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Music Spotting for Film

A quick intro to the spotting session...

Music Spotting, more commonly known as the "spotting session" is a commonly practiced process in the film industry. It is when the director and editor (sometimes composer) watch the fine cut of the film and discuss the framework for the music cue sheet and music design of the overall project. This process keeps collaboration and communication open between the post-production team and is filled with excitement. Depending on the length of the movie, this process may take days.

Here are our steps for a Music Spotting Session:

  1. The director and editor discuss initial ideas on how they want music to work with the film on a general basis.

  2. They then mark the points when they want music to start and stop into the timeline of the fine cut, and watch repeatedly.

  3. Then they discuss ideas on how they want the music to function within the sequence. They sometimes throw in temp music to see whether their ideas work or not.

  4. Finally they decide where the music should come from, which can be one of three places: acquiring licenses for already existing score or songs, composing original score, or pulling from an already owned music library. Budget plays a major role in this step.

Communicating ahead of time with your composer, director, or editor will also help lay out what you need to accomplish and how you need to accomplish it during the Music Spotting. If I have already chosen a composer before shooting the film, I will share the script with him/her to predict which sections of the film will be scored. This is also a great time for your composer to add their own unique perspectives and creative input into the project.

The spotting session for me is one of my favorite parts of the filmmaking process; I love envisioning the picture and music working simultaneously to deliver the story in a moving and powerful way.

How do you like to think about music for your film? Let us know!

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