Cinescore 1 Review
COW Library : Audio Professionals : Aharon Rabinowitz : Cinescore 1 Review
During NAB, I had the chance to sit down with some folks at Sony and get a first look at Sony Cinescore; a program designed to quickly and easily create a professional soundtrack for audio or video. It looked pretty intuitive, not to mention fun, so I decided to give it a try it myself in my own studio.
I have to admit, I'm extremely wary of any software product that claims to do a lot of the work for you, because it usually means that there is a lack of flexibility. But while Cinescore is not a perfect program, it's very flexible in most situations, and really does do the majority of the work for you.
WHAT IS IT?
To be clear, Cinescore is not a looping program or an audio editor. It's a completely different animal. In Cinescore, you define a length of time, the style, etc., and the program does its best to create a melody that spans that length of time.
Cinescore employs the concept of themes in musical creation, with the ability to change the style, intensity and mood over time. You direct Cinescore to change these aspects as the song progresses - and the transition between mood and intensity is always nice and smooth, unless you don't want it to be.
Cinescore comes with 20 themes, ranging from Electronica and Rock, to Klezmer and Polka. One of their themes, for example, called "The Monaco Diamond" has so many possible variations and styles, you can use it in anything from a romance scene to a high-tension, action-adventure chase scene - it's really that flexible. Oh, and did I mention, easy?
On their own, the themes may not always give you the hit you need at a given point in time. In those cases, Cinescore provides an extra track for adding in audio transitions and hits, as well as a ton of sound and musical effects to get the job done. Also, Cinescore utilizes a simple visual system for crossfading music and sound effects. Overlapping audio automatically creates a smooth transition, which can then be altered in a number of ways. Again, the name of the game here is "smooth and flexible."
Also crucial is that you can import and watch your video playback along with your audio, placing it on the timeline, and marking points where you want certain audio events to take place. This is extremely helpful in the scoring workflow. And it doesn't hurt that the interface is clean, straightforward and easy to use, as well.
VERY STRONG BUT NOT PERFECT
Now there's a lot of good here, but I do want to mention some of the bad. For starters, the time slider is not as responsive as I'd like. Dragging it along is a bit of a pain - but, of course, you can always just jump to any point in time by just clicking on it. Also I wouldn't mind the ability to add in an extra audio track or two, so that I could have a little more room to play.
Finally, some of the themes, especially the more orchestral ones, aren't as precise as some other themes. Tempos, moods, and intensity can't be changed until the musical section is complete, and on longer sections this could create some complications.
Cinescore costs a measly $175. I've spent more on just a few pieces of non-customizable royalty-free music, so when you get down to it, the program pays for itself almost immediately.
Cinescore may not come with the kind of music you need for a given project. If that happens, Sony offers theme packs that include new pieces of music to add to Cinescore's already robust collection. The newest theme packs (priced at $99.95 each) include a wedding-themed collection called "Pass the Ring" and a cinematic pack called "Incredible Vistas." Both are quite impressive and full of great musical options and styles that will add depth to most any project.
Over the last few months I've used Cinescore in a variety of situations, from pitching an idea to clients to scoring a final animation. While it may not be the perfect tool in every situation, it's been absolutely invaluable in presenting my ideas and completing my work on-time and under-budget. I recommend Sony Cinescore for anyone who needs a quick and inexpensive solution for professionally scoring their projects. I give it 4-1/2 Cows.
Aharon Rabinowitz heads the Creative Cow Podcast series and is the Creative Director of the Creative Cow Master Series of DVD training tools. He is a noted animator whose work appears on many major networks and cable channels. He hosts in a number of forums in the Cow, most notably, Adobe After Effects.
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