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Are orchestral libraries ever used professionaly?

robgb

I was young once
The title might be a bit abrupt right off the bat, but i've read a lot and I see some things come back a lot. One of these things is the way people use libraries like Albion, Ark, and Symphobia.

Now what i'm on the fence about them is that I always hear alot of praise, but then it's followed by, ''I use it for sketching, coming up with ideas, only use one patch from it, or very much in the background/filler.''
Watch a dramatic television show. You'll hear plenty of string libraries at work.
 

NoamL

Winter <3
Also it should go without saying, practically no composer is lucky enough to do it this way anymore:


They all do presentations with mockup scores. Even Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat etc.

Actually scratch that, I remember Patrick Doyle said in some interview about Brave that a presentation wasn't working so he just sat down at the piano and played something and it got approved then and there. And he said something like that "Small wonder, in the days of silent film that's how they did it! One guy at a piano!"

There's something magic about live music next to film :)
 

resound

Senior Member
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is another TV show that has live recorded orchestra every episode. And the newest God of War video game has live orchestra including an Icelandic choir.
 

afterlight82

Active Member
There is almost certainly some of the sample strings in Mad Max, even though there is also live strings. True of many scores. One can tuck a bit of sample in for lots of reasons - extra weight, bite, for emphasis. The majority of mixers I've worked with do this. There's no rule that says you must only use the live tracks...
 

Rohann

Professional Forum Browser
A surprising amount of AAA games don't use real orchestras (i.e. every Elder Scrolls game Jeremy Soule has worked on was almost exclusively VI scored, at least for Skyrim and earlier). There are some select exclusives that at least have a few tracks with full orchestras (i.e. Bloodborne, Legend of Zelda), but there's a good deal of VI usage. As for those particular libraries, I think the reason many probably stray from using them exclusively is that it's much easier to make something sound unique by adding basic effects or layering libraries. My professional composing experience is incredibly limited compared to many here, but simply from observation, I don't think there's anything wrong with using largely those libraries, but it would likely become a problem if instantly recognizable.
However, for TV scoring or the like, as others mentioned, whatever is fastest probably wins for a lot of shows. If you consider that some shows have 46 minutes of continuous music going through every episode for one of those "20 episodes a season" shows, I doubt the VI being recognizable is the highest thing on the list of concerns.
 

bryla

Senior Member
As an orchestrator I'm brought in to work on how to replace samples. I get Logic files with all kinds of sample libraries, ensemble patches, fx patches, solo instruments ranging from all the big kahuna libraries to even Logics EXS library!

The great composers know their tools.

They know how to get from A to B in the fastest way. That sometimes means buying a specific library for a sketching patch or resorting to one particular way they have always tracked a specific instrument.

The point of A is cluelessness and point B is happy director. Happy director equals relieved composer.
 

DSmolken

Senior Member
With something like MA1, I wonder if even a big-budget production could replace it with real instruments. Augment it, sure, but actually recording that many cimbassi and bass trombones, which are not terribly common instruments? Would it be hard to find enough players?
 

Steve Martin

Active Member
I get headaches when I look at all my libraries and then I do some quick math on how much I've spent, and how much more I plan to spend

you're looking at it from the wrong perspective TBH... I'm 100% a hobbyist.

and besides, this is the real reason we buy VST. partly because you can have the convenience of amazing sounding instruments in your underwear. also because we all secretly worship john Williams.


I'm trying to "match" my template to TFA ost, and yes - I'm just fumbling around the keyboard(guessing the changes in tonality)
that looks like absolute and total fun. Love the video! :) :)
 
OP
thousandfold

thousandfold

Member
Haha, but uhm.. well.. the topic is still going off-topic on my much more simple curiousity I wanted to start this. I think I should've used a more tactile title :rofl:
 
The orchestral libraries you seem to keep referring back to were specifically designed as ensemble libraries, for the most part. Albion One has some nice stuff like violins recorded in octaves, because being recorded that way sounds better and more realistic, generally, than layering a sampled violin 1 with sampled violin 2. Same goes for woodwind patches were the winds are recorded together at the same time versus individual patches layered in a DAW. (Albion I/One has a great celli and basses in octaves patch, by the way).

The problem is, good orchestration is seldom just layering things all the way through. So, aside from the extremely useful process of using these libraries for sketching (the advantage being having the range of the whole antiphonal section at your hands, instead of just the violins), these libraries can be very useful for specific choices. (they can also be very useful for getting an approximate sound very quickly if you need to send a mockup to someone for a general idea fast - which happens all the time). But, no - I would not generally use these libraries straight through an entire cue/piece if it is reasonably complex - maybe if it is just a bunch of pads. Limiting yourself to doubled sounds all the time is just bad orchestration and it sounds like it. Especially with the winds - I want to choose how my voicings are voiced - I don't want a Kontakt patch choosing that for me. But, if I want to send a mockup to someone and don't need all the specific detail in there, sure - they can be great because they're fast.

There are certainly examples of people going and making good sounding pieces with these libraries, or even the CineSamples CineOrch lite library. But, they clearly can't do everything. If you're going to do that you have to write to the strengths of the libraries and avoid their limitations - this is true of any library. And that is why people use a whole bunch of things. Good orchestral music has a lot of detail is incredibly hard to mimic well. If you want the be free to write what you want, then the more tools at your disposal, the merrier you will be in that regard.

And then there is the consideration of when these libraries came out. I used to use Symphobia a fair amount when it first came out. That was ages ago and there are things out now that sound better to me with greater flexibility. This technology will always be changing, so you might get use out of something now, and then something better comes along.

I've been working with this stuff for over 20 years, and man has the technology changed. I just accept that it is a major investment, and coming from a background of live music, I have certain expectations of how things should sound. Because of that quest, I've bought a lot of libraries that I didn't end up using very much.

What I've ended up using a lot of for orchestral libraries - LASS, CineWinds, and CineBrass. LASS is a bear to learn and get setup right, but then it can do things other libraries can't come close to because of the individual control of timing and tuning within a given section. CineWinds and CineBrass are just very fast to work with. If I were going to just buy 3 orchestral libraries, they would be it. They are what I use the most of. Next string library in use is Spitfire Chamber Strings and then their brass library - but, I honestly haven't done a lot of brass stuff since the revamp, so maybe Spitfire would take it now for me. Not sure.

That's my experience, anyway.
 
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OP
thousandfold

thousandfold

Member
The orchestral libraries you seem to keep referring back to were specifically designed as ensemble libraries, for the most part. Albion One has some nice stuff like violins recorded in octaves, because being recorded that way sounds better and more realistic, generally, than layering a sampled violin 1 with sampled violin 2. Same goes for woodwind patches were the winds are recorded together at the same time versus individual patches layered in a DAW. (Albion I/One has a great celli and basses in octaves patch, by the way).

The problem is, good orchestration is seldom just layering things all the way through. So, aside from the extremely useful process of using these libraries for sketching (the advantage being having the range of the whole antiphonal section at your hands, instead of just the violins), these libraries can be very useful for specific choices. (they can also be very useful for getting an approximate sound very quickly if you need to send a mockup to someone for a general idea fast - which happens all the time). But, no - I would not generally use these libraries straight through an entire cue/piece if it is reasonably complex - maybe if it is just a bunch of pads. Limiting yourself to doubled sounds all the time is just bad orchestration and it sounds like it. Especially with the winds - I want to choose how my voicings are voiced - I don't want a Kontakt patch choosing that for me. But, if I want to send a mockup to someone and don't need all the specific detail in there, sure - they can be great because they're fast.

There are certainly examples of people going and making good sounding pieces with these libraries, or even the CineSamples CineOrch lite library. But, they clearly can't do everything. If you're going to do that you have to write to the strengths of the libraries and avoid their limitations - this is true of any library. And that is why people use a whole bunch of things. Good orchestral music has a lot of detail is incredibly hard to mimic well. If you want the be free to write what you want, then the more tools at your disposal, the merrier you will be in that regard.

And then there is the consideration of when these libraries came out. I used to use Symphobia a fair amount when it first came out. That was ages ago and there are things out now that sound better to me with greater flexibility. This technology will always be changing, so you might get use out of something now, and then something better comes along.

I've been working with this stuff for over 20 years, and man has the technology changed. I just accept that it is a major investment, and coming from a background of live music, I have certain expectations of how things should sound. Because of that quest, I've bought a lot of libraries that I didn't end up using very much.

What I've ended up using a lot of for orchestral libraries - LASS, CineWinds, and CineBrass. LASS is a bear to learn and get setup right, but then it can do things other libraries can't come close to because of the individual control of timing and tuning within a given section. CineWinds and CineBrass are just very fast to work with. If I were going to just buy 3 orchestral libraries, they would be it. They are what I use the most of. Next string library in use is Spitfire Chamber Strings and then their brass library - but, I honestly haven't done a lot of brass stuff since the revamp, so maybe Spitfire would take it now for me. Not sure.

That's my experience, anyway.
I would say that age might not be a real issue. EWQL is very old, VSL is even older and they are still used and especially EW is still suggested to new and old professionals. Good sound samples will last alifetime and it's just the engine that needs an' update and I know that Symphobia rolls out updates each year still to update their products and so does Albion. Metropolis and other Ensembles probably do aswell, but I can't speak for them.

But.. as you said. You've got a fair amount of experience so you got your moneys worth out of Symphobia. Did you use it a lot in your final mock ups? Afcourse I will not use an orchestral library solely by itself and there's gonna be dedidcated string, bass, and wind libraries.

I am just kind of worried that my idea of buying an orchestral library that I use for half the mockups, while 3 or 4 other dedicated instrument libraries top it off might not be a good idea, BUT.. it could also be that I happened to read alot of information from people like you, with years of experience are already proficient with more complicated libraries. They have afcourse got the experience to leave the orchestral libraries behind and use the big guns.
 
For me - some libraries have certainly aged. I have EWQL and haven't touched it in years. Sounds good, but again, you have to write to the library and there is just more flexible stuff out their that is faster to work with and also sounds great. Same goes for VSL. And those manufactures have put out new libraries as technology changes, which should tell you something.

FWIW - when you say 'orchestral libraries' to most people that is probably going to mean libraries of instruments that make up and orchestra. In your OP you seem to be specifically talking about orchestral ensemble/section libraries. These types of libraries will have limited application by design.

When I know samples are going to make their way into a final thing I will take that into account in writing. If my initial idea is something that can't be done convincingly with samples then I will adjust something so it sounds acceptable. On a budget, some live over the top of samples goes a long long way.

Personally, when I'm writing/sketching, I'm writing and I do that first, separately from mocking things up. Then I think about how I want it executed in the orchestra, and then I do a mockup. I don't start fiddling with samples while I'm trying to write. It's faster to keep the processes separate and more focused.

I still use some Symphobia and Alb One, but not that much. Symphobia - some of the strings and brass stuff is good and I'd probably still use if I didn't have some of the other things I mentioned. Like I said, really not a fan of ensemble wind patches - useless. Symphobia has a lot of extended technique stuff, clusters, microtonal effects, glissandi, etc. But, by now a ton of people have been using those same samples everywhere. The reboot of Albion One I haven't spent enough time with - some things look like nice improvements in the GUI, but I've been too busy to really delve in, to be fair to Spitfire. One thing to bare in mind is that those libraries (Symphobia and Albion One) are of the large variety. That has a specific use, but I don't use a large sized orchestra on everything orchestral - that gets old to me. Of the Albions, I was using Albion II strings more than Albion I. They are a little smaller and have better dynamics for most situations. There is just a weird volume bump/dynamic transition at a certain point. Otherwise, they sound great. Really nice for pads, etc.

You get by with what you have. I certainly don't regret getting Symphobia or Albion One. Albion One also has some nice percussion and then synth stuff, etc.
 
OP
thousandfold

thousandfold

Member
For me - some libraries have certainly aged. I have EWQL and haven't touched it in years. Sounds good, but again, you have to write to the library and there is just more flexible stuff out their that is faster to work with and also sounds great. Same goes for VSL. And those manufactures have put out new libraries as technology changes, which should tell you something.

FWIW - when you say 'orchestral libraries' to most people that is probably going to mean libraries of instruments that make up and orchestra. In your OP you seem to be specifically talking about orchestral ensemble/section libraries. These types of libraries will have limited application by design.

When I know samples are going to make their way into a final thing I will take that into account in writing. If my initial idea is something that can't be done convincingly with samples then I will adjust something so it sounds acceptable. On a budget, some live over the top of samples goes a long long way.

Personally, when I'm writing/sketching, I'm writing and I do that first, separately from mocking things up. Then I think about how I want it executed in the orchestra, and then I do a mockup. I don't start fiddling with samples while I'm trying to write. It's faster to keep the processes separate and more focused.

I still use some Symphobia and Alb One, but not that much. Symphobia - some of the strings and brass stuff is good and I'd probably still use if I didn't have some of the other things I mentioned. Like I said, really not a fan of ensemble wind patches - useless. Symphobia has a lot of extended technique stuff, clusters, microtonal effects, glissandi, etc. But, by now a ton of people have been using those same samples everywhere. The reboot of Albion One I haven't spent enough time with - some things look like nice improvements in the GUI, but I've been too busy to really delve in, to be fair to Spitfire. One thing to bare in mind is that those libraries (Symphobia and Albion One) are of the large variety. That has a specific use, but I don't use a large sized orchestra on everything orchestral - that gets old to me. Of the Albions, I was using Albion II strings more than Albion I. They are a little smaller and have better dynamics for most situations. There is just a weird volume bump/dynamic transition at a certain point. Otherwise, they sound great. Really nice for pads, etc.

You get by with what you have. I certainly don't regret getting Symphobia or Albion One. Albion One also has some nice percussion and then synth stuff, etc.
Yeh, it got a bit lost in translation about the ensemble things, that's why I just made sure I added the big names like Symphobia, Albion etc there so it would be clearer what I ment.

I guess you could also see it as a good thing that the samples have been used a lot. They will sound more familiar to the ears of non-composers and there should be more knowledge on how to get the best out of the patches.

But for me they are planned to be not just for sketching, but also the groundwork for mock-ups. They are gonna play a big role and the short-comings will be filled in by other sample libraries. That the woodwinds are not the greatest is a new one for me for example. I knew that in Symphobia the legato isn't well regarded and for that I would need a string library like Cinematic Strings to fill that short-coming.

Especially Lumina and Loegria are interesting as they focus so much on the more gentle side of composing and for me I wouldn't require a lot of additional sample libraries to make either of those two work.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
in Symphobia the legato isn't well regarded and for that I would need a string library like Cinematic Strings to fill that short-coming.
If you really want legato. I usually find it's more hassle than it's worth. It seems to affect timing too much and it's either too loud or too quiet.

If your question is ensemble patches and libraries exclusively, the answer to your OP is still an emphatic "yes." Everyone here has heard those Symphobia FX patches 1,000 times in TV and even movies. Definitely in games. They are all over the place, sometimes not even disguised, but right out in front.
 

muziksculp

Senior Member
Hi,

I think as the virtual orchestral libraries we have at our disposal get better, and better with time, it will be possible to produce completely professional grade orchestral scores with them, especially when we add one or more real instrument performances to the mix. i.e. Cello, Violin, Oboe, Flute, Trumpet,...etc.

Virtual Orch. Libraries are also frequently used to enhance a real orchestral performance, which is quite an interesting aspect of how the two media (Real and Virtual) can merge and assist each other in interesting ways.

Here is an article I came across about combining Virtual and Acoustic Instruments you might find interesting, and/or helpful.

https://www.puremix.net/blog/combining-virtual-and-acoustic-instruments.html?utm_campaign=Giveaway&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=SonibleGiveawayNL

Cheers,
Muziksculp
 
OP
thousandfold

thousandfold

Member
So, touching on the age thing. Albion and Sympphobia are quite old, Metropolis i'm not quite sure, I know Ark 2 is brand new. It's not like there's a new player in the orchestral ensemble every year that does things better or improved over the existing. I kind of understand why Symphobia, Metropolis, and Albion tend to be more sketch libraries for a lot of well established composers.

While the notion that they are used to ridiculous amounts is kind of demotivating to have one of them.. then again.. there's only so much you can do with strings, right? If it really has to be different then you come out with NOVO like products.

It's still for me as a beginner a perfect way to establish some good groundwork and not necessarily as a time saver for me as i'm not at that stage yet. After that I will afcourse layer over more specific sample libraries.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
While the notion that they are used to ridiculous amounts is kind of demotivating to have one of them.. then again.. there's only so much you can do with strings, right?
There is a TON of things you can do with strings, that's why so many people argue for them being the most expressive instrument(s) of all. The potential with the instrument still amazes me, I've seen people play some of the most terrifying and beautiful things on a Violin, Viola, Cello, ensembles as well.

One of the first things you learn about strings when studying orchestration is that they're perfect for what producer's today call pads. The reason being that using a lot of strings in a composition doesn't tire the listener's ear like the vast majority of instruments inevitably due (especially, say, brass and oboes). There's a reason they're used so much.

But you might have already known this stuff so please forgive my tangent.
 
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