It's a common conundrum, especially in this era of the dreaded DMCA and take-down threats. Virtual filmmakers, for the most part (Like Me) are novices. We come to our chosen platforms with a simple goal: To tell a story. As often is the case, we have no money, no "networked" contacts, and no 30-piece orchestra waiting to score our latest outings. After a filmmaker takes on the task of traversing the rough terrain of making their film, suddenly they come to an obstacle that seems just about impossible to overcome - Unless Randy Newman or John Williams is your uncle.
The music. Music is an integral part of any filmed piece, be it a feature, short film, or documentary. In real world cinema, it provides a cohesive backdrop, punctuating key moments and amplifying emotions. Who can forget the shrieking of violin strings of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic horror film Psycho. Bernard Hermann's score is iconic even today, and although many may not know his name, they can name that score in one beat. The same with John Williams theme from Jaws. More recently, composers have breached the iron curtain they once composed behind to take the spotlight - and collect the accolades for their work, Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman) being the first. It illustrates just how critical a score can be to providing a film with a whole identity.
Machinima is no different in necessity. While we don't have access to major league composers, the technological age has provided bereft filmmakers with fantastic alternatives. With programs like SonicFire, Sony Acid and Garage Band accessible to beginners, filmmakers are finding they no longer need a music degree or a famous uncle in order to find the perfect musical companion to their filmed piece.
Also, for those with a paper-thin budget, sites like Magnatune works in cooperation with independent musicians from around the globe to allow users like you or I to license their musical works for a small fee. While these musicians are not well known figures in the music industry or not professionally established, they create everything from original Rock and Pop to Classical selections for others to use, and that's not a resource one can take for granted.
My first outing knew no boundaries, specifics, or (very obviously) the technicalities of virtual film making. I just grabbed my favorite CD's from my personal music library and set my films to it, as most amateurs often do. But even hobbyists are getting their work removed from the web, and an audience, for such unintentional infractions. Many don't- at least I didn't- stop to think; "Oh, I could be sued." Music companies don't care who you are or how benign the project, they just want their royalties. They want paid... and, they should be. The internet has indiscriminately allowed anyone to become a creator, producer, distributor, commentator, celebrity - whether qualified by experience or degree or not. Yes, even Miss Mary Sue Smith, quaint soccer mom with her homemade movies filmed on her camcorder set to her favorite Celine Dion ballad, all this to share with extended family on Youtube. From the perspective of the professional music industry, we're all a potential threat. Even Mary Sue gets smacked with the almighty Banhammer for copyright infringement.
But, where once a Machinimator's flow seemed to stop immediately when the topic of score reared it's ugly head, now there are viable avenues. And I've just mentioned a few. I encourage you to share your own resources below in the comments so that others may find this hurdle more easily overcome!
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