• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Topic: Assembling an Orchestral Template

  1. #1

    Assembling an Orchestral Template


    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I have a couple of smaller film projects coming up that call for heavy orchestral scores, so I'd like to build an orchestral template within my sequencer (Logic Pro 7). I'm wondering how folks on a pro level (episodic TV, film) have gone about building their templates. My main concerns are flexibility, ease of navigation, speed, and efficiency.

    I currently have all the major orch. libraries (Sonic Implants Brass/Strings, VSL Pro Edition, Miroslav, EWQLSO Platinum, GOS, Quantum Leap Brass, Dan Dean, etc.). I have four dedicated sampler computers (in addition to my main host comp.): two Mac dual-proc. G4s running Kontakt and 2 WinXp machines running Giga3 Orchestral.

    I've done a bunch of commercial work, but not a lot of orchestral-only stuff, and I'm not sure where to start. I think I'm suffering from option anxiety. Just trying to narrow it down to one or two libraries seems overwhelming. I'm curious to know how others have approached auditioning and choosing sounds, why they selected certain libraries over others, how they've organized instruments and sections within their host and dedicated sampler computers, etc.

    I think those of us in the "aspiring" column could certainly benefit from hearing how the pros on this forum have built their templates and how they work with them (key switching vs. lots and lots of separate tracks for different articulations, etc.), as well as any productivity tips that can be shared (again, emphasis on speed, efficiency, ease of navigation, etc.).

    Thanks in advance for weighing in.


  2. #2

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    i've been experimenting with templates lately, and have come to the conclusion that there is a diminishing return for packing too many articulations into your template for the reason you cited-ease of navigation. you have to find whatever is the right balance for you, but i like to start with basic articulations loaded for each instrument (or a smaller subset of instruments). then add other articulations/instruments as the need arises.

    hard to say w/o knowing more of the particulars of your projects, but i would start with one of the main cues and build a template based on whatever you choose for your "palette". then use that as your template as you go forward from there.

    i'm curious to hear what others are doing as well.
    John DeBorde

    Composer of Music for Film, TV and Interactive Media

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template


    Welcome to the Northern Sounds Community.

    I know what you mean about "option anxiety". There are massive orchestral libraries out there that offer a variety of articulations and patches and sometimes it seems like you need a doctorate in database management to find what you are looking for. Making orchestral templates can be equally as daunting.

    And more orchestral libraries are in the works. In addition to the libraries you mentioned, I know of at least seven additional full orchestral libraries being developed. There will be not shortage of orchestral sounds for sure.

    As you know, building orchestral templates can vary depending on your working style, your libraries and your software. The instrumentation and size of the orchestra you want to create is a very important consideration. Orchestral seating and position can vary from orchestra to orchestra. For instance, most orchestras have all violins on the left and a few, like the Seattle Symphony, have violins across both sides. Contemporary music can have instrumentation all over the map.

    Panning and placement is important as well as the acoustical environment. Since different sample libraries are recorded in different venues it is important to find a way to make the instruments in your palette sound like they are in the same place. Certain instruments may have to be adjusted in pan, volume and acoustics accordingly. Then the issue is how many computers will you use - all 4? That can be quite a networking feat in and of itself.

    Your template will decidedly depend on your instrumentation and whether you build your orchestras mostly from individual instruments or from unison sections. One of our users did an Orchestral Pan Setting Tutorial which you may find helpful in any template you set up.

    This can be a topic that can be quite exhaustive and there are many people here who have a lot of knowledge and experience in setting up orchestral templates. Hope this helps.

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    Hi Gary.

    "Placement" (reverb, panning, separation, and a sense of depth) is definitely important, but I feel I have a handle on the mixing issue. I'm able to place samples in the proper space for what I need. The bigger head scratcher for me is work flow and having the template make sense.

    In the past, I've set things up like this:

    Basic articulations from each section/solo instrument loaded into several multitimbral configurations, with two or three empty channels for each instrument, so I could load specific articulations, if need be. But it always ends up being too specific to the project, not generic enough to be a "template."

    I've heard of people using 150+ tracks in their basic template, but I get the sense that having so many different options would be unmanageable and just plain get in the way of being productive.

    Currently, my first challenge is narrowing my selection of samples. Should I mix and match among many libraries? Stick with just one, and augment with another, etc.? I have some thoughts on this, but I'd like to hear how others went about building their setups, what worked for them, what didn't, tips, etc.

    Then there's the whole question of entering notes within a notation editor vs. improvising/recording parts in live and refining them, etc.



  5. #5

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template


    I actually find that the more I have available at once, the faster I work. Having many sounds/articulations handy allows me to just write. Instead of hearing something, realizing that I then have to load a sound and then ultimately have my overly sensitive creative flow stymied by the search and load process.(left brain/right brain stuff). Some folks use the folders in Logic to simplify the visuals. I don't, I just try to keep things somewhat organized by sound source and/or orch section.

    The more familiar you are with the libraries, the better to know which sounds/articulations are your favorites, and how they blend best. Since you have them all, you probably know what you like best from which lib, and what are the "meat and potatoes" sounds you can load at once given your cpu capacity.


    John Z.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    Making a generic template that does it all is daunting since the music you are required to do can vary from project to project. You may wind up with a number of "templates". It is a hard choice whether to go with one library or use libraries a combination. No one library does it all. Mixing and matching takes more work, but gives you the greatest options and flexibility.

    With regards to notation vs. improvising, we have many notation users working directly from the score of Finale, Overture and Sibelius. The problem with notation is that it is very quantized and lacking expression if you 'mouse' in the notes. But if you need to render scores for real musicians in a final production then notation is necessary. Some programs like Human Playback in Finale help with the performance, but playing it in is preferable. Playing parts live will make for a fluid and musical performance, but if you need to make it fit into a score it could take a while. Being able to play each instrument in individually, where each instrument is expressive and musical, makes for a most convincing orchestral realization.

    Gary Garritan

  7. #7

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    This brings up something that I have just been dealing with. I spent the majority of today listening to every patch in EWQLSO Gold, comparing them and writing down my favorites that I thought would work for a good orchestral template. Trying to keep the whole thing to four instances of Kontakt has been challanging to say the least. Now that I went through all of that work I found that setting up a preload isn't as helpful as I thought. I have several libraries as well so making a template from all of them would do more harm than good. John is correct in being familiar with your libraries. I didn't know how much I was missing till I decided to audition every Gold patch. Trying to remember what you liked is difficult if not impossible so I am making a list of what I would use first and am keeping it handy for starting out.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    Hey John, what's shaking, man?

    I'm not sure that I'm the best example to follow, but I try not to over-rely on a template. I mainly use GigaStudio for large scale work, so I have setups spread over two machines which cover most of the go-to stuff.

    But I also build ground-up per project more often than not. I find that having too much loaded up frustrates me, because I like to really shake up the instrumentation. I rarely seat an "orchestra" but use different subsets and fill in until I like the sound.

    I almost always start with a blank slate on the sequencer, as well, so that I'm not staring at a bunch of empty tracks begging to be filled. I am much more comfortable building up from scratch, and developing the sequence itself more organically.

    That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

  9. #9

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    Thanks for all of your input, guys.

    Just fyi, I usually have a small "template" ("palette" is more like it) based around 1 or 2 older libraries (Prosonus, in particular). That way, I keep the RAM requirements down, and I have a bunch of instruments on hand, without having them spread across multiple machines (the EXS24 is fine for this kind of approach). This allows me to quickly hear how things might come together. Once I finalize my arrangement, I then go back and replace with better samples by playing each part in separately (following along in the score editor for each track).

    This works fine, but requires a lot of time to experiment with finding the right sounds and re-recording the score/arrangement. In addition, using varioius articulation presets for a single instrument gets messy when it comes to piano roll and score MIDI edit windows. So...I'm hoping to cut the production time down by streamlining/standardizing my template/setup.

    Anybody else have tips they'd like to share? Thanks!


  10. #10

    Re: Assembling an Orchestral Template

    I definitely recognize the issue, John. I'm still sort of "half there" myself. But the solution that seems to work best for me at the moment is this (using gigastudio with cubase/halion):

    I've put nearly all my sounds on my harddrives. In the case with non-giga format sample records, I ran them through Gigastudio and converted them to GS format. The sounds (gig-files) is carefully ordered into folder systems categorized by "type of sound". The sounds themselves are also renamed in a very thought out way. From that point, I opened up the GS editor and manipulated all the Gig-files myself into a well thoughtout system - I even manipulated the original GIG-files by respected libraries. I put bank and program numbers into all gigs, to prevent gigastudio from loading things into random adresses. For those gigs that used panning, I made a copy of it where I took the panning away on the copy, meaning that there are two versions of the same gig-file: one with panning and one without. I also extracted out "multi-instrument" gigs to create a single gig for each instrument. Futhermore, I renamed each sound/gig-file in a certain way that was the same for all sounds on my HD. I tested sounds och compared between each other, and eliminated things such as differences in volume levels, velocity response, etc etc. This could take all night do describe ...

    As I am writing this, I'm sort of seeing myself, that what I did was to make everything pretty much "the same" - same name system, same bank/program system, same whatever. So that I could find each sound quickly and load it in and it works right away - no exceptions. With my sequencer, I do have a template file, but it contains no very specific settings. It contains a few reverbs loaded for audio-file use, and of course all the "standard" instruments of the symphony orchestra set to send data to gigastudio in a set system way of MIDI-channels, a way that I never change.

    I guess using "some kind of system" to bring order in what is confusing to you at the moment is the key to think of. I my case, as you can see, I thought up a system and conformed my resources into that system. It takes some work, but it does save alot of time and frustration later in the working process. Hope this gives you some ideas of your own.
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

Go Back to forum


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts