Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Music in the Air

By Tom Inglesby

While I cut my cinema teeth on a Mitchel BNC, Arriflex 16 and Éclair in the 1960s, I found my niche in audio. I was the “sound guy” on dozens of educational and documentary films, did studio recording and mixing for soundtracks, and generally made noise with a variety of Ampex, Studer, Nagra, and Tascam tape recorders. We dubbed tape-to-film and mixed on a vertical Moviola. It was, to be sure, a primitive way of doing music and voice over for film compared to today’s digital wonderland.

I came away from those halcyon days with two things: awards and memories. The memories, of course, are good and bad: Long nights in the studio, but the joy of watching your project come to life; take after take versus the pride of having gotten just the right take, regardless of how many it took. Standing on the side of a volcano to get SFX while your boots are melting compared to hearing the announcement the film those effect went into was up for an Oscar. Good and bad.

When you are the crew, not the writer or director, most of the awards your films win don’t end up on your shelf. All I have to show for the 37 festival awards won by films I worked on are clippings. But I still have those clippings more than 40 years later.

I laid a lot of SFX tracks, and we’d use local studio musicians when we could afford it; we were also lucky to have some great musicians on staff, as well. I still have tapes – probably turned to oxide dust and acetate by now – of music and effects we cut late into the night, after our day jobs were over.

And not all the excitement was from the music. We were in Chicago’s Boulevard Recording Studios the night of the protests at the Democratic Convention in 1968 and had to stop work due to the sirens outside. Tear gas even seeped into the control room as the police chased “hippies” through the streets.

Although my memories of studio sessions are clear, I must admit we used a lot of stock music, too. Most educational films didn’t have the budget for original music and if they did, it was for a major theme, not for stings and bridges. But stock libraries had it all, conveniently arranged, labeled and with rights.

Considering the vast music libraries now being used for everything from YouTube to theatrical features, it’s fitting that an award be created to honor those who best utilize this resource. Markee 2.0 is privileged to be the named sponsor of just such an award for best use of stock music in a film or video. The Markee 2.0 Magazine Award will join the list of honors presented by the CINDY Awards (“Cinema in Industry”) in the coming year.

CINDY began in 1959 as an industrial film awards event. They currently present 14 different CINDY Award events each year honoring theatrical, broadcast, non broadcast and interactive media professionals around the globe. In 2015, the Markee 2.0 Magazine Award for innovation in the use of stock music will take its place with the others. As the rules and procedures are finalized, you’ll find more information on the Markee website and in our eNewsletter.

If you use stock music, or if you know of an innovative user of music libraries, get ready to fill out a nomination form and join our little party. I can almost promise: no tear gas!