A movie conductor is typically responsible for leading an orchestra or other group of musicians as they play and record music for use in a film production. This conductor may also be the composer of a piece of film music, though this is not always the case and different people can compose and conduct a piece of music. The movie conductor is typically responsible for setting the speed or tempo for the musicians playing the music and guiding them through the composition. This can also include rehearsal of music to provide notes or feedback to musicians, as well as adjusting the way in which the music is played.
In general, a movie conductor performs many of the same tasks as the conductor of any other group of musicians, though with certain special considerations for the use of the music in a movie, often known as the score for a film. Basic conductor considerations often begin with rehearsals with the musicians or orchestra to ensure that the musicians know the music and understand what the conductor wants to hear. This is often done to provide a sense of direction for the musicians and filmmakers on a project; the movie conductor can then use feedback from the composer or director to adjust the performance as needed prior to recording.
During performance and recording of music for a film score, the movie conductor typically leads the musicians through each piece or arrangement. This can be done in a number of different ways, depending on the preferences of a conductor, though standard form involves the use of the right hand, often holding a baton, to set the pace and tempo for a performance. Different patterned movements are used to indicate different time signatures, and musicians follow the lead of a movie conductor to play together in this tempo.
Beyond this basic responsibility of a movie conductor, he or she can also provide other information to the musicians throughout a performance. The conductor can use gestures and facial expressions to indicate that a certain section should be played more loudly or when certain musicians should stop or begin, often to punctuate the action that is occurring during a moment in the film. Many conductors work in a studio with a large screen, conducting the recording of music as a working print of the movie is played for him or her to see. This allows a movie conductor to ensure the pacing and performance of a piece properly matches what is occurring in the film, and allows him or her to make spontaneous adjustments as needed.