When my Berklee students express an interest in writing for picture, I always recommend that they first put together a 1- to 2-minute demo that shows off their best work. Its best to start with a short but strong portfolio piece, rather than a longer sequence that may end up seeming incomplete or weak in areas. After knocking your audience dead with a hard-hitting opener, you can present a more involved piece that is 4 to 5 minutes long.
Ideally, you should tell a story with your score, support the video images, or fill in parts of a narrative with background ambience. It is particularly exciting and challenging to score a clip that moves through several different moods or invokes a variety of psychological states. To produce this effect, you must vary tempo, dynamics, and tone colors to create music that dramatically underscores the action onscreen. The point is to demonstrate your ability to skillfully tailor engaging musical scores to a directors vision.
After you select a video clip to score, you should make a low-resolution reference version of it to use with your sequencer. Displaying full-screen, full-motion, full-color digital video places enormous demands on a computers processing power, much more so than digital audio. Red Book audio (16-bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo) requires about 10 MB of storage for each minute of sound, whereas broadcast-quality video demands a whopping 36 MB for each second. Thats an awful lot of data for the average desktop machine to move continuously from disk to video RAM.
You can squeeze a movie down in many ways, though each degrades the quality to a certain extent. You can remove unused data, reduce the frame size, decrease the graphics bit depth, and apply various compression algorithms.
First, take a look at what youre starting with: open your video clip with QuickTime Player and choose Get Info from the movie menu. This opens a small window that presents a lot of detailed information about the movie and provides access to useful parameters. A pop-up menu in the upper left corner lists the tracks associated with the movie. In the upper right corner, another pop-up menu lets you view the parameters relevant to each type of track. The Movie option displays general performance data and copyright information. The Video Track option displays information about your clips screen size, color depth, frame rate, duration, bandwidth, compression, and other important details. The Sound Track option displays several important parameters such as sample rate, resolution, duration, compression scheme, and volume settings (see Fig. 3).