Flexible and Effective Music Scoring Software
Until recently, SmartSound Sonicfire was king of the hill, mostly because it didn't have any real competition. All that changed with the introduction of Sony's Cinescore, which is aimed at essentially the same market. Both programs generate music tracks that can match the length and mood of your video.
While Cinescore is impressive for a new software product, it won't be easy for Sony to go one-on-one with an established software developer. SmartSound is continuing to improve Sonicfire, and the company has a substantial lead in its music libraries, which are a vital component. If you can't find a library theme to match your video, the interface and extra features won't matter much.
Cue the Orchestra
This latest version of Sonicfire shows just how fierce the competition is likely to become. The best new feature in SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 4 is Mood Mapping. Each musical instrument is stored and controlled separately, which gives you far more flexibility in crafting the appropriateness of the music to your video content. In effect, you become a music producer at an audio mixing board, or a conductor in front of an orchestra. Too much bass? Bring it down a notch. Need more lead guitar? Bump up the volume to hear it soar above the other instruments.
You can adjust the eight instruments using a slider control for each one. Alternatively, you can select one of the Moods that are premixed for a specific purpose. For example, Dialogue lowers the overall volume and removes the instruments that get in the way of dialogue or narration. Heavy emphasizes the percussion. Atmosphere offers a mix that won't overwhelm the visuals.
You can overlay different Moods onto different portions of the video. The timeline has a separate Mood Map track, which lets you sync the Mood changes to your video's cuts, transitions, movements or other visual cues. Using the mouse, you can drag a Mood's starting and ending points along the timeline. If a Mood change is too abrupt or slow, you can alter the transition time between adjoining Moods. A video preview window lets you see where you are as the music progresses.
I found the resulting music tracks to be surprisingly effective. The musical transitions sounded as though they were composed by a human, not generated by a computer. Best of all, you can radically alter the length of the composition- say from five minutes to 50 seconds- and still have it sound professional. That's right. If you have to re-edit your video project at the last minute, rescoring the music won't be a big deal. It takes only a few minutes. Now that is something to be excited about.