Film Music Operation and Control


We watched many informative videos on sound and took notes. Afterwards, we used the knowledge we gained to create a music piece for our video.

The Fundamental Elements of Film Music Notes

  • When creating a film and choosing music, focus on tempo, melody and/or progression landing
  • Subtle changes to the very same piece of music can make a big difference
    • These changes include adding different instruments, different pitches, etc
  • Music is just one more voice in the filmmaking process
  • The best thing to do is to be forever a student – always listening, always learning
  • Be open to experimenting with music


Music & Sound Design for Film Notes

  • No type of music should be demonized
  • To accent certain elements, pinpoint the scenes and come back to it later
    • Different scenes have different requirements. For example, a scene of a character falling may have a different tempo from a character running
  • Cubase is a very useful tool to input music into your movies
  • You can record sound with either an actual instrument or computer-generated instruments from a sound library
  • Strings – Sad/Intense
  • Make sure to adjust sounds if using the sound library so it sounds like they’re all being recorded as one unified piece and not separate pieces

How to Imitate a Whole Lot of Hollywood Film Music In Four Easy Steps Notes

  •  Learn how to play a Major triad
    • Step 1 – Pick a note, you don’t need to know it’s name. This is the root of the triad. Put a left side finger on this note this could be your left pinky or right thumb
    • Step 2 – From this root note count four notes to the right. Count black AND white notes. Put a middle finger on the second note
    • Step 3 – From the second note count up three more notes to the right. Put your right side finger on the note.
    • Step 4 – Play all three notes. That’s a major triad.
  • To play a minor triad, count three notes instead of four for the second note. For the third note, count four instead of three
  • You basically only need these 2 triads but remember to pick the correct triads
  • Pick the correct distances between your triads

Compose Music For Your Film Notes

  • You can use Filmstro to compose your music
  • Filmstro has different categories that you can use to compose your music
  • The categories had further vibes. For example, conflict and action also contain music relating to viking, Tesla, Serval, etc.
  • When clicking on a vibe, it shows further detail like BPM, key, and time signatures
  • You can change the momentum, depth, and power of the song
  • When adjusting momentum, it won’t actually affect the BPM but will add elements that induce the feeling of it being faster
  • Depth changes the tone of the piece. Left = high pitched. Right = deeper sounds
  • Power is exactly what it sounds it. Just makes the piece more powerful
  • Adjusting these sliders is what’s really gonna make your music feel custom
  • You can all add the film into Filmstro so you can preview what the film looks like with the music added
  • You can add keynotes to fade your music in or out
  • You can export the music with the film or just the music

Project Skills Evidence

This is our video with music added on in post-production. I only added intro music to the beginning of the film. I used a major triad at the beginning and a minor triad later in the film, along with another triad but with a different root note.

What I Learned

After watching many videos and taking many notes, I learned how to compose music without ever even having to learn how to play an instrument let alone touch one. I learn that you can compose different types of songs for different scenes with the use of software and simply techniques used in composing such as the triple triad. I’ve also learn that you should experiment with music and shouldn’t be afraid of it. I solved simple problems like not remembering which triad was major or minor by looking back at my notes and checking them.


Film Sound Design – Ambient Sound, Library Sound & Foley


I filmed the initial project with my crew and afterwards, we went to record sound effects for our film. Then, I went into GarageBand to apply the sound effects to the film and added my own music.

Film Before Foley and Sound Effects

This is what we filmed before we added foley and sound effects.

Film After Foley and Sound Effects

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 8.14.50 AM

This is the film after we added sound effects. Certain sounds are subtle like when we added wind to the scene of the girl across the field but others are more obvious like the footsteps when she walks up the metal bleachers. We also have sound effects like when she runs towards our main character. Although subtle we also have sound effects in the beginning like when our main character sits down and sets his lunchbox down.

Foley Process

Although this is not me, this is one of the techniques we used for recording sound effects. This is how we recorded the sounds for Orland sitting down on the bench and for the footsteps of the metal bleachers.

Sound Library

Setting Bag on Metal Bleachers – Placing bag on a music stand

Unzipping bag – Unzipping bag

Wind – Two people faintly blowing into the mic

Footsteps on Grass – Brushing feet against the carpet

Footsteps On Metal Bleachers – Walking on a music stand

Audio Signal Chain Terms

Audio Signal Chain

  1. A microphone converts the sound energy into analog electric signals
  2. Signals are carried down a cable
  3. Signals reach the preamp/recorder
  4. Signals are converted to a digital file

Single System Audio Setup – Audio records directly into and with the camera.

Double System Audio Setup – Audio records separately from video, if audio is recorded with the camera anyways, it is used as sync or scratch track.

Quantized – Split up into many samples and having those altitudes measured. More measurements lead to more accurate sound.

Sampling Rate – How often the sound is quantized, measured in kilohertz (not the same as pitch or frequency).

  • 11 kHz – low quality internet audio
  • 44.1 kHz – CD audio
  • 48 kHz –  digital video audio
  • 96 kHz – twice as good as digital video audio quality; high audio quality

Bit Depth – The amount of amplitudes of different value that each sample can be (actual number can be found by calculating two to the bit depth power).

Preamp – A device that boosts the signal of the microphone so audio can be recorded. Preamps found in and for cameras are usually louder than in double system audio setups.

Line Signal – A strong audio signal, often coming from a mixing console or playback device.

Mic Signal – A weaker audio signal, uses a preamp to create a stronger signal.

Headroom – Extra space for audio to avoid clipping.

Unbalanced Analog Cable – Simplest and cheapest type of cable. Has a ground wire and a hot wire for audio without sound from outside sources.

Balanced Analog Cable – Used more for professional microphones. Has a ground wire, the hot wire, and a cold wire. The cold signal records sound reversed in polarity, then at the end is reversed back and added to the hot. This cancels out any interference with the wires.

Impedance – A measure of the devices resistance to AC current. Measured in Ohms Ω.

Inverse Square Law – Sound dissipates according to the inverse square law. The power of the sound wave decreases by the inverse of the square; if the distance between the microphone and source of sound is doubled, the sound will dissipate to 25% of what it was before.

Proximity Effect – When the bass frequencies are boosted because of how close the source of sound is to the cardoid microphone. Fattens the sound.

Boom Mic – A microphone (usually shotgun) on the end of a pole to allow the source of sound to get closer to the mic.

Lavalier Mic – Small microphones hidden on the source of sound to get sound easier and move with the source of sound. Used a lot in live performances.

Foley and Sound Effects Terms

Ambience – psychological cue for space. Sometimes recorded on location.

Library Effects – Prerecorded sound effects

Foley – named after Jack Foley, can be broken down into three categories; footsteps, cloth, and props

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

One issue I had during editing was the volume being too loud or too quiet. To solve this, I searched up tutorials on how to adjust the volume of audio clips in GarageBand.



Sound Design Operation and Control


During this project, we assembled a team to make a film that’ll invoke emotion. We decided on a plot and started filming. We scouted the location to see where we would put the camera and how to place the camera so everything that’s needed in the shot, is in the shot. Once we filmed all necessary shots, we started editing the shots and did ADR.

Sound Design for Film Notes

  • Although we may not consciously notice sound in films, it’s a very important aspect in filmmaking
  • When recording background sounds, record at the actual location for more authentic sounds
  • Remove “bad sounds” and fill the empty space with “fill”
  • Fill – room tone(sound) that was recorded on set; paste fill in a couple of times
  • Foley – the art of adding in all the sounds that the characters make on the scene normally in a higher budget film
    • includes footsteps, clothes shuffling, pick up & put down of props, etc
    • in low budget, you had to hand edit everything
  • Video is usually sent to the director to make sure the editing is in their vision and that the editor didn’t outright twist the story

Zoom Audio Deck Settings

  • Interface
    • Stereo Microphones
    • Mode Indicator LED
    • Shortcut Buttons
    • Input Select
    • Transport Control
    • Record
    • SD Card
    • Microphone Inputs
    • Headphone Port
    • Output Port
  • Settings
    • Phantom Power
      • Power for condenser microphones at 48v (dynamic microphones like the Shure SM58 do not need phantom power)
    • Mono Mix
      • Only one audio channel mixed to two channels, the same sound is on each channel
    • Record Format
      • WAV96kHz/24bit – highest quality
      • WAV44.1/16bit – CD quality, good for longer recording sessions
    • File Name Format
      • Use DATE option (example: 170131-001.wav)
      • Helps keep files organized
    • Battery Options
    • Recording Modes
    • Record Levels
      • Adjust loudest level to -6dB (DO NOT PEAK IN THE RED)
      • -6 gives headroom for the recording
    • Headroom
      • Safety zone allowing transient audio peaks, loud parts, to exceed the nominal level without damaging the system or the audio signal, e.g., via clipping
    • Nominal Level
      • Operating level at which an electronic signal processing device is designed to operate
    • Clipping
      • Waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability

Zoom Audio Deck Tutorial

  • 4:25Rode NTG2 Shotgun MicOverview
  • 7:18XLR Audio Cable
  • 7:35Zoom H4n Buttons, Inputs, and Outputs Overview
  • 9:00Front Screen Overview
  • 9:45Bottom XLR, 1/4 inch, and Power Inputs
  • 10:05Menu Details
    • 10:15Folder Settings
    • 10:21File Settings
    • 10:32Input Settings
      • 10:40: Phantom Power Setting (Use 48v)
        • Phantom power uses more battery
      • 10:55: Mono Mix
    • 11:30Record Settings
      • 11:35: Record Format
        • WAV96kHz/24bit – highest quality – larger file size
        • WAV44.1/16bit – CD quality – smaller file size for longer recording sessions
      • 11:50: File Names
        • Recommend using date as file name
    • 12:05System
      • 12:09: Battery
        • Alkaline and Lithium batteries use the same setting
        • Ni-MH are rechargeable batteries
    • 12:43SD Card – Formatting
    • 12:50USB – Connecting to Computer
    • 12:51Mode – Stereo, 4 Channel, MTR
  • 13:03: Plug in Microphone
  • 13:42: How to Operate Zoom with Microphone Plugged in
    • 13:49: Tap the Record Button
    • 14:47: Setting Audio Levels
      • Adjust so loudest level is -6dB
    • 17:37: The Stop Button
  • 17:49: Downloading Audio to a Computer
  • 18:29: Setting up a Boom Pole
    • 19:49Cable Management
  • 21:03: Batman Demo Recording
    • 21:18Get Your Frame
      1. Get the mic just out of the frame, but as close to the mouth as possible
      2. Hold the mic above the talent, if possible
  • 22:33 Set your recording levels by having the talent practice the loudest lines
    • 23:00 Role audio
      • Audio recorder states: “Scene 1, Take 1” (as an example)
      • The slate is clicked, or hand clap, to create a nice sharp audio wave to aid in post-production audio syncing
      • Director says action


Day 1 – Pre-production

    • Screenwriter: Brainstorm, write a script
    • Editor: Pacing, transitions, effects, and style
    • Director: Brainstorm, work with the cinematographer on shot compositions & blocking
    • Cinematographer: Work with cinematographer on shot compositions
    • Sound Designer: Plan on how to record fill/foley, record fill/foley

Day 2 – Pre-production

    • Screenwriter: Finish script
    • Editor: Music and Sound pre-planning
    • Director: Talk about possible locations and go over shots with the cinematographer
    • Cinematographer: Talk about possible locations and go over shots with director
    • Sound Designer: Record fill/foley

Day 3 – Production

  • Screenwriter: Check for continuity, make sure actors understand the script
  • Editor: Save and organize any clips. Upload footage
  • Director: Help with set and creative image, remind cinematographer to pull focus
  • Cinematographer: Film video
  • Sound Designer: Film audio

Day 4 – Production

    • Screenwriter: Check for continuity, make sure actors understand the script
    • Editor: Rough cut clips already filmed
    • Director:  Help with set and blocking, remind cinematographer to pull focus
    • Cinematographer: Film Video
    • Sound Designer: Film Audio

Day 5 – Post-production

  • Screenwriter: Help editor with continuity
  • Editor: Compile and Edit Clips
  • Director: Make sure creative image is maintained
  • Cinematographer: Check video clips, reshoot if necessary
  • Sound Designer: Work out problems with audio and fix them

Day 6 – Post-production

    • Screenwriter: Help editor with continuity
    • Editor: Compile and Edit Clips. Insert any background sound
    • Director: Make sure creative image is maintained
    • Cinematographer: Check video clips, reshoot if necessary
    • Sound Designer: Finish audio transitions and sounds


Storyboard of High Five Film

This is our storyboard. Each shot was carefully thought out and planned. For example, in the shot with the feet behind him, it was to create suspense. Since no one else is there on the bleachers and you can’t see their face, it creates a mystery and possible sense of danger. Not being able to see someone’s face makes us feel uneasy and therefore, suspense.


Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 8.20.44 AM

Although I wasn’t present during production, if I were I would’ve paid attention to the composition of the shots. For example, in the introduction shot, I would’ve made sure that the feet were in the shot to create suspense. I also would’ve paid attention to make sure that we pulled focus beforehand.


Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 8.23.44 AM

Although I wasn’t present during post-production, I would’ve worked with the editor to make sure to include certain shots. I also would’ve discussed the ADR with the actors and sound person. For example, in this shot we could’ve added footstep sound effects

Film (Project Skills Evidence)

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

A problem during production was focusing. Although I wasn’t there to solve this problem, I believe a solution would’ve been to practice focusing on the subject before filming. Throughout the filming process, I learned how to make a film that’ll invoke emotion within the audience.


Role Research: Director Hitchcock

The Filming Techniques Of Hitchcock

  • 1:00 Use the camera as if it were the viewer’s eyes. Give context to the situation by using visual story telling instead of plain dialogue
  • 2:23 Use suspense. The audience knowing more than the characters make them worry about the outcome
  • 2:45 If you use shock, it only lasts for a couple of seconds. But, if you use suspense, it can last for a few minutes or more
  • 3:20 Don’t make the audience feel like they’re an objective spectator, make the audience feel enticed to watch. Make them actively figure out the story and fear for the characters
  • 3:40 Don’t use a convenient ending for the characters. The characters should win or lose depending on the choices they made, not what others made.
  • 4:12 Don’t use too many coincidences. One coincidence should set up the film but it shouldn’t be used too much

Other Directing Techniques

  • Focus on what’s important. Don’t put too much emphasis on what’s not
  • Use angles, lighting, and background to your advantage. They can change the whole feel of a movie.