Tactile Video Positioning For Film Composers - New Feature Request

I’d like to open this topic up for those of us who score to video everyday in our DAWs. I’m a working professional film composer (30+ years).

Like many of you, when scoring to picture, I work exclusively in my DAW. I use Dorico for sketching ideas, orchestration, and notation. I’d love to do more film composition work in Dorico – but it’s not quite practical yet. It’s getting so close!

What feature is keeping Dorico from becoming the most powerful film composition tool on the planet? "

Tactile Video Positioning"

What do I mean by this?

Every DAW allows video to be placed visually (as a stream of thumbnails) anywhere in the timeline. The user can slide the video back or forward on the timeline with the mouse, visually, line it up with a particular sync point in the music , then lock it down. We can drag trim the beginning and end points of a video too, visually, just as if it were an audio track. It takes seconds to reposition a video against the music and try it in a different place.

Why is this essential to film composers?

When working in film and TV, the picture is changing daily. The days of starting a score with ‘locked picture’ are long gone. These days, film composers are composing steadily throughout the video editing process. This means we’re always re-working cues to fit picture changes. i.e. The first video cut we begin composing to is typically a 'Rough Assembly" which is always 150% too long. A week or two later we might receive a ‘Rough Cut’, then perhaps ‘Rough Cut 2’, then a ‘Test Screening Cut’ then a ‘2nd Test Screening Cut’, then a ‘Fine Cut’ then a ‘Pre-Lock’, etc… the list goes on and on for weeks.

Dorico is not practical for working with video (yet) in the professional world. Changing a ‘sync start’ frame of a video, or adjusting a frame ‘offset’ is virtually meaningless in my world. When I get new picture, I don’t know how the music I’ve already written will be affected until I see it against the picture. I don’t have a sync reference anymore. I may not even have TC burn-in on the new video. I need to be able to drop the new video in, grab it, and position it around until I discover an internal sync point that allows me to salvage the best parts of what I’ve already written. From there, I can work backwards and forwards to conform the rest of the cue to fit the new picture. No one cares how well the composition may have worked with the old picture. All that matters is how it works to the new, current picture.

Tactile Video Positioning is the most important feature a film composer could possibly hope for within Dorico. This new feature alone would put Dorico head-and-shoulders above all its competitors.

Thanks for listening.


My apologies for going off topic, but I just feel the need to express how this strikes me as dismally sad state of affairs. If this is what film scoring is / has become, my little, inaccessible ivory tower suddenly feels a lot more like home once more.

The big name composers have a team of orchestrators and music editors that help considerably when conforming music to picture changes. I’ve never had that luxury, but I’m sure if given the choice, most would probably want to do the work themselves too.

We would like to make it possible to show video thumbnails in Play mode and provide a means of dragging the video in order to position it relative to the start of the flow. I can’t say for sure when this will be implemented, but it is on our backlog.

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Another feature that is very helpful for conforming edits is multiple video tracks or track versions for video, Cubase implemented this just recently.

I know it’s a big request, but I had to ask. Thanks for taking it seriously. Dorico is so close to being able to change the film scoring game in a profound way . Play mode implementation of this feature would be fantastic. Moving video like this is really the essence of what film scoring demands today.

Ideally, the same video (long form full movie) could be referenced across multiple flows in a project, and each flow would allow its own, unique positioning of the video thumbnail row – Independent of TC.

In fact, these days ‘Time Code Burn-In’ is a luxury that typically only comes on the later picture edits, a month or so into the scoring process. This is why TC offsets and start frames don’t mean much in the early stages of working with picture. Most editors don’t see the point of striping a video with code when it’s changing length every minute in the edit bay. And if the composer waits for a time code print before he or she begins composing, there would be no time left to write the score. Once the film is nearing lock (and has TC) it’s too late to be writing new music. At that point it all about making what’s already been written, fit.

Thanks for considering this feature request!

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