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Secret 101: ” The Spotting Session”

The meeting between the Director and Composer, (and sometimes Music Supervisor, Music Editor, Writers, Producers) where the film is watched and discussed as to where music is and more importantly, where it is not. This meeting can be in person, or in our digital age, over the phone with the various parties watching the same time-coded tape or DVD.

For video conferences and phone calls, I suggest this “work tape” to have a burned-in timecode in the image which allows everyone to literally be on the same frame. Each instance of music is called a “cue.” Out of this meeting (or meetings), a “cue sheet” is developed where in and out points of various music cues are notated along with a description of what’s happening in the scene. My cue sheets are done in Excel and I always feature a column where I write “Emotional” notes about what the director has told me s/he wants to be communicated in the scene. And I add notes about specific instruments in a column entitled “Palette. You can download a sample cue sheet I did for a feature film entitled “Creche” (coming Christmas 2006) here.

The Cue Sheet becomes a very important document and needs to be agreed upon by Director and Composer and other stakeholders. It is where much discussion can take place and keep everyone on the same page.

Here’s how Alf Clausen scores the Simpsons each week. Mind you, he has a mega budget, a live orchestra and a lot of help and resources. Still 30 cues a week is tremendous!!!

Andrew Ingkavet is a composer with over 2 decades experience creating music for film, theater, advertising and new media.

By ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet is an educator, author and entrepreneur.
His belief that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Internationally, Andrew helps music teachers with the Musicolor Method, an online curriculum/training as well as a 5 star-rated book,The Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun. He is also founder of 300 Monks, a music licensing company.

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