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Hello, everyone. I'm afraid that I've come cup in hand to ask for some aid in coming up with a good orchestral template. I have on me Edirol Orchestral, the Emu Virtuoso 2000, the VSCO2 CE, and the EWQL Symphonic Orchestra Free Play Edition. As you probably saw from "Hometown Under Occupation", I until now have largely used just Edirol Orchestral, with bass drum, harp, and snare from the Virtuoso 2000. 

(I also have the SONiVOX Strings, but using them is such a pain in the ass that I've abandoned them: can't use more than two instances at once, meaning I had to render each strings line independently, and each render would often have static and dropouts, meaning multiple re-renders and sometimes just splicing multiple takes together in Audacity which is not fun. Truly disappointing, too, because I love the sound of the SONiVOX strings, but the interface is unusable.)

However, with the greater depth of libraries before me, I find that I now desperately need to figure out a good, solid orchestral template, something that I can load up and use whenever I please, with all of the standard orchestral instruments and most of the articulations as well. As I have such a breadth of options, of such varying age, I figure I need advice and who better but a Virtual Orchestration Forum?

In particular... what general advice do you have regarding making a variety of different libraries sit within the same virtual space? What about layering - how do I make it work well, especially since it would require multiple instances/libraries of a single articulation to be loaded at the same time? What is your own template while composing, your DAW, your libraries? (Mattias' old article is wonderful but I think I need more opinions and even Mattias doesn't use that template anymore. [An update or 2.0 of that article would be amazing.])

Yours humbling begging... especially if you have experience with any two of these libraries and mixing them together.
The truth is your template will be very much the result of your own gear and your understanding and use thereof. It will also change a lot (A LOT). I've been seriously pursuing VO for about three or four years (not counting the many years spent futzing and basically doing it wrong before that) and I still don't have a really hard fast template I can rely on. Certain things have become convention, for sure, but I'm always tweaking.

I usually build on a previous project that was successful and use that as a template. Having a template that has EVERYTHING available is just not feasible and will only exacerbate what I feel is the biggest deterrent to productivity in VO: clutter. You aren't going to use absolutely everything in a track and as you really get into a piece you're working on you just might make a mess of it anyway.

One of my biggest issues is workflow. I can get a tune started in many ways, but like you I find it can be daunting to figure out how I'm going to drop things into a functioning orchestra without a lot of time spent building it up. To that end, I've begun focusing on what conventions / building blocks I typically follow and actually more on things like mixer states that I can call up in a pinch. My current template musings focus more on just getting the skeleton in place so I can easily add instruments and get them in position as I like them. That is, trying to get some of the technical legwork out of the way as best I can, which includes routing and color coding what I feel are enough tracks to cover what I think I might need in a particular instrument family, and so forth. Again, it's impossible to prepare for every variable or possibility, so it's sensible to keep it simple. It's worth mentioning that I have made no practical use of this particular template yet; I'm still just experimenting and primarily reusing existing project files.

I use FL Studio and primarily Kontakt based libraries. Two instances of Kontakt (which is slowly morphing into three these days). I also supplement with other plugins here and there, like Sforzando et al. Kontakt is multitimbral which means I can get sixteen individual patches loaded up per instance and routed to internal MIDI controllers and mixer tracks withing the DAW. I route everything to three (sometimes four) instances of reverb. Some of my patches include key switches for articulations and some instruments require a single patch for each. But again your template is going to be based on your stuff, and I have no experience with any of the plugins you've mentioned. As for mixing those libraries together, again, it's going to have to come from hours of working with them and listening to how they interact. I typically avoid making changes until I notice something out of place and then decide what to do, be it EQ, more or less reverb, stereo image fiddling, or what have you. A big challenge I've faced is varying degrees of baked in reverb on all the different libraries I use.

So I might suggest simply worrying about it a little at a time, but continuing to just make music. I've tried on numerous occasions to set up a "be all end all" template and have not succeeded, yet.
(10-10-2018, 12:41 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]I've tried on numerous occasions to set up a "be all end all" template and have not succeeded, yet.

I'm so glad you said that. I have had a similar experience, trying to set upa template that will "just work" for any arbitrary project, but as I learn more about instruments and seating and reverb and EQ and lots of other stuff, I find myself tweaking around with the template so much that I've come to the conclusion that a good project template should be primarily set up to be easily customizable per project, instead of being some static platonic ideal.

A good template should allow for easy rearranging of seating, as well as adding and removing of tracks without breaking up the workflow too much. Whether it is trying a virtual instrument from a plugin that I've never used before, or recording myself striking my set of steel mixing bowls with a fork, or shouldn't require making dozens of changes through several layers of sends and busses. Complexity kills creative flow.
(10-10-2018, 12:41 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]~snip

(10-10-2018, 12:28 PM)Michael Willis Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-10-2018, 12:41 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]I've tried on numerous occasions to set up a "be all end all" template and have not succeeded, yet.

I'm so glad you said that. I have had a similar experience, trying to set upa template that will "just work" for any arbitrary project, but as I learn more about instruments and seating and reverb and EQ and lots of other stuff, I find myself tweaking around with the template so much that I've come to the conclusion that a good project template should be primarily set up to be easily customizable per project, instead of being some static platonic ideal.

A good template should allow for easy rearranging of seating, as well as adding and removing of tracks without breaking up the workflow too much. Whether it is trying a virtual instrument from a plugin that I've never used before, or recording myself striking my set of steel mixing bowls with a fork, or shouldn't require making dozens of changes through several layers of sends and busses. Complexity kills creative flow.

Thank you both for your replies! A "be-all end-all" template would certainly be nice but truthfully a solid basis to work off of, to just drop in and start working with, is my goal. Thank you both for your advice, it all makes sense and. If you have any other in-general tips I would appreciate it greatly as I would like to get this drop-in-and-go template right so that, as you say, it is malleable enough to withstand both the removal and addition of tracks.
I'm in the midst of a curiously relevant experience, actually. I identified a bug I'd somehow missed for five years in my main brass library and the fix is requiring me to jump through all kinds of hoops to get the newest Kontakt Player version (they're on 6 now!). My templates are going to get pretty wonky until I can buy a full version of the latest edition. So you see? It's all up in the air!
My thoughts on a template are that it's best to have something set up with your routing/reverb/panning mostly in place then load the instruments you need for each song. Because the instrumentation will (probably) always be slightly different for every piece you compose. That gives you the freedom to vary your instrumentation easily as well as pull whichever library suits the needs of the composition while  it forcing you to reconfigure routing and mixing minutiae every time. At least, that's what's been working for me lately.
(10-12-2018, 05:28 PM)Melchizedek Wrote: [ -> ]My thoughts on a template are that it's best to have something set up with your routing/reverb/panning mostly in place then load the instruments you need for each song. Because the instrumentation will (probably) always be slightly different for every piece you compose. That gives you the freedom to vary your instrumentation easily as well as pull whichever library suits the needs of the composition while  it forcing you to reconfigure routing and mixing minutiae every time. At least, that's what's been working for me lately.

Definitely.

It's also worth mentioning that projects tend to create their own templates over time. That is to say that if you're working in a rhetorical situation, a game soundtrack, an album, what have you, the template will be built around what you've chosen to use for that particular project.
Terry, I think the best option for you is having a look at some more modern libraries than the ones you have before you even start thinking about setting up a template. As much as I love the Roland libraries (on which Edirol Orchestral is based), they are very dated by now and if you want to get into composing for games and other media you really need to up your game in terms of samples. The Sonivox strings that you are dismissing are more than a decade old yet far superior to anything else you have except maybe VSCO2 CE. Personally I wouldn't use Virtuoso 2000 at all unless I was going for a retro-sounding composition (and TBH, E-MU's orchestral samples weren't the best even in their day). I'm sorry for sounding negative here but I would really advice against setting up a template with that stuff if you want to do contemporary work. Hell, there are freebies that run circles around Edirol Orchestral these days.
That said, I am definitely a proponent of setting up be-all, end-all orchestral templates, as long as your computer can handle it. Within reason of course. I'm not going to dedicate a single instance of whatever sampler I'm using for triangle articulations or woodwind breath noises. But I like having all the building blocks at my fingertips so I don't have to muck around with loading VSTi's and searching for samples etc when all I want to do is to keep composing. Also, if you're going for a consistent sound across many tracks, working from a single big template that lets you do 90% of your work is the only way to do it.
(10-12-2018, 10:46 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Terry, I think the best option for you is having a look at some more modern libraries than the ones you have before you even start thinking about setting up a template. As much as I love the Roland libraries (on which Edirol Orchestral is based), they are very dated by now and if you want to get into composing for games and other media you really need to up your game in terms of samples. The Sonivox strings that you are dismissing are more than a decade old yet far superior to anything else you have except maybe VSCO2 CE. Personally I wouldn't use Virtuoso 2000 at all unless I was going for a retro-sounding composition (and TBH, E-MU's orchestral samples weren't the best even in their day). I'm sorry for sounding negative here but I would really advice against setting up a template with that stuff if you want to do contemporary work. Hell, there are freebies that run circles around Edirol Orchestral these days.

I do indeed need to look into better libraries, at least freebies. Part of the issue is that my computer is not powerful enough to run commercial libraries (this is the problem with the SONiVOX strings) (and even if it were I couldn't afford them) but I will research into freebies. A template would be valuable to me regardless of sample library simply so that I actually can compose on something better than General MIDI. As you yourself say,

(10-12-2018, 10:57 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ][...] I like having all the building blocks at my fingertips so I don't have to muck around with loading VSTi's and searching for samples etc when all I want to do is to keep composing. [...]

Regardless of the quality of my sample libraries, thank you for your other advice.

(10-12-2018, 05:28 PM)Melchizedek Wrote: [ -> ]My thoughts on a template are that it's best to have something set up with your routing/reverb/panning mostly in place then load the instruments you need for each song. Because the instrumentation will (probably) always be slightly different for every piece you compose. That gives you the freedom to vary your instrumentation easily as well as pull whichever library suits the needs of the composition while  it forcing you to reconfigure routing and mixing minutiae every time. At least, that's what's been working for me lately.

(10-12-2018, 10:39 PM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-12-2018, 05:28 PM)Melchizedek Wrote: [ -> ]My thoughts on a template are that it's best to have something set up with your routing/reverb/panning mostly in place then load the instruments you need for each song. Because the instrumentation will (probably) always be slightly different for every piece you compose. That gives you the freedom to vary your instrumentation easily as well as pull whichever library suits the needs of the composition while  it forcing you to reconfigure routing and mixing minutiae every time. At least, that's what's been working for me lately.

Definitely.

It's also worth mentioning that projects tend to create their own templates over time. That is to say that if you're working in a rhetorical situation, a game soundtrack, an album, what have you, the template will be built around what you've chosen to use for that particular project.

Long-term, this may be the most practical thing for me to do, since I have no plans on using freebies, retro libraries, and abandonware forever, but still need a template simply so that I can compose.
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