The music editor assists the composer of a film or TV production by handling all of the technical aspects of the film scoring process.
Most of the time, the work of a music editor begins once the production is finished and the post-production process begins. However, depending on how much on-screen music there is -- bands or singers performing, etc.-- the music editor may be called in during the filming (or taping) to assist with musical or sync issues.
This process starts with the spotting session attended by the composer, music editor, and the director or producer. The group watches the production to determine where music is needed, what type of music it should be, and the length of each piece or cue. The music editor takes detailed notes during this process.
Later, after the spotting session, the music editor supplies detailed timing (or "breakdown") notes for each scene to be scored with music. Timing is exact to 1/30th of a second using SMPTE time code. This way, the composer knows exactly when characters are speaking and when important actions take place -- the gunshot, the kiss, the cut to the next scene, and so forth. The composer begins writing the music and schedules the recording, or scoring session, working with a music contractor who hires the various musicians.
Very often, the picture is not "locked" meaning there are still changes to be made in the length of various scenes. The music editor needs to keep in touch with the picture editor so the music cues will be the correct length. All changes are communicated to the composer while the picture is still being adjusted. Once the picture is "locked," the composer and music editor breathe a collective sigh of relief.Once the music is finished, copied, and individual parts are prepared for each musician, we get to the scoring date. The editor attends the scoring session and ensures that the music is in sync with the picture. Once recorded, the editor adds any other music tracks which may come from other sources ( songs from CDs, etc.) and prepares for the dubbing or mixing session.
At the dub, all sound elements--dialog, sound effects, music--are blended by re-recording mixers to achieve the final soundtrack. The picture is shown on a big screen, just like a movie theater, and the mixers adjust the volume and quality of each individual sound element. It's not uncommon to run the same ten seconds back and forth twenty or forty times while making these adjustments. The editors of each sound element attend along with the director and producer for this most important final step in creating a movie or TV production. When you have finished the entire production, you screen it for the executives . . . and they make notes so you can start making little adjustments all over again!
The crazy part was that if you re-read the schedule above, and you see the SCORING session on Friday night...well, a NEW show was spotted earlier that afternoon. So, there was always an overlap of two shows. On Mondays, I would be handling changes on the new show and then rushing off to Sony to begin dubbing the show we worked on LAST week.