Welcome to another Film Editing Pro tutorial! In this post, our trainer, Leon, is going…
Sound Design: Editing Tones, Drones & Music
Sometimes when you’re editing, you’ll find that the footage doesn’t necessarily need a full score of melodic music to serve the story and the emotion. That might be too much.
Sometimes it would be better served with a more understated ambiance, which you can usually create with a combination of tones and drones. In this post, we’ll explore how to use these powerful musical elements in a variety of circumstances.
We suggest you watch the video to hear the audio examples, but we’ve also got a short transcript below!
Let’s begin with the basic definition of a drone.
A drone is a sustained sound that can be pitched higher or lower. It often establishes a tonality upon which the rest of the piece is built. A drone can come from a real instrument, a vocal sound or from an electronic keyboard, such as a synthesizer or sampler.
Now lets look at some common types of drones you might use in a cut. We’ve listed 3 samples (along with visuals of their waveforms) to cover a wide spectrum of moods and emotions:
1. Low and Ominous Drone
This drone is created digitally using synths and pads. It’s a staple tool in the editor’s arsenal for creating danger and tension whenever those feelings are called for. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with drones like this, unless, of course, you overuse them.
2. Light and Peaceful Drone
You can imagine using a drone like this whenever you need to create a hopeful, dreamlike or ethereal mood.
3. Light and Warm Drone
Now, our third type of drone exists somewhere in the middle. It can usher in pretty much any type of emotion or gently blend with any kind of music, making it much easier to transition in and out of sections of a cut.
Drones like these are the perfect tool to gradually bring on some music after a dry scene without the music feeling like it comes out of nowhere. They have a relatively ambiguous feeling and thus are able to transition us into any cue. The example below shows a light and warm drone (pink) transitioning into a cue that’s relatively upbeat and cheerful (yellow).
But it could just as easily take you into something scary and dark. In this next example below we’ve got that exact same drone leading into a much more intense cue, as you can see by the waveforms.
The nice thing about these middle-of-the-road sounding drones is that they’re flexible. You can use them on their own or for leading into a wide variety of music. The drone might begin and carry on for as long as you needed it to before you gently ease into full score.
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