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Music Tips for Your Animated Project


There is no doubt that the combination of music and film can have a powerful impact. In fact many, including myself, have dedicated their entire lives to the growth and success of this artform. Throughout my time with Ms. In the Biz I have shared various tips and tricks for readers to help guide them through the music clearance and production process. This month, lets discuss animation.

Even though the technical process can be similar from project to project, the creative process can vary depending on what type of project it is. When it comes to animation, the creative process tends to be laborious and require extensive music analysis before you start animating.

A big part of a music supervisor’s job is educating the client on best practices to make the process of incorporating music in their media projects as seamless and as cost effective as possible. Below are some tips to assist you with incorporating music in your next animated project. These will be particularly useful for filmmakers creating their first animated project.

Bring Your Music Team On In Pre-Production

The needs of the project will determine when to bring your music team onto the project. I have had clients bring me on in post-production when they needed assistance clearing selections or finding last minute alternatives, but I have also been brought on in pre-production when it was necessary. I would pre-clear any music that may be difficult to clear, pre-clear music for any on-camera scenes in the project, or assist with developing musical concepts. When you’re doing an animated project, you will want to bring in part of your music team (the composer and sometimes music supervisor) during pre-pro to not only do the above-mentioned, but to write all of the music, get it recorded, and have it ready to be handed off to the animated team for synchronization.

During this time there will be extensive conversations on what the music will need to do, and sound like to support the creative vision of the director/production team. Effective and clear communication is highly recommended for any project, but it’s crucial during this stage in your animated project, as poor communication breeds inefficiency and produces unnecessary spending. With that being said, don’t be afraid to really take your time during this stage and immerse yourself in the creative process. You want to make sure you are getting the product that you want.

Also know that if any of the music is going to include the cast-member voices, they will have to be available for creating demos and recording during this stage as well.

Make Sure to Provide the Right Tools and Information

A lot of time is spent at the beginning of a project determining the purpose and tone of the music. It’s the job of the composer and music supervisor to get into the director’s head and recreate their vision, while sticking to the budget. It’s imperative as the filmmaker/client that you provide as many details to your music team as possible.  Every project will be different, but generally, you will want to provide your music team with the following as soon as they come onto the project:

  • Story Board / Work Print of the project
  • Script
  • References for any musical ideas you may have
  • Additional timing notes
  • Deliverable specifications

Other Things to Think About

As mentioned previously, you want to keep in mind what type of animated project you’re creating and what the function of the music will be. For example, animated dramas use music to either support or enhance the action on screen, so naturally there would be less music. Alternatively, if you’re doing an animated musical, you know there will be an incredible amount of music that will be more intricate and complex. Determining what type of project you’re creating will also assist in creating a practical music budget for your project.

The spotting session will be the place to discuss the details: musical styles, specific timings, instrumentation volume, and whether to use original music, licensed music, or even public domain tunes.

Final mix is usually longer on animated projects as well. So, if this is your first animated feature you want to make sure you plan accordingly. Of course, in television, the turnaround time is a lot quicker. I would suggest starting with an animated feature before diving into a television project so you can take your time and learn all you can from the process.

A lot of hard work and planning goes into creating an animated project. Plenty of forethought before you start work will not only set you up for success but will also maximize the amount of fun and creativity that is had on the project. For any questions or if you would like to discuss your next animated project, feel free to contact StraightUp Music Supervision at or give us a call at 424-313-4699.

Rosie Howe

About Rosie Howe

Rosie Howe is an L.A. based music supervisor, licensor, and entertainment administration manager. Her clients include filmmakers, producers, film & tv production companies, advertising agencies, tech companies, as well as brands in various industries. Rosie advises on music selection and original music production, licensing strategies, artist relations, and serves as a proficient arbitrator. Rosie is an active member of the Guild of Music Supervisors and the California Copyright Conference. She has a background in music performance, legal administration, peer education, customers service, and sales. As a firm believer in social investment, Rosie spends her free time providing helpful feedback and educational resources to people starting out in the entertainment industry through workshops, panels, and one-on-one sessions. She has been featured on Behind the Music podcast, panels for Music Biz Mentors, and is a regular contributor to the magazine style blog Ms. In The Biz.