Music to their ears

How Frankie helps composer Julian Montgomery connect with directors

Cospective’s browser-based video review tool, Frankie, is so flexible and easy to use that it is relied upon by a wide array of customers—from creative studios and advertising agencies to lawyers, architects, and so many more. Here’s another to add to the list: film composers.

Composer Julian Montgomery uses Frankie to conduct remote spotting sessions with directors, allowing them to watch through the film at the same time to determine which parts need music and the kinds of themes and emotional beats to emphasize in his work. Both parties can control the video, scrubbing through frame-by-frame and leaving notes as needed to ensure that the collaboration isn’t hampered at all by physical distance.

We caught up with Julian to learn more about his budding career and how Frankie has helped connect him with clients when they can’t be in the same room together.


Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a film composer based in Los Angeles, CA. I am also a student attending Berklee Online pursuing a Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games degree. Prior to focusing on film composing, I was a music producer. I produced projects for several independent artists as well as a couple of solo projects. In my early days, I was a youth pastor and minister of music for several churches in my local community.


How did you discover Frankie?

As a film composer, when you start working on a film, you have a spotting session with the director. Since I’m just launching my career, I deal mainly with independent filmmakers who have a very small budget. For many of them, this is their first time working with a composer. Most of the time, it’s a face-to-face session but there are times when you are either not co-located; or we could both be in the L.A. area, but due to schedules or traffic, it might work better to do this session remotely.

I wanted to see if there were better options than using Google Hangout or another similar tool along with FaceTime or Skype, so I did some Googling and found multiple options. One that I came across was cineSync. That’s a great tool, but it was much more than what I was looking for. That led me to look at Frankie.

Julian talks about the search for the perfect review tool on his blog


What inspired you to use Frankie on this project?

Really what inspired me to use Frankie was just to provide a more professional option to my clients. Normally, the composer isn’t the one driving a spotting session, but since I’m working a lot with directors who have never worked with a composer or directors who don’t have many resources, providing this option to them is something that is important to me.


Which features were the most helpful for you?

The primary features that interested me are real-time synchronized playback, the ability to move forward/backward by frame, and the ability for both the director and me to control the playback and write notes. Also, the ability to produce a very nice, professional-looking exported PDF file after the session.


How does Frankie help with the projects you work on?

I have used Frankie on multiple film projects to conduct a remote spotting session. A spotting session is basically when the director and composer get together to watch the film. Together, we figure out where we want music in the film, and where we don’t want music. We discuss things like where the music should go, and what emotions and feelings we want to be conveyed to the audience from one scene to another. We talk about musical style. We really just talk about the film, the primary plot, and subplots, and characters and themes contained within the film.

The ultimate goal is to come away being on the same page in terms of the music needs of the film. That means we need to look at the same frames at the same time, be able to scroll back and forth and be able to write down thoughts and ideas at certain points in the film. Frankie was very instrumental in helping to achieve that.



How important was remote collaboration to this project?

A spotting session is essential in getting the director and composer on the same page, and to give us the best possible chance of getting started on the right foot. Spotting sessions are generally best suited to be conducted in person, but that’s not always feasible. So with Frankie, even if you’re not face-to-face, being able to hold a spotting session remotely is a great option compared to not having it at all.


How has Frankie proven particularly helpful with projects?

For my most recent film, the director requested that we have a remote spotting session because of her schedule. I was able to set up the session in Frankie the day before and have the video uploaded and ready to go. I then sent her an email with a link to the session.

On the day of the session, I did a FaceTime with her and she was able to simply click the link I sent her and voila, she and I were looking at the film. We were able to watch the film together synchronized to the same frame. At various points in the film, either she or I would stop it and we would discuss what is going on at that point in the film, and what may or may not be needed from the music. She or I would at times scroll back and forth. I would write notes at specific points in the film. The director was able to see the note I wrote, so I would ask her to review the note to make sure she agreed with what I wrote. When needed, I would click to go back to a specific note to edit it or just talk about it.

Being able to watch the film together with either one of us having the ability to interact with the film was huge. It really enabled our spotting session to go extremely well, even though we weren’t face-to-face. Frankie really helped us conduct a very smooth and thorough session, which wouldn’t have been possible with other tools.


What does the future have in store for you?

I am working hard to grow my career as a film composer and trying to find my first feature film project. I am also working to complete my degree, and desire in the future to have a doctorate in some area of music. As I grow my career, I may have less personal use for Frankie, because as the projects get larger, I’ll eventually be working with more established people/companies that will assuredly have their own tools and options for conducting a spotting session. However, I really like the fact that I have been able to conduct a very professional spotting session with directors even when it is remote, so Frankie has been of great value to me.