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Sony fails to deliver winning score

Sony fails to deliver winning score

Cinescore is impressive for a first attempt, but can be frustrating to use

Few video producers have the budget for a custom musical score, or the time, equipment and musical skill to create one. With that in mind, so Sony has released Cinescore 1.0.

Like SmartSound's QuickTracks, Cinescore lets you pick a theme and automatically arranges musical elements - like the intro, verse, chorus, break and finale - to create a custom soundtrack that fits the length of a scene perfectly. Twenty themes are provided, ranging from wide cinematic audioscapes to tight, punchy soundtracks (with a couple of cheesy numbers for good measure), and further theme packs are on the horizon. Cinescore also comes with a wide selection of audio transitions.

Unlike QuickTracks, Cinescore allows for a much greater level of adjustment after the initial track is built. As well as selecting the starting section, mood and arrangement, you can add markers called Hints to the timeline, which allow you to tweak Section, Mood, Tempo and Intensity at key points, with a high degree of control.

For instance, Intensity has a sliding percentile scale that lets you adjust how "layered" the music is, with higher values bringing in more instruments. This can be a gradual climb or descent using the Generate setting, or you can use the Linear or Hold switches to hit specific values - to suddenly shift from a 100 per cent, full orchestral movement down to a 15 per cent flute solo, for example.

Altering the Mood setting lets you switch variations for the theme, moving seamlessly between Live Rhythm Section and Massive Party in the Blizzard of Sparks theme, for example.

This can be really useful if you've assigned audio motifs to separate characters and you want the music to shift as the camera switches between their actions.

The degree of customisation available in Cinescore is immense, and it's here that the software struggles with poor interface design. Built on the same front end as Sony Vegas, the customisation takes place in two dialogue boxes, rather than directly on the timeline. Progress is bogged down in trial and error - particularly as the percentage values don't always provide a useful indication of the change that will occur - and it's often impossible to make changes at the exact point you need - which explains why they're called Hints.

The absence of a preview button for transition selection is also an annoying oversight.

Verdict: Cinescore is impressive for a first attempt, and provides commercial videographers with high-quality licence-free scores, plus a level of control and customisation previously unavailable. But it can be frustrating to use, and would be far more effective as a plug-in for a video editing package rather than a standalone tool.


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