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> Orchestral Plugins Replacing Real Symphonies?
SirJamsalot
post Nov 5 2014, 09:30 PM
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I'm researching plugins to give me access to syphonic sounds (like those in movie soundtracks - James Horner, et. al) and I came to realize that in the same way tube-amplifier mfgs are likely sweating a little because of the rise in products like POD, Rack11, etc., they will soon be extinct (with a few hold-outs - there are always holdouts!). Symphony's seem to be selling themselves out of work I think, when they strike deals to record their instruments for these plugins like Action Strings from Native Instruments. Kind of an inevitable irony I think.

anyways, just chillin out.

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Monica Gheorghev...
post Nov 6 2014, 11:10 AM
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It's true that the VST plugins has a sound more realistic but I will remain a fan of using real instruments smile.gif I used, I tested different orchestral plugins and I like very much some of them, but I have the feeling that something it’s missing. It’s like somebody put me to smoke an electronic cigarette biggrin.gif It will be ok, but not the same biggrin.gif It’s hard to explain in words why I feel this. Talking as a piano player, I tried many plugins and some of them it's obviously that had been improved a lot over years, but to be honest and for my personal taste a real piano will always have a unique personality.

On the other side, I heard a lot orchestral compositions made with VST orchestral plugins that sounds amazing. But these guys probably are some genius which knows anything about, orchestration, mixing and mastering or they have a team to make this. To buy the best orchestral VST plugin, which has sounds that emulate very good a real instrument, from my point of view it’s just the first step. Starting with a good sound and transform it into a realistic and expressive sound, for the final result require more knowledge.

As example if I want to make an orchestral composition and I use a good orchestral VST plugin I’m very sure that the final result will not be what I want. This because at this moment the mixing part it's my weakness (I’m in the stage of learning tongue.gif ). I must to have trust in my ears and my little knowledge about orchestration, but this is not enough. I don't know how to make miracles from EQ, but I know that I need to keep a frequency balance and not overdo some of the frequencies. My mind will think in this way: if I need more low-end then I can add tuba, contrabass, etc, if I need high-end then I can add flutes, celesta, piccolos, etc. Also I will need to respect some things like: do not put the instruments in the same register and also I will be very careful when I must doubling different instruments. But all these will not be enough for a good result. Of course this is how I see the things wink.gif

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klasaine
post Nov 6 2014, 04:12 PM
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QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ Nov 6 2014, 03:10 AM) *
On the other side, I heard a lot orchestral compositions made with VST orchestral plugins that sounds amazing. But these guys probably are some genius which knows anything about, orchestration, mixing and mastering or they have a team to make this. To buy the best orchestral VST plugin, which has sounds that emulate very good a real instrument, from my point of view it’s just the first step. Starting with a good sound and transform it into a realistic and expressive sound, for the final result require more knowledge.


Great observation Monica!

You gotta know how to write for the ensemble to make it sound 'real'
If you 'know' how to orchestrate well - and that doesn't mean just play some cool chords on a midi keyboard and assume that will transfer to a great orchestral score - even mediocre software can work. Using (arranging) the VST insts the same way you would if you're writing for an actual orchestra will produce decent to very good results. You need to understand the ranges, possible techniques and limitations as well as sonic space that these instruments are capable of in order to use them 'realistically'. Like I say, "banging out chords on a midi keyboard ain't gonna get it".
A lot of (most) film 'composers' employ professional 'orchestrators' to fill out their compositional ideas.

Orchestral scores, even for major Hollywood films, have been supplemented effectively with midi insts, samples, VSTs, etc. since the early 90s.

*As for putting 'classical' players out of biz? No, not really.
In L.A., (Hollywood) where lots of scores are recorded, we still have one of the most vibrant and profitable Symphony Orchestras in the world residing here. Not to mention Opera and Chamber orchs. Even a lot of video games will score with a real orchestra.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 6 2014, 05:25 PM


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SirJamsalot
post Nov 7 2014, 04:32 AM
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Great points monica & klasaine!

QUOTE (klasaine @ Nov 6 2014, 08:12 AM) *
Great observation Monica!

You gotta know how to write for the ensemble to make it sound 'real'
If you 'know' how to orchestrate well - and that doesn't mean just play some cool chords on a midi keyboard and assume that will transfer to a great orchestral score - even mediocre software can work. Using (arranging) the VST insts the same way you would if you're writing for an actual orchestra will produce decent to very good results. You need to understand the ranges, possible techniques and limitations as well as sonic space that these instruments are capable of in order to use them 'realistically'. Like I say, "banging out chords on a midi keyboard ain't gonna get it".
A lot of (most) film 'composers' employ professional 'orchestrators' to fill out their compositional ideas.

Orchestral scores, even for major Hollywood films, have been supplemented effectively with midi insts, samples, VSTs, etc. since the early 90s.

*As for putting 'classical' players out of biz? No, not really.
In L.A., (Hollywood) where lots of scores are recorded, we still have one of the most vibrant and profitable Symphony Orchestras in the world residing here. Not to mention Opera and Chamber orchs. Even a lot of video games will score with a real orchestra.


I know they presently use real orchestras - Lord of the Rings, etc. employ them. But I'm speaking in terms of the future! Home recording is now a huge market - everyone wants to engage in it, but not everyone has a full orchestra at their disposal! Demand inspires advances in technology to meet those demands, and I just see the future of the orchestras - actual 50 chamber to 100 full orchestral musicians becoming less needed in the at very least, the movie industry, due to the monetary constraints and increasing abilities of software emulation. I mean, 100 people at 15 bucks an hour, is 1.5K an hour! and I doubt any of those players will settle for minimum wage at that level.

Actually, I did a little research and based on this article, as of 2010, orchestra musicians earned anywhere from $28,000 to $115,000 a year, on average. These salary ranges reflect a full season of work, which often includes 40 weeks, so you’re looking at a range of $700 to $2,875 a week, or $17.50 to $71.88 an hour.

It's hard to see movie makers in the future needing a live orchestra since it's just background music - you're not seeing the members of the orchestra playing - now conductors - I can see a prominent role in composing! But nothing beats live music, and I'm sure the orchestra having lived so long, will continue to live! Just less so in certain music industries.

Cheers!



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klasaine
post Nov 7 2014, 06:08 AM
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On a normal to big budget motion picture, TV show or even vid game sound track, real players make between 50 and 150 bucks an hour. There are lower wage scales for smaller budget projects. The work for session players in general and string players in particular has declined over the last 20 years for numerous reasons. We know that and no need to beat a dead horse.

With top quality session players it only takes a day or two to record all the orchestral parts for a standard, 2 hour film score. Some movies are done in a day and sometimes it takes weeks but on average - two 8 hour days of live recording. *Post prod can take forever but that's usually with a salaried editor working for the film studio or production co.
It's still cheaper to record an orchestra (or any type of large ensemble) 'live' than pay one, two or even a handful of guys and their DAWs to toil away at it for a week or three. Small indie film cos. always have to find that out the hard way.
This is why there's still high profile, big budget scoring sessions going on every day in L.A., NYC, Seattle, Nashville, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and London. The average percentage of budget allotted to the music for a movie is one half of 1%. That includes the composer's fee, orchestrators, copyists, live players (plus the contractor), engineers, assistants and the scoring stage/studio. To Hollywood, 0.5% is nothing, especially when the budget is $60,000,000.00 or more. And the producers, directors and screen writers seem to really dig using a live orchestra when appropriate. They spend more on 'craft service' (food on set) than they do on the music - by far.
Video games on average spend 2% of total budget on music.

TV is where the use of 'live' players has pretty much stopped completely, other than maybe using a sax player or guitarist or some other specialized instrument. Other than 'the Simpsons', most TV music is done in small (albeit very pro) home studios on a DAW or two and it has been that way since the early 90s when ADAT recorders hit the scene.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 7 2014, 08:16 AM


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 7 2014, 08:32 AM
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^ Very cool info Ken!

I have tried arranging orchestra in my DAW a few times but it never sounds good, and I am with Monica on this - I highly doubt I can blame it on my plugins..


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Todd Simpson
post Nov 7 2014, 08:54 AM
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Very true for certain projects and certain budgets!!!! The quality of sampled orchestra plugins is KILLER and is good enough for nearly everything except, typically for "Big Budget" Hollywood tentpole movie that still use an orchestra and a conductor, composer etc.

In the TV world, (as KLAISAINNE mentioned) very very few shows still get the royal treatment, but it's trending away from it simply due to cost. Star Trek used to get real french horns back in the day for example smile.gif


QUOTE (SirJamsalot @ Nov 5 2014, 04:30 PM) *
I'm researching plugins to give me access to syphonic sounds (like those in movie soundtracks - James Horner, et. al) and I came to realize that in the same way tube-amplifier mfgs are likely sweating a little because of the rise in products like POD, Rack11, etc., they will soon be extinct (with a few hold-outs - there are always holdouts!). Symphony's seem to be selling themselves out of work I think, when they strike deals to record their instruments for these plugins like Action Strings from Native Instruments. Kind of an inevitable irony I think.

anyways, just chillin out.

Cheers!
Chris


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Nov 7 2014, 08:55 AM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Nov 7 2014, 02:18 PM
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As Ken rightly says understanding the various instruments, how they are played and how they relate to each other in an orchestra is incredibly important. Even something like the seating arrangements plays a part in this and there is a major differnce between scoring for a full orchestra or the same piece for a smaller ensemble.

On top of all that you need to understand issues to do with how a partiular instrument uses articulation to emphasise and humanise particular notes etc. One of the issues with orchestral sample packages in the past was that they did not have sufficient articulations. If I remember correctly Vienna VSO was the first to really address this and as suc was and still is seen by many as one of the best, if not best, packages around in terms of quality. A full Vienna orchestra though is expensive - last time I looked some 10 years ago it was over $5000 to put together the full orchestral package. On top of that you have to have a hard disc that is large enough in capacity and fast enough to stream it.

A little OT - I alsways think that the wages that orchestral musicians get is pretty poor. $17.50 or so dollars an hour for someone who has the experience and talent to play, for example 2nd violin, in an orchestra isn't much. It's the same in the UK - a friend of mine graduated this year and has been offered a position in a major London orchestra as one of their percussionists - starting salary for her is £18k. She graduated with a 1st and was also a finalist in the 'Young Musciian of the Year' competition. I think the average starting salary for a graduate in London is @28k.


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klasaine
post Nov 7 2014, 05:03 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Nov 7 2014, 12:54 AM) *
Very true for certain projects and certain budgets!!!! The quality of sampled orchestra plugins is KILLER and is good enough for nearly everything except, typically for "Big Budget" Hollywood tent pole movie that still use an orchestra and a conductor, composer etc.

In the TV world, (as KLAISAINNE mentioned) very very few shows still get the royal treatment, but it's trending away from it simply due to cost. Star Trek used to get real french horns back in the day for example smile.gif


The sample quality today, when used properly, actually, IMO sound fantastic! I've been fooled many times. Especially with strings. I've even heard nylon string guitar samples on single note lines that when 'played' as a guitarist would play, sound indistinguishable within a track. Scary but true.

But when a 'Star Wars' type epic wants/requires the symphonic treatment it really is faster and cheaper to hire a full orchestra than it is to do it on a DAW. The composer fee is going to be more than the orchestra price. Also, all of the large film studios own their own scoring stages/studios and post facilities. Within their book keeping they may show money for the studio and post being 'moved around' but the reality is that it doesn't actually cost them anything beyond the salaried employees and normal overhead (which is divided across the entire year and all productions not to mention that some of it is tax deductible as far as upkeep and depreciation).

As with anything else, 'owning' the gear is one thing. Writing and orchestrating like John Williams, Michael Kaman or Danny Elfman is another world of education, expertise, experience and track record entirely. A 'hit' film score can sell on it's own merit and the film studios want that to be the case. Not to mention the fact that a 'hit' film composer can help sell a film.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 7 2014, 05:38 PM


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SirJamsalot
post Nov 7 2014, 09:28 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Nov 7 2014, 06:18 AM) *
As Ken rightly says understanding the various instrum4ents, how they are played and how they relate to each other in an orchestra is incredibly important. Even something like the seating arrangements plays a part in this and there is a major differnce between scoring for a full orchestra or the same piece for a smaller ensemble.

On top of all that you need to understand issues to do with how a partiular instrument uses articulation to emphasise and humanise particular notes etc. One of the issues with orchestral sample packages in the past was that they did not have sufficient articulations. If I remember correctly Vienna VSO was the first to really address this and as suc was and still is seen by many as one of the best, if not best, packages around in terms of quality. A full Vienna orchestra though is expensive - last time I looked some 10 years ago it was over $5000 to put together the full orchestral package. On top of that you have to have a hard disc that is large enough in capacity and fast enough to stream it.

A little OT - I alsways think that the wages that orchestral musicians get is pretty poor. $17.50 or so dollars an hour for someone who has the experience and talent to play, for example 2nd violin, in an orchestra isn't much. It's the same in the UK - a friend of mine graduated this year and has been offered a position in a major London orchestra as one of their percussionists - starting salary for her is £18k. She graduated with a 1st and was also a finalist in the 'Young Musciian of the Year' competition. I think the average starting salary for a graduate in London is @28k.


that is scary sad sad.gif minimum wage in the U.S. will be $15 pretty soon, for entry-level jobs like flipping burgers and mowing lawns. Amazing someone with a college degree in music has such a difficult time finding a higher paying job, but that's how supply and demand work here in the states. If there's only one orange in a square mile, and 50 people want that orange, suddenly the price will rocket. Same for talent.

Cheers


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klasaine
post Nov 7 2014, 11:36 PM
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A career in the arts has always been a tough row to hoe.
I know a lot of musicians who cashed it all in when the crisis hit in 08/09. Went back to school, did something else, retired ...
I applied the 'last man standing' principle analogous to your 'last orange in one square mile' scenario.
Work has been picking up over the last 2 years. It's slow and in fits and starts (it's slow for me right now) but it is picking up over all.

I'm sure you've heard the Hunter S. Thompson quote ...
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”
(he was actually referring to the TV industry but someone re-worded it for the music biz years ago)

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 7 2014, 11:51 PM


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