Score music for video and film without writing a note: New soundtrack creator service helps you design your own custom music library with maximum ease - AudioFormula.com - Review and Video Intro
Photo credit: XLucas
Searching through a music library for hours on end can be a chore, when you know just what you have in mind, but can't quite find anything that fits the bill. A new service aims to change that, by creating what is effectively the world's first user defined music library by listening to what it's users want in serving up flexible, adaptable soundtrack solutions.
Everywhere you look, the web is becoming increasingly audio-visual in nature. Static pages with a few token images just don't cut it in the age of rich media content, whoever your audience is. As online presentations, internet video, podcasting and vlogs take center stage the need to find a decent soundtrack solution is one important factor in producing a polished independent production.
It's easier now than it ever has been to put together a quick background tune for your video or presentation, and simple-to-use tools like Garageband and Acid have let non-musicians drag and drop their way to a podcast with dramatic intro music or videos with arresting scores.
But sooner or later, a sense of deja vu starts to kick in. The same music loops make their way across the web, and before you know it your hard work decends into cliche. Your audience find themselves asking "now where have I heard that before?" as you trot out the same soundtrack that everyone else is using. So what do you do then?
One solution is to use music libraries. There are hundreds of discs full of fresh loops and samples, but the price of each one is often enough to make you think twice, and by the time you've paid out for several you might just as well have hired a musician to record your music for you.
While there are also web-based music libraries that offer a la carte, searchable content, prices are seldom cheap, and the process can become unnecessarily complicated in matching up key, tempo and music style.
But a recently launched service promises to bring easy to use, user defined content, browser based mixing and flexible, all-you-can download licensing to the table. Within a few minutes it is possible to combine musical elements in realtime, straight from your browser, producing a unique blend of music and drawing on a range of style.
In this introduction to the first personal custom soundtrack music library service, I look at the key features of what looks to be a very promising, scaleable solution to the creation of soundtracks, whether you're looking to lay down a backing track to your vlog, or to score an entire independent feature film.
User Defined Content
Audioformula composers can collaborate with one another through the site, to work on new music regardless of their location, and even more importantly it is possible for end-users to interact with these composers, requesting exactly what they need for the job at hand.
If none of the content in AudioFormula's library suits the job you have planned, you can put in a request for just the sort of music you are looking for, and the professional composers at AudioFormula will set about adding new content.
As such, the library on offer will ultimately be defined by its user base, rather than served up to them regardless of their needs. This is a nice idea on the part of the AudioFormula people, as listening to your end-user is surely the defining mode of doing business in the Web 2.0 landscape. In responding to the needs of their users, AudioFormula should be able to serve up content that fits as large a variety of needs for a large variety of situations.
Photo credit: Anastasios Kandris
Scalability of content and control
AudioFormula has also been put together with an eye of scalability. Scalability in terms of price plans, but also in terms of the simplicity, or complexity, with which the music library can be used. As you will see in the accompanying video, taken from AudioFormula's own website, auditioning and putting together clips is a very simple proposition that can be dealt with in a matter of minutes.
Choosing what AudioFormula call a "QuickMix" is really a matter of searching through the library using keywords, or by genre, trying out the options available, and downloading a ready-to-go mix that you can use in your productions without any extra work by dropping it into your iMovie, Final Cut, Premiere or Windows Movie Maker program.
For those that prefer a more hands on approach, though, the degree of control that the end-user can have over the final production is open-ended. Within any given QuickMix, the component parts, and alternatives to them, are supplied, so that you can choose to elements to the mix, or leave other elements out.
Photo credit: AudioFormula
These elements are nicely arranged when you are browsing through the library, and can be mixed together either within AudioFormula's mixer, or else downloaded for use in your music editor of choice. They have been divided up into easy to remember categories, each with its own symbol to make scrolling through and selecting the element you need a simple prospect. For example, rhythm layers have a yellow triangle next to the layer title, and pad layers with a green diamond.
Any layer within a collection can be used either individually or together, and each is tagged extensively, with indications to the type of mood, the type of music and the level of intensity, so that searching through collections can be done in a number of ways.
Photo credit: AudioFormula
If you want even greater control, in addition to being able to mix tracks together, and play with their levels as you might on a real mixing board from within the browser, effectively giving you the chance to audition the mix, you can download the files to edit in a music editor. Here, because the "edit blocks" in a given selection of music have all been designed to fit together in terms of play time, key and tempo, you can be sure that all of your elements fit nicely together when it comes to the final mix.
Scalability of price
Pricing, when compared to any of the alternatives, is very attractive, especially at the lower end of the production scale. As AudioFormula aims to serve a range of clients, from people making home movies or putting out video blogs, right up to independent filmmakers looking to score entire movies, there are a range of price plans available, ranging from a free plan for personal use and up to $449 a month, for large production studios, with plenty of options in between. Further details are available at the AudioFormula website.
For $24 a month, for instance, a video blogger can access unlimited music from AudioFormula's library, without having to pay out any further licensing or royalty fees. For those putting out a significant volume of video independently, this is a small price to pay for access to a whole lot of content that they can have a personal say in shaping.
Overall, AudioFormula has a lot of promise and offers what promises to be a rapidly growing, user-defined space in which professional composers interact directly with end-users in the creation of the library's content. To my knowledge, there are no other services offering this level of flexibility, and certainly not at AudioFormula's extremely competitive price point.
I can see this being of great interest to people putting out screencasts, vlogs and on or offline audio-visual presentations or even making videos at home for personal use, or in house corporate video. With the fact that the composers interact directly with the end-suer, it is perfectly possible that AudioFormula could offer a very realistic service to larger production companies in addition to serving the independent media producers mentioned above.
While the service is in beta, and as such has some finishing touches to put to the interface (the search option on the front page is still 'coming soon' for instance) overall this looks to be a very usable, scalable and versatile service that deserves to do very well for itself.