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Lock On – The Intro Soundtrack (part 3 of 3)

‘Lock On’ required engaging the viewer the second the music video starts. This means that, along with the Visuals and Sound Design, the music must set the mood and immerse the viewer into the scene. The first blog was about the elements that went into the Sound Design while the second blog dealt mainly Sound Design in terms of walking. This final blog in the series focuses on the soundtrack in the first 40 seconds of the video.

Let’s look at the intro of the music video again listening specifically to the music in the background. Does it fit the actions on the screen? How does the music make you feel?

Now listen to the Intro Soundtrack stem in isolation.

The Director wanted the viewer to have a feeling of suspense, tension and an air of anticipation as the music builds up to the title, ’Lock On’. The mixing hierarchy for this music video, in terms of volume, is that the dialog is always on top, then the Sound Design and then the Intro Soundtrack. This Soundtrack is the underlying glue that holds everything together and aids in heightening the visuals on the screen. This is how it was built.

Choose The Right Tool For The Job

For the creation of the Intro Soundtrack, after auditioning various plug-ins, I decided to use the tools from Alchemy Player and Spitfire Audio – a world renowned sample library company. I have been collecting a library called Spitfire Labs which are a series of free experiments from the Spitfire Audio. When completed, there were a total of six tracks recorded to create the tension needed for the intro. The tracks, from top to bottom, are as follows:

The Sad Choir (Alchemy Player)
Choir — Long (Spitfire Labs)
08 Chiff Piano (Spitfire Labs)
Peel Guitar 1 (Spitfire Labs)
Harmonic Birdsong Cello (Spitfire Labs)
Super Sul Tasto Cello (Spitfire Labs)

From MIDI To Audio

These recorded tracks were MIDI messages. MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is the protocol that allows computers, musical instruments, synthesizers and software to communicate with each other. It is one of the foundations that computerized music is built on. MIDI, by itself, has no sound and is a series of on/off instructions to tell the computer what sounds to play, when to play it and how long they should be played. These are only some of the instructions MIDI can do and you can learn more about it here.

All six tracks were recorded as MIDI instructions in Presonus Studio One — Professional Edition (version 4.1 at the time of recording. I have since updated to version 4.5). Each MIDI track was then converted to separate audio files so that they can be mixed together using automated volume changes and other processing. The final result is a music track that fits the visuals and the Sound Design.

You can see a time-lapse version of the most of the Intro Soundtrack creation here.

I hope you enjoyed the last instalment of this 3-part blog and make sure you read the first and second blogs as well. Feel free to post your questions and/or comments below.