“The Edge of Darkness” Highlights the Important Role of Music Selection + $200 off!

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Guest post by Ron Risman. We've featured him here on planet5D before with his videos and timelapse workshops (there's a new one… see below!)


Note also – scroll all the way down to get the discount code exclusively for planet5D readers!

Photography and videography is my profession, and whether I am producing a commercial, a wedding film or a time-lapse I always find [at least] the first piece of music before starting to work on the edit. I have been told that this is the hard way of doing it and that I should edit the film first and then place the music behind it. For me this method just doesn't work well. 

It is true, a soundtrack can be chosen at any time, but I feel that when you choose it up front you can then identify the sections of music that convey the emotions you want the audience to feel for particular scenes within the film. When you find the soundtrack first you can now edit the story and the music to make it work. Even if I could afford to have a composer score the edit I would still to know the timing of the music and how it eb's and flows ahead of time – at least for my time-lapse films where the story being told is not about narrative.

When I produce wedding films I want the client to shed a few tears of joy as they watch the film. Sometimes it is the words in the film, sometimes it is the feeling of the music, usually it is a combination of both. A bad toast can often be enhanced with the right score behind it.

For commercials it's often the timing and flow of the music that helps to dictate placement and timing of the audio and visuals.

In my latest time-lapse film “The Edge of Darkness” I wanted to convey the unnerving feeling that shooting alone in the dark can create, especially since turning on a flashlight when you hear something lurking in the dark would ruin the timelapse. To convey this feeling I wanted to find a soundtrack that would match that feeling. After a few hours of searching and testing different tracks, I finally settled on a score from Alex Khadin called Darkness Falls (Licensed through Neosounds). After downloading a demo version to test with the clips, I went ahead and licensed the track once the edit was complete.

During the edit process I would select clips to match the flow of the music, and if I felt the clips worked better earlier or later I would then consider trimming the audio to make the visuals work. For me, this is a back and forth process that provides the greatest flexibility. It does add more time to the edit process, but hopefully it results in a better overall film.

The bottom waveform in the illustration below (Figure 1) represents the complete song from start to finish (4:48 seconds).The top waveforms represent the portions of the song that I used in the final edit. The spaces between them are only there to illustrate where they were originally located in the song. These pieces, placed together, make up the soundtrack for this film. The length of the edited version ended up being 2:41 seconds.

Audio Timeline


Ron Risman is a timelapse specialist and award-winning commercial cinematographer based in New England. Ron teachesmulti-day advanced timelapse photography and motion control workshops around the country.You can check out his upcoming workshops at TimelapseWorkshops.com

Follow Ron:

Instagram:  Instagram.com/Timeographer
Facebook:  Facebook.com/risman
Vimeo:  vimeo.com/risman
Twitter:  twitter.com/cameratown

Learn Advanced Timelapse Techniques at Ron Risman's Timelapse Death Valley Workshops in October

Don't miss the opportunity to learn how to capture professional quality timelapses at the upcoming Timelapse Death Valley workshops – led by specialist Ron Risman.


Boston – July 22,, 2015 – Timelapse Workshops has announced that their upcoming 3-Night and 4-Night advanced time lapse photography workshops will be held at the beautiful Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, CA in late September and early October. Timelapse Death Valley combines daily class time with plenty of in-field instruction and shooting. The workshops focus on teaching you the skills needed to capture day and night time lapses – with a focus on the night sky – in motion! The workshop is open to all photographers and cinematographers.

The workshop is run by time lapse specialist and award-winning cinematographer Ron Risman. Risman has been a photographer for over 30 years and has specialized in time lapse photography since 2008. His work has appeared in both Television and films, and has produced work for The Discovery Channel, HBO, Land Rover, FOX News CT, Berklee College of Music, iTTQ Japan, Liberty Mutual, Restoration Hardware, and many others.

Each workshop features two instructors and class size is limited to a 5:1 student/instructor ratio.

Death Valley National Park is the largest National Park in the continental U.S. and is home to some of the most beautiful, varied, and colorful landscapes you have ever photographed – from the salt flats of Badwater Basin to the beautiful badlands at Zabriskie Point and Twenty Mule Team Canyon; to the rippled sand dunes of Mesquite Sand Flats. Other incredible locations include Mosaic Canyon, the Racetrack, Dante’s View, and many more.

Ron Risman's Timelapse Death Valley workshops

Death Valley is also known for it's incredibly dark skies. The dates for the Death Valley workshops were scheduled just after the full moon, so that participants will have the opportunity to capture stunning day and night-sky time lapses, including the Milky Way and other celestial objects. The waning moon will rise later and later each night turning our dark nightscapes into beautiful compositions by lighting our foregrounds with beautiful, natural light.

Millkway A7s


planet5D readers will save $200 OFF Registration when they register using COUPON CODE “5DTLDV200”.

Get more information at: www.TimelapesDeathValley.com

(cover photo credit: snap from Ron Risman)

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