Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abaltat Muse 2.0

I've been playing with this remarkable composition tool for some months now and honestly have had so much fun with it that I could hardly break away to review it!

Muse is an intelligent scoring application which analyzes the color values and other properties of your video and then creates a music bed appropriate to the video.

On the surface, it seems quite simple. Open a Quicktime movie in Muse and click Compose. A dialog box will appear with choices of 7 different library styles, each with several variations. In seconds, Muse creates a music bed. Don't like it, modify it using keyframes which pop up choices of instruments, volume, transposition, scale or pan. Add a color tracker to alter the score at that timeline point to the color selected.

It that basic composition mode is insufficient, click Compose on the main preview window and then click Advanced. Options include style of composition (melodic or freestyle), color tracking options, tempo, complexity and jingle (repetitive elements within the track).

When done, export as a wav, aiff or Quicktime file. Bring it into your NLE and sync with the clip. And it's all royalty free.

To illustrate, I started with a quick edited sequence of a fast-paced ride through Dallas shot on a Sony EX-1 at 1 fps. Naturally, I would want a fast paced track to accompany it.

I selected Retro Tech from the Band pop up and experimented with a few presets, adding a few keyframes and bringing in instruments, fx and some fades. The video seemed to lend itself more to a freestyle composition than a Melodic method, Melodic following traditional more structured rules of composition.

In just a few minutes of tinkering, I produced what I consider to be a very fitting music bed.

One of the complaints that editors often voice about royalty free music is a certain mundane sameness of the tracks. No one could ever accuse Muse of producing such auditory boredom. It is as if you actually had a composer sitting beside you scoring to the music. Of course, a side value here is if you actually do have a composer, the Muse track can be a guideline to tell your composer "I want something that sounds like this."

At $299, it is a bargain. Anyone who has licensed music knows that $299 doesn't go very far in buying clips. And those clips are of stock lengths and don't always match up to the video. Muse produces music beds which just sound like custom compositions and with the almost-infinite variations which can be applied, no two clips ever need sound the same.

I would wish that future versions could include a greater variety of libraries and that a preview function of various styles could be added. My other significant wish-list items would be the ability to track luminance values in addition to color as well as to have a color-picker to choose within the video a more exact color.

I love it; I commend it to you. There is no other product even remotely like it. Muse is a simple and fun tool to add tremendous value to any production.

By the way, here's the clip with the final music bed--

Check it out at