Arts & Entertainment, Music


Hans Zimmer

Lesson time 9:42 min

Your editor is your drummer. Learn how to recognize the tempo to a scene and edit to it.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Working with the Editor • Deciding on a Tempo


The drummer for the film composer is the editor. So you need to know your editor, and you need to know how your editor feels tempo, et cetera. I remember in Crimson Tide figuring out this really long scene that Chris Levenson had cut, and I was thinking he must have cut this to a piece of music. It's rhythmically, so accurate. And I finally worked out the BPM, which was just unwavering. I can't remember what actual BPM was. It's a seven minute piece, and I never did a tempo change, and it was quite a slow tempo. And I saw Chris and I said, so what piece of music did you cut this to? And he goes, I didn't cut this to a piece of music. You just want to-- part of who you want closest to you is you want to know the metabolism rate of your editor because they're your drummer. Here's how I start the day. I go the click is your friend. It's reliable. It's the only thing I can rely on. The notes are lying to me. I am lying to me, going yes, today you're going to write a great tune. Well, that's bullshit. So the only thing I can rely on, the only thing that's my friend is the metronome because it's just there. It's steady. It's reliable. So I like being in a grid and it gives me an enormous amount of freedom to lie, and to invent, and to-- if a great idea happens. You're playing something, and there's a great idea in there somewhere, but it's just a free form, floating around in the air, it's really hard to capture and make something out of it. If it's in the grid, you're already a step ahead. Just put up a click and listen to the click, and look at the picture. It's just a click, and it's just a metronome and holes, but if you listen carefully, something in your head-- not maybe a tune, but a texture, or a feeling, or something will come about. The picture will speak to you in a different way when you impose a grid onto it, that isn't the same grid that the editor has. And so if your question is, do you like single spaced or double spaced in your emails, or your type, or your script or whatever? That's the click for me. It feels a certain way. We were talking earlier about how do I start, and part of it is-- and I can sit there forever trying to figure out what my tempo is. What's the pace of the drama for me in this one? Am I going to go against it? Am I going to go with it? And if I go with it, how many cups of coffee did the editor have before he cut the scene? Are the actors moving? What's their speech pattern? And it's not like I consciously work it out, it's just I try to take it in. I've done 100 movies or so, and you don't consciously look for, you just sort of feel it and then just put it in that-- OK, hang on, I know what that is. I used to play this game of watching a scene once, figuring out what I wanted to hit, and then switching the picture off and just writing, and then putting it back up. And I can hit anything you want. T...

About the Instructor

Hans Zimmer didn’t see a film until he was 12 years old. Since then, he’s scored over 150 films, including Inception, The Lion King, and The Dark Knight. In his MasterClass, the self-taught Academy Award-winner teaches how he creates sounds from nothing, composes compelling character themes, and scores a movie before ever seeing it. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to start film scoring.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Hans Zimmer

From collaborating to scoring, Hans Zimmer teaches you how to tell a story with music in 31 exclusive video lessons.

Explore the Class
Sign Up