Editing for the Horror Genre

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The horror genre in film is just as old as cinema itself; starting with silent films back in the late 1890s, through the masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stanley Kubrick’s depiction of The Shining (based on Stephen King’s novel), to more recent films such as The Conjuring. Every Halloween you see an increase in horror films being released to the public, that point should be obvious. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly what makes up a horror film? On the surface, you know a horror film is supposed to invoke terror or fear within you. However, there are specific techniques and timeless elements that are seamlessly woven into these films that make you cover your eyes and make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. To get in the right mindset, take a gander at the finest moments from these horror movies:

As a filmmaker, you should be aware of some of the basic pieces of the horror puzzle. Not everything relies on how good of a scream your actor has, or how well the make up and costume on your monster looks. A good horror film first starts on paper with a solid story as a foundation. From there, it moves into the camera, the acting, and then down through post production – where I feel the real magic occurs.

Outlined below are three foundational elements every editor should have at their disposal for any horror film:

  • Color
  • Sound
  • Perspective

 

COLOR

On the set, gaffers and light technicians are in charge of creating the core atmosphere for each scene; whether it be something with high contrast, or just dark enough for a creature to creep out of the shadows. Sometimes, a filter will be put on the lens to add or enhance a specific color in the scene. Generally, a blue or green filter would be used with horror films. However, in-camera lighting can only go so far. These days, I find there is no filter added on the camera because you can change the color so easily in post production. The director may want to play around with an assortment of colors and hues to achieve their desired effect. In these instances, CURVES is an editor’s best friend.

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Curves can be found in most Non Linear Editing (NLE) programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, and Avid. It can also be found in compositing programs such as After Effects and Nuke. Generally, the option will be under some type of IMAGE CONTROL menu or COLOR CORRECTION menu – if you cannot find it, I recommend consulting the Help Menu. Using Curves gives you control of an image’s highlights, shadows, and the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color spectrum. If you receive editing notes from the director asking you to “push the image further,” generally, they mean to increase the shadows or contrast. A term they use for this in editing is “crush the blacks.” To do this, click and drag your curve to the proper settings of adjustment. By rule of thumb, blacks are located in the lower right and highlights are located in the upper left of the curve.

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If the director wants to increase a color tone, use the drop down menu to select the color of choice – whether they want to add more blue or green into the footage, respectively.

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SOUND

You sometimes cover your eyes during a horror movie, but most of the time you forget to cover your ears. Even if you can’t see the horrific image, you can still hear the bones crack, the blood spray, and the victim let out one last shriek or a dying breath. A lot of the sound effects are created by Foley Artists (the people who create sounds used in movies). For example, a foley artist would record the sound of a machete slashing a watermelon into little bits to be used where the serial killer slashes a victims skull into little bits. In larger budget films, a foley team is generally hired to produce the sound content for the film, supplying the editor with the appropriate sounds to populate the movie. However, in smaller, or micro budget films, the editor needs to turn to online sound libraries for this content. There are websites out there filled with random sounds, music loops, and scores – sometimes free – to populate your horror film. There are literally hundreds of these websites all over the internet. However, some websites I have had good luck with and recommend include:

 

PERSPECTIVE

This one tends to be less obvious to most editors just starting out in the field. Perspective plays a large part in creating a horrific landscape, or an uneasy tension. Often times, the director of photography will partner up with the director to explore the ‘look’ of the film, mapping out the best camera angles and shots to best achieve the directors vision. In some cases, the director will need the editor to adjust a scene or image to help intensify the scene. The easiest way to add tension to a plain scene is by rotating the image on a angle.

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By putting the perspective on an angle you subconsciously tell the viewer that “something isn’t right.” People like to see their world on an even playing field, and when you start to mess with that perspective, you begin making the viewer uncomfortable and on edge.

There you have it! A solid foundation in editing for the horror genre. Do you know of another horror element you would like to share or know of a link that could help out your fellow editor? Leave it in the comment section below!

 

The Cinematic Series – Episode One

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Hello everyone, and welcome to a little a series which I’m starting here, all about cinematics, short movie editing, and everything inbetween. So last week I came up with the idea of shooting a little chase scene, so I can touch on some of the things you can do to achieve a more professional look in a short movie. I met up with a couple friends, but they were in a hurry, so I had literally 15 minutes to shoot, and well, that reflected in the quality of the scene. Take a look at what I made:

The original footage was not the best but nonetheless I did what I could to clean it up in post-production. Below I’ll summarize what was good and what was bad in this movie chase scene;

Pros

1. Although the acting was not the best and there were mistakes, there is still some good things you can pick out from the scene. For instance, the shot types. We had a variety of different shot types, tracking shots, pans and close ups. It’s important to keep these varied throughout a short film as they can be useful in creating different effects as well as keeping the audience interested.

2. Another thing to point out was some of the techniques that I used to help with the continuity. A match cut was used when the boy realised that the man was holding a weapon. This obviously illustrated that the man was dangerous and showed that the boy was scared and was the victim.

3. Last of all, the sound. We used a Zoom H1 sound recorder for professional audio as well as some sound effects from the AudioMicro library. Audio stimulates the mind in a different way than video, bringing you closer to the action so it is always a good idea to record some of the ambient sounds, and the fast paced chase sounds. Music can also be used, depending on the style you’re trying to achieve.

Cons

1. Sub par acting. Even with the best director and equipment, your film will always look mediocre if your actors are not up fully to the task. The idea was to build up some tension when the boy started hearing strange whistles, instead though, he started to frantically look around, rather than standing still and slowly approaching. This didn’t increase the tension as much as I would have liked to.

2. Make sure anything happening in a scene with two or more different takes are consistent. A very common mistake people make is with the pace of the action and the place where events happen. For example, towards the end of the chase, the boy trips up in two different places in two different angles, and in the shot before when he was running, one of them had to be sped up as they weren’t consistent.

3. Prepare for your shoot properly. Rushing everything in 15 minutes will not give you the best result, regardless of the cinematics. With filming and editing, one of the most crucial things is to have attention to detail; every shot needs to be accurately framed and you have to have complete control on what happens within your scene.

So let’s get a little more into some of actual techniques that I used in this scene to enhance the footage. We’ll start off with the transitions; the majority of the transitions were just simple straight cuts, I didn’t want to go too overboard. I took advantage of the trees in the woods and used a slide transition coupled with some motion blur and a swoosh sound effect. At the end of the chase, when the boy trips up, I used a ‘chopping’ effect. I slowed down the footage of the attacker striking the boy with the hammer and cut out a frame with a gap of one frame. Straight after this, I used some contrapuntal sound; there is a calm once the flashing finishes, you can hear the sound of birds tweeting in the park which gives a strange, silent feel. Just little things done to your scene in post can really make a difference, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the techniques I used in this scene.

Watch out for the next episode in the Cinematic Series.

Until next time, Peace, Love and After effects…well, Premiere Pro this time.

Sound Effects

AudioMicro Introduces Sound Effects Subscriptions

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In April, we unveiled a fantastic redesign of AudioMicro.com – complete with a more straightforward dollar pricing system and increased clarity and options for different music licenses. Unfortunately for some users this also came with the removal of previous subscription options. However our continued interest is the satisfaction of our customer base and correspondingly the constant improvement of our products…

So now we have raised the bar once again – re-introducing monthly sound effects subscriptions for our dedicated sfx buyers.

The sound effects subscriptions offer packages tailored specifically at sound effects users, and greatly reduce the per download cost of a single sound effect. The packages currently available are:

* 5 sounds per month for $9.95

* 25 sounds per month for $39.95

* 100 sounds per month for $99.95

Comparatively speaking, the per sound effect download cost for an a la carte download is $3.95, so needless to say the sound effects subscriptions offer a much more cost effective/cost conscious option for any user who needs several sound effects per month. Even the most modest subscription plan (5 sounds per month for $9.95) cuts the a la carte/per sound effect cost in half. While the best value plan (100 sound effects per month for $99.95) offers users the chance to download sound effects at just $1 per sound effect.

Users can allow the subscription to recur on a monthly basis, or cancel conveniently any time by navigating to their SFX subscriptions page once logged in to their AudioMicro account.

We’re proud to roll out this new addition to our product and know that users will find great value and peace of mind being able to select a package perfectly suited for their sound effects needs. You can sign up now by navigating here.

 

 

Welcome to the New AudioMicro!

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Today, we are pleased to officially announce a completely redesigned and all new AudioMicro.com.  It’s the culmination of many months of hard work by our team.

We’ve been listening to your feedback and the latest version of AudioMicro incorporates your suggestions.  Highlights include:

  • an awesome new HTML5 audio player that allows you to quickly listen to your search and browse results, easily add them to your favorites, and your shopping cart
  • cleaner, slicker interface and user experience
  • improved, more accurate search and advanced search features
  • elimination of non-selling, low rated music tracks so that you’ll only hear the highest quality tunes
  • addition of over 100,000 new sound effects from the world renown Sound Ideas library.
  • more affordable sound effects pricing
  • watermarked, downloadable preview files (coming soon)
  • a highly simplified license agreement (no more platinum collection)
  • elimination of subscription plans for future purchases
  • MOST IMPORTANT – we’ve eliminated the credit system in favor of a more simple, dollar based pay as you go shopping experience (like Amazon.com)

Full details are in the press release below.   We hope 2012 is your best year ever.

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HEADLINE

AudioMicro Adds 100,000 New Sound Effects from Sound Ideas; Unveils Redesigned Website, Pricing, and License Agreement

SUMMARY

AudioMicro.com to represent over 100,000 sound effects from the Sound Ideas library.  New website offers simplified end user license agreement and pricing schema.

BODY

LOS ANGELES, April 27, 2012 – AudioMicro.com announces the addition of the Sound Idea sound effects library, adding over 100,000 professional royalty free sound effects to its online archive.  Headed by Brian Nimens, an audio veteran with more than 35 years experience, Sound Ideas offers an immense variety of contemporary and vintage sound FX keeping its ears tuned to the current and future needs of sound designers and producers.

“We are pleased to make our sounds available through AudioMicro, a real innovator in the marketplace,” said Nimens.

Categories within the Sound Ideas collection include ambience, animals, impacts, guns, production elements, science fiction, whooshes, and everything in between.  The addition of Sound Ideas brings AudioMicro’s total file count to over 300,000 stock music and sound effects tracks, all pre-cleared for use in creative audio-visual productions.

In addition to the 100,000 new sound effects from the Sound Ideas library, AudioMicro has launched a new version of its website, targeted at purchasers of royalty free music and sound effects, including YouTube users, iPhone/iPad app developers, and film/TV producers.  New visitors to AudioMicro.com will find a completely revamped user interface and design, making it a rich and simple destination for discovering and licensing stock audio.

Visitors to the new AudioMicro experience improved utility and design, including:

  • A slick HTML5 audio player which allows users to more easily browse the archive and locate the perfect cue or effect for their projects
  • Pay as you go, dollar based pricing – the credit based purchasing system has been retired
  • A simplified end user license agreement that allows tracks to be purchased once and used over and over again in multiple projects by the same buyer
  • Embeddable Tracks – embed your favorite tracks on websites, blogs, Facebook, etc.
  • Customizable Favorites Lists – create multiple favorites collections to preview your favorite tracks on the fly, before you buy
  • API Integration – the AudioMicro API allows approved partner platforms and resellers to create highly customizable applications utilizing the AudioMicro library.  Early API partners include SlideRocket, Hark, and Amana Images (Japan)
  • Brand new content and features to be announced over the coming months

About AudioMicro

AudioMicro is the largest micro stock music and sound effects collection. With over 300,000 royalty free music tracks and sound effects ready to be downloaded on demand, if it’s audio that you need, we’ve got you covered. We license music and sound effects to media producers of all shapes and sizes. Our music ends up in a wide variety of productions from independent regional advertisements to full scale national campaigns. Our sound effects can be heard in everything from Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 to your friends’ recent YouTube video.

About Sound Ideas

Founded in 1978, Toronto-based Sound Ideas was the first company to release sound effects libraries on compact disc, and the first to release the sound effects library of a major motion picture studio. The company publishes more than 1,000 CDs and more than 150,000 sound effects.  It continues to adapt new technology in order to offer quality audio to professional sound designers and producers in the broadcast, post-production and multimedia industries.

AudioMicro Client Success Story: Japanese Fishing Masters!

We’ll be spending the rest of the weekend dreaming of sushi! Click play for Japanese Fishing Master awesomeness!

Video Games and AudioMicro – Endless Possibilities

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AudioMicro has a massive library of royalty free music and sound effects, and its expanding everyday. Listening to such a vast collection of original sounds on a daily bases, its hard not think of all the fun projects that these tracks can be used for. So hard, in fact, that I had to get some of these ideas out of my head and onto the blog.

I am a huge video game fan, and almost every game I play incorporates a heavy dose of production music and sound effects. Video games, whether social apps or full blown computer games, can have an original piece of music for every moment of play. From the “press start” screen, to the main menu, to level select, and of course all levels, music is everywhere. You can have a jingle for when you beat the level, and then another for if you lose! When you fight the “Boss,” or when time is running out, when you got a new high score or watching the game credits, there is a musical need for every situation.

All of this, and we haven’t even gotten to the sound effects! From the ball dribbling to the crowd cheering, every single action requires its own sound effect, and sometimes they need more than one. You can rest assured that AudioMicro has enough sounds (and more) to fill every possible one.

Lets say we have a race-car game that involves cars that are equipped with “offensive weaponry”(sounds awesome already). We’ll call it “Speed Wars.” Now we’ll need some hypothetical music pieces for such a rad sounding title…here are a few potential winners I came across:

An intro piece:

Race Car Intro Techno

The race begins:

3, 2, 1 Go Voice Sound Effect

High action game play music:

Action/Adventure Video Game Music

The race is on! Lets go faster!

Acceleration

Gotta slow down around this turn!

Tire Skid

Whoa that car just crashed!

Metal Explosion

Now, lets get to the weapons:

Machine Gun Fire for when I need to pop a tire or two!

Machine Gun Warfare

The metal tire protectors are stopping my shots from penetrating!

Bullet Hits Metal

No problem, I’ll just bust out the GRENADE LAUNCHER:

Fire Grenade Launcher

I missed! But it made a great explosion!

Big Grenade Explosion

I shoot again, this time, I hit ‘em!

Car Explosion

I pass the finish line in 1st place! The crowd goes wild!

Cheering Crowd

That was fun, but it’s only the beginning. There are so many different ways to use AudioMicro it’s mind-boggling. What can you come up with?

AJ Video Services and AudioMicro Music – A Winning Combination

We get a lot of great stories from users about how our services played a key part in their success.  In Carlstadt, New Jersey, AJ Video Services recently used five of our royalty free tracks for a client’s election campaign video. All three men who participated in the video were elected.  Each of the three men credited the video as “the video that won the campaign.”

The video begins with the story of Carstadt’s humble beginnings, and is accompanied by the track “Piano, Old Mexican Style,” which really brings the visual and narrative together.  As the narrative transitions to the present, the track “Dare to Dream” begins to play as it presents all the wonderful progress the city of Carlstadt has made and the beautiful small-town-feel it has preserved.

The next sequence cues the danger-infused track “Deadline,” as it warns how Carlstadt’s beauty is being threatened by the proposal of massive new housing, accommodating for 20,000 new people that would be built on Carlstadt’s coveted meadowlands.  Will Roseman, the mayor who is running for reelection, speaks about his commitment to preserving the beauty of Carlstadt and its natural surroundings while “Deadline” fades out.

Next up in the soundtrack is the inspirational “Shades of Blue”, which progressively builds momentum as city councilman Dennis Ritchie expresses his commitment to the hard work and pride he takes in maintaining the integrity of the city’s financial structure.

Transitioning into “Business World”, the video and music work together to strike an inspiring and triumphant chord as Council Candidate Jim Lenoy talks about the strong and safe community that is Carlstadt and his commitment to its preservation.

Each of the five tracks were placed incredibly well in the 11 minute video, and certainly puts on display the versatility and depth of the AudioMicro Library (Not to mention the fantastic video production services by AJ Video).

Congratulations to AJ Video Services and the three newly elected officials for a great campaign. You can check out the full campaign video here.

If you like the tracks, please find the individual links to them below.

Royalty Free Latin Music – Piano, Old Mexican Style

Royalty Free Corporate Music – Dare to Dream

Royalty Free Rock Music – Deadline

Royalty Free Business Music – Shades of Blue

Royalty Free Epic Music – Business World

We’ll be back soon with more exciting news from the AudioMicro community.

 

Royalty Free Christmas Music to Add to your 2011 Christmas Playlist

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Now that December is in full swing, Christmas is right around the corner.  And with the holiday season comes the promise of cooler weather, hot chocolate, wish lists to Santa (hey, you’ve been good this year!), and of course…royalty free Christmas music.

So if you’re looking for the kind of royalty-free music for your store, office, phone lines, commercials, productions or presentations that is going to give all who hear it a jollier feeling than a mob of carolers on a candy cane rush…then consider the top ten best holiday classics to add to your playlist this year:

#1:  Christmas Song: This song is number one on the list because it has withstood the test of time and appeals to every generation.  It is commonly subtitled, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” which is the opening line of the song and one to which we can all sing along.

#2:  White Christmas: If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, it only adds to the magical theme in the air.  This holiday favorite is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas scene.  It became popular during WWII as the lyrics were heartfelt by soldiers and their families.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, selling over 50 million copies worldwide.

#3:  Silent Night. This classic was originally written in 1816 by an Austrian priest and it was first performed at the Church of St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve in 1818.  Ever since then it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it.

#4:  Jingle Bell Rock: Released by Bobby Helms in 1957, this festive tune is another oldie, but goodie.  When you hear the verse about “dancing and prancing in jingle bell square,” you can’t help but to get up and join in the Christmas spirit as you’re on your merry way!

#5:  Carol of the Bells. This song performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has no words but is a necessity for any Christmas enthusiast.  With its dramatic buildup it is unlike any other tune of the season.

#6:  Oh Holy Night. Written in the 1800s by Placide Cappeau de Roquermaure, a wine merchant and poet, this is a song that reflects on the birth of Christ and the redemption of mankind…and it is powerful enough to bring tears to the eyes of listeners and take their breath away.

#7:  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: A more modern tune than many of the traditional sounds of Christmas, this number was made famous by Brenda Lee.  No Christmas event of any kind would be complete without this cheerful song…put it on and even the Grinch would be sure to get in the celebratory mood!

#8:  Feliz Navidad: This jam was written by a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, Jose Feliciano, and has both a Spanish and an English version.  It is one of the top 25 most played Christmas songs around the globe and is another fun song to have you feeling holly-jolly.

#9:  Santa Clause is Coming to Town: It just wouldn’t be Christmas without this one—not only is it a favorite amongst the kiddos, but the adults love this little jingle as well.  Who isn’t excited about Santa coming to town?

#10:  Joy to the World. This popular Christmas carol came from the words of English hymn writer, Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible.  It was written in 1700s to glorify Christ’s birth and still brings joy to us today.

Erica St. Claire is a guest post author sharing with us the top classic Christmas songs this year.  Erica is also a writer about online dating and you can find her work on Best Catholic Dating Sites.

 

 

Royalty Free Music with a Bang- Happy July 4th Weekend!

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What’s up media lovers and music fanatics? We hope you are enjoying your summer so far and are looking forward to a fun filled July 4th Weekend. Happy Birthday USA! You know the drill, we are back checking in with the monthly hotness to keep you in the loop on June’s top new uploads and artists in the royalty free music game. Let’s get right into it.

WeAreAA

We recently saw an influx of very true to form Lady Gaga/Katy Perry/Rihanna esque productions, coupled with some fun urban and hip hop tunes, from Los Angeles based WeAreAA. They recently began compiling their cue library and we are excited to be their exclusive online distributor. Check out their rapidly expanding library of modern synth pop, hip hop and urban music here.

LLMillerMedia

We know, we know, we mentioned her last month…But Lori has been on an absolute tear recently as her portfolio has grown by over 200 tracks since our last post…wow. Most tracks feature her fantastic guitar work, be it acoustic noodling or wall of sound metal style shredding, Lori is on it. Take a few minutes to check out all the new goods here.

NatKingKong

Natkingkong is a fantastic composer who recently began uploading several new cuts in experimental, corporate, dramatic and orchestral feels. His portfolio of just over 30 tracks is not about quantity, but quality, and that quality is par excellence. You will find nothing but world-class compositions and mixes in this collection, and they are both refreshing and incredibly useful. Check them out here.

Know any hot artists we need to get on board? Want some different genres of vibes featured next month? Drop a comment in the comments section and let us know your thoughts. Have a great 4th of July.

Sound Effects and Royalty Free Music -April Uploads

The last couple months have been bustling here at AudioMicro, and we have received an influx of fantastic new sounds and music. From sound effects artists to world class classical guitar players, our catalog continues to grow in both size and quality.

On the Sound Effects side of things the SFX Bible collection grew by over 15,000 sounds. These astoundingly high quality effects range from Outdoor Ambiences to Sports to Alien Sounds, and everything else in between. With the baseball season getting fired up, you might want to peruse some of these fantastic baseball sounds here. If Science Fiction is more your cup of tea, check out a massive collection of awesome Alien sounds.

Also joining us in April was Sound Effects artist David Fienup. His collection spans over 3,000 sounds and he is well known for his meticuous recording and editing techniques, producing amazingly high quality sound effects. This collection is quite dynamic, but has a heavy focus on organic sounds, such as these very well produced lake ambiences.

On the music side of things, we continue to flourish. Dirk Lind aka Particleheadrecently joined the platform providing some fantastic vocal pop, rock, reggae and folk tunes. A gritty vocal and uplifting, fun instrumentation are the cornerstones of his tunes. Check out his awesome royalty free music collection.

Long time top contributor Martyn Harvey has been a busy bee lately, uploading over 20 new cuts in April alone. This brings his total track count on AudioMicro to well over 100, and we couldn’t be happier to have him on board. Check out his entire portfolio of top quality production music compositions here.

New contributor Michael85 has also been uploading some great tunes lately, many supported by his fantastic guitar playing. Flamenco, classical, and good old fashioned shredding rock styles all find their way into his tunes. Check out the goods here.

We’ll keep you posted on new uploads with an updated post in the next few weeks. Until then, thanks for reading!