Newsletter #137 - Feb 10, 2007
Music and Sound Effects

Personal Library
A new subscriber was doing what we all do, trying to understand copyright rules when using music in her projects. That's one of those subjects a bit hard to talk about unless you're a lawyer representing one side or the other.
It' been about a year since I devoted a newsletter to the subjects of music and audio, and the world keeps turning. In this issue I'll show you where I draw my lines today. You are free to draw your lines differently.

I lost a hard drive last year, and one of the things on it was my original library of computer-based audio files. As I re-build it, I'm much more in tune with copyright issues, as my work has evolved over the years from being purely for private viewing to now being almost totally online for open viewing. I'm not comfortable upload a video to YouTube that uses a Willie Nelson tune for background music, something created years ago for family viewing.
I'm going to illustrate where I draw my lines, and where I get my 'free' music by showing you my current audio library. I'll go into each folder and tell you where I got the files from.

Most of the sub-folders in my Music folder are the source files for the source files I keep in a Movie Maker 1 Music collection. That's where I split, organize, rename files for use in MM2 projects.
When I get to the point of adding music to an MM2 project I can go two ways. If I know exactly the file I want from my music library, I can import it directly into MM2 and drag it on the timeline. If I'd rather do some browsing of the music and pick various clips, I'll import the full MM1 music collection into MM2 so the full library is there for the previewing and using. By the way, Vista's Movie Maker doesn't give you the option to import a collection.
My music library is one source of music and sound effects for my projects.
Ripped from Video

Another main source is my video clip library. The file list at the left shows the audio files I've ripped from my Europe301 camcorder tapes. I store them in a different MM1 collection than my music library.
If I want both my generic music library and this Europe301 audio collection in MM2, I'll import both collections.
Here's the top level view of my MM2 collections when I'm working on a new project about Florence. Europe 301 Audio is the collection of all the ripped audio files of the vacation. Florence and its sub-collections are the video clips and still pictures specific to Florence. Music is my all-purpose library of audio files.
MM2 Collections
Note the other Audio folder... the audio clips specific to Florence. They are duplicated in the Florence collection and the Europe 301 audio collection. If I'm making a project about Rome and find myself a bit short on music, I'll use some from Florence or another place in Italy.
I'm comfortable using any of the audio from any camcorder footage that I personally shot in public places, or in other places when I'm permitted to use my camcorder.
In the rest of the newsletter, I'll talk about the folders in the main music library, where I got the clips from, and talk about a couple websites that appear to offer music and audio files free to use... we'll look at the fine print.
... pause for a few notes...


I sent last week's newsletter to my contact at TripAdvisor. She loved it and was going to pass it on to the full production staff. She noted they eat lunch in the bagel shop down the street.... for those who opt to make a candid video of them chuckling over the days submittals.
The videos that I and Chuck Bentley have on TripAdvisor are getting many more views than those we have on YouTube.
One of them is of interest to this newsletter.... being early in the submittals to TripAdvisor, if you go to the Walt Disney World page to do some trip planning, and click on the link to submitted videos, there's only one there so far, an 8-1/2 minute one I submitted on Jan 26th... with 268 views to date. My opinion is that I'm allowed to take pictures and video at Disney World and Epcot, while Chuck thinks I'm at risk of being contacted by the Disney police. I contend that Disney facilities have camera stores dotted all over the place, have marked photo scenic spots, and characters that pose with you and your kids. How could they then say you can't upload the pictures and video you took to TripAdvisor or YouTube? Maybe it's in the fine print I didn't read.
Vista Corner... 
The first of Microsoft's Knowledge Base articles about Movie Maker and DVD Maker in Vista are online. Here are some I found interesting...
KB923946 - "... some video files that are encoded by using the Microsoft Screen Capture codec do not contain time stamps. These time stamps are required to use Movie Maker to correctly edit and publish a movie. Unlike other video file types, the Microsoft Screen Capture codec only saves time stamps to the file when the screen changes during the encoding process. This behavior creates gaps in the file that Movie Maker cannot render..."
KB926672 - Windows DVD Maker slide show... you find that the slide show length does not match the song length. Therefore, there are sections of silence between the songs...  This problem occurs because the lengths of the MP3 files that are encoded with a VBR are not correctly detected when you create the slide show. WORKAROUND... use song files that are not encoded with a VBR.
KB929532 - "... you try to capture video in Windows Media Center from an analog video camera or from a VCR. You try to do this by using a TV tuner card. However, you receive the following error message: The Device is in Use.... WORKAROUND... stop and temporarily disable Windows Media Center Receiver Service. Then, try to capture video in Microsoft Windows Movie Maker from an analog video camera or from a VCR..."  And I've been telling everyone that Movie Maker in Vista only does digital importing via firewire. Guess I'll need to try some analog capturing. 
.... back to the main topic...

My Sources of Music and Audio Clips
My first folder is Allie's Keyboard. This past Christmas, our grand-daughter got an iPod... of no interest to my projects. But the year before it was a Yamaha keyboard, which I found of great interest... not for her playing tunes, but for what I could record on my camcorder tapes, over 100 sample files included on the keyboard.
I tested it by recording some... picking up the music and other household noises.
Sample - from Allie's Keyboard 
The keyboard includes at least 5 hours of build-in samples. I'll be doing some more recording... with less background noise.

Belfast Gin is next... a group I first saw at a local medieval festival. Their website's Music page has a couple pieces free to download and use.
Local musicians vary in experience and quality... and how they give permission to use their material. Some pieces might be free to use and others not.

You may remember Bruce Shankle who developed the WMMUtil app that lets you see which of your source files are missing from a movie project. He also plays the piano... and his wife Karen has a business teaching piano.
Bruce and Karen have some of their recorded pieces on their website, free to use. Here's a link to Bruce's Musical Side. From there you can get to Karen's music too.

The Civil War offers much to remember, and some people focus on the music. This link was given to me a long time ago by a newsletter reader, and I've been using snippets of Civil War music from 19 pieces ever since. 

Darth Sinister is a forum member who recently posted info about a couple music scores he wrote, and offered them for free use. I downloaded his Victory Battle piece.
When someone offers free use of home-made music, and the piece is good... add it to your library.

The Blue Devils Drum Corps offers some pieces... the one I have is an 11 minute one.

The Archival Preservation of Player Piano Music Rolls is a noble project, with the goal of digitizing the world's library of player piano rolls, and placing the results online for free use. They are now up to having almost 5,000 midi files. I wrote to Terry Smythe about his project, specifically about copyright aspects. He told me he was working on the basis that any copyrights of player piano rolls having expired long ago, and I should feel free to use his midi files, as he wasn't copyrighting the conversion work he was doing.
As file space is so much smaller with midi files, I leave them in that format, play them in WMP, and capture them into Movie Maker as narrations as I choose to use them.
One of my projects from the old rolls is the Walk Across the Golden Gate... this link is to the copy of the video on neptune.

Music downloaded from Napster is usually copyrighted and used for personal listening, not for movie and story projects. The folder isn't included in my MM1 collection.

Pinnacle Studio has a neat feature to generate higher quality background music than midi files. That's where I got the music for my Grand Canyon video that illustrates the making of Picture in Picture effects... here's a link to it on neptune.
Studio 9 was bundled with my Dazzle 80 capture device. You'll often find it freely included with something else.
I preview the audio being generated by Pinnacle Studio and capture it into Movie Maker as a narration file.

The most professional music I use is from Randon Myles Chisnell, who composes and produces it... digitally. He uses a Mac, so we have to sometimes work over walls to move things from one place to another.
He's given me copies of 4 of his CDs, and permission to use them. I don't extend this permission to pass them on others, but I can sell you any at 99 cents a tune and share the proceeds with Randon.  
This Mission to Mars video uses a couple of his pieces.

Ron Vreeland posted on 3/31/06 that he was freely offering some of his pieces for general use.... from his bobsongsmusic website. I downloaded a couple.

Sam Fox Moving Picture Music... provides a nice set of 23 midi files... piano pieces of music from the early days of moving pictures.

The Turning - one of the members of this local band gave me copies of a few of their CDs, with permission to use them in projects. I've extracted segments that are particularly good for movies and stories, and use them regularly.
Many of my contacts for music and video come from years of hanging out evenings at our local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Little by little you meet the artists and their friends. When they learn about what you do, some offer material freely, and others pull back and guard it closer. Go with the flow.
The Turning is interesting from a copyright standpoint in that the band no longer exists. The members went separate ways after a few years of being together, as often happens with bands. When together they were more interested in their art than in administrative things like copyright... I consider an informal note on a CD jacket, combined with face to face discussion, sufficient permission to continue using the material.

Urge - slot it like Napster... items for personal listening, not for movie and story projects. It's another folder in my main music library, but not in my MM1 collection.

Wired Magazine... included an innovative audio CD in their Nov 2005 issue... music you could freely use up front from top line artists. I haven't followed the experiment, but feel free to continue to use the pieces on the disc.
There's one used in this Photo Story of London

When I checked the instruction manual for Allie's keyboard for copyright info, things not only looked good, but the manual pointed to downloadable files from Yamaha.... Yamaha Midi Files... I got 13 zipped files with 134 midi files, a combo of tunes and keyboard sound effects.
Here's one of them, descriptively named cl40xg... I played the midi file in WMP, captured it as a wma narration file in MM2, trimmed it on the timeline, and saved it as an average CD quality audio file. Here's what came out.

"Free" Music Download Sites
Some websites offer free music to download... and many don't read the fine print. Let's look at one example, FreePlayMusic... a site noted in many posts in response to someone looking for music that is free to get and use.
The fine print says it is free to use 'depending on usage'... the items of interest to us are:
If you are using Freeplay Music for:

10. Internet - Website Use (to promote a business, product, service or club)
11. Personal Website Use (Non-Commercial)
13. Greeting Cards / Email Greeting Cards / Email Brochures
14. Podcasting
15. Film Festivals / Competitions
16. Religious Use (most)
17. Non-Profit (most)

Then Freeplay Music requires a signed license agreement and a license fee payment as described in the Freeplay Music Rate Card. An example is a personal (individual, noncommercial) internet usage... $100 for a year per 4 minutes of use per piece used. Another example is $25 for a 4 minute podcast background music
FreePlayMusic is often mentioned in posts as being a great place to get sound files.
Look a bit more and you'll see this
FindSounds - Copyright Policy
Few websites offer files that are both free to download and royalty free to use.

The above covers music and audio files... don't forget the audio track of your video files. Your camcorder tapes, and downloadable and freely usable files from places such as the Internet Archive offer you lots more source material. The audio track is easy to rip off the video and add to your audio library.
The Internet Archive also has music that has been contributed for open use... check it out.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Not being in the copyright law business, and trying to adhere to the requirements, it gets difficult at times to understand the rules. When you use your camcorder, there's an inherent risk in using it in most places.
I had a one hour 'chat' once with a lawyer who represents the music industry... and it was at the reception of a wedding at which I was the videographer. No, I didn't ask him to sign a paper giving me the right to include him in my videos. If I took all his suggestions to heart, I'd of had to pack up my camcorder and forget the rest of the evening, and never produce those wedding videos for the bride and groom. But, as it was like going a steady 61 in a 60 mph zone, I accepted the risk and went on.
I won't encourage you to break any laws.... just cheer you on when you make amazing projects.  
Have a great week!!