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Spiral score album incoming...

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charlieclouser

charlieclouser

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Thanks you guys! Actually, typing this stuff out every once in a while is helpful because it makes me look at these processes from a slightly more objective perspective, and helps me see where I'm taking the long way around out of sheer habit.

Also, I admit to being an old head and still doing things "the old way" like I did when I first transitioned to Logic (from StudioVision!) in 1995 or so. So that's why I still use the Environment, because back then there was no Mixer at all, and still do things a bit old-fashioned. But dang Logic is a beast and even massive templates like this are quick to move around in.
 
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doctoremmet

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Still... It is incredibly cool, useful, and frankly humbling, to get these insights from someone as musically gifted, seasoned and revered as yourself mister Clouser. Very very valuable indeed. Thanks!

Do you have a preferred way for us to purchase your latest album (I’d like to make sure that an as large-as-possible percentage of the proceeds would actually reach your wallet hehe).
 
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charlieclouser

charlieclouser

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Do you have a preferred way for us to purchase your latest album (I’d like to make sure that an as large-as-possible percentage of the proceeds would actually reach your wallet hehe).
Hahah thanks man! It doesn't really matter what avenue one purchases my albums in terms of payouts to me, I don't think. The money that makes its way back to me is but a pittance; we just put 'em out partly as a vanity thing, partly out of a desire for completeness, and so if any producers or directors go looking on Spotify they can find my stuff. Usually we try for a physical release for the collectors and fans (and so I can have a couple of boxes to take up space in the closet), but this time we missed the manufacturing deadline even though we sat on the finished product for a year. D'oh!

Because the SAW producers have a piece of the publishing side I can't just dump 'em on SoundCloud for free, or else I would. So, Apple Music, Lakeshore's site, whatever - I don't even keep track of if or how many copies sell. I got like 60k streams last week between Apple and Spotify, and I bet that amounts to just a couple hundred bucks, so..... Don't bother to buy unless you really want to, I'm not putting 'em out for the money that's for sure.... that ship has sailed!
 

wilifordmusic

Active Member
Charlie, I need a little time to digest your writings due to the amount of content and detail.
I'm sure I'll have a couple of questions for you in the near future. Would you prefer/ be willing to stay in this thread or an open letter in a new thread? Time permitting of course.

You have truly shown yourself to be a true gentleman and I think everyone here appreciates your patience and words of wisdom.

Two side notes:
1 I'm still pissed at Gibson for killing off StudioVision.
2 I would happily purchase and wear a Charlie Clouser T-shirt or hoodie.

thanks again, Steve
 
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charlieclouser

charlieclouser

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Charlie, I need a little time to digest your writings due to the amount of content and detail.
I'm sure I'll have a couple of questions for you in the near future. Would you prefer/ be willing to stay in this thread or an open letter in a new thread? Time permitting of course.

We can do it in this thread, but this "CC Logic Template 2021 Tutorial" is already likely to get missed by many because it's buried in the self-promotion section. So maybe we need to start a new thread and copy these posts over, or maybe I'll just start a new thread in the DAW subsection and break it up into chapters like: Stem Sub-Masters, Per-Stem Effects. Utility Objects, Environment Labels, etc. The posts in this thread started to get a little crowded and dense, and I was fighting the 10k character limit!
 

wilifordmusic

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If you really want to buy some merchandise, go to www.zoe.photo and check out my wife's photography books and prints. Beautiful photos of beautiful women.... artistic but a little NSFW!
A new thread with your posts from this thread is a great plan.

I think it would be a big help to us oldsters as well as the new young guns. It shouldn't get lost if posted in the DAW section and the mods sticky it after you call it complete. A lot of your workflow should be useful in other DAWs with a few tweaks.

I already copied and pasted it all so I'm good. It went in my Charlie Clouser Mysteries of the Universe folder. Not the first thing you've posted that I found useful and ingenious.

Zoe's photography is beautiful but I'm afraid I would have some 'splainin' to do so I'll restrict my support to the Clouser household by getting your new Spiral soundtrack. How's that for coming around full circle?

thanks again, Steve
 
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charlieclouser

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As a prof photographer, I must say Zoe's work is stunning! Thx for sharing Charlie.
Gals you like it! I will tell her as well. Sometimes she shoots digital, and she prefers the way the sensors on the little Fuji X Pro cameras deal with b+w images, but her real love is ancient Polaroid Type 65 (I think?) medium-format film, which is long discontinued - the stuff that produces a negative transparency which must be timed and stopped with a little squeegee of toxic chemicals. She has two refrigerators full of the stuff, but it's a very finite resource to say the least. She often uses Holgas and LensBaby gear for extra-crusty images.

Here is an image from the SAW II album cover art which she shot on that rig showing the awesome chemical blobs along the edge and the fantastic resolution and grain, even with a $10 camera with a plastic lens:

CCpic3.jpg
 

sourcefor

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Thank you everyone for the kind compliments. Some notes on the sounds:

- It's all in-the-box of course, done in Logic v10.4.8 with 768 instances of EXS24 in my template (not the upgraded Logic Sampler), MOTU 112d and 1248 interfaces with 256 buffer on a 2013 Mac Pro cylinder 12-core 64gb RAM. Almost all of the sampled sounds are coming from EXS with a few Kontakt and Omnisphere instances here and there. Usually I had less than 30 audio tracks, either recorded directly into Logic or stuff that was manipulated in Ableton Live and then bounced into Logic. I do have a UAD Octo Satellite Thunderbolt with almost every UAD plugin, but I can't remember if or when I used them on this score. Maybe UAD Neve 1073 channel (the one with the fader on the UI which is way better than the others for me) or maybe AMS RMX reverb on a drum or something, but it's not a UAD mix by any means. I have VEPro available to run locally on the Logic machine but did not use it for this score.

- The low brass+strings stacks on BOZ are comprised of Tundra Brass Cresc-Dim, Symphobia Orch Low Sus, Metropolis Ark 1 strings cresc, Symphobia strings cresc, a cresc-dim from 8dio Black, my old faithful Kirk Hunter Strings Esp from the S-1000 era, and an EWQL french horns sus from the olden days. Later a bit of Symphobia sordino sus strings come in as well as some "coal" pads from one of the Spitfire libraries, and there's some brass swells from Arks, EWQLSO, and Symphobia as well. Lots of elements stacking up in different ways, each hiding some deficiency in the others. Everybody hiding behind somebody else.

- On WAXED the ostinato strings are a gigantic stack containing elements from 8dio Century Strings Ostinatos, Metropolis Ark 3 Strings Repetitions 16ths, and the original Action Strings (yes, I admit this). First I recorded manually-played staccatos to flesh out the parts, and then I dove into using those repetitions libraries to get a less-MIDI feel. Once I got all those elements marching in lock-step I added more manually-played elements on top from any strings library that had short attacks and good bite - mostly CS2, CineSamples, Spitfire Iceni, Sonic Implants, and the original ProSonus marcatos that I had manually sampled one note at a time into an Akai S-1000 from one of the first-ever orchestral sample libraries on audio CD in the 1990's. Still have 'em, still use 'em. There's also some Symphobia strings and strings+brass staccatos doing whomps on the downbeats to add accents. I used Waves Abbey Road Saturator to light a fire under the ostinato strings stem. I hate doing those kind of "normal" parts because it always sounds fake to me, so I just push it a little more into fake territory and disregard any semblance of realism. To me those ostinatos are the organic equivalent of metal chug guitars. Maybe next time I'll just use guitars instead - probably get 'em done in a day instead of three days of fiddling with Kontakt string libraries....

- On WAXED there is a ton of "gronkulated" elements done in Ableton Live, made from god knows what percussion and synth samples that have been granulated and tempo-stretched far beyond normal limits. I'd mess with the time-stretch modes and grain sizes to get them to produce pitched tones that fit with the track. Drums have a bit of Action Strikes (yes, I admit this) on the high percussion and ticky-tacks elements, as well as a mob of live drums I recorded at my place, quantized in Ableton, and then edited and re-pitched until I didn't hate them. Plus tons of single hits to get things to sound consistent.

- Pretty much all the reverb and delay is from the ol' faithful Space Designer 2.3s Piano Hall preset and Logic's Stereo Delay set to ping-pong on dotted eighths. Each stem has a front and a back instance of each which I access via sends from the individual channels. I never put individual reverbs or delays on individual tracks unless it's a special effect like a Black Hole on a piano or a Tape Delay with crazy feedback or something.

- Almost all the eq and compression is Logic's stock (not linear phase) EQ and stock compressor on Platinum Digital mode with 2:1 ratio, zero attack, auto-release, auto-makeup-gain at -12db, 0.3 knee, and 100% wet. No parallel compression here! I did deploy some special-purpose EQ and compression once in a while, but my default stock plugins are usually fine. There is generally a LOT of compression on individual elements, but with Logic's Platinum Digital mode it's mojo-free and doesn't really color things - it's just invisible level control. This makes it so much easier for me to mix since I don't have to do volume automation on every single thing. I use very little automation in general, mostly on things like Tape Delay feedback or other special effects.

- As usual I used Waves L3-LL MultiMaximizer as a per-stem limiter. On some stems it's taking a BIG bite out of the peaks, as much as 6-9db in places, and, yes, I realize that a multi-band limiter IS changing the tonal balance of each stem quite a bit as each band bites down independently, but since I'm always mixing THROUGH the L3 instances, and have them on and set from the get-go through the whole process of selecting sounds, building a template, composing and mixing, there's never a weird surprise like you'd get if you apply them at the end of the process and everything changes. I'm selecting, stacking, EQing, and compressing individual elements while hearing what L3 is doing to them down-stream, so for me this works - and my stems are held to exact peak values and the composite mix never clips, even though I have no processing at all on that composite mix - it's just a unity-gain sum of the stems.

- For delivery to the dub stage I printed seven stems in 5.1 (well, 4.1 actually since I leave the center channel empty). I did occasionally send some elements into the LFE channels but I did not remove them from any other channels - that was just a way to isolate a kick drum or whatever into its own channel so the dubbing mixers could hit the subs without sending a whole drum stem to them.

- For the album release I discarded the LFE and rear Ls+Rs channels (no down mix here) and just used the front pair from each stem. I imported my composite mix as well as the seven stereo pairs and if the composite mix sounded good I went with that for about a third of the cues, but on the bigger and more complex cues I went to the stems. On most of those I did a little bit of editing to remove spurious jump-scare sounds that only make sense against picture, add a little bit of per-stem volume automation to re-balance things here and there, and occasionally things like Abbey Road Saturator on one or two stems to spice them up a bit.

- Then the whole mix of those stems hit Ozone v9 with a brick wall high-pass at 20hz, a bit of the Exciter at amount around 5 and mix at 100% on the two highest bands ONLY, and of course the Maximizer on IRC IV mode, Character = 1.8, and Transient Emphasis at 100 (which is halfway up on the slider). I always automate the Maximizer Threshold to "chase" the level of the mix so that I can bring up quiet passages and then back off when things get loud. I'm shooting for no more than 3 db of gain reduction, most of the time it's 1db or so. Sometimes on the big industrial beat-down tracks I'll print two versions, one with no more than 3db of crush, and another with the threshold set 3db lower for around 6db of crush, and leave it up to the mastering engineer to pick one or go back to the un-Ozoned versions if all of mine are too stomped on. I always deliver the un-processed mix of the stems as well as the one or two Ozone'd versions just in case.

- Mastering was done by Dave Donnelly at DNA Mastering. He said he usually used my normal Ozone'd versions, but did cut in short sections of the super-crushed Ozone'd versions on a couple of cues. The super-crushed versions have the effect of pushing the drums down and bringing the metal guitars up, so sometimes that's better. In most cases he'd do a bit of corrective EQ, very slight boosts and cuts usually in the upper midrange, like no more than 1-2db. On a couple of cues he did add more very slight peak limiting using Weiss hardware I think, and he re-leveled the cues a bit to meet delivery standards for different formats because my Ozone'd mixes were all peaking at -0.5db. I don't know from LUFS or RMS or all that, I only speak peak. But in general my home mastering is what you hear. Ozone is a bad mofo for sure.

Sure can get a lot done in the box these days, eh?
Wholly shit tHats detailed ……thanks!
 

Alchemedia

Decomposer
@charlieclouser I could immediately tell from her images that she's fond of alt processes, lomography, etc. I can relate! I currently live in Sonoma, however I was a R&R, fashion and theatrical photographer for 20+ years in LA. Btw, here's my old Polaroid camera. 
 

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charlieclouser

charlieclouser

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@charlieclouser I could immediately tell from her images that she's fond of alt processes, lomography, etc. I can relate! I currently live in Sonoma, however I was a R&R, fashion and theatrical photographer for 20+ years in LA. Btw, here's my old Polaroid camera. 
OMG that is a thing of beauty in all its steampunk glory!
 

Alchemedia

Decomposer
OMG that is a thing of beauty in all its steampunk glory!
Indeed! If only film was still available for the damn thing. It's one of the original Land Cameras and I have all the accessories too including tubes of the long dehydrated print coater you mentioned in your previous post.

Polaroid book.jpeg f4c71b365638cd24713c0c9c89a997a5.jpeg
 

wilifordmusic

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Gals you like it! I will tell her as well. Sometimes she shoots digital, and she prefers the way the sensors on the little Fuji X Pro cameras deal with b+w images, but her real love is ancient Polaroid Type 65 (I think?) medium-format film, which is long discontinued - the stuff that produces a negative transparency which must be timed and stopped with a little squeegee of toxic chemicals. She has two refrigerators full of the stuff, but it's a very finite resource to say the least. She often uses Holgas and LensBaby gear for extra-crusty images.

Here is an image from the SAW II album cover art which she shot on that rig showing the awesome chemical blobs along the edge and the fantastic resolution and grain, even with a $10 camera with a plastic lens:

View attachment 50863
This again shows that good tools are helpful, but a true artist can create with anything.

I've always gone for black and white images, Ansel Adams being a favorite and in the moving picture world I do have quite a few Bogart and Bacall movies.

thanks for sharing again, Steve
 

Sibbo

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@charlieclouser i was wondering about your gain staging process.

Do you use the output ceiling of the L3 to adjust volume on a stem or do you set it and forget and gain stage at individual track level? do you leave the group/stem fader in Logic at 0? or is it a juggling act between all 3?

Appreciate the wealth of knowledge you have already shared here!:2thumbs:
 
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charlieclouser

charlieclouser

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@charlieclouser i was wondering about your gain staging process.

Do you use the output ceiling of the L3 to adjust volume on a stem or do you set it and forget and gain stage at individual track level? do you leave the group/stem fader in Logic at 0? or is it a juggling act between all 3?

Appreciate the wealth of knowledge you have already shared here!:2thumbs:
All of my stem sub master faders stay at zero, as do the sends from them that combine the stems into a composite mix, and the composite mix faders as well - all at zero. So, yes, I do use the output ceiling controls on all my L3 instances to tweak output levels, but I try to only adjust these in 3db increments.

A typical starting point for my L3 settings would be threshold -9 and output ceiling -9, but this can shift widely depending on the content of each cue. So some cues might have threshold -15 and output ceiling -3 while others might be threshold -3 and output ceiling -12. But I don't jiggle those by tiny amounts, just to keep things simple.

Also, I always try to keep these settings the same for all stems. That way when I'm fiddling with L3 settings it's not changing the relative levels of strings vs drums at all - it's just adjusting the individual squash amounts and the final levels feeding the composite mix.

The composite mix has no processing on it, so adjusting the output ceiling of the individual L3 instances is how I keep the composite mix from clipping, and adjusting the individual thresholds is how I control how much squash is happening.

In some rare emergencies I might adjust one stem's L3 a little different to others, but still in 3db increments if possible, but never smaller than 1.5db increments. In other rare emergencies where everything sounds good but the composite mix is clipping by a tiny amount in only a couple of spots, I might use Logic's Master Fader to trim down by a couple of db. The Master Fader is an Object that does not pass audio but rather trims ALL hardware outputs by the same amount. So adjusting it downwards will lower the post-L3 output of all stems to their hardware outputs as well as the output of the composite mix. But this is only an emergency measure when I just notice one spot where the composite mix is clipping by a couple of db and I don't want to re-level everything.

Since I've always got the L3's in the chain, from building a template right through to printing the mixes, and I'm always "mixing as I go", there's no surprises when I switch from writing mode to mixing mode - because there is no switch of modes in my workflow. The decisions I make about how to layer and process sounds are always made "in context", so for instance if a heavy drum part that I do want to sound squashed is having the life sucked out of it by the L3 action, I can decide to layer yet another drum or take some away based on how they're hitting those final limiters.

But most of the heavy lifting of compression in my mixes is on the individual tracks - that's where "compression as a sound shaper" is mostly done. It's really only on heavy drum mixes and industrial-sounding parts where the stem limiters are really putting the boot to the signal. Some of those cues have 6 to 9 db of squash happening on the limiters (some even more!) but on the floaty and ambient cues the limiters are barely getting hit at all, so they're just to prevent some wild low frequency thing from forcing me to make the whole mix quieter to leave headroom for that one thing or whatever. Like, if a hard limiter can push down a big sub boom by 6db then the cue can effectively be 6db louder overall. Yes, this eliminates some of the inherent dynamics but it saves me a TON of time that would be spent trying to automate my way around those moments, and the end result of the automation would sound basically the same anyway.

L3 = Auto-Mix! Like the auto-braking on a Tesla or Mercedes. Just keep me from crashing into the car in front of me please, but when I'm maintaining a safe distance, don't do anything.
 

Sibbo

New Member
All of my stem sub master faders stay at zero, as do the sends from them that combine the stems into a composite mix, and the composite mix faders as well - all at zero. So, yes, I do use the output ceiling controls on all my L3 instances to tweak output levels, but I try to only adjust these in 3db increments.

A typical starting point for my L3 settings would be threshold -9 and output ceiling -9, but this can shift widely depending on the content of each cue. So some cues might have threshold -15 and output ceiling -3 while others might be threshold -3 and output ceiling -12. But I don't jiggle those by tiny amounts, just to keep things simple.

Also, I always try to keep these settings the same for all stems. That way when I'm fiddling with L3 settings it's not changing the relative levels of strings vs drums at all - it's just adjusting the individual squash amounts and the final levels feeding the composite mix.

The composite mix has no processing on it, so adjusting the output ceiling of the individual L3 instances is how I keep the composite mix from clipping, and adjusting the individual thresholds is how I control how much squash is happening.

In some rare emergencies I might adjust one stem's L3 a little different to others, but still in 3db increments if possible, but never smaller than 1.5db increments. In other rare emergencies where everything sounds good but the composite mix is clipping by a tiny amount in only a couple of spots, I might use Logic's Master Fader to trim down by a couple of db. The Master Fader is an Object that does not pass audio but rather trims ALL hardware outputs by the same amount. So adjusting it downwards will lower the post-L3 output of all stems to their hardware outputs as well as the output of the composite mix. But this is only an emergency measure when I just notice one spot where the composite mix is clipping by a couple of db and I don't want to re-level everything.

Since I've always got the L3's in the chain, from building a template right through to printing the mixes, and I'm always "mixing as I go", there's no surprises when I switch from writing mode to mixing mode - because there is no switch of modes in my workflow. The decisions I make about how to layer and process sounds are always made "in context", so for instance if a heavy drum part that I do want to sound squashed is having the life sucked out of it by the L3 action, I can decide to layer yet another drum or take some away based on how they're hitting those final limiters.

But most of the heavy lifting of compression in my mixes is on the individual tracks - that's where "compression as a sound shaper" is mostly done. It's really only on heavy drum mixes and industrial-sounding parts where the stem limiters are really putting the boot to the signal. Some of those cues have 6 to 9 db of squash happening on the limiters (some even more!) but on the floaty and ambient cues the limiters are barely getting hit at all, so they're just to prevent some wild low frequency thing from forcing me to make the whole mix quieter to leave headroom for that one thing or whatever. Like, if a hard limiter can push down a big sub boom by 6db then the cue can effectively be 6db louder overall. Yes, this eliminates some of the inherent dynamics but it saves me a TON of time that would be spent trying to automate my way around those moments, and the end result of the automation would sound basically the same anyway.

L3 = Auto-Mix! Like the auto-braking on a Tesla or Mercedes. Just keep me from crashing into the car in front of me please, but when I'm maintaining a safe distance, don't do anything.
Cheers Charlie, you absolute legend!
 
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