SmartSound’s Sonicfire Pro software lets producers and film editors quickly find a song or music in a broad range of styles and customize how it plays throughout a film or video project. Now in version 5, Sonicfire Pro is an amazingly robust and valuable option for those who don’t have an additional budget for a staff composer but still want professional sounding scores that they can change up in duration, variation and mood to match the cuts of the scene.
SmartSound sells the software in various bundled packages with its royalty-free libraries, which range in price from $49.95-$498.85. A new option for Sonicfire Pro 5 is the Scoring Edition, which helps you score a project that’s already edited. It’s a more comprehensive version of SmartSound’s Express Track browser (described below, which is included in the new Scoring Edition), aimed at those who want to choose their music ahead of time, and then edit to it. But if you’re after even finer control and lusher scores, there’s yet another option: a needledrop bundle of Sonicfire Pro 5 that gives you access, for a licensing fee, to seriously sweet production music. 5 Alarm Music is the exclusive needledrop distributor of Sonicfire Pro 5 and offers the software for free with a gorgeous selection of tracks to choose from in a range of styles, including classical, pop, rock, industrial, corporate and indie. I’ll be focusing on 5 Alarm Music’s needledrop version in this review. (Stay tuned for my full review of Sonicfire Pro 5 software and how to use it with royalty-free music, coming shortly).
The Sonicfire Pro 5 software itself installed easily. After it installs, it updates itself, without any issues. The interface has a timeline, and various familiar options and editing tools, like most video and music sequencing software. One of my favorite things is the Sonicfire Express Track, a browser that gives me a list of all my songs and tracks, the BPM (beats-per-minute), which is organized by style and keyword. If my scene is “Ominous,” I click that keyword and it gives me a list of tracks that fit that mood/feeling. This saves me the time of listening to dozens and dozens of tracks, like a Music Supervisor would do for a film or game project. It also gives me information like “frames per beat” and “blocks per beat,” as well as which PRO (performing rights organization) the composer belongs to (BMI, ASCAP, etc.), their name, descriptions of the song itself, and of course, which instruments are in the composition. All extremely helpful information.
After I select a song to be used in the project, I’m given “building blocks” to work within the timeline, which I can rearrange to fit the action and storytelling on screen. These are the separated elements/instruments of the music (piano, flute, etc.). After using this software on a few sample projects with the supplied 5AlarmMusic hard drive, I’m more than impressed with how 5 Alarm Music has enabled their libraries to work so well with the technology. It was very intuitive. As a composer, I can see the detailed effort that it takes to enable a song or track to work properly in this unique format. The composer or someone had to take the master files and create easy-to-use “blocks” and variations that work together, which can be a time-consuming process. and because this software has a large library of tracks already enabled, this saves so much time for the film editors and producers who are the likely candidates to use it. I’m told that more and more libraries are climbing onboard this exciting technology/format, but currently, 5 Alarm is the exclusive distributor.
In a nutshell, if you choose to use this software from 5 Alarm Music, it’s completely free and you just pay for the music that you end up using for the project. I’ve listened to all of the tracks that were included on the external hard drive, and it’s some of the best content and tracks I’ve heard for software like this. The selections are heartfelt, exercise solid composition skills and, most important, emotions. Some of it gave me those goose bumps and ignited my inspiration for projects and productions. If I wasn’t already a composer myself, I’d probably use this software on more projects. For editors and filmmakers without a composing background, this package will be a dream come true.