Scoring with Notational Software: video sync

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When you score with a notational software is very important being able to import a video file in order to have a correspondence between images and music. This operation is possible with most notational software: Sibelius, Finale (but not in the latest version), Notion, Dorico.

A common problem

However one usually encounters an issue since most cues won’t start on the very first frame of a reel.

Imagine we have reel 1 of a movie, its initial timecode is 01:00:00:00. Inside this reel we have several cues. The first one (1M1) is at the timecode 01: 05: 32: 12, therefore we need to precede it with 5 minutes, 32 seconds, 12 frames of silence.

We need to calculate the time so that the beginning of 1M1 in the score falls on the beginning of a bar. What you want to do is set an initial time signature and tempo to divide this empty time in a whole number of bars.

Let’s pretend we want to drop the beginning of 1M1 on the first beat of bar 51. We’ll need to set a tempo of 36.092 in the first bar of the score 36,092 bpm.

Setting playback at bar 51 we can verify that it falls in deed at 5 minutes, 32 seconds and 480 milliseconds (or 12 frames).

Starting from bar 51 we can change the time signature and the time as we prefer.

It would be really good if the notational software allowed us to create a score for 1M1 starting from bar 1 of the cue. instead of having the 50 empty bars at the beginning. Until now this was achievable cutting the video file with a video editing software.

The solution

Luckily, thanks to Dorico, we now have a better, more practical solution. When we create a new project in Dorico we can define the scores as flows.

The Dorico project can be made up of multiple scores that are independent with each other or that share musical elements. In our case we’ll specify that flow 1 is 1M1.

We’ll then click inside the flow area 1 and select video/attach to link the video file to our score.

In the video properties window it’s possible to indicate the time offset to start the score from the 1M1 start marker.

We have given an offset of 5 minutes, 40 seconds and 12 frames because the timecode of reel 1 starts 8 seconds before the beginning (00:59:52:00 instead of 01:00:00:00).

Finally we’ll check that bar 1 corresponds indeed to timecode 01:05:32:12 setting the beginning of 1M1.

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Silvio Relandini

Silvio Relandini

I'm a professor of musical technology in S.Cecilia Music Academy (Rome), S.Louis College of Music (Rome). I teach: Applied Music, Music Composition for images Sound Designing, Sound Engineering, Sampling, Sound's Science, Musimathics since 1993 in Musical Accademies, Conservatives, Universities, Training Centers, Private Institutions. I create professional music technology courses (Master) for Italian academic institutions (Conservatory, University). I have worked as an expert of music technologies (music editor, sound designer, virtual orchestration) in film and television production, video game industry, music and record production. I have founded the IITM (Italian Institute of Music Technologies) with the aim of giving students the skills and knowledge to find work in the music industry. My students work and are good professionist in different countries around the world (USA, UK, Germain, France, Spain, Swedish, Holland, Singapore). I was responsible for educating Italy for major musical production houses (Steinberg, Sibelius) and I certificated professors hat working in various Italian schools.

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