tempo successfully makes, click the tempo, and view each marker in the section at the bottom of the window. This powerful tool can help you zero in on the perfect tempo in minutes.