Help with realistic mock-ups

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RichardTownsend
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by RichardTownsend »

kcnarf007 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:53 pm
Hi everyone, very interesting discussion here (but I am sorry I didn't get the time to read in details all the post). This post I hope will add up some content to the community.

I think Dorico is superior in terms of efficiency, that is the time spent vs. the audio quality of the mockup. I used to use Cubase and then LogicPro and this has been always a headache in terms of productivity for those who write music instead of playing it / recording it live. So the followings does not apply to such "live" workflow. It you are writing music on a Daw (vs on Dorico) :

1. you need to "humanize" each entry (automated in Dorico)
2. you struggle with articulation to decide over which sample to use for a particular duration (automated with the Dorico expression maps)
3. you need to jump from one track to another one to balance the overall dynamic and cresc. / descresc.of each tracks without a clear overall view (Shift+D and all dynamic / hairpins are setup at once with Dorico)
4. you spent time playing with the CCs and drawing in most of the case linear segments moving up and down to articulate your phrase (and the hairpins of Dorico do the job perfectly - you can tweak a little the CCs in Dorico for micro-dymamics & vibrato adjustment especially for some long notes of the phrase)
5. you struggle to enter glissando, tuplets, grace notes, etc. (this is automated in Dorico)

So Dorico is automating all the tedious works required by Daws. The only requirement is first to spend a significant amount of time programming your playback templates and expression maps (it took me about 10 hours for a full symphonic orchestra with Spitfire audio orchestral libraries).

And to be frank, at the en,d I am 10 times more productive on Dorico for a similar audio rendering at the end. And really I want to write music not spend hours programming a DAW. Check this example of a composition #madewithdorico in few hours: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGYIofjq0w5 ... _copy_link

The only improvements I can see are three folds :

1. There is only one send effect channel for the Reverb (so no secondary Reverbs not delay)
2. Copy and paste notes does not paste CCs tweaks
3. It is not possible to add audio sample

A good mockup is 1) good samples libraries 2) good reverb 3) smart use of articulations 4) proper dynamic articulation of the phrase 5) tweak of dynamic & vibrato of long notes
If you start from a score I can see that using Dorico is much more productive to produce a mock-up. I guess the question is : if you want to produce a piece to be used, eg as a film or TV score, is it possible to do that in Dorico? I don’t know the answer to that to be honest as I’ve not tried to do it in Dorico. But there are advantages to using a DAW - you have many more sound-sculpting tools, a fully fledged mixer, group channels, flexible quantise, more powerful midi editing, proper metering, unlimited effects, rendering of tracks to reduce CPU etc. If you play your parts in, as I mostly do, you have dynamics built in, though they will need tweaking.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

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RichardTownsend wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:38 pm
If you start from a score I can see that using Dorico is much more productive to produce a mock-up. I guess the question is : if you want to produce a piece to be used, eg as a film or TV score, is it possible to do that in Dorico? I don’t know the answer to that to be honest as I’ve not tried to do it in Dorico. But there are advantages to using a DAW - you have many more sound-sculpting tools, a fully fledged mixer, group channels, flexible quantise, more powerful midi editing, proper metering, unlimited effects, rendering of tracks to reduce CPU etc. If you play your parts in, as I mostly do, you have dynamics built in, though they will need tweaking.
Looking at film and TV music, I don't think it makes sense to use Dorico to deliver the finished audio.

For TV, and short films or independent films, most of the scoring is done with virtual instruments, so you don't really even need a notated score in most cases. Also, in the present day, there are lot more synthesized elements - drum loops, sound design stuff, synthesized sounds. You would be using the "Play" mode as sortof a DAW substitute and never really going into write or engrave mode. It doesn't make sense to me to use Dorico in that way, because the Play mode toolset is certainly inferior to the toolset in Cubase, and so it is more work to get the same sort of result. When you have to get scoring work done, it has to get done quickly, so you need a UI that is efficient enough. Also in Dorico you lack a lot of things such as group tracks and so the routing isn't as flexible, and not being able to surround mixes etc. is a limitation. For this sort of work you need to be able to deliver stems, and have good control over automation and integration of audio tracks possibly.

Occasionally, TV and short films and independent films may have a few live musicians mixed with the samples, but it would generally be less work to export the MIDI or MusicXML from the DAW and import into Dorico to notate those few passages vs. writing the entire thing in Dorico.

For big-budget films, the composers split into two groups. First, you have the composers who started in the 80's who worked on paper before and they still prefer to write via sketching directly on paper. That sketching process can be brought into Dorico (as in the case of Alan Silvestri), and then the composer gives that to the orchestrator who creates the fleshed-out score with all of the parts. That fleshed-out score would then be handed to somebody to create a mockup in a DAW, and that person would play in all of the lines by hand into the DAW following the score, shaping all of the CC's.

Second, you have the composers who work in a DAW to begin with. Those composers may do so because they make extensive use of sound design elements like Hans Zimmer, or they may come from more of a pop music background like Danny Elfman and not really be super comfortable with notation. In those cases, the composer creates the initial version in the DAW, which the orchestrator takes and transfers/translates to notation software to create the actual performance score and parts. There can be certain challenges there where the samples the composer uses would not really translate to a live performance scenario, so they would have to determine whether to adjust the orchestration in a way that has a similar effect, or to use mixing after-the-fact to work around the issue and maintain the original orchestration. I suspect part of the reason that big film orchestrations often have some crazy number of horns like 12 or 18 horns stems from some composer who played triads with a 4 or 6 horns patch into a DAW and the orchestrator ended up having to get 12 or 18 horns to get those triads to sound the same.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

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A little off-topic, but here's a screencast of the library I purchased, performed by the creator. UN. REAL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV5CJqAZIzw
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

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Very impressive - but I would say don't get too caught up in any one library. New and better things keep coming out, and there is a lot of work that went into that mockup besides the samples themselves.

I've gone through about 15 years of new libraries coming out that everybody says are absolutely amazing and blow everything else out of the water. Often they aren't actually that much better than what came before.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

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mducharme wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:20 am
Very impressive - but I would say don't get too caught up in any one library. New and better things keep coming out, and there is a lot of work that went into that mockup besides the samples themselves.

I've gone through about 15 years of new libraries coming out that everybody says are absolutely amazing and blow everything else out of the water. Often they aren't actually that much better than what came before.
That's fair, but the most compelling videos are the ones where he just plays it live, no funny business. And I've played it myself over the past several days. I detest the "latest-and-greatest sample library" craze as much as anyone, but this one really is quite good. Just ride the fader with the left hand a little as you play, and it's astonishing.

Now to figure out how to get it to play back a notated score that well...
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

I've been a big fan of Sample Modeling brass, which has a similar idea to IB where it is dry and allows for a lot of customization of the performance. I think it is more important to have control over the performance than anything else, even if it means more work for the person doing the mockup. I'm interested in IB too myself, but I don't necessarily see it as a huge leap above the Sample Modeling instruments I currently use.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

Grainger2001 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:35 pm
You can actually do this, although with a big score it might get a little cumbersome. Certainly for a smaller number of instruments, it can work well - especially for piano renderings. Simply create an identical instrument. Record into the duplicate staff (They can share the same midi channel if you want)...put the notation into the top staff and use 'Staff Visibility' to hide your 'live' performance. Hidden staves still playback! You can 'Suppress Playback' on the other staff. If you use the same midi channel, you can mix and match between sections that you want to play in live, and sections that you are happy with when played back from the notation only.

The other element that can be useful on a solo instrument staff is 'Create Staff Below'. You can't record directly into such a staff, but you can copy material onto it, suppress playback on your main staff and then use 'Remove Staff' to visually remove your recorded material - It will still playback! This is not as flexible as the first method, but can be useful in certain situations.

This is the only way to get really realistic performances. Quantizing and other note editing can adversely affect the notated aspect of a recording, so basically just split it out into two tracks and and it will make life much easier!
it's such a simple and obvious idea and I wonder why I didn't already try something like this! Probably, as you say, it would simply be too untidy and unwieldy for full orchestra and I wonder also how practical it would be for something like a string quartet where instruments are usually set to respond to CC's. If you're going to record live, you'll either have to to move controllers in real time or (easier in a DAW) overdub later. For piano or other velocity instruments, it's going to be easier. Still, I agree this is probably the easiest way to get realistic performances.
Last edited by dko22 on Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

dankreider wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:29 pm
Here's the PDF of an orchestration I recently completed.

Here's the NotePerformer demo, m.15-83: https://www.dropbox.com/s/89r9g1h0vfb0z ... o.mp3?dl=0

I didn't do anything to it, just boosted by about 1.5 dB in Audacity. (I omitted the piano)

Here's an audio demo using Infinite Winds, Infinite Brass, and Cinematic Studio Strings: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dsgyh2cl0e793 ... o.mp3?dl=0
other than the weird trumpets which are probably beyond repair, I think the second rendering has more potential than the first, though as it is, seems a bit subdued. Unfortunately, not knowing the libraries involved, I'll need to leave it to others to be more concrete. With NotePerformer, on the other hand, I've always found it essential to trim the vibrato level in strings in general and particularly with smoother music like this, otherwise they sound ghastly. Around 30 should work here.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

dankreider wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:29 pm
Here's an audio demo using Infinite Winds, Infinite Brass, and Cinematic Studio Strings: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dsgyh2cl0e793 ... o.mp3?dl=0
Just for fun, I took this and loaded up my Cubase template into Dorico to have this play back with my set of sample libraries. I host all of my instruments in Vienna Ensemble Pro in Cubase and also load my stage positioning reverb in there, so I was able to bring everything over to Dorico.

I have not added any shaping to yours. Like yours, it sounds really flat like the players are timid, so this does not properly demonstrate what the libraries are capable of:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wtjbkklva9xru ... s.mp3?dl=0

Only the piano really shines, but that is because you played that in. Dorico is keeping the modwheel for the rest of the instruments between 40-60 at all times which is super constrained, so the shaping is very minimal. The phrasing is also way off, notes suddenly being cut off at full volume instead of tapering off. There are also occasional notes that are obviously much louder than they should be, particularly in the strings. I noticed one or two notes that suddenly pop out and they are obviously not supposed to.

Shaping is badly needed, in both cases, because Dorico is keeping all of the dynamics very constrained in a narrow range, and not factoring in the phrasing when it comes to the shaping - it is mostly just following the hairpins and dynamic indications and treating them quite literally.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by RichardTownsend »

Here’s a mock-up I’ve done using Cubase and spitfire chamber strings, based on a Dorico score.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pozcjwjbe3la4 ... 4.wav?dl=0

Any comments or suggestions for improvement welcome

Rich
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

RichardTownsend wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:19 pm
Here’s a mock-up I’ve done using Cubase and spitfire chamber strings, based on a Dorico score.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pozcjwjbe3la4 ... 4.wav?dl=0

Any comments or suggestions for improvement welcome
The mockup really needs a more shaping of CC1, and could probably also use some vibrato crossfading.This sort of piece with a very regular, repetitive structure leans on the shaping in the performance a lot more than the typical piece does. The mix itself sounds fine, although it's fairly easy to mix the chamber strings since they are all recorded in the same space with the same equipment.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by giwro »

I wish I had some more time to do some of this - what I've seen is that Dorico is really quite a bit more flexible in getting me at least "close" to a good end product with a minimum of fuss.

I did a string piece awhile back with BBCSO, and it came of rather nicely with a minimum of tweaking after the fact:
http://www.evensongmusic.net/?page_id=3380

Basically, I did this:
  • I found a short Public Domain organ piece by Otto Malling that I thought would translate well to strings, and did the work to arrange it.
  • Went in and tweaked the velocities on some of the staccato notes
  • played a bit with the tempo curve in Play mode
  • Exported to stems, did some final volume tweaking in the DAW, added some reverb (Altiverb)
  • Some light compression and EQ in Sound Forge
So, there was very little work after the fact in the DAW, and really only with the exported Stems, not MIDI...

I will say that there were a LOT of hairpins...

<chuckle>
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

giwro wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:31 pm
I did a string piece awhile back with BBCSO, and it came of rather nicely with a minimum of tweaking after the fact:
http://www.evensongmusic.net/?page_id=3380
Yes, I heard yours before on vi-control. Very well done on the mockup. When I first heard it, at first I thought the composition was by John Barry because it sounds a lot like one of his James Bond scores.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by RichardTownsend »

mducharme wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:54 pm
RichardTownsend wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:19 pm
Here’s a mock-up I’ve done using Cubase and spitfire chamber strings, based on a Dorico score.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pozcjwjbe3la4 ... 4.wav?dl=0

Any comments or suggestions for improvement welcome
The mockup really needs a more shaping of CC1, and could probably also use some vibrato crossfading.This sort of piece with a very regular, repetitive structure leans on the shaping in the performance a lot more than the typical piece does. The mix itself sounds fine, although it's fairly easy to mix the chamber strings since they are all recorded in the same space with the same equipment.
Thank you very much for your excellent feedback!
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by giwro »

mducharme wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:34 pm
giwro wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:31 pm
I did a string piece awhile back with BBCSO, and it came of rather nicely with a minimum of tweaking after the fact:
http://www.evensongmusic.net/?page_id=3380
Yes, I heard yours before on vi-control. Very well done on the mockup. When I first heard it, at first I thought the composition was by John Barry because it sounds a lot like one of his James Bond scores.
Glad you liked it!

I tried another piece with more instruments: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mD33Fd ... gi4jH/view

Some EQ, reverb added with Altiverb, a little judicious compression... I suspect if I exported the midi and massaged it in the DAW, it would sound much better (the only edits I did in Dorico were to lower the velocity on the timpani shorts at the end)

If you're curious about the score and want to follow, it's here on IMSLP: https://imslp.org/wiki/Petite_suite_(Ro ... e%2C_Jean)
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

giwro wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:52 pm
Glad you liked it!

I tried another piece with more instruments: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mD33Fd ... gi4jH/view

Some EQ, reverb added with Altiverb, a little judicious compression... I suspect if I exported the midi and massaged it in the DAW, it would sound much better (the only edits I did in Dorico were to lower the velocity on the timpani shorts at the end)
It sounds good, but you might consider dialing back a tiny bit on the reverb. I find that big cavernous sound doesn't really suit this material. I used to use a lot more reverb than I have lately - I've been trying to get my sound a bit drier while still having the sense of the hall. My export of Dan's piece through my template is probably a bit too dry on the other hand.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by giwro »

mducharme wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:08 pm
giwro wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:52 pm
Glad you liked it!

I tried another piece with more instruments: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mD33Fd ... gi4jH/view

Some EQ, reverb added with Altiverb, a little judicious compression... I suspect if I exported the midi and massaged it in the DAW, it would sound much better (the only edits I did in Dorico were to lower the velocity on the timpani shorts at the end)
It sounds good, but you might consider dialing back a tiny bit on the reverb. I find that big cavernous sound doesn't really suit this material. I used to use a lot more reverb than I have lately - I've been trying to get my sound a bit drier while still having the sense of the hall. My export of Dan's piece through my template is probably a bit too dry on the other hand.
Hahaha
:lol:

I'm frequently accused of loving reverb too much.... guilty as charged, I'm an organist, and we do love our soaking wet cathedral reverbs.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Derrek »

I still recall an organist at the Washington (DC) Cathedral referring to the building as an $11,000,000 (or some such) reverb machine.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

I find that using lots of reverb allows you to better cover up flaws in a mockup. For instance, adding enough reverb lessens the impact of not tapering off the final note of a phrase when an instrument exits. Because I didn't add any shaping to my export of Dan's piece, there are frequently spots where you find some sustained note that suddenly cuts off in a rather strange way, like the player played at constant volume until the end of the note and abruptly stopped. I am most impressed by mockups where the person who created it used minimal reverb and instead you can hear that they spent the extra time perfecting the details of the shaping, rather than relying on the reverb to fix it for them.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by giwro »

mducharme wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:37 pm
I find that using lots of reverb allows you to better cover up flaws in a mockup. For instance, adding enough reverb lessens the impact of not tapering off the final note of a phrase when an instrument exits. Because I didn't add any shaping to my export of Dan's piece, there are frequently spots where you find some sustained note that suddenly cuts off in a rather strange way, like the player played at constant volume until the end of the note and abruptly stopped. I am most impressed by mockups where the person who created it used minimal reverb and instead you can hear that they spent the extra time perfecting the details of the shaping, rather than relying on the reverb to fix it for them.
I get that... but just to be clear, I don’t use it to “cover up flaws in my mockup”, I use it because I like a wet acoustic... it’s an organist thing. 8-)
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

giwro wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:44 am
I get that... but just to be clear, I don’t use it to “cover up flaws in my mockup”, I use it because I like a wet acoustic... it’s an organist thing. 8-)
Oh, I wasn't suggesting that. I can tell you add a lot of shaping etc. It was more directed to others who might be reading the thread. I know when I started off making mockups (about 15 or 16 years ago) I would have situations where a note cuts off and the sound dies off rapidly and I would think "that sounds strange" and I would add reverb to fix it, not realizing that performers would taper the end of the phrase a bit to avoid that sudden cut-off rather than relying on the acoustic.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Rob Tuley »

Derrek wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:27 pm
I still recall an organist at the Washington (DC) Cathedral referring to the building as an $11,000,000 (or some such) reverb machine.
You don't need a huge building to get a long reverb, if you design it right. King's College Chapel Cambridge is only about 300 ft long x 40 wide x 80 high, with a measured reverb time of around 12 seconds (!!). Westminster Abbey and St Pauls Cathedral in London only manage about 9 seconds each.

The secret sauce is the largest fan-vaulted stone roof in the world (and it has held that record for about 500 years since it was first built). When I was an undergrad there were a few guided tours available by "invitation only". The highlight was walking the full 300 ft length of the building on a wooden walkway on TOP of the internal roof (and below the external roof that was about 15 feet higher in the center) where you could see all the details of the stone construction. Looking through a few small holes in the structure, the non-structural stone work was only about half an inch thick. That made a pretty good "sounding board".

Wikipedia has a pretty good set of pictures (but only from ground level looking up).

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Eric2000 »

Hello Dan,

Here is an example of what I can do without a DAW.
http://ericspichiger.no-ip.org:5080/sharing/IJ1yapZki

I simply used a score in Sibelius to drive VSL sound libraires.

In my opinion, to achieve realistic playback directly from the score, you need to be able to insert any MIDI controllers for every single note of your partition.

As far as I know, Dorico cannot do that yet...

Eric
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

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dankreider wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:12 am
A little off-topic, but here's a screencast of the library I purchased, performed by the creator. UN. REAL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV5CJqAZIzw
That's crazy. Very good sounding indeed.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dankreider »

Thanks everyone for the helpful input.

I think I’m going to stick with NotePerformer in Dorico, and do my VST mock-ups in a DAW until CC playback is further developed.
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Dorico 3.5.11, Windows 10

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