Temp music = temporary music and it’s just as it sounds. It’s a placeholder music guide that video editors cut to and will later replace with the final score. If you are a filmmaker, composer or working in the video production business you have probably heard of or been affected by the dreaded ‘Temp Love’. For those who haven’t become familiar with temp love: TL refers to the attachment producers and editors can have to the temporary music in their video or film.
Why it’s unpleasant: Imagine a piece of music that fits perfectly to your video edit, all the accents are emphasizing in the right place, beats are on the cuts, things are looking and sounding amazing, but wait…your edit is cut to a Hans Zimmer cue from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ soundtrack. Yikes…no chance of those rights being secured! So, what do you do? The producer is in love with the edit and now you have to tell them that the music has to go.
Luckily the temp love trap can be avoided with some careful considerations.
4 Considerations For Avoiding & Dealing With Temp Love
1. Hold off on using temp music for as long as possible.
The less time you and the producer are listening to the same temp music over and over the better! Naturally, after repetitiously watching the same sequences the “placeholder” music becomes married to the picture. This is bad news down the road when it’s time for the final score to come in.
If possible, don’t add any music until you absolutely have to. This allows you to focus on making the storyline or content of the video as great as it can be. When the temp or final score is finally added it will make the edit that much more amazing.
2. Use temp music in your budget.
If it works, it works! Why not make the “temp” the final music? This is why using temp music within your budget is a good idea. Royalty-free stock music libraries like Bedtracks have a huge number of high-quality tracks spanning a variety of genres. When the producer says, “I love this track! Who is it?” be the hero that says, “it’s ours to license!” This begins to remove the temping process, saving you lots of time.
3. Working with a composer? Get the composer involved as early as possible.
Composers fear TL the most out of anyone in post-production because their finished work is all too often met with the phrase “it’s just not right”. This is because the score is battling temp music that has been perfectly synced to the picture and watched on repeat for hours and hours. This can be frustrating for a composer because quite often producers will request a sound-alike of the temp. It’s not inspiring for the composer and therefore the overall music for the project suffers. Not to mention that this can tread into risky copyright infringement territory. (we recommend checking out this important blog post on legal rights in your video.)
You can avoid this by getting the composer involved early. The more they know about your vision and ideas for music the better a job they can do. How early is early? In my opinion, there isn’t really such a thing as too early. Some Directors being their composer in before anything has been shot. They keep them in the loop right from the beginning. This will allow the composer to become deeply familiar with the characters and story. At the end of the day, the music will be stronger and more unique to the project. We recently wrote this blog on the composer/director relationship which you may find to be useful.
If the budget allows, have the composer make sketch tracks instead of using temp music. This way when the final score is added it will be in line with the sketch tracks you had been editing to and the music will flow with the cuts and seamlessly breathe with the storyline. This is a big time saver for both the composer and filmmaker and it will result in an overall productive and positive working situation.
4. The composer needs to understand the reasons for temp music choices.
It’s not a perfect world and for different reasons/situations, a composer will come into the project late in the production schedule. Usually by this time the editor and producer have developed some sort of attachment to the temp music. In this case, it’s important to communicate what it is you like about the temp. Is it the musical style? Tempo? Instrumentation, etc.? The composer can then shape the score into something that is unique to the project while retaining the fundamental characteristics of the temp.
Thanks for reading! I hope this post has helpful in giving you some insight on the potential pitfalls of the temp music practice and how to better navigate those pitfalls. Did I miss anything? What are your own experiences dealing with temp love? Comment and let us know!