What is MIDI MOCKUP?
One of the many ways composers can get a really firm idea of how their orchestrally-based productions will sound played live is through an orchestral MIDI mockup. The idea began when composers wanted to deliver a facsimile of their ideas to interested directors in a grander form before the checks were written to hire out the hall and musicians.
Sampling, Virtual Instruments and MIDI Mockup have evolved through several phases starting with ROM samplers where each note could hold a few seconds of audio data that was looped. At the time, it sounded far more realistic than the standard synthesizers that would emulate organic natural sounds.
Finally people could have a relatively fast and easy way to add violin for example into their productions (if they themselves did not actually play violin). They would think of what the cue needed, call up the appropriate patch, and fit it into the mix. EMU, Roland, and others were at the forefront of this new technology.
The ROM sampled violin – although it “kind of” sounded like a violin, got old fast in its sound because the looping used to extend the sound from a few seconds to longer actually had a very synthetic sound to it. Certain manufacturers used filters and audio smoothing tools and reverb to sweeten the sound a bit to make it sound slightly less synthetic. Korg and Yamaha tried their best to make it work and sound better.
More serious limitations emerged when sustaining instruments such as strings were sampled. Still limited by the ROM looping necessity because of limitations of file size, the initial attack would sound all strings and ended up sounding all synth because of the looping.
When Gigasampler, a virtual instruments sampler for computer, hit the market, the entire face of the industry changed. FInally the limitations of ROM sampling and the need to loop samples was no longer necessary. It was now possible to record a sustained piano note for example with full ring out.
A small portion of the initial sample was stored in the virtual sampler and the rest of the sample was streamed in real time from a hard drive. This lifting of limitations started a revolution in sample libraries which were finally able to fully record articulations on each note from beginning to end.
Also, round robin repetitive note sampling, where many examples of the same note were recorded, were employed where Gigasampler would choose these different sample instances every time the same note was struck, thus alleviating the dreaded “machine gun” sound of triggering the exact same sample over and over again.
Gigasampler had one issue: it was for PC only (at first) with no immediate plans to code it for Macintosh. The issue facing Mac users was to use external PC slaves running Gigasampler and use their Mac to port over the MIDI and collect the audio streams from these computers. It was an added expense.
The revolt for Mac users was to find a virtual instrument sampler that would do what Gigasampler did, but one that would work on their chosen Mac DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in the box. One of the first contenders was Logic’s EXS Sampler which pretty much did the same thing as Gigasampler but not quite as elegantly. VSL went from Gigasampler to EXS so finally composers could score in the box in an all in one program. This brought a lot of users over to Logic’s sequencing engine.
Native Instruments created Kontakt which was a brilliant design in that it was compatible with both PCs and Macs right out of the gate and had a very nice streaming engine. Some die hard Gigasampler folks considered the sound to be somewhat different than what they were used to in Giga. Sound tests seemed to confirm otherwise. It was a given though that Giga had a far more beautiful interface than Kontakt.[Read more…]