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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (excerpt) - mockup

Germain B

Active Member
Hello !
I didn't intend to do this but here it is, my first mockup !
I love this little theme by John Williams so I decided to take a look at the score and I found myself entering everything in my notation program and then in Cubase.
It's the first time I really study a score and really deal with notation. Quite an exercise...
I've learned a lot ! Orchestration, use of dynamics, low ends, mixing, use of libraries/layering, notation reading -I love transposed instruments...
Standing on the shoulders of giants..


I use mostly Orchestral Tools libraries with the Abbey Road One Orchestral Foundations underneat (of course, I had to) and a bit of CineBrass (trombones and horns) and Swam Brass for those extradynamics and bite.
I use a tempo detection but tweaked it quite a lot. There's still room for improvement here I feel.

Thanks for listening and please, give me any feedback and/or advice !

EDIT :
After your valuable feedbacks (thanks !) I did a second version :

See this post for more details.
 
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Double Helix

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The end result is certainly worth the effort: well executed
The only "advice" (as if) I'd offer would be to dial back the reverb about 10%--seems just a smidgen wet--unless it's baked into the libraries.
Doesn't change my opinion of the piece in any way, though: I like it.
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
Great mockup and the sound of it (especially in the tutti) is real good. The runs also sound nice.

A couple of thoughts how it could be even better.
First the tempo. In my experience the tempo detection doesn't work that well with that sort of music and in part it sounds a bit jumpy. I think it's better to start with a linear tempo, work from there to speed up or slow down at times where it will fit or during lines (just a bit) and always listen back whether it feels natural. Might take a bit of time, but I think it's worth it.

During the lines, you could try to emphasize the dynamics more - accents on beats or natural swells on a line. Work the velocity and dynamics a bit more overall. At some parts the balance between instruments feels a bit uneven or there are accents on offbeats, where they shouldn't be (at 0:11 for example).

Noticed a few notes missing like at 0:51.

Just a bit of feedback, but overall it's still great and I know it was a lot of work (did a bunch of this piece as well). And yeah, those transpositions are nasty, especially if you try to play them in live. The whole tone transpositions are almost alright, but man, the english horn and horn. Well, in the end we'll learn to get better at it. :>
 

Laurin Lenschow

Active Member
This is a great mockup - and kudos for choosing Harry Potter btw ;) :)
Some constructive criticism: The string run starting at 0:40 sounds a bit off to me. I don't know exactly what you used for it, but I am working on a large Harry Potter mockup myself and I got quite good results for this type of run with the violins tremolo patch from Cinestrings. Maybe you could try that or a similar patch from another library. I also feel like you could make greater use of the modwheel for this particular run.
I agree with the praise of the tutti parts, they really do sound great! One thing you could improve is the string melody from 1:15 to 1:28, as it sounds rather thin to me right now - that said, I listened to your mockup on 10$-earphones, so... :whistling:
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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Thanks for your replies and feedback !

The only "advice" (as if) I'd offer would be to dial back the reverb about 10%--seems just a smidgen wet--unless it's baked into the libraries.
I actually thought about it but I just forgot to give a try with less reverb. I will !

A couple of thoughts how it could be even better.
First the tempo. In my experience the tempo detection doesn't work that well with that sort of music and in part it sounds a bit jumpy. I think it's better to start with a linear tempo, work from there to speed up or slow down at times where it will fit or during lines (just a bit) and always listen back whether it feels natural. Might take a bit of time, but I think it's worth it.
I wanted to try this 'magical' feature in Cubase although I knew this kind of music was not the best for it. At first at thought it was great, but starting tweaking it I understood the limitations.
I will redo it the way you advice. It was frustrating to lose some 'groove' here and there.

During the lines, you could try to emphasize the dynamics more - accents on beats or natural swells on a line. Work the velocity and dynamics a bit more overall. At some parts the balance between instruments feels a bit uneven or there are accents on offbeats, where they shouldn't be (at 0:11 for example).
Yes, those refinements. It a good patience practice to listen to every little detail. My patience will be full again for the second round.
Could you tell me where you feel the instruments are a bit unbalanced ?

Noticed a few notes missing like at 0:51.
Oh, no !! Haha, I was quite sure I would miss something.

The string run starting at 0:40 sounds a bit off to me. I don't know exactly what you used for it, but I am working on a large Harry Potter mockup myself and I got quite good results for this type of run with the violins tremolo patch from Cinestrings. Maybe you could try that or a similar patch from another library. I also feel like you could make greater use of the modwheel for this particular run.
That was the trickier part, as everyone would expect. I really didn't know how to approach this as barely use strings in that big symphonic/cinematic arrangements.
I got shy with the dynamic and expression controls as it seemed weird when I tried moving it to much.
I used the Berlin Symphonic Strings, the Rapid Legato articulation. In the end I layered just a tiny bit of Berlin Special Bows, Sul Ponte patch as I felt it got me a bit closer to the reference's sound. I tried CSS with it but finally removed it.

One thing you could improve is the string melody from 1:15 to 1:28, as it sounds rather thin to me right now
Yes, same story. I need to improve on that. And maybe layer it with another library. There is definitely something weird about my strings I need to figure out.
Maybe the treatment I applied is also responsible here : some de-harshness EQing on instruments, quite the High-Shelf on the Strings Bus and even a little slice of Clariphonic. Those strings (in the reference) really have on interesting sound.


Thanks again for your views on it. There is so much to learn !
I will give it another try someday, quite soon I guess.
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
Could you tell me where you feel the instruments are a bit unbalanced ?
I think it was most apparent in the very first part with the woodwinds. In the original, the colors of the woodwinds blend together a lot more and here it seems like some like the clarinet stand out more.

Might be a matter of mix. To me it sounds, like the clarinet is a lot more upfront and drier, while the others are more in the background. Not sure, if you use the same library for all, but it might help to push the clarinet further back.
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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I think it was most apparent in the very first part with the woodwinds. In the original, the colors of the woodwinds blend together a lot more and here it seems like some like the clarinet stand out more.

Might be a matter of mix. To me it sounds, like the clarinet is a lot more upfront and drier, while the others are more in the background. Not sure, if you use the same library for all, but it might help to push the clarinet further back.
Ok, thanks. I'll have a closer look at this.
I use Orchestral Tools Berlin Woodwinds (Revive) + the 1st clarinet of Legacy to make it a 3rd one. Perhaps that one stands out.
For the rest, they all have the same mics setup : Tree + Ortf (say 35% maybe) + Close I (15 to 20%). I might just keep the Tree for this special part. They don't compete with other sections.
I also have the High Woodwinds patch from Abbey Road Orch. Found. in the background (around 20%) for room tone. Maybe it's a bad idea as they include flutes and oboes...
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
I use Orchestral Tools Berlin Woodwinds (Revive) + the 1st clarinet of Legacy to make it a 3rd one. Perhaps that one stands out.
For the rest, they all have the same mics setup : Tree + Ortf (say 35% maybe) + Close I (15 to 20%). I might just keep the Tree for this special part. They don't compete with other sections.
I also have the High Woodwinds patch from Abbey Road Orch. Found. in the background (around 20%) for room tone. Maybe it's a bad idea as they include flutes and oboes...
Ah yes, the legacy versions are a lot closer and drier as I remember. So all it takes might be to push those further back with some reverb. Otherwise I think the mic setup is great and the close mics help to give more definition.
 

Ivan M.

Senior Member
Well done! For the most part it sound fantastic.

I would just change the strings library, there are no nice transition between the notes, no legato (check if it has this option).
While winds and brass sound great to me, consider using a breath controller, it really makes a difference, and it's fun! :)
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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I would just change the strings library, there are no nice transition between the notes, no legato (check if it has this option).
While winds and brass sound great to me, consider using a breath controller, it really makes a difference, and it's fun!
I will definitely change, re-work the strings. Here it's Berlin Symphonic Strings. I have to learn to use it properly or it might just not be suitable in this case.
The Rapid Legato for fast passages and the standard Sustain + Legato for the rest.
I turned down a bit the legato volume -2dB.

Reading about breath controllers really makes me want to try it out. Seems fun indeed !
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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Hello !
So here's a version 2 of this mockup, after all your feedbacks (thanks again!) :


There's still some tempo issues, especially during the first tutti, but with this project I've reach the limits of my system, my workflow is quite tedious and I'm getting tired.
The strings runs is still not perfect but definitely much much better. I've used CineStrings as @Laurin Lenschow suggested. A mix of Tremolo and Legato patchs.
The bassoon 1 was playing one octave lower(!) during the first part... How didn't I noticed as those two high bassoons are really important for the overall colour of this woodwinds part...
In the score, the celesta is not supposed to play during the violins runs, but I could definitely hear it in the reference, so I added it.
I removed the reverb from the Abbey Road OF patches and lowered the main reverb a little bit.
I tweaked some dynamics and individual volumes.
Finally I did a lot of little timing adjustments as my negative delays are quite generic and I forgot some (like the clarinet 3).

Again, I'm here to learn, so if your hear things that could be improved, give feedback ! And thanks for listening.


(Editing the original post to include this second version.)
 

thorwald

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Slightly off-topic, it always makes me laugh that in the US release of the HP books, they ignorantly changed Philosopher to Sorcerer. A sorcerer is practicing malevolent magic, Nicolas Flamel is actually doing quite the opposite by researching immortality.

Regarding the piece, I've just listened to both and the second one definitely sounds better. There are parts that are beyond sampling at the moment, but of course nothing beats the real thing.

well done!
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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Slightly off-topic, it always makes me laugh that in the US release of the HP books, they ignorantly changed Philosopher to Sorcerer. A sorcerer is practicing malevolent magic, Nicolas Flamel is actually doing quite the opposite by researching immortality.

Regarding the piece, I've just listened to both and the second one definitely sounds better. There are parts that are beyond sampling at the moment, but of course nothing beats the real thing.

well done!
Yeah, I red they were afraid that kids would find it to "obscure" with this "philosopher" in the title.... Scary...

I agree that there are things "beyond sampling". I guess you refer to those violins lines. But there's a lot to learn trying to reach for a goal that is too far away -assuming you're not really willing to get to it and fall into the well of frustration and self-deception.
Thanks !
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
Yeah, I red they were afraid that kids would find it to "obscure" with this "philosopher" in the title.... Scary...

I agree that there are things "beyond sampling". I guess you refer to those violins lines. But there's a lot to learn trying to reach for a goal that is too far away -assuming you're not really willing to get to it and fall into the well of frustration and self-deception.
Thanks !
Congrats on the mockup, it sounds great, especially the tutti parts as others have said.

I remeber a while ago there was a thread where people tried to mockup these kind of fast string runs from Harry Potter, to see which library got closest. Obviouly an extremely difficult task for any string library. I could be misremebering, but I think it was Berlin Strings (original, not Symphonic) that easily got the closest. I don't know which patch etc.
 

thorwald

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I agree that there are things "beyond sampling". I guess you refer to those violins lines. But there's a lot to learn trying to reach for a goal that is too far away -assuming you're not really willing to get to it and fall into the well of frustration and self-deception.
Oh absolutely. Where would we be without hopes and dreams? Not to mention that if limits are not pushed, we'd get way too comfortable and nothing would advance.
 
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Germain B

Germain B

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Congrats on the mockup, it sounds great, especially the tutti parts as others have said.

I remeber a while ago there was a thread where people tried to mockup these kind of fast string runs from Harry Potter, to see which library got closest. Obviouly an extremely difficult task for any string library. I could be misremebering, but I think it was Berlin Strings (original, not Symphonic) that easily got the closest. I don't know which patch etc.
Thanks !

Oh really ? I should give it a try as Berlin is my main, favourite strings library. I put it aside as I thought its size would not fit in this bigger ensemble.


(I like that the automatic thumbnail for this version 2 shows the upcoming violins' line.)
 
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