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Chillbot's template

chillbot

Sock Muppet
Thought I'd post this here for no good reason. Just as an oddity or as a patch museum for perusal.

I have a very unique/odd template, I think, for a number of reasons:

1) I mix everything out of the box and use a lot of hardware gear.
2) I write purely "production" music, whatever that means (I'm never sure). It means I can't do mockups, I don't even try to sound like a real orch. So my orch section is severely truncated and limited as to what it can do.
3) But, I work very fast.
4) I am asked to write anything and everything from orch to metal to jazz to country or rock to ethnic/world and so I have a little bit of everything in my template.
5) I use Sonar. Still. And Sonar doesn't have nested folders. Still. So even though I own a thousand libraries, I try to keep myself to around 250 tracks max to make it somewhat manageable, with about 70 of those being audio tracks and plugins not listed here (Omni, Stylus, Engine, Zebra, etc). And hardware synths. I'm likely switching to Cubase in the near future.
6) I've had this same template layout for 15+ years now and obviously it's evolved a lot over those years but if there's a patch/library from 20 years ago that I haven't found anything I like better, then I'm still using that ancient and decrepit old patch. And a lot of my workflow is leftover from a slightly different era.
7) Some patches at this point I just can't live without.
8) I have three slaves on which these libraries/patches are permanently hosted. I don't use VEPro in server mode, I use my slaves as external hardware synths. They receive midi and the audio is routed out to my mixers. About once a year I go through my template and tweak and reshape and add new libraries.

So, yes, pretty weird. At least to some of you.

I've recently compiled this spreadsheet because of the possible switch to Cubase. I'd like to take my beast of a main machine and use it as one slave instead of having the three that I have now. So I wanted to notate everything that's in my template for posterity and rebuild a new one from the ground up. I have a lot of extra notations in the spreadsheet about mics and reverbs and whatnot, but it wouldn't have much bearing because mostly everything is external so I erased them. Also my memory is really bad so if years from now I want to remember which marimba patch I used to use, I can reference this.

Some of you older folks might get a kick out of the variety of shit I'm still using. And I also have a shit-ton of libraries I just can't figure out how to use (CSS, etc) or don't like (LASS, etc).

Yes, I still use giga! Yes, I still use a TON of EWSO and yes it's all in kontakt.

My main machine hosts all the non-orch libraries. I load, as needed, libraries from Heavyocity, Output, Sample Logic, etc. Also has all my acid/wav libraries and Stylus, soft synths, etc. And there's 16 external synths as well.

If there's one thing that I could impart it's a certain amount of speed and efficiency and having everything at your fingertips. At the same time, there are a bunch of areas where I am severely lacking (and hoping to upgrade at some point) so I would welcome any questions about why anything is a certain way. There's nothing in my template that doesn't get used, but enough that I rarely feel like I'm lacking anything if I have to work fast. I think of my template as a "best of the best" of all the libraries I have.

So the way this works is that I group instruments by the way I process them in stereo pairs on the mixer. Everything that says "1" is slave machine number 1, and each slave has 4 stereo pairs that go into the board. So "1A Marcato" goes into one stereo pair and I apply EQ/verb/compression/whatever to that group as a whole. "1B Brass Short" and "1B Orch Short" go into the same stereo pair to be processed together. "2B Mallets" and "2B Ethnic" also go to the same stereo pair of faders on the board.

Poor @Jdiggity1 had to learn all this silliness. (It helps that he's much smarter than me.)

Anyway here's the spreadsheet for what it's worth.

 
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R. Soul

Senior Member
I really appreciate your post :2thumbs:

I love this forum, but as a production music composer, it's rather sparse in terms of discussions.
I mean, production music deals with styles/moods such as Dramedy, Motivational, Tension, Quirky, which are hardly ever discussed anywhere as far as I can tell.
And we have to do new genres all the time, as you won't get far being a one trick pony. As a matter of fact, I think of all the music I've done this year, only 1 album is something I've done before.
For example, when I did a Future bass album last year I wished there was forums I could go to for techniques and tips, that wasn't dominated by 14 year olds.

Anyway...
Regarding your points.

1. Any hardware you couldn't do without? Any 'mojo' boxes you find that achieves things software can't accomplish?

3. Apart from the template, what do you consider essential in order to write fast? Shortcut keys I guess.
 
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Ashermusic

Senior Member
I went to Matt's studio and he has great gear, which he uses well. Like Charlie Clouser he is not interested in sounding like almost everybody else and forges his own path successfully.

Kudos, Matt.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
At the same time, there are a bunch of areas where I am severely lacking (and hoping to upgrade at some point) so I would welcome any questions about why anything is a certain way
Still using Ethno World! Rock on!

Interesting setup. If you ever want to compare notes (har har) on orchestral preferences / libraries, that might be fun. I still have EWQLSO stuff in my template too, though not a lot of it anymore.

fun post
 
OP
chillbot

chillbot

Sock Muppet
I mean, production music deals with styles/moods such as Dramedy, Motivational, Tension, Quirky, which are hardly ever discussed anywhere as far as I can tell.
This is very true. It's beneath most people here to acknowledge this stuff. And yet it seems like 50% of posts are from people wanting to get into libraries or trying to figure out how to sell their music. Well, a little secret... your perfectly balanced orchestral mockup is not going to sell a lot of copies. This sounds snobby and I don't mean it like that. I have a ton of respect for people that can breathe life into a sampled orchestra, I sure can't do it. And it's a skill you need to have if you want to get into trailers and/or hybrid music, something else that I can't do. Probably video games as well, yet another area that I know nothing about. This forum has a great balance of a lot of people doing a lot of different things, it's good to try to learn from everyone. And, do it without being condescending towards those of us that crank out a lot of music quickly because "it can't possibly be very good." Shit when did that turn into a rant, sorry.

1. Any hardware you couldn't do without? Any 'mojo' boxes you find that achieves things software can't accomplish?
My favorite piece of hardware is my TC Electronics Finalizer 96k which really doesn't do much, just a mutli-band compressor. But I put it on everything and it makes everything pop (read: louder, anyway). I never touch it, I hired an engineer to come to my studio about 15 years ago to set it up for me and teach me some tricks. I haven't touched it since. Highly recommended for anyone reading this that doesn't have a lot of faith in their mixing/engineering skills... hire a pro to come to your studio for 4 or 5 hours and work with your gear or plugins, it will be eye-opening. WAY more so than trying to learn from watching a video or whatever and then applying it to your own studio... why not just learn right on your own gear in your own acoustical space.

I also dig my hardware reverbs, as mentioned above. Honorable mention to the Apogee Big Ben, which makes all things possible.

Also worth noting: the coffee machine. And, we just got walkie talkies at the studio. So cool. 10-4.

Oh, and, I only use it on probably 1 out of 50 tracks, but the leslie/B3 has three mics permanently on it so all I have to do is turn on the B3 and turn on the mics and I'm recording. No one will ever convince me there is a plugin that sounds like the real thing.... it's a subtle difference but makes a huge difference (to me).

3. Apart from the template, what do you consider essential in order to write fast? Shortcut keys I guess.
Was trying to think about this and couldn't really come up with a great answer, aside from the standards like keeping everything uber-organized. Less sub-folders = less mouse clicks. I personally find working with audio much much faster than midi (visually seeing the waveforms, rather than trying to line up a hit from within kontakt). But I know most people aren't as accustomed to working like that. Probably 70-80% of my tracks in a project wind up being audio before the final mix. If you get good working with audio-- chopping it up, pitch-bending/time-stretching, etc-- I think you spend a lot less time tweaking overall. Print things as you go.

Also writing a LOT of tracks is key to getting faster. The more you do it the more tricks you learn. There was a period of 6-7 years I was averaging 1,200/year though now I only shoot for about half that. Also I didn't have kids back then. You sound like you're doing fine I'm not sure any of this is actually helpful.
 

R. Soul

Senior Member
This is very true. It's beneath most people here to acknowledge this stuff. And yet it seems like 50% of posts are from people wanting to get into libraries or trying to figure out how to sell their music.
Indeed. Although, I do think those posts are mostly from VI-C newbies.
For me, I wish I had put the artist hat down much earlier, and started doing what sells, as opposed to what I personally like.
It's funny, cause while there's 'trailer music' groups around, I've yet to run into a group/forum where people discuss 'happy clappy Ukulele' music. I think too many people are caught up in writing what they like.

Also writing a LOT of tracks is key to getting faster. The more you do it the more tricks you learn. There was a period of 6-7 years I was averaging 1,200/year though now I only shoot for about half that. Also I didn't have kids back then. You sound like you're doing fine I'm not sure any of this is actually helpful.
See, I only write maybe 100 tracks a year.
I think my biggest issue is not 'too many mouse clicks', but it's simply a case of taking too long to get a good groove/riff etc. going. But I guess it's just a case of keep writing and speed will come?

I know this is hush hush, but where on earth do you place 1,200 or even 600 tracks a year?
Presumably, you don't just upload them all to AJ and Pond5? But I can't imagine you can place that many tracks with majors either. So if I was to guess, I'd say you are 'in' with a handful of mid-range libraries who provides you with a brief for x amount of tracks for a this and that TV show, and you get these regularly. Would that be a correct assumption?
 

PaulBrimstone

Far, Far Away
Hire a pro to come to your studio for 4 or 5 hours and work with your gear or plugins, it will be eye-opening.
Now this is truly golden advice @chillbot. Sadly, in the remote pasture where I now live, good engineers are rare as hens’ teeth. I will double up my search and look under more rocks than normal and maybe one will show up — a great idea worth pursuing for one who's never trusted his own engineering.

There was a period of 6-7 years I was averaging 1,200/year though now I only shoot for about half that.
Blimey, that’s three or four per day. Is that for a single 2m version of each track, or does it include 10s/30s versions? Surely not...
 
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OP
chillbot

chillbot

Sock Muppet
I can't imagine you can place that many tracks with majors either.
I've never written a track for a library. I've been hinting at this for years but it seems to always fall on deaf ears... people seem to think that TV shows are either scored or else use library music, nothing in between. Which is entirely untrue, there are still plenty of TV shows that will pay upfront for custom tracks. Not as many as there used to be, obviously.
 

R. Soul

Senior Member
I've never written a track for a library. I've been hinting at this for years but it seems to always fall on deaf ears... people seem to think that TV shows are either scored or else use library music, nothing in between. Which is entirely untrue, there are still plenty of TV shows that will pay upfront for custom tracks. Not as many as there used to be, obviously.
Ah....I see.

Yeah, I guess that's where being in LA comes in handy. I don't know any TV producers, editors or directors unfortunately. And I'm not great at cold calling either, so libraries are the best option for me.

On another note, I do think it's good idea having a pro coming to the studio. I've been thinking about getting some 1 to 1 mentoring lately, just need a few things sorted in the studio first.
 
OP
chillbot

chillbot

Sock Muppet
Blimey, that’s three or four per day. Is that for a single 2m version of each track, or does it include 10s/30s versions? Surely not...
Usually just 90 seconds with stems. But really to hit 1,200 a year I had to average about 5 tracks per day 7 days a week. 30-35 tracks per week was my goal. One year I hit 1,500 which certainly helped my average. Because you have to account for vacation days, golf days, sick days, holidays (rarely), and maintenance or malfunction days.
 

PaulBrimstone

Far, Far Away
Usually just 90 seconds with stems. But really to hit 1,200 a year I had to average about 5 tracks per day 7 days a week. 30-35 tracks per week was my goal. One year I hit 1,500 which certainly helped my average. Because you have to account for vacation days, golf days, sick days, holidays (rarely), and maintenance or malfunction days.
I'm exhausted just reading this.
Edit: actually, as a recovering journalist who in a previous life handled multiple deadlines and scores of headlines daily, I sort of empathise...
 
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StevenMcDonald

stevenmcdonaldmusic.com
Cool template. Feels like my "everything template" but with way more options per instrument/family.

I hate dealing with opening/closing folders and having a bunch of empty tracks bothers me, so I like having several smaller templates geared toward different genres: Pop/Hip Hop, Hybrid, Rock, Quirky Comedy, Sicario Knockoff (I've gotten that request enough now :rofl:), etc. But then it can be annoying when I get a cool new plugin and need to go back and put it into multiple templates.

And yay for TV production music getting a shoutout! Ensemble patches for life.
 

sinkd

Senior Member
So much great information and professional perspective in this thread. Thanks, Chillbot. I will probably make it required reading for our first and second-years this semester.
 

Farkle

Senior Member
Usually just 90 seconds with stems. But really to hit 1,200 a year I had to average about 5 tracks per day 7 days a week. 30-35 tracks per week was my goal. One year I hit 1,500 which certainly helped my average. Because you have to account for vacation days, golf days, sick days, holidays (rarely), and maintenance or malfunction days.
Good lord, that's an awesome daily number. And, I've heard multiple tracks from you, they are always super high quality, both production, and emotional content.

My best run was 2 production tracks a day, 4 days a week; and I was pretty happy about that. The idea of 5 a day, at a high level of production; it's really inspiring, and scary. But, it makes sense. I look at my ASCAP numbers, and when you put that kind of content into the system, you create some real revenue. Thank you for sharing not only your workflow, but your content expectations. Very cool, and humbling!

Mike/Farkle
 
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