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I intend to make a 30-sec trailer for my short movie and want to add a background music. The problem is, I can't seem to cut the music right. The results always sound, for the lack of a better word, butchered. I need to cut the verse out of a song, leaving only the intro and then seamlessly into the chorus, like they make on those TV-spot trailers.

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Unfortunately, music can be very unforgiving when it comes to cutting/splicing...

  • Avoid cutting in the middle of a musical phrase. There are some exceptions, but generally, the only way to make this work is to use the second half from an identical-ish phrase.
  • Make sure your splices don't break the tempo. The human brain is very adept at recognizing patterns, and if the tempo is interrupted during a splice, it will be obvious. Keep in mind, that you can bend this rule sometimes, and add or remove a couple beats (much like dropping a 2/4 measure into the middle of a 4/4 song).
  • Make sure you follow natural/realistic chord progressions. You can change the current progression, but the new one has to "work" (feel natural, complete, intentional, etc.).
  • Be aware of changes in the instrumentation. Often when cutting to a later part of the song, the sudden shift in instrumentation will stick out like a sore thumb. You also have to watch out for changes in the intensity of the song. Often a carefully tailored, long crossfade can solve this, but not always. You could also try ramping into it, by taking the material in the second clip that comes just before the cut, and create a reverse reverb with it on a separate track. Sometimes you may have to shift the crossfade earlier (or later), which allows the change to start coming in at the beginning of a phrase - as opposed to mid-phrase.
  • The above reverse reverb method, is extremely useful for "easing in" to more abrupt changes - the 0-60 moments, when you cut from quiet, to full code. It preserves the intensity of the moment, while making it sound more intentional. The clip that is used to make the reverse reverb in this situation, usually needs to come from the end of the phrase that you're cutting to.
  • You may find yourself needing to create an "ending" for a song; that is, when the actual ending won't work (for whatever reason). Unfortunately, a simple fade will often feel contrived or unnatural, and they generally fade too quickly. However, you can achieve good results with reverb. Duplicate a clip of the last couple seconds (probably the last full note and the duration of your fade). Then find/create a reverb with a decently long tail (3-5sec), and more importantly, find one with a timbre that matches the song. Keep in mind that the amount and type of early reflections, predelay, etc., will have to be matched with the song as well. Usually you'll need to roll off a significant amount of highs from the reverb, as they'll tend to be way too bright. Now print your verb to the clip, 100% wet, then blend it in to taste with your fade. You may need to shift your reverb clip up or down the timeline, to create a more natural transition. Also, you generally don't want the verb clip coming in too soon - just so it has time to smoothly transition from the fadeout, to the reverb. Sometimes, you can create an ending by blending the actual ending, into the "new" one.

Here's an example of a trailer song.

And here's a new cut that I made for a trailer. Hopefully this will give you a feel for how these methods can sound, and maybe help you think outside the box. Here's another cut that's a great example of the use of reverb to create ramp-ups and new endings. Hope these help... =)

Cheers!

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This can be one of the easiest or most frustrating tasks in video production. I'm not sure what software you're using or what style of song but here are some general tips:

  • Some songs just cut naturally. I can't think of any examples off-hand, but it doesn't sound like this is the case for you anyway.

  • Many trailers utilize a voiceover or complete pause of the music to make the transition more natural. This is used very frequently in trailers for action movies.

  • Utilize fades in the audio track, especially for slower songs since it tends to sound awkward in upbeat songs.

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You could try to add FX like an explosion or swoosh when changing from 1 scene to another one. This will mask the transition thus making it less obvious to hear.

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