In an effort to document the scoring of a feature film, here is the third installment of “Adventures in Scoring”. This one is all about the Spotting Session! Last evening, the director and I had a call to do the session.
A spotting session is essentially the composer and director watching the film together in order to discuss the music in the film. Specifically, discussing the where, how long and what kind of music in pretty hefty detail.
One challenge with this spotting session thing: I’m located in Vancouver BC and the director lives in Toronto ON – essentially we’re about 3,300 Kilometers or just over 2,000 miles away from each other … as the crow flies.
Needless to say, hopping in the car to go watch the film with him is kind of out of the question.
From A Distance
Well, it’s kind of simple and complicated at the same time.
Before getting into how we ended up doing it, I’ll get into what I tried first:
Initially, I thought that we could use one of the MANY online meeting/collaboration services that are out there. Yesterday, I looked at GoToMeeting, Fuzebox, WebEx and a handful of other options (note to self … cancel all trial subscriptions today).
My thinking was that these were platforms where one person (i.e. ME) could share their desktop, start and stop the film, while talking and taking/making notes all online! Cool!
Well, not really.
All of that is true, but it turns out that video is a low priority on online meeting sites. Instead of frames per second, it seemed as though video refresh rates could be measured in seconds per frame. It was kind of disappointing. Fuzebox looked promising in that they offered online space to host files which, I thought, would improve the frame rate of the video playback, but it wasn’t that much better after a couple of small tests. Even a framerate of 5 fps would get quite annoying to watch for a 1Gb+ video that’s over 60 minutes long.
Start, Stop, Rewind…
I called him up on Skype and we started our session
We had the same file pulled up on our screens – timecode is embedded in a letterbox on the video and we essentially synched our start clicks by counting down.
Whenever we needed to pause and talk further about cues, either one of us would say we’re stopping, chat and then one of us would suggest a SMPTE start point. We’d re-align our copies to the same place and then synch our starts again.
This added a bit of a kluge-factor to the event, but we essentially got through the 85 minute film in about 2.5 hours.
I think we cut out about 10 cues. There were some specific hit-points that he wanted me to focus on. We stitched a couple of cues together and there were others that got cut up for dramatic or sound-design reasons. All in all, I think there’s about 40 minutes of music to write.
I’ve got to edit the Logic Master Marker file and then update the Spotting Notes document and then it’s on to writing some music!
Two and a half weeks to go!