Music in Movies and Video Production

Nearly all of the world’s most iconic and influential movies are accompanied by a soundtrack that controls the emotion of the film and captures the attention of the audience. Video and music go hand in hand like baseball and hotdogs or macaroni and cheese.

In the history of film, there are many famous movies recognizable by their soundtracks alone. Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones are a few examples that come to mind. Without their soundtracks, would these movies be as influential and memorable as they are today? Maybe. But, maybe not. I can’t imagine a world where Star Wars isn’t accompanied by John Williams’s famous score.

A more recent example is Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. From the opening scene on, music is used to build an atmosphere and tell a story of its own:

Music sets the tone and determines the emotion of a scene or clip. That’s why it’s so important in video production. The wrong music could send the wrong message, or it could change the video’s meaning altogether.

In movies, the soundtrack is able to progress and set the tone over time, whereas in commercials, it’s important for the music to set the right tone as quickly as possible.

One example of a commercial using music to tell a story is a 2015 ad for the Spanish Lottery by Passion Animation Studios called ‘Justino’:

Without the help of any words, the story progresses and builds relying on music alone. Imagine if the video’s producers were to change the music in order to convey a different idea or message. With the right music (and a few cuts in the video), this heartwarming commercial highlighting the good in people could turn into a terrifying story about a man who patrols a warehouse late at night, haunted by living mannequins.

For our own Bucket related example, I’ve taken footage of one of our office dogs, Snickers, and put different music over the same video to show how much music can influence tone. As you can see, even if the footage is of a very cute dog, music can make the scene seem ominous and sinister.

Video never tells the whole story by itself. Music adds intensity, draws out emotion and even induces anxiety. So, the next time you’re watching a horror movie, remember that if you take away the music it probably wouldn’t be nearly as scary.

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