Quick Tips for Editing Music to Video

Matthew Kinnebrew / 5.27.2020

Having the right kind of music can make all the difference in video production. In this article, I will highlight how to edit music just right to overcome some common problems when editing music to video (and vice versa). Since the journey of editing music starts with finding the perfect tracks, I will kick things off with some resources I’ve used to find royalty-free music for commercial productions and personal projects.

Finding Music

There are a lot of sites out there for finding royalty-free music. Premium Beat, Artlist and Bensound are sites I’ve personally used and recommend. The music these sites offer generally ranges from $0-$200 in price.

If you are on a tight budget, I’d suggest Bensound – they host a variety of free royalty-free music tracks for personal projects.

Premium Beat has music tracks as low as $50 each, which not only provides you with a full music track but also includes three different cutdown versions, with durations ranging from 15 to 60 seconds. In addition to the track purchase from Premium Beat, you’ll also be able to download instrument streams.

Artlist requires a $200 yearly subscription, which gives you access to every song in the library for every type of use imaginable. If you think you’ll need more than four songs in a year, this platform provides the biggest bang for your buck.

Understanding the Senses

Before we get into the thick on the editing tips, let’s discuss our senses. Specifically, let’s talk about how the brain interprets an audio and visual experience. When light and sound reach the ear and eye at the same time, the signal from the ear to the brain happens faster than the signal from the eye to the brain. (Learn more here). This can lead to some post-production issues when trying to sync audio and visual experiences, like music in video production. Read on to see how we can resolve some of these issues.

As you’re jamming out to your auditory masterpiece, you may run into a common problem – the audio clip does not match the beats when nudging the clip frame by frame. No worries! All you need to do is switch your timeline to show Audio Time Units. (See Ex. 001). Doing so will allow you to slide audio clips with more precision.

After you perfectly sync the sections of your music bed, you may find that some beats still fall in-between frames. Even though showing audio time units will allow the audio clip to be moved with more precision, this will not change the measurements of how frames are counted. When a beat lands in between a frame, don’t forget that the ear is faster than the eye. Knowing this, place the edit point that you are trying to beat match on the frame that lands right before the beat. This works because the brain registers sound faster than the picture.

Creating a Music Bed

After you find an ideal music track, import the track into Premiere Pro and start marking all of the interesting parts of the track (beat drops, risers, accents, hook, etc.). Take your time with this process. Make something that complements the project and that you will still enjoy hearing for the next week or so while you’re editing.

As you’re jamming out to your auditory masterpiece, you may run into a common problem – the audio clip does not match the beats when nudging the clip frame by frame. No worries! All you need to do is switch your timeline to show Audio Time Units. (See the GIF below). Doing so will allow you to slide audio clips with more precision.

After you perfectly sync the sections of your music bed, you may find that some beats still fall in-between frames. Even though showing audio time units will allow the audio clip to be moved with more precision, this will not change the measurements of how frames are counted. When a beat lands in between a frame, don’t forget that the ear is faster than the eye. Knowing this, place the edit point that you are trying to beat match on the frame that lands right before the beat. This works because the brain registers sound faster than the picture.

Reverb Out

As an editor, you may be faced with a 30- or 60-second time constraint and the music may or may not cooperate. Remember, there is always a way to make the music fit what you need. One of the ways you can do this is by finding one of the last beats and reverbing it out. I learned this technique from Derek Lieu’s YouTube channel. Take a look at this tutorial to see the in-depth notes.

Functionally this technique allows you to end a music track wherever you see fit. There are some creative choices you’ll have to decide on when using the reverb effect in terms of what you want your reverb to sound like. After you are done tweaking the reverb effect, remember to save it as a preset so you can streamline your process for the future.

Client Work

Want to see the fruits of this process? Check out some of our recent post-production projects.

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