Post Production: How To Use Canned Music When Scoring

Canned music is a term that most new filmmakers are not familiar with. The term 'canned' is slang for something that is prepared in advanced for non specific use. It's generally used to describe something that seems unoriginal and indistinctive, such as a poor sales pitch. In our case, we use it to describe music in a video production that is not original.

Although canned is a relatively negative term, not all canned music is subpar. Some of it is very good, and you will even find tracks that you are crazy over because it feels perfect for your video. There is nothing wrong with using canned music as long as it is good and enhances the video.

Step 1: Finding Canned Music

The first step in using canned music for your video project is to find it. This should be copyright free music that you can add to your project. There are some websites out there that will license canned music to you for a small fee. Try to get a lot more tracks than you need so that if one choice doesn't work it can be instantly replaced. Your music is important for setting the mood of a scene. You need to be very selective in your choice because it needs to enhance the feelings you wish to create. Also, make sure that you only pay for the music that ends up in your final project so you don't spend unnecessary money.  

Step 2: Using Canned Music For Scoring

You can also use canned music as temporary audio while waiting for originally scored music. It can serve as a guide for the composer while giving you a feel for the final outcome of the project. Be careful when doing this though. The composer is an artist and you want the canned music to help inspire his creativity, not lock it up. You can send him the individual tracks instead of the edited video with music to help free him up.

Step 3: Adjusting the Video to the Music

It's a good practice to leave your edits rough where music plays a major part. The music has a beat and a pace and you want the video to help match that. Once the music is locked, you can make your final edits on the video so the pacing of the scene and the cuts is in sync with the rhythm of the music. You want the music and video to complement each other because that creates a powerful image that lasts in the audience's mind.