Help with realistic mock-ups

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DaddyO
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by DaddyO »

dankreider wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:27 pm
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.
That has been my conclusion too.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by ptram »

dankreider wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:29 pm
The audio levels were really low, so the brass and winds are boosted significantly.
In Dorico, you can open the mixer, and use the already inserted Compressor to boost the level. Choose the Reset preset and set the Ratio to 1:1, so that the compressor will not touch your original sound. Then use the Makup Gain knob to increase the level. Adding the Dry Mix should give you even more loudness.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by ptram »

Eric2000 wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:36 am
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.
Isn't this what you do in the Play mode?

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by RichardTownsend »

dankreider wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:27 pm
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.
Yes, I think that’s the best approach for now
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Derrek »

Rob Tuley wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:57 am
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 (!!).
The construction of King's does more than add reverb. I sang an audition there after singing the same at St. John's College (wooden ceiling), and in King's the first time I sang an "ee" vowel, I thought I was going to shatter every stained glass window in the building. :oops:
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by RichardTownsend »

Derrek wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:27 pm
Rob Tuley wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:57 am
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 (!!).
The construction of King's does more than add reverb. I sang an audition there after singing the same at St. John's College (wooden ceiling), and in King's the first time I sang an "ee" vowel, I thought I was going to shatter every stained glass window in the building. :oops:
That would have been expensive!
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Grainger2001 »

Of course the main determining factor regarding using different sample libraries within Dorico, and thereby fashioning a decent rendering, is how easy they are to setup with expression maps, and how consistent they are in actual use and control. This will maybe boil down to how much money you want to spend and how much time you want to invest in creating great renderings. Personally I am a VSL disciple and use nothing else within my orchestral template within Dorico. In terms of consistency and choice of articulations for complex and intricate material, I think it is the best. (I am not affiliated with VSL btw!...I have been using their libraries since the early 2000's when the original Cube came out for Gigasampler!...the first and last time I ever owned a PC) If you also use VEPro and MIR then much of the reverb and placement elements are done for you and you don't have to worry so much about balancing your orchestra. The main advantage in my mind with the VSL libraries is the software they have developed to use with them. The VIPro sample player is probably the best sample player available, although I will add that I am not such a fan of the more recent Synchron player. Certainly to use the VSL libraries within Dorico has taken a lot of time with customizing expression maps especially, but that's what it takes...If you are serious about creating good results and having a flexible system then you have to put in the time.

I have tried in the past to integrate other libraries into my template using Sibelius and now Dorico, and have ultimately given up. Anything using or based on the Kontakt sampler has been frustrating…I have tried in the past to use both Cinestrings and Adagio violins for example, but could never control them reliably to give satisfying and consistent results, even though I liked the actual libraries. Kontakt in itself is of course a great sampler, but it just doesn't seem so easy to control within a score writing program. Certainly within a DAW this is a different kettle of fish, and you can obviously use lots of sample libraries in a mix and match scenario much more easily. I agree that for film and tv mock ups, maybe you could initially compose in Dorico, but ultimately it will be easier to finish such a project in a DAW. I am not particularly surprised that Dan has come to the conclusion he has reached with that particular library. For me, I am writing purely full orchestral or chamber music - not for picture, and so Dorico and VSL gives me virtually everything I need. Obviously there are improvements in PLAY mode re. midi editing, and in the mixer department which are surely coming in future versions, but even now, the functionality of Dorico allows for a great deal of editing and manipulation in order to achieve satisfying results. And the great thing is, it will only get better!

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by DaddyO »

Grainger2001 wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:20 pm
...
Obviously there are improvements in PLAY mode re. midi editing, and in the mixer department which are surely coming in future versions, but even now, the functionality of Dorico allows for a great deal of editing and manipulation in order to achieve satisfying results. And the great thing is, it will only get better!
To your (1) MIDI editing and (2) mixer I would add Playing and Playback Techniques GUI, including listings and organization, but I completely agree with your statement. And I do agree that with current technology there is no way to avoid a lot of tedious work and some expertise, both in setting up Expression Maps and editing MIDI for note length and CC.

There is no doubt that Dorico is a huge advancement in what can be achieved with notation software and that "it will only get better."
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

ptram wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:12 pm
Eric2000 wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:36 am
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.
Isn't this what you do in the Play mode?

Paolo
that's exactly what you do in Play mode and I use this facility not infrequently!

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by sakasuri »

Last spring I was experimenting with using Dorico like a DAW. For anyone interested, this is exported straight from Dorico, using BBCSO, Np and some samplers:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pghqt9kf3flic ... A.mp3?dl=0

I remember spending a lot of time in the play -mode, tweaking mostly just dynamics :)

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

I agree with most of what Grainger2001 has written. The most important priority is getting a first rate VST library. I have never heard a decent mock-up with a mediocre library --it's that simple. The second is to ensure that it is clear how to get it to work in Dorico and that the playback will generally follow what you might expect in a DAW, even if it might take longer on occasion to get the same results (depending on your skill level) Overall, I find VSL to perhaps match these criteria best and it's hands down the most detailed though that doesn't necessarily mean you don't want to use other things at times. It certainly took me a while to set up expression maps but once that's done, the behaviour is fairly consistent and Dorico already has most of the tools required. The last thing you want is a library that is very hard to control through notation software unless you regards playback and notation as completely separate entities in which case stop reading now and go down Dan's NP+DAW route -- I can think of worse ways to go!

Having heard some of Andy's (Grainger2001) mock-ups, I can confirm they're as good or better than most I've heard. Although VSL perhaps the most accurate, it's not necessarily the most involving though, unlike him, I think that the Synchron versions are overall an improvement despite some annoying acoustic feedback with unison lines on the same instrument and a few other things. Like him, I'm talking about writing "serious" as opposed to commercial music where priorities might lie elsewhere.

I would add a plug for the new BBC SO libraries (other than Discover which is far too basic for serious use). It is also controllable through Dorico though you need to pay careful attention as to how velocity, CC1 (dynamics) and CC11 (volume) interact. Trying to get by with Dorico dynamics only using a single dynamic controller which is often doable elsewhere will get you nowhere here. For solo strings as in a quartet or similar, I've heard some very nice sounds from CSS (in general a company which seems much praised here) in lyrical passages but cannot anywhere find demos which showcase the range of expression required for classically orientated works.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

sakasuri wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:33 pm
Last spring I was experimenting with using Dorico like a DAW. For anyone interested, this is exported straight from Dorico, using BBCSO, Np and some samplers:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pghqt9kf3flic ... A.mp3?dl=0

I remember spending a lot of time in the play -mode, tweaking mostly just dynamics :)
now comes the challenge to the DAW devotees --what could you actually do in a DAW that would significantly improve on this fine attempt? The full BBC library gives you detailed control over acoustic and instrument placement which is generally admirable (if programmed correctly) and even my Core version works mostly gives good sound, warm but generally clear where it needs to be. Do you have any works which test the response in quick passages where some find the library weaker?

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by sakasuri »

dko22 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:50 pm
sakasuri wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:33 pm
Last spring I was experimenting with using Dorico like a DAW. For anyone interested, this is exported straight from Dorico, using BBCSO, Np and some samplers:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pghqt9kf3flic ... A.mp3?dl=0

I remember spending a lot of time in the play -mode, tweaking mostly just dynamics :)
now comes the challenge to the DAW devotees --what could you actually do in a DAW that would significantly improve on this fine attempt? The full BBC library gives you detailed control over acoustic and instrument placement which is generally admirable (if programmed correctly) and even my Core version works mostly gives good sound, warm but generally clear where it needs to be. Do you have any works which test the response in quick passages where some find the library weaker?
I'm sure that if this was written in a DAW the sound quality could be much better - but for me it would be extremely difficult to keep track of the actual pitch content or orchestration (looking only at the MIDI roll - or is there even some kind of score view in DAWs??) :)

Like Dan, I wanted to learn to produce good-enough sounding mockups so that I would have to spend the least amount of time possible in a DAW. But I have to say, the BBC SO feels like it's really meant to be "played", it is not very consistent as a playback engine for notation. And for me it just feels way to slow to record everything in real time. This would be different, if you could record to multiple tracks at once (at least the CC data).

For anything fast moving or energetic, I just use note performer. I also think BBC SO handles those kind of things quite poorly (or it's too time consuming to tweak).

The thing I miss the most for this kind of work in Dorico is having audio tracks. Maybe it is against their design philosophy, but even couple of those with some really basic functionality would make my life so much easier. I would like it to be so that the starting position of an audio file would be tied to a rhythmic position in the score. If bars were added or tempo would be changed, the starting position would follow accordingly, so that it's always in the same spot in score. So like a sampler with a notated starting point, but it would also start the playback from the middle of the sample.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

dko22 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:50 pm
now comes the challenge to the DAW devotees --what could you actually do in a DAW that would significantly improve on this fine attempt? The full BBC library gives you detailed control over acoustic and instrument placement which is generally admirable (if programmed correctly) and even my Core version works mostly gives good sound, warm but generally clear where it needs to be. Do you have any works which test the response in quick passages where some find the library weaker?
So the big issue I hear with @sakasuri's when it comes to realism is the shaping sounds a bit weird. The problem has to do with the fact that Dorico doesn't have the ability to have curves in the CC lanes - it just has these flat linear ramps. I learned many years ago in DAW's to never ever shape dynamics with linear ramps because the result is that it is like the ensemble is focused on increasing or decreasing dynamic incrementally at a constant rate throughout playing the notes, which makes them sound really weird. If you have a crescendo hairpin, typically the performers will crescendo faster nearer the end of the hairpin, so a parabola really represents what actually happens and sounds natural. The flat ramp does not, and sounds very unnatural. If you listen carefully to the crescendi and diminuendi in the first few minutes, you'll notice that something sounds "off" about them, and that thing is the flat ramp instead of the parabola. There are some weird attacks here and there too that could be fixed with a lot more attention paid to the velocity and CC's.

Besides the parabola, there is nothing really missing from Dorico vs. the DAW that would improve on this, except in terms of time. For a piece of the length above, I estimate it would take 9-10 hours of careful shaping in Dorico to get a good result, vs 3 hours in a DAW, because the DAW has a much better array of tools for CC editing that speed up the process greatly. So Dorico is quite acceptable if you feel that having to do three times as much work to get a similar result is acceptable.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

And in my experience, having to spend that long on a task fine tuning the shaping is something most people are not going to want to have to do, so they are going to give up well before the job is done and call it "good enough" because they are sick of fiddling with CC's and velocity.

I think in @sakasuri's case, that mock-up would not be suitable for direct use in say a film (even a short student film), it would need another 4-5 hours of careful shaping in Dorico at least to get it there. It is good, but the weird sounding < and > and attacks would not be acceptable for a polished product.
Last edited by mducharme on Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dankreider »

@sakasuri: FYI, Studio One version 5 now has a built-in score editor. It's nothing fancy, but it works. And as you select multiple tracks, they display in the score.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by sakasuri »

mducharme wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:28 pm
And in my experience, having to spend that long on a task fine tuning the shaping is something most people are not going to want to have to do, so they are going to give up well before the job is done and call it "good enough" because they are sick of fiddling with CC's and velocity.

I think in @sakasuri's case, that mock-up would not be suitable for direct use in say a film (even a short student film), it would need another 4-5 hours of careful shaping in Dorico at least to get it there. It is good, but the weird sounding < and > and attacks would not be acceptable for a polished product.
Yes, I agree that this is not really a finished product - and luckily I don't have to do that at all as the finished composition will be recorded in the end. I just wanted to experiment if I could produce something from where you would get more of the "mood" or "character" of the actual performance, but directly from Dorico. I guess I could export the whole thing as MIDI to a DAW, but then I would need to be 100% sure that I don't want to change anything later on.. And honestly with my (poor) DAW editing "skills", it would probably take just as long and the result would be pretty similar.. :) But maybe that is something I should learn in future..

in general, I feel it is a bit dangerous to even use these "high quality" libraries, as you tend to write music that (only) uses the good characteristics of the libraries.. But when collaborating with others, it seems quite important to have some decent sounding demos - especially when working with non-musicians

And thanks for the hint, Dan!

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

Cubase also has a score editor, but you have to do a fair bit of work to get it to spit out something that looks OK that you can import into Dorico. If you quantize, the process becomes faster, but then your playback becomes robotic.

I'm still hopeful for some kind of integration between Cubase and Dorico to allow for a better solution for these types of issues. For instance, if you could have a "Dorico Track" that would represent, say, a single staff in Dorico, with the ability to record notes and use the Cubase tools for managing CC's and velocity, and the audio would be sent out the routing in Cubase, that would probably be a good way to solve this issue, IMO.

Whether you start from notation and create the sampled playback later, or start from the DAW playing things in and create the notation later, the process is still much more convoluted (and much more work) than it should be.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by alindsay55661 »

dko22 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:28 pm
you need to pay careful attention as to how velocity, CC1 (dynamics) and CC11 (volume) interact. Trying to get by with Dorico dynamics only using a single dynamic controller which is often doable elsewhere will get you nowhere here.
This is why opening up interpretation (dynamic and otherwise) to user-defined CCs makes sense. Doing so means we can define multiple CCs for a single musical function. See the discussion here.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by mducharme »

dko22 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:50 pm
now comes the challenge to the DAW devotees --what could you actually do in a DAW that would significantly improve on this fine attempt? The full BBC library gives you detailed control over acoustic and instrument placement which is generally admirable (if programmed correctly) and even my Core version works mostly gives good sound, warm but generally clear where it needs to be. Do you have any works which test the response in quick passages where some find the library weaker?
Here is a good example of some of the velocity editing tools available in Cubase that Dorico does not really have (at least not most of them).

https://youtu.be/NFtDz0Jf3_4?t=465

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Grainger2001 »

Got to say that to me, sakasuri's track is excellent and very interesting. I am not bothered by the quality of the crescendo's particularly, however the dynamic range is far too large for a movie, and that would be the main issue I would think. I'm guessing this was not written for tv or film, so the point is fairly moot. Having some velocity curves available in Dorico would be nice though...no doubt. I do believe that these more advanced midi editing tools will eventually be implemented, we just have to wait a bit longer. mducharme's point about the amount of time required for editing is actually very true of course, but the advantage of having your Dorico notation play back is worth it I think, unless you are on a tight deadline. I guess it's 'horses for courses'.

Regarding having Audio tracks in Dorico - There is likely to be some sort of audio track function for transcribing use, but I doubt whether it will be something that can be used like a DAW audio track. The number of audio tracks will surely only number one or two I would think...But I could be wrong!
Last edited by Grainger2001 on Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by Nick Jones »

Great thread. I would just add that knowing what a real orchestra actually sounds like live is an important step. It's all too easy to forget, if you're stuck in your studio 24/7!

Panning is crucial too; getting the different sections in their correct places as they would be in a concert hall.

Personally, I export the MIDI to my DAW and do the mock up there.

Fortunately Dorico keeps the notation separated from the MIDI so that editing note lengths doesn't ruin the score. Notator on the Atari got this right in the early 90s, but many later programs failed in this regard (no names!).

Play it in live whenever you can, use CCs to introduce realism and never forget what the real thing actually sounds like!
Last edited by Nick Jones on Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

sakasuri wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:24 pm


Like Dan, I wanted to learn to produce good-enough sounding mockups so that I would have to spend the least amount of time possible in a DAW. But I have to say, the BBC SO feels like it's really meant to be "played", it is not very consistent as a playback engine for notation. And for me it just feels way to slow to record everything in real time. This would be different, if you could record to multiple tracks at once (at least the CC data).

For anything fast moving or energetic, I just use note performer. I also think BBC SO handles those kind of things quite poorly (or it's too time consuming to tweak).
NP is generally better in faster music -- at it's best it can be quite thrilling. Quite how it can be seamlessly mixed with something like the BBC, I'd love to have some tips on as the two are really like chalk and cheese. I agree that the BBC is more designed for playing and my initial results were not great. I think once you understand how it works with Dorico, it can give good results but, as I said before, it can require quite a bit of tweaking of the respective CC1 and CC11 levels and an understanding of when and how velocity is added to the mix.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

[/quote]

Here is a good example of some of the velocity editing tools available in Cubase that Dorico does not really have (at least not most of them).

https://youtu.be/NFtDz0Jf3_4?t=465
[/quote]

velocity scaling is even available (to some extent) in Sibelius and I'm sure will come to Dorico soon. In the meantime, blending of the primary and secondary controllers (with appropriate default scaling) can help achieve similar results. Anyway, most instruments don't use velocity and a simple linear scale is seldom appropriate when dealing with CC's. The Logic Editor (not available in the more basic Cubase versions), certainly has its place but I'm not sure how often I'd find it time-efficient to use it. Obviously much will depend on the sort of music and specific library.

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Re: Help with realistic mock-ups

Post by dko22 »

mducharme wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:25 pm
So the big issue I hear with @sakasuri's when it comes to realism is the shaping sounds a bit weird. The problem has to do with the fact that Dorico doesn't have the ability to have curves in the CC lanes - it just has these flat linear ramps. I learned many years ago in DAW's to never ever shape dynamics with linear ramps because the result is that it is like the ensemble is focused on increasing or decreasing dynamic incrementally at a constant rate throughout playing the notes, which makes them sound really weird. If you have a crescendo hairpin, typically the performers will crescendo faster nearer the end of the hairpin, so a parabola really represents what actually happens and sounds natural. The flat ramp does not, and sounds very unnatural. If you listen carefully to the crescendi and diminuendi in the first few minutes, you'll notice that something sounds "off" about them, and that thing is the flat ramp instead of the parabola. There are some weird attacks here and there too that could be fixed with a lot more attention paid to the velocity and CC's.
I agree with this point in general though I'm not sure that the crescendo using a simple line is always "really weird" and don't find it generally so in this particular piece-- there are many different ways of playing them depending on the style of music. But several have mentioned that a choice of parabolas for hairpins would be useful and I certainly endorse that.

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