We all know the power of music when it comes to filmmaking. Just think of any John Williams or Hans Zimmer score.
Nowadays, there are so many music software programs to choose from. And choosing the “right” one can feel quite overwhelming.
But film scoring is all about creativity. So the best music production software is one that allows you to be the most creative.
Below is a list of the best DAW, or digital audio workstation, programs around film composing. Composing music in these programs will only elevate your film music to meet the industry standard.
See Related: What is Film Editing?
Logic Pro X
Logic is incredibly versatile when it comes to music composition. Film composers can draw from the various midi instruments in their expansive libraries.
And they can easily navigate the user tools to create professional-sounding film scores that deserve a proper film mix on a sound stage. Logic is owned exclusively by Apple so while it can perform on a Mac, it cannot perform on Windows.
But the functionality of Logic makes it ideal for professional producers and composers. In it, you can easily record multiple tracks.
And it possesses the capabilities to make editing and mixing a breeze. That being said, Logic Pro X does come with a significant price tag.
But with that price, you’re also receiving a formidable amount of sample libraries and features. And your creations will only benefit from such quality.
Below are some of the pros and cons of Logic to get an idea of the bigger picture.
- Logic Pro X’s interface is easy and intuitive for beginners to use
- Its menu allows you to see all mixing levels at once while recording and editing
- The MIDI sequencer is easy to use for notation
- Mixing and mastering in Logic is high-quality and makes it a fantastic option for stellar music in films
- Logic is an Apple product so the notation software cannot be used on a PC
- The initial menu can be overwhelming due to the number of windows featured
- Logic is a fairly expensive option if you’re a film composer just starting out
Cubase and Logic Pro X often compete for the top spot amongst film composers. Both all-in-one DAWs and can travel with you anywhere.
The audio quality and virtual instruments on Cubase alone are impressive. Add in their functions for recording, and you’ve got an easy on-the-fly production software.
Sounds can easily be edited in Cubase. This makes it an ideal music program for scoring films or even a video game if you like.
The media, plugins, and samples it provides make Cubase stand out from the rest. With easy-to-learn technology, the learning curve isn’t too steep for new users to climb.
- Cubase’s intuitive interface makes creating music to film easy
- It is a moderately-priced DAW
- Its sample media can be used in your composition for a film or video game
- Keyboard shortcuts can be difficult to learn
- Its vast instrument library can take up a lot of room on your device
- Cubase upgrades do not always include sufficient features so the investment of the software does not increase over time
Ableton is a notation software that was initially designed for live performances. But film composers have come to rely on it for its music production capabilities.
Ableton’s most unique feature is its layout views. In Arrangement View and Session View, you can drag and drop arrangements and musical loops.
This helps to economize all screen real estate when mixing. And it makes the search for all of your parts all the more accessible.
As an impressive DAW, Ableton also features quick MIDI editing capabilities. In fact, you can even activate a MIDI Map mode which assigns your MIDI controller to your favorite synths.
This makes Ableton ideal to play for live performances. But it also works as a great in a home or full-scale production studio for producing recorded tracks.
- Ableton is an incredible live performance tool
- It is increasing in popularity throughout the industry
- Its instruments and tools are ideal for contemporary beat-making with exciting sample sounds
- The menu is easy to navigate on screen
- Ableton still lacks some composing features and tools that other programs offer
- Its limited tools can make it difficult for audio editors as there is no way to batch edit
- This can make it difficult when scoring audio to video
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Pro Tools initially did not keep up with other DAWs used for film scoring. But over the past years, Pro Tools has made impressive gains.
Pro Tools’ audio workflow can make your process as a composer go along much faster. But some still find Pro Tools inadequate for composing.
This DAW was initially designed for live instrument recording and post-production mixing. So if you’re looking to record orchestral sounds, Pro Tools can certainly work for you.
But if you find a related program that better suits your film scoring, still consider learning Pro Tools. You might find it to be the best for your score post-production.
- Pro Tools integrates with various UAD devices, helping your CPU to process less power
- Multitrack Recording and Arrangement of Music features make recording and arranging a DAW highlight
- A composer can easily import and export multitrack files
- In this way, Pro Tools emulates traditional analog multitrack recording
- Pro Tools offers loop-based production samples
- This aligns your sound more with hip-hop and electronic music as opposed to orchestral music
- As a DAW, Pro Tools does not offer too many creative ideation tools
- This can make it difficult for editing sound to accompany video
Other film scoring software
Your search for the perfect DAW is certainly not exhausted by this list alone. There are plenty of other programs out there for you to explore.
Other programs for you to explore include Digital Performer, Studio One, and Reaper. They may not match the power and performance of those listed above.
But they are still worth a try. Ultimately, your creativity will need to be uniquely matched with your preferred DAW.
There is no one program that fits all film scores. So take the time to discover what software will work best for you.
Keep Reading: What is VFX?
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