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New romantic orchestra Template (2019/20)

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Alexander Schiborr, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. #1 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
    Well folks,

    Hadn´t much time to post here, still I tried to help some of you guys here with some feedback. Now I would like to have some too.
    I have been working for a couple of weeks on some new template and I used some romantic piece from Ponchielli. First it served a specific project based purpose. But after working quite extensive I decided to switch gears and thinking about to use that template also outside that project for my original music.

    Now, any pointers? I have sent some excerpts of that work to a couple of people in private many people said that this sounds like a live orchestra but not really like the typical sample mockup well, it was and of course is always to explore new ways to make my sampled orchestra sound better and better and more realistic. There will be no point of course in arriving with a statement: Yeah thats it and we don´t any new templates anymore simply because you know it better than I: There is no such allrounder template what can do all and everything. But you can of course try out things in order to make your sampled orchestra more lively and at least get a decent impression of the live thing. I am at a point where I am not sure what do do to add more mojo, definitely there is a way, but my ears are a bit fatigue from the last 2 weeks also.

    Thanks for taking your time and checking out my shit.

  2. I wish I could be of more help here, but this is already so far above what I can do... to me it already sounds "more real" than some real recordings, if you know what I mean. Amazing work!
    I compared it to a recording of that piece that I found on youtube, and the only thing I noticed was that the high pitched metallic percussion (triangle?) seems a bit too loud in your version compared to the recording that I listened to. Otherwise I don't think I would have been able to tell which one is real in a proper blind test. But as I've told you before, that comes with the caveat that I'm generally rather bad at spotting samples vs real recordings.

    Did you use a reference recording that you're aiming to immitate? If so, it would probably be helpful to listen to that too. Have you asked Beat Kaufmann from vi:c for his opinion yet? Afaik he has a lot of experience both with actually recording real orchestras and mixing/building templates and he's given out tons of great advice in the past.
  3. Hey Alexander, a couple of random thoughts come to mind which I'll share. First, you're template sounds quite good for this piece. And the dynamic range is surprisingly quite wide, particularly if you're listening at a high volume as I often do :) . However, as you say, one template doesn't fit all, and part of the beauty is in variety of both instruments and location simulations.

    As for this particular, example, you're waveform is maxed out and quite flat at the top so (despite the dynamic surprise - yes it woke me), I'm not sure its the best example of your true dynamic balance as it seems some compression is going on. During the loud tutti, it sounds to me like there is some imbalance between instruments although I can't place exactly what it is as I don't know who, and how many are playing. In this respect, I don't think this is the best piece for testing a balance (though we might have different opinions here). Several years ago, Mike Verta posted an orchestral balance test (I don't think its on his web site any more) that is probably out of date by today's standards though it showed something very important. He was playing individual instruments and sections one after the other rather than all at once. This gives the advantage of being able to quickly and easily hear how they sound (volume and placement) relative to each other. It was a quite clever example IMO, and a very useful idea. Its too bad this example died a digital death with his site upgrade, as there was so much to learn from this simple little example. OK, well you get the idea, and if you want, you could write you're own piece demonstrating these very important points. Just as a conductor might point to different instruments/sections and they would each play a simple line so he could hear the balance, location, reverb and timbre.

    When you play a piece with tutti for a template test, how do you make a fair judgement? How do your bones sound relative to the trumpets? I have no idea, as I just hear a mass of sound. Its like testing reverb with a slow flute - of course it will sound "sweet" but you have no idea how it responds to rapid percussive attacks and you have no sense of how the early reflections portray the room. That's why Mike's example seemed to me to be such a great idea. It really let you "zoom in" on the details for each instrument and each section as well as all together. In any case, I think you get the idea and its an idea you could try if you wish.

    While we all seek to find that holy grail template, its important to remember that the most beautiful things in life are do to spice and variety and their uniqueness. So just as important as it is to find a good balance, I think its important to remember the importance of variety in various different aspects - instruments, location, etc. IOW, the best harp for one piece might not be the best for another. And one piece might sound beautiful washed in reverb whereas another would benefit from a very dry chamber-type sound. So keep yourself flexible in this regard. I think the real answer we all seek is in finely tuning the instrument balance for each individual piece, not unlike what a conductor does when rehearsing with an orchestra. Its not about a single orchestral balance, but each piece requires different treatment and interpretation. Not that you shouldn't make the perfect template, but do keep in mind the importance of balance within an individual piece. Its not like hitting the perfect template preset for all orchestral pieces and that it. Of course, you know this, but maybe its just good to remind ourselves of what happens with a real orchestra compared with our virtual computer tools. Its very easy to get into different "mind sets", and that of a conductor is likely very different from that of the virtual sample artist, yet shouldn't they be more similar than different?

    btw, I doubt Mike Verta is reading this, but this is why I hope he would do a class with his conductor friend Neil again (Mike never posted the last one - maybe cause some "things were said", and nobody wanted to offend anyone else?). In any case, as virtual samplist, I think we too often don't place enough emphasis or value on the role of conducting and interpretation and we just think in terms of templates and moving our MIDI note blocks around like LEGO bricks. This is NOT what the conductor is thinking, and we could benefit more by trying to change our mindset to think differently about our approach. Well, just a thought, more for myself than anything, but maybe it could be of help as you refine your template.

    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  4. Hey Martin,

    I will check out the triangle tomorrow. Lets see if I can alter a bit the mix and placement. I never work without references even when I write my own music. Always use references, regardless if you write, mix or master things.

    I read a bit Beats comments, he is a theorist for me, but his demos sound all very midi and synthy. Probably he has a lot of theoritical knowledge but its a completely different beasts when you translate this to mockups. Ever heard his demos? Hmm..

    Hej Gregory,

    was almost offline, but just saw your post. Thanks for chiming in. Well, there is a distressor which dials in on the loud tutti as kind of protection limiter. However this is an excerpt from a 7 minute mockup (I did the whole suite) and I am very considerate about every aspect of the details as I worked very closely with references. However as you mentioned many different points here I will try to see if one or the other can be applied to actual version of this template. And yes many of the points I am totally aware of. And no I am far away from treating or thinking n balance towards a unified balance, no actually it is very different as this kind of approach here has nothing but really nothing to how or what mikes template balance approach is, simply because I have a different set of thoughts or goal: Samples don´t have (and thats a fact) the dynamic range what a real orchestra can pull off so I have found other ways to work with that. So this template is actually also not transferable to lets say another person who can use it because you have to understand the treatment which is nessecary. Its aimed and designed for my own purpose and philosphy and workflow and uses methods of not only layering but with altering release times to fake nearfield appearances and many other things which would need an essay to write. What I seek simply for is a macro look here. I don´t know how much you are into that things but I mocked up during the last 4 years countless pieces and over the years I developed a different thinking in terms of how to balance a template because even the most balance template will sound in comparison to a live like crap because its simply missing the impact, glue and unified sound. It has many reasons why that is. One is that sampled section sizes are irrelevant because they don´t translate right as what a live orchestra has and so you have to start finding out how to fill in the missing dots.
    However I appreciate your thoughts a lot and glad you took your time chiming in.
  5. Do you know when and where it was linked and/or what the filename was? I was able to find an old find with wayback machine a while ago. Could be worth a shot.

    Do you have a link to your reference for us? Or is it one you can't share / find in a public source like youtube?

    I think I know what you mean but I wouldn't rule out that he just has different goals with those and would still be able to give some useful feedback.

    Sounds like it would be an interesting essay!
  6. I don't remember where the file was posted, probably on vi-control although I think a lot of the old vi posts have been nuked. And the file I have is called "Orchestra_Test" although I often rename files for my own reference so it could've been something else too. The idea of what Mike was doing is far more interesting than the file itself. You will be using different samples and different reverb than he was at the time so it makes sense to tailor something for your own needs. The concept is transferable. Its a bit like the opening to Peter and the Wolf as they play through different instruments. To hear each instrument play a short line, one after the other is extremely useful for comparing position and depth in the orchestra seating. Its less useful for comparing volume as all instruments are dynamic and the volumes change, so its only useful when you start playing groups together and again, its more useful for comparing location and depth than the volume itself (aside from balance between the instruments of the section). So knowing what makes sense to compare and not is useful. The overall dynamic balance of an orchestra is always changing, so the only volume levels that really matter are the ones you use to play back your piece. However, even these are somewhat governed by the dynamic markings in your score as you can play well orchestrated scores in Sib/Dorico with NotePerformer and get reasonably good balances. So this shows the importance of good orchestration. As for specific volume levels, these would be more akin to the fader changes a mix engineer might make as he tries to compensate for instruments recorded with various mic setups to approximate a more natural orchestra balance.

    Wouldn't it be a great class if Mike brought in Shawn Murphy for the breakdown of a sample orchestral mix session?
  7. #7 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 13, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    Again: Samples don´t translate mixwise like an orchestral recording! Its not a regular mixing job what you have to do there. Again: This is not how get close to a real sound. Its very different in terms of mixing. Slap Peter and Wolf Instruments together as you want, I guarentee you the next bar where the orchestra chimes in, everything falls apart! For you specifically: Samples Live stem mixing. Shawn Murphy is a great guy and exceptionally skilled and he mixed a lot of stuff, but he can´t fix things beyond whats simply a mix and that is a lively performance, a dynamic sound which goes true timbre from niente, ppp up to quadruple timbre Forte and inccoorperates all nuances of a performed real orchestra line + that Air and nearfield effects what certain recordings have. (e.g. reason of recording techniques and specific orchestra room treatments) I remember Dillon was reading an article about a specific recording of a tschaikowsky overture (Romeo and Juliet) where the Trumpets sometimes appear very distant and at times very near. Its unfortunately against many of the regular sample placement approaches what many VI Composers think. Believe me , I wouldn´t be so considerate here if I didn´t know what I am talking of.

    Anyways I am going to finish the whole finale and once I am done I will post the whole 7 minute suite.
  8. Sorry to stomp on your thread dude (I was answering someone else's question though), and I thought you were asking for opinions so I'll quietly exit. No need to be considerate.
    You've been doing this for four years, which as you say, makes you an expert and Shawn's experience means nothing, his ears are probably shot, and has nothing to add in the realm of mixing.
    I get it. L8r.
  9. #9 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 13, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    The L. Bernstein, I think it is also on YT(SME, Sony).

    Regarding Beat Kaufmann sure he may have ideas and again, but his mockups doesn´t speak a language that he knows how to translate or treat samples in a way that they both are performed, articulated and mixed in a fashion that it sounds like anything near to a live orchestra recording. He is therefore for me a theorist as I said because in theory he may know a lot of things, but its like a someone who knows a lot of harmony theory but can´t write a song. You know what I mean? E.g. he gives on his page tips for keyswitching but keyswitching is total obselete once you start diving deeper in capturing real performances simply because there is no such thing as a regular articulation system which can capture a performance lets say of a string line. Its not. Then he gives advice how to create Z-Depth with a plugin Breeze. But there I shake my head because its not the reverb what makes your z-depth convincing. I simply don´t share many of his remarks, I am sorry to say. He doesn´t speak just for instance in one sentence about how dynamics and shifting focus around plus treating the tempo in a fashion to simulate a conducters philosophy can add a significant realism. Also his remarks are too much specifically aimed towards VSL Instruments and MIR. And VSL and MIR probably sounded realistic and good back in 2008, but these days I think there are way way better options available.
  10. No, it is all fine, you don´t stomp here on anything and I don´t consider this as my thread not at all (as there is no such thing at least for me). I just think to add some thoughts as I wasn´t sure if my sentiments are clear.
  11. #11 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 13, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    @Martin Hoffmann Hej Mate, as you asked here is a short example of what I am talking about but talking about all of these aspects would probably be out of time schedule (thats the reason why I give lessons to a few people in private covering such topics)

    First line is according to score and treated in midi like it would done also in notation or probably in normal mockup situation. But the important thing is it is simply not how its written but more how it is performed and how its perceived, don´t forget we are not here working with a real orchestra but with samples, so you have to think very different to sculpture all that lines in a fashion that it captures something of that real shit and stop thinking such as:"ok these are 2 notes going from Ab4 to Db5 or so on. No..its not like that, it is on the written score yes. I mean..its like that, but you have to add a kind sounddesign element to it. You have to listen to whats happening really there and to approximate that thing. Now, this is not the whole line here, its just the more articulated soundline. Then you have to treat the transition fluidity which means you have to use something else to add that glue between those actual pitched notes, like a fast blurred Staccato but with very shortened release times and very very quite in appearance and so on. So all this goes actually into programming, and understandding and that is a part of that kind of mindset. I could write a whole book about that..unfortunately there is no such recipe as this is always done the way. It depends on. But there are methods which I safe in mind which tells me: Ok, if I want that swirly upbeat punctuated things, probably this method gets me closer to what I want. And that is just the surface. There is a whole other thing what I do is how to fake overtone balance and gravity. I mean..maybe thats sounds all a bit crazy and probably it is. But I always like the idea to explore my own stuff, it is like the Adam Neely talking about Andihemitonic Heptatonic Modality. I think all these guys are bit loco but I can´t help myself, I dig that shit.

  12. With your help I was able to track down the link:

    Thanks for the explanations too! This makes a lot of sense to me. I gotta try that on my template and check how sections are placed relative to each other. I never checked that in this focused isolated way I think, only tried to match reference tracks.

    And thanks Mike for sharing that demo with us!

    Thanks, the triangle seems to be much louder there than in the recording that I had found first. So you probably got it right.

    Ok, I see, you seem to have already looked much closer at his work than I have. He doesn't seem to be the right guy to ask indeed.

    Wow! Thank you so much for this lesson! Reading, seeing and hearing this example was was quite eye-opening. Your approach totally makes sense to me, because I would approach CGI tasks in a similar way, but never thought about going to those lengths with samples. This is super interesting and I had to try it myself right away:

    First half is just the MA1 spiccato patch, second half is layering other articulations over it. It could be improved a lot further but I already like how the second half sounds less like a machine gun compared to the first. When I get back to my bloodborne mockup I'll check where I can improve things further with this new mindset and I'll also have a proper reference track then.

    Thanks man!
    Alexander Schiborr likes this.
  13. This sounds amazing Alex! You make me want to start fresh and build a new template from scratch
  14. #14 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 14, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
    Hej Mattia, Let me try to help you in the thread with your starwars template once I am done with that one here. I think you are on good way already, the flair is there, some adjustements and there you go. I will take care of that and make some very specific notes for you so that you can adjust them accordingly.
  15. #15 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 14, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
    Okay, I fiddled around more and created some more custom patches especially for the percussion department and I mocked up a few more bars as well. Ever tried out sculpturing a bassdrum with their sub isolated from the rest. I did that here in order to have to control on the balance of the bassdrum more. Also shortening release times on the sub can give you a bit more ommpf but only at the moment where you probably need it.

  16. #16 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 18, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
    So here comes the brutal Sample Library vs Live Mortal Kombat 1 on 1 Mirror Match. Please keep in mind of what I am battling against here. Under normal Circumstances (unless you want to lose your mind) I simply would not advice to do this piece with samples. There are still some bars at the end missing which I will do next week.

    My Version:

    Reference Version:

  17. This is ridiculously good! If I didn't know it was a mockup, I might have taken it for a real recording. Especially the faster part, it's just amazing how you were able to achieve this level of realism! I also like your sound a bit more than the reference, it sounds more like a live recording, which I prefer.

    I'll share a couple of things that stood out to me, which might help you improve the work even further. Consider it nitpicking, though. The first one is the bass drum at 5:17, which to my ears sounded too prominent and covered other sections. In the real recording it seems further back and more contained. The second one is the shimmer on the strings starting at 1:00, which sounded unrealistically bright. Especially on laptop speakers:) There might be other issues, but honestly at some point I stopped listening to the sound, and just listened to the music itself. Your work is that good.

    This leads me to the question of how the hell did you make everything sound so great?! If you're considering making a walkthrough/masterclass on this piece -- I'd buy it in a heartbeat. But at least can you tell me which libraries did you use? And what is personally much more interesting to me, how did you make the hall sound? Did you follow Mike's Template Balancing masterclass or did you use some other method or additional tricks? Did you use only close mic's or recorded rooms as well? What did you use for positioning, shaping the direct sound, ER's, reverb tail? How did you time the delays for them? Sorry for the onslaught of questions, but right now I'm working on my first proper orchestral template and it doesn't sound near as good:) And I've probably remade it at least 10 times already...

    Anyway, the work you've done is truly an achievement. Congratulations! Keep it up! Hope you find the time to answer the questions.
  18. #18 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 23, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
    Hej Dimitri,

    Sure, the libraries I used are the following:

    Berlin Strings
    Symphonic Sphere
    Spitfire Chamber Strings
    Spitfire Symphonic Strings
    8dio Agitato
    Metropolis Ark 1,3,4
    Fluid Shorts

    Berlin Woodwinds (Legacy + Revive)
    Cinesamples Hollywood Winds

    Cinesamples Percussion
    Cinesamples Harp
    Spitfire Skaila Kanga Harp
    Spitfire Joby Burgess Percussion

    Cinematic Studio Brass
    Spitfire Symphonic Brass
    Berlin Brass
    Sample Modeling Brass

    Regarding your question about the roomsound: Its mainly done by using the natural ambiences of the recorded samples. In order to shape the sound I builded always custom micing settings.

    I got quite a bunch of mails in another forum and requests for a masterclass too. I have to think about that but it might be an option. Let´s see..
    Paul T McGraw and Dmitry Egorov like this.
  19. #19 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 23, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
    Here is also the complete orchestral suite. There is no compression on any of the samples or the track overall, everything is unprocessed in that regards to maintain the dynamic range between the very quite and very loud parts.

  20. Thanks! That's a lot of libraries... I gather that you're picking the proper patches from all this libraries for each line?

    So, you're using the room mics from all these libraries, right? How do you make them sound together? Do you shape them with eq? Do you use additional reverb, convolutional or algorithmic? Maybe other tools? Do you change the mic settings based on the musical line? Again, sorry, for too many questions, but this is really interesting and important for me:)

    I'll be very glad to see it!

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