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DV Filmmaking by Ian David Aronson

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Adding Music to Your Film

Late one night while watching HBO, I saw a great short film, “Slo-Mo,” in which a procrastinating young writer gets stuck in slow motion as the world speeds out of control around him. The film was produced as a graduate thesis project at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and uses a number of ingenious devices to create motion effects without a mammoth budget.

To make the protagonist appear visually out of pace with the rest of the world, the filmmakers shot him moving very slowly through crowds of people who were walking at regular speed. When they play the footage back at high speed in various parts of the film, the main character appears to move regularly while people fly past. To complete the effect, when the protagonist was in slow mode, the filmmakers sped up the film’s theme song (“Can You Get to That” by Funkadelic) and played the song at normal speed when he was in-step with those around him. Playing the song at a tempo quicker than originally recorded matches the visual effect of people zipping through the frame, and interestingly enough, the song still sounds cool.

The clever use of music in “Slo-Mo” provides a natural way to open the section of this book that explores adding music to your film—the song complements the story and the action onscreen, resulting in a truly memorable experience for the audience. (As you can see, the filmmaker’s use of the song was memorable enough for me that I’m writing about it several months later. ...

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