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Topic: My First VSL Rendering

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  1. #1

    My First VSL Rendering

    "Scene" from Swan Lake is my first time rendering an orchestration with a Kontakt 2 Library, mostly using the included VSL Library. I am not entirely happy with this library, and don't know whether or not it is only because it is too scaled down or if VSL is just not the one for me. I am, however, mainly pleased with the results after spending about fifty hours tweaking the bugs. I know some people will say that's pathetic to take so long, but I'm a perfectionist and I have to start somewhere. I'm sure it will be faster next time. This is also only my third time ever working with a midi orchestration and I have no previous experience arranging classical compositions, except for a few piano pieces, one of which, Flight of the Bumblebee, is also available on the same download page (a fairly liberal interpretation of the piece, but an arrangement I think many will like).

    Please do not be kind...I want to get better, not get flattered, unless you really mean it. Don't hold back positive or negative comments. Give it to me straight Doctor, I can take it. Thanks

    Here is the link to hear my arrangements of two of my favourite classical masterpieces: http://crazyox.dmusic.com/

  2. #2

    Smile Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Who knows why I'm up at 4 AM, but here goes:

    The quickest and simplest thing you can do to improve this arrangement is to slap some reverb on that sucker. Right now your entire orchestra is crammed into a large, unrealistically "dry" space. Figure out what space you want the ensemble to be in (i.e. a large church, an outdoor ampitheatre, a stadium), and find a reverb plugin that comes close to what is in your imagination.

    Depending on your price point, I'd suggest that you look for a different set of samples... the K2 VSL sounds, IMHO, are kind of yucky. You might look into getting GPO (Garritan Personal Orchestra)-- not only is it cheap (in the 200 range I believe), but it is used by amateur and professional composers alike. Garritan is coming out with a whole slew of amazing products, none of which I've been able to check out yet. Waiting for that next paycheck!

    Anyway, about your arrangement-- although the samples are sub-par, I can really tell that you went into great detail, dynamically, and timing-wise. Congratulations on your first digital orchestra arrangement! Can't wait to hear your next masterpiece :-)

    Sincerely,

    Alex

  3. #3

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDavis
    Who knows why I'm up at 4 AM, but here goes:

    The quickest and simplest thing you can do to improve this arrangement is to slap some reverb on that sucker. Right now your entire orchestra is crammed into a large, unrealistically "dry" space. Figure out what space you want the ensemble to be in (i.e. a large church, an outdoor ampitheatre, a stadium), and find a reverb plugin that comes close to what is in your imagination.

    Depending on your price point, I'd suggest that you look for a different set of samples... the K2 VSL sounds, IMHO, are kind of yucky. You might look into getting GPO (Garritan Personal Orchestra)-- not only is it cheap (in the 200 range I believe), but it is used by amateur and professional composers alike. Garritan is coming out with a whole slew of amazing products, none of which I've been able to check out yet. Waiting for that next paycheck!

    Anyway, about your arrangement-- although the samples are sub-par, I can really tell that you went into great detail, dynamically, and timing-wise. Congratulations on your first digital orchestra arrangement! Can't wait to hear your next masterpiece :-)

    Sincerely,

    Alex
    I should have mentioned that I left reverb off of both sound files in so that people could comment on flaws that might have ben less dicernable with reverb added. I would also appreciate any advice on what percentage of wet mix should be added to dry when using convolution reverb, particularly from the Waves Impulse responses.

    Thanks for the suggestion on VSL. Yes, I intend to get GPO as soon as I have the cash. It sounds like the least expensive pro quality set. I actually had to use the reason orchester for bassoon because then VSL bassoon produced bizarre phasing effect that produced some kind of false notes...weird. In hindsight, I might have been better off do the whole thing with the reason which has some decent sounds but is a terrible hassle to program (sustain, tremolo, slides, etc. all need a sperate track of notes...terrible...and if anyone knows some way around this please tell.)

    I was fairly happy with the harp samples but didn't have much to compare them too. I've used Giga Harp just for fun at a friends studio, but that was a long time ago and I hate Gigastudio, and it hates my computer. How does the harp in GPO compare with Garritan's Gigaharp...anyone know?

    GPO seems to be appreciated by most visitors here, though a few have indicated that it sounds like a small orchestra and may not be good for some pieces that need a large orchestra sound. If anyone has an opinion on that, or tweaking advice, please say so as I would like to know everything before I buy, not that I can afford anything of the comparable options right now anyway. Thanks everyone.

  4. #4

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Quote Originally Posted by crazyox
    How does the harp in GPO compare with Garritan's Gigaharp...anyone know?
    I have not tried out Gigaharp, but one of GPO's strongest points is their harp.
    Both my sisters are accomplished harpists, and they say it (the GPO harp) sounds very close to the real thing.

  5. #5

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    You know... this rendition isn't bad. You've clearly injected a lot of expression into the VSL samples in K2, and your hard work shows in the meticulous ebb and flow of the piece.

    That said, in my opinion a dry rendering is an unrealistic depiction of the piece, and therefore will decidedly color our opinions negatively, most likely.

    Because, well... these ARE samples. It's possible to make a perfectly realistic-sounding anechoic orchestra, but it always sounds stifled and unnatural even when it IS a real orchestra. An ensemble that large needs space to breathe in. Give your instruments that space! Reverb can blur the lines between articulations, help cover up that nasty pitch or transient burned into the sample right before a slide or a trill, or at the tail end of a diminuendo, or even in the release trail itself if you're using a wet library.

    Read up on some basic acoustical theory a little bit - just simple stuff, like low and high roll-offs, add a spatial energy to the samples which interact with the reverb and make the static .wav files come to life.

    Reverb is critical. Altiverb blows me away with how it can transform the VSL samples, which I didn't really enjoy when put through my old reverb plug-ins, into beautiful, lyrical instruments that I suddenly wish I had eleven grand to purchase.

    My only real complaint with your rendering is that "sucking" sound between notes, especially in the strings. Certainly abrupt changes from forte to piano occur all the time in orchestral music (film scores especially), but this is not emulating that effect - rather, it is the product of an audio recording with a slow attack, being repeated again and again.

    Fiddle with the attacks. If you are able, map a MIDI CC# to the attack portion of the envelope in Kontakt 2, and use it to create a variance of slower and faster attacks - real musicians, even when attempting to attack subsequent notes identically, always produce different attacks on each and every note.

    I might even recommend K2's simple "sample offset legato" script, which cuts off a pre-designated portion of the attack automatically, in order to create connected notes. This is a kind of "fake" legato - GPO does this for its legatos, as well as EWQLSO (but they do it on the sample level rather than with a controller). Sonivox, and a number of other orchestral libraries (Miroslav, too?) have fake legatos of this nature - instrument patches where the attack is quite fast, allowing one to play swift and/or connected lines that don't suffer from that sucking noise between notes.

    I might recommend some of the legato VSL patches that ship with K2. VSL is renowned for their legato samples - their legatos always sound the most realistic because the legatos are samples of real connected notes, rather than faked through some kind of artificial synthesis.

    You could even venture further into the world of K2 scripts, with one of the freely available third-party scripts like Big Bob's SIPS script (search the forums, it's very popular, you'll find it easily), which allows one to create rather pleasant-sounding legatos and portamentos with nearly any sample set - yes, it's still fake legato, but it works quite well, especially with reverb to cover up some of the synthiness.

    Hope I've helped you out some. Time for me to stop procrastinating and get back to work...

    -Tom

  6. #6

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomdini
    My only real complaint with your rendering is that "sucking" sound between notes, especially in the strings. Certainly abrupt changes from forte to piano occur all the time in orchestral music (film scores especially), but this is not emulating that effect - rather, it is the product of an audio recording with a slow attack, being repeated again and again.

    Fiddle with the attacks. If you are able, map a MIDI CC# to the attack portion of the envelope in Kontakt 2, and use it to create a variance of slower and faster attacks - real musicians, even when attempting to attack subsequent notes identically, always produce different attacks on each and every note.
    Thanks for the advice. I tried to use the legato scripts with the K2 default VSL instruments and couldn't hear the difference. I think I'm going to get GPO and if the legato scripts aren't working for me then, I'll know the problem is me just not figuring it out, but I am usually pretty good at that sort of thing. K2 Scripting seems to be a little bit of a buggy process sometimes, especially during rendering. Has anyone else noticed this?
    Last edited by crazyox; 03-29-2007 at 07:49 PM. Reason: spelling

  7. #7

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    It sounds like a good exercise to do

  8. #8

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Quote Originally Posted by olibats stabilo
    It sounds like a good exercise to do
    that was the original intent

  9. #9

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    My post above might seem cryptic,
    what I meant was that rendering this classical piece with samples seems like a good exercise, I called it an exercise because I don`t
    concider sample mockups of classical pieces much more than exercises concidering the huge difference in emotional depth there is between
    live versions and recordings using multisamples.


    you did a good job on the swan song, the flight of the bumble bee
    sounds to static

    edit: bumble, not humble bee, english not two good

  10. #10

    Re: My First VSL Rendering

    Quote Originally Posted by olibats stabilo
    My post above might seem cryptic,
    what I meant was that rendering this classical piece with samples seems like a good exercise, I called it an exercise because I don`t
    concider sample mockups of classical pieces much more than exercises concidering the huge difference in emotional depth there is between
    live versions and recordings using multisamples.


    you did a good job on the swan song, the flight of the bumble bee
    sounds to static

    edit: bumble, not humble bee, english not two good
    I hope someone else will comment. I love your opiniion, but it floors me. I try to look at my stuff unbiased, and am usually the first to be my worst critic, but I am in love with my version. If you don't like 'static' maybe you will like the next one. I'm posting my version of a very strange Scriabin prelude (can't remember the opus number off hand. I'll have to look it up.)

    http://crazyox.dmusic.com/

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