RECORDING WEEK 2022: One of the most stable pathways to monetising your music right now and get your music heard on screen is by signing up your tracks to one of the many sync libraries that welcome incoming pitches.
Their role is to act as middlemen between you and those looking for music to suit their film, television, video game or advertising projects. Making so-called ‘production music’ is a real skill in itself, as you often have to strike a balance between your own artistic individuality and making the sort of ‘sync-able’ music that has the broadest possible appeal.
While this sector has very much exploded over the course of the last decade, working with film and television in mind is, of course, one of the most well-trodden pathways for professional musicians.
Soundtracking is an expansive, varied art form, yet there are a number of tools, approaches and mindsets that are fundamental. For one, you’re going to need a DAW that has solid video support if you’re going to be writing specifically for a picture (or need to edit your soundtrack cut later).
While there are now more than a few DAWs that have this functionality, we’re going to recommend one which is used by many of the world’s greatest composers. Cubase Elements 12 contains everything you’ll need for slick video-synced writing, and it’s a relative steal at just £85.
Having an assortment of sampled real instruments is certainly useful, and our friends at Spitfire Audio have recently been making specially curated selections from their larger libraries available, at astonishingly cheap prices. For just £25 a pop, we’d definitely recommend you dip your orchestral toe in the water with one or two...
It helps to have a broad array of synth sounds at your disposal too, not to mention ways of making your sounds evolve in odd and interesting ways. As with our previous entry, we’ve also thrown in a recommended extra from our CM Plugin Suite, free with every issue of Computer Music Magazine, that should help you add a bit of cinematic width to your track.
The DAW: Cubase Elements 12
£85 | Buy from Thomann
The DAW that started it all has been a go-to for soundtracking duties for several world-class composers. Its slick video incorporation allows for speedy writing to picture. This basic way into the latest version allows 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks, as well as a range of goodies such as the Groove Agent SE rhythm module.
The synth: U-He Hive 2
£120 | Buy from Plugin Boutique
This dual-oscillator synth offers up a huge well of sound design potential, with two sub-oscillators, a massive array of waveform shapes, ARP and sequencer controls and a whopping 2,300 presets to get you going. This is a deep, rich synthesiser that could certainly serve as the flagship of your sound design exploits.
The monitors: PreSonus Eris 3.5
Don’t be deceived by these diminutive desktop-sized speakers, PreSonus’ media monitors have been built with acute precision and detailed listening in mind. The Kevlar driver adds weight to the low end, while their low distortion-build is on par with many bigger studio monitors. For such affordable speakers, the soundstage is impressively wide, too.
The freeware: Baby Audio Baby Comeback CM
Our CM plugin suite recommendation is the unique delay plugin we developed in collaboration with Baby Audio, this stripped-back version of BA’s Comeback Kid provides some extraordinarily simple to make, but staggeringly deep delays – a crucial ingredient in effective sound design. It can bring more character and a richer colour to your mix.
The orchestra: Spitfire Originals Cinematic Pads
£29 | Buy from Spitfire Audio
Makers of some of the best orchestral libraries and soundtrack toolkits around, Spitfire Audio’s recently launched ‘Originals’ series collect beautifully angled packs, such as ‘Epic Choir’ and ‘Intimate Grand Piano’ that you should certainly swallow up. For our money, a good starting point is Cinematic Pads, a succulent collection of pro quality pads, swells and textures.
The sound mangler: iZotope Trash 2
£85 | Buy from iZotope
A multiband distortion mega-tool, iZotope’s Trash 2 has spent nearly a decade being used to crunch up and restructure our sounds. While you can use its processing to simply dirty up your audio, there are far subtler ways to use its in-built dynamics and frequency controls to get even more creative when soundtracking.