The Art of Film Scoring – Lesson 4
Technical Aspects of Film Scoring

27m 40s intermediate Intermediate
Author: Chris Fitzgerald

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The Art of Film Scoring is a 6-week primer into the technical and psychological aspects of film composition. Through the course we will cover film music history, thematic analysis, music theory and composition, technical aspects of film scoring, and self promotion tips including resources for website creation and audio and film publishing. The course is taught by film composer Chris Fitzgerald, Berklee College of Music alumnus and former Manager of Training & Programs for Berklee. No prior film scoring experience is necessary. Students are required to own a computer with MIDI sequencing and audio recording software to complete course homework. Throughout the course, students will score a scene from a film, finishing with a complete demo score piece.

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Intelligently analyze the function of music in film
  • Spot the differences between score and diegetic music
  • Work with the technical and psychological aspects of film scoring to compose your own film music
  • Promote yourself as a film composer

Lesson 4 – Technical Aspects of Film Scoring

  • Spotting
  • Frame rate
  • Syncing
  • Loading film into software
  • Calculating tempo changes
  • MIDI sequencing techniques

Compose the score to a film scene

You may download and use one of the film scenes below for practice, but you may not post any of the scenes from All in the Game online. The filmmaker, Marc Maurino, has graciously allowed Scorbit to use these scenes for instructional and student practice experience. Please honor that.

The Film Composer Catch-22

Anyone who has gotten into film composition has at some point run into a major hurdle:

  • In order to get a film scoring gig you have to have experience scoring a film
  • In order to get experience scoring a film you have to get a film scoring gig

…sound familiar? Here’s the solution: You know you can compose, so score some practice scenes, and write really good, well produced music. Then put together a demo that will make producers and directors want to hire you.

What you can do:
Practice scoring any scene, from any movie by muting the audio and writing your own music. Use tools like ClipGrab ( to download videos from YouTube, or HandBrake ( to rip a DVD into a usable format and score away.

That being said, here is what you can not do:
Take a practice scene you have scored and distribute it online.

Do not do this! Not only does it infringe on copyright, it casts you in an extremely unprofessional light. Even if you aren’t trying to pass off that you are the original composer on a project, having a demo scene as your demo makes you look like a student.

Instead, do this:
Score a scene from Die Hard, take your music and call it “Hostile Takeover” (or some other awesome, generic name). Then put an audio demo online, making no mention that you used Die Hard as your source inspiration material. There are several benefits to this. If the music is good (and good quality) than a filmmaker will assume that it was written for a legitimate project (though don’t lie if they ask). Also, filmmakers are very visual people. If they get an audio demo, in my experience they will envision an accompanying scene in their head. A scene that your music (if it’s good) will have scored perfectly.

Make sure to score several different types of scenes to showcase your talent, and by then you will have a solid audio demo to show off.

If you are hellbent on finding practice videos that you can use for an online video demo, try some of these options:

And maybe the best option: Power through and find a project to score even without any experience. Find a filmmaker you like on Vimeo and ask them if they have any stuff to score. Ask a film student (or a film school faculty member) for practice films. Post a craigslist ad for practice films (watch out for weirdos coming out of left field).

Got any advice that’s worked for you? Post it in the comments below.