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Track presets, template or nothing?

cpaf

Member
Hi all

I just got BHCT from spitfire and was wondering how you setup Cubase and your tracks for such large libraries. Usually is just pop in the vst instrument I need like Padshop Pro or whatever and record. But it's a lot more hazzle when I want the high strings octave from BHCT. I also use expression maps and have bought a collection for BHCT (I don't have time to do it myself, and these are perfect).

But you have to load all the different instruments in BHCT assign the right expression map and then save it as a track presets? Or how do you do it?

Best to you all!
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
Yeah I think the buzz word your looking for is "templates" - and if you're asking if there are any shortcuts for setting them up, I don't know if those shortcuts. It just takes a little time.

Whether you use track presets, or just copy the entire project file and adapt it every next time, it's different for every person. A lot of people use Vienna Ensemble Pro to host virtual instruments separately from their DAW. If you just go with setting up a project file and then reusing it, check Cubase template creation features, I think that can avoid Cubase getting confused about the working directory location by just copying and moving a project file.

Cheers!
 
OP
C

cpaf

Member
Yeah I think the buzz word your looking for is "templates" - and if you're asking if there are any shortcuts for setting them up, I don't know if those shortcuts. It just takes a little time.


Whether you use track presets, or just copy the entire project file and adapt it every next time, it's different for every person. A lot of people use Vienna Ensemble Pro to host virtual instruments separately from their DAW. If you just go with setting up a project file and then reusing it, check Cubase template creation features, I think that can avoid Cubase getting confused about the working directory location by just copying and moving a project file.

Cheers!
Thanks for your reply!

I think for new users of orchestral compositions in Cubase like myself, who aren't in the knowhow of the different kinds of workflows and template styles it would be really handy to see different professionals way of doing things/organising (and not just Junkie XL e.g. which is an outrageous huge template for many who is just starting out) :)
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
Yeah that's a good question. I know Blakus has made several videos on YouTube about his Cubase template and how it's changed over the years. I think Daniel James may have some videos about his workflow and templates but I can't remember. In general, many of the composer folks on YouTube that share their compositions or make tutorials - there will be little bits of workflow/template wisdom scattered and hidden across their videos.

Another major source of workflow ideas is easy to miss - the manual and tutorials about your DAW. Once in a while you can refresh yourself about features and options that you may have forgotten about. Combine that with constantly analyzing where you feel you're annoyed or feel that you're slow in getting things done, and you can keep evolving your own workflow.

I'm definitely not as "professional" as a lot of other folks here, but I can try to share with you the way I use Cubase and how I manage large orchestral libraries, just give me several days to find some time, and I'll try to create a few screenshots of possible. Sorry I'm not really set up to make good quality videos with me talking in the video for now, but hopefully writing it out and adding screenshots will help.
 

Bluemount Score

Active Member
I just finished my new template which basically contains all orchestral libraries I currently own and like. However, I realized that more than 8 loaded instances of Kontakt + up to 16 midi outs per instance start to slow my DAW down. I have a powerful PC so I don't really now why.
Because of that, I made presets for every Kontakt Instrument and loaded Instruments, including Keyswitches, CCs and the correct Mixer routing. I only load the presets I (potentially) need for a specific project. That way I am still able to save loads of time without having to start with a blanked project over and over and without getting any performance issues.
Already tried this new workflow and I love it, even though it took me one week to organize and set everything up.
 

MOMA

Member
I must have built some 10 or 15 templates by now. Really big ones, with every instrument and CC in place, just to open up and start working. And after I bought a new lib, I added it into place and carried on. Then – one fine morning I realised that this is not the way to go for me. I have no urgent deadline, no project manager breathing down my neck, I can take my time.
So I started doing "naked templates" and track templates. A "Naked template" has all the tracks up with colours and icons, with Kontakt in place, but no instrument loaded. Its pretty fast and still gives me time to think my arrangements thru. The track templates is loaded with kontakt and instruments, cc ready to go.
Now, some may say this is not "pro". But I do feel that I need to work on my creative output, and the big templates triggers routine. That leads to well arranged but sometimes uninspired music.

Everyone has to do it their own way I guess – this is my take on it.

Best to you
MOMA
 

MarcusD

Active Member
It just takes time. You set up all the patches for the library (expression maps etc...) disable the patches, then select what you want to export as a track archive or track preset. Once done you can then import large pre-configured set-ups ready to go so you never need to set up your library again..

EDIT: When I get home i'll could do a quick video on it, if that helps?
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
@cpaf - hope this helps
@Meetyhtan - My setup has been fairly resource friendly to me, details about my resource usage configuration below. I'm definitely no expert and never tried to optimize my setup, I think I just got lucky that things are stable and work decently well.

OK so I finally had a few hours to take screenshots and ramble about this. Comments and feedback are very welcome!

5 screenshots attached about my setup.

For me, I don't have a "template" really. I have more like a "reusable evolving setup". So whenever I want to start a new project, I can just copy the VE Pro and Cubase setups from my most recent projects, delete all the track data and remove project-specific tracks, and that's it, good to keep going. Others will find great value in having a proper blank template, using track presets, using disabled tracks, etc. If they work for you, by all means use those features even if someone else doesn't like them - there's no "professional workflow" that's better than your own preferences. What's more important is to keep self-analyzing and evolving how you would enjoy your process more, how you could make changes to keep feeling inspired and productive.

Side note - One meaningful exception against "use your own preferred workflow" is for folks that have super fast deadlines like TV composers and work as part of a production pipeline. In that case, I think they do have some needs that take priority over their preferences, for the sake of receiving and outputting results reliably, quickly, and organized, and the way that their colleagues want it. CH from Spitfire had a great video about that.

For my own non-pipeline workflow - in the past I was trying to use VEPro like a host for all instruments and keep Cubase 100% MIDI only. The mixing stuff, I was still trying to decide whether I would put it in VE Pro or Cubase. But the big problem with this approach for me was that it really hindered my ability to quickly set up automation, to set up a MIDI Learn CC control, and most of all, it was a grand pain to dive into synth VSTs to design a sound. It was getting really annoying to have to switch from Cubase to VE Pro, click through to reach the instrument I want to tweak, and on top of that I would have to remember to save my VE Pro setup every time I modified it. Eventually I realized that this was hurting my creativity - there were many times where a simple tweak in the VST or a quick automation to an effect was all I needed but I mentally blocked myself from doing those things because it was so slow and annoying to do them.

So last year I tried a different approach: use VEPro for things I don't change very often, so i can just leave it in the background and stay in the flow by not leaving Cubase, and use Cubase for everything else. It was an instant boost in productivity. Well, it did feel a bit messy and uncomfortable at first - to have mixer settings in both places, virtual instruments loaded in both programs. But I'm getting used to that messy feeling and more importantly, it made it easier to do all the things I was mentally blocking away before.

So, in VEPro I set up all my orchestral instruments, all the one-shot/sound design/drums/loop/instrumental libraries that I would rarely be tweaking. And in VE Pro I also include a few rare mixing FX and mixing decisions that I knew I would rarely want to change. Then in Cubase I have a project-specific folder in my track list, where I add song-specific instruments that I can quickly access to edit and link to CC or automation. And I do all the song-specific mixing in Cubase.

Some notes about resource usage. I feel like this template setup has been suprisingly stable and capable on my machine. (96 GB ram, 6-cores Xeon E5-1650 v3, 3.5 GHz)
  • I personally am OK with a slightly higher latency, which is a big help to my system working well. I've gotten used to playing MIDI with that little extra lag, at least for slow passages. And Cubase compensates for the delays to line things up correctly after recording too (I think that's due to Asio Guard feature? not sure)
  • Disabled multi threading in Kontakt, I rely on Cubase and VE Pro to manage the multi threading.
  • Loading most of the EWQL Play VST instruments in the first VE Pro instance - I feel like that may make a difference in the order that instruments load, and I feel like letting the EWQL Play VSTs load sooner somehow helped avoid stability issues (back in the day when Play had a worse reputation)
  • VE Pro threading set to 4 per instance
  • I know Cubase shows my CPU meter to be fairly high, I remember that's due to Helix Native plugins or something related to my Shreddage guitar mixes. And maybe some other song-specific VSTs. If I deleted all the song specific stuff, the CPU usage isn't that high.
  • I actually don't use my audio interface's ASIO (RME). I should give it a try again. Believe it or not, I've found FL Studio's ASIO to be rock solid and perform great (with a slightly higher latency), and it also mixes with windows audio output, so I can switch between any other media player, Netflix/YouTube, and Cubase and all audio Just Works! My RME in theory can do that too, but I had disabled those drivers for a while because of one specific bug - otherwise the RME solution was working just as great.
To be continuned on the next Post....
 

Attachments

shawnsingh

Active Member
Looking at the screenshots (see previous post), there's a lot of random things to point out.
  • VE Pro screenshot
    • I like to group everything that will have the same mix into single tracks in VE Pro. So they show up in Cubase as a single mixer lane. So for EWQL orchestra that means I have really only one audio channel for strings, another for brass, and etc.
    • This screenshot shows my EWQL Hollywood Orchestra VE Pro Instance. Inside of each Play VST, I've loaded many articulations, one for each MIDI channel. I prefer keyswitches instead of one-track-per-articulation. So in Cubase I set up expression maps to control all midi channels in one track for each instrument through keyswitches.
  • The Kontakt screenshot
    • In Cubase, I still have one MIDI track for each instrument. But in the actual VST instruments, I don't mind loading multiple instruments into one instance of Kontakt, to help group them conceptually. I suspect it also helps a little bit with resources. And it's still possible to route each instrument (like each of these Damage drum kits in the screenshot) to different audio outputs that show up as different mixer channels in Cubase.
  • The two track view screenshots
    • You can get an idea of the instruments I have been using recently. Since I use keyswitches a lot and don't use too many different orchestral libraries, I don't have nearly as many tracks as other folks do.
    • If you look closely, you might notice that I have various audio tracks scattered between my MIDI tracks. That is me using the "Render in Place" feature. It creates more mess, and messes up the ordering of tracks in my mixer view, but it's such an amazing creative workflow for me that it's absolutely worth that disorganization. It's basically a way that I can "sample" the work I've done. There are several reasons this is so amazing - it can help save CPU of course, basically as a targeted "freeze selection to audio". But it also gives me a new mixer lane that I can apply FX to it without affecting my original lane. So if I know I just need to reduce some high frequencies in one place for strings, I can do it that way. Or if I want to try and be creative applying FX to an orchestral part, I can do that without destroying the main tracks that I've set up. Later when I start a new project, it's pretty easy to just delete all the old audio tracks and keep only the MIDI tracks.
    • If you see the top few tracks are using Cubase's secondary view. I actually have hidden all the VST instrument audio tracks there. It's also convenient to keep marker/tempo/time signature tracks always visible even when I scroll around on the bottom part.
    • Using ruler tracks as separators, combined with track colors, help me stay visually oriented
  • The mixer screenshot
    • I usually have the meter on the right side, but wanted to fit everything in one window. You can see on the left side are most of the VE Pro audio channels and I don't usually feel a need to apply much FX, maybe just adjust levels.
    • One interesting example of my setup is the Shreddage Guitars - I have Helix Native plugins and panning on those instruments. It's easy to jump straight to Helix and start tweaking to get different guitar tones, and the underlying Shreddage library is loaded on VE Pro because I don't need to change that part very often.
    • On the right side, things get project-specific (and the ordering of tracks because of Render in place always gets messed up...). So that's where I end up adding more FX.

And finally, there are a lot of workflow things that I'm gradually adding to my setup, which will help. You might see I'm not really using some of these:
  • making more use of Cubase macros, logical editor, and summarizing all that into keyboard shortcuts. Good examples are to create custom track visibility settings that you can jump between different views.
  • Cleaning up some of my folder and color organization
  • Setting up routing to sub busses that would allow me to render to stems that I can finalize in a separate project
  • Updating my VE Pro side with more instruments I have like OT Berlin series, more drums, etc.
  • Cleaning up my expression maps and keyswitches so that they are consistent between libraries (right now I end up fishing for the articulations I want half the time because I don't remember them)
  • Right now, when I enter MIDI key editor, I do it in a separate window. Want to try seeing how it feels to use the lower half window in Cubase.


So yeah, I hope this was interesting/helpful for anyone. Cheers!
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
Just to add something really short... Disable tracks as a key command has saved my life and my sanity. I still get traumas from having had to work with VEPRo... No sir, not for me.

I have around 2000 tracks ready in a Cubase template. Routed to reverbs and busses. All hidden, so my starting point is empty. I add tracks as I go. By FAR the fastest workflow for me. Keeps the juices going!

The trick is to keep the juices flowing with as minimal technological distraction as possible without losing the freedom to alter sounds, sends and routings. My template is routed, the reverbs are there, but they can always (and most always will be) changed accordingly to the needs of whatever I am working on. Same with mic positions, gain, panning and EQ. Also, for layering this approach works wonders. Those Albion One Shorts not doing it? There are five more string libraries in there. Type "shorts", or "stac", or "spic" or whatever in the search box and go to town. This is possible given that there is a very well thought out code system in your naming of tracks, of course.

The elephant in the room is of course loading times. I say, it seems much having to load everything for every cue, but in reality it's neglegible because I load three cues a day, at most. I import the final stem renders to a master project in Reaper.
 
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OP
C

cpaf

Member
Just to add something really short... Disable tracks as a key command has saved my life and my sanity. I still get traumas from having had to work with VEPRo... No sir, not for me.

I have around 2000 tracks ready in a Cubase template. Routed to reverbs and busses. All hidden, so my starting point is empty. I add tracks as I go. By FAR the fastest workflow for me. Keeps the juices going!

The trick is to keep the juices flowing with as minimal technological distraction as possible without losing the freedom to alter sounds, sends and routings. My template is routed, the reverbs are there, but they can always (and most always will be) changed accordingly to the needs of whatever I am working on. Same with mic positions, gain, panning and EQ. Also, for layering this approach works wonders. Those Albion One Shorts not doing it? There are five more string libraries in there. Type "shorts", or "stac", or "spic" or whatever in the search box and go to town. This is possible given that there is a very well thought out code system in your naming of tracks, of course.

The elephant in the room is of course loading times. I say, it seems much having to load everything for every cue, but in reality it's neglegible because I load three cues a day, at most. I import the final stem renders to a master project in Reaper.
This sounds like a great workflow for me too! I will follow this - you wouldn't by chance have a video maybe on youtube where you go through the basics, like the routing to busses, naming schemes and so on (not so much interested in what exactly instruments/plugins are used, as I am "limited" to what I have: KU12, Bernard Herrman Composter Toolkit, iZotope Music Essentials Bundle 2.1
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
This sounds like a great workflow for me too! I will follow this - you wouldn't by chance have a video maybe on youtube where you go through the basics, like the routing to busses, naming schemes and so on (not so much interested in what exactly instruments/plugins are used, as I am "limited" to what I have: KU12, Bernard Herrman Composter Toolkit, iZotope Music Essentials Bundle 2.1
I find that a good suggestion. Will look into it as soon as I can. I think others might benefit from it too. I had been thinking about making a video for a while!
 
OP
C

cpaf

Member
I find that a good suggestion. Will look into it as soon as I can. I think others might benefit from it too. I had been thinking about making a video for a while!
Hi again! So im almost there with the template - its quite some work to actually see through, load and decide on what instruments/sounds to have in the template. I'm only getting to sendes and busses now!

I am particually not finding it easy to setup choirs/voices. I bought the voice bundle on sale from NI from soundIron which I think is amazing in sound and value! But how do you set it up? There are so many different "instruments" and each one with different words - like staccato has some Words and legato others.

And the expression Map setup takes ages... Damn Cubase, could you at least let us copy paste/duplicate in the editor...

Did you make your video about your template yet :)!? Im also getting into modular so gotta setup some tracks for that to!
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
It may help to have some place for disorganized non-template stuff in your workflow. That way you can give yourself a real chance to explore the libraries and get to know them - after you are familiar with your own preferences and how you use your libraries, it will be a lot clearer how you want to put things into your template.
 

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
@cpaf - hope this helps
@Meetyhtan - My setup has been fairly resource friendly to me, details about my resource usage configuration below. I'm definitely no expert and never tried to optimize my setup, I think I just got lucky that things are stable and work decently well.

OK so I finally had a few hours to take screenshots and ramble about this. Comments and feedback are very welcome!

5 screenshots attached about my setup.

For me, I don't have a "template" really. I have more like a "reusable evolving setup". So whenever I want to start a new project, I can just copy the VE Pro and Cubase setups from my most recent projects, delete all the track data and remove project-specific tracks, and that's it, good to keep going. Others will find great value in having a proper blank template, using track presets, using disabled tracks, etc. If they work for you, by all means use those features even if someone else doesn't like them - there's no "professional workflow" that's better than your own preferences. What's more important is to keep self-analyzing and evolving how you would enjoy your process more, how you could make changes to keep feeling inspired and productive.

Side note - One meaningful exception against "use your own preferred workflow" is for folks that have super fast deadlines like TV composers and work as part of a production pipeline. In that case, I think they do have some needs that take priority over their preferences, for the sake of receiving and outputting results reliably, quickly, and organized, and the way that their colleagues want it. CH from Spitfire had a great video about that.

For my own non-pipeline workflow - in the past I was trying to use VEPro like a host for all instruments and keep Cubase 100% MIDI only. The mixing stuff, I was still trying to decide whether I would put it in VE Pro or Cubase. But the big problem with this approach for me was that it really hindered my ability to quickly set up automation, to set up a MIDI Learn CC control, and most of all, it was a grand pain to dive into synth VSTs to design a sound. It was getting really annoying to have to switch from Cubase to VE Pro, click through to reach the instrument I want to tweak, and on top of that I would have to remember to save my VE Pro setup every time I modified it. Eventually I realized that this was hurting my creativity - there were many times where a simple tweak in the VST or a quick automation to an effect was all I needed but I mentally blocked myself from doing those things because it was so slow and annoying to do them.

So last year I tried a different approach: use VEPro for things I don't change very often, so i can just leave it in the background and stay in the flow by not leaving Cubase, and use Cubase for everything else. It was an instant boost in productivity. Well, it did feel a bit messy and uncomfortable at first - to have mixer settings in both places, virtual instruments loaded in both programs. But I'm getting used to that messy feeling and more importantly, it made it easier to do all the things I was mentally blocking away before.

So, in VEPro I set up all my orchestral instruments, all the one-shot/sound design/drums/loop/instrumental libraries that I would rarely be tweaking. And in VE Pro I also include a few rare mixing FX and mixing decisions that I knew I would rarely want to change. Then in Cubase I have a project-specific folder in my track list, where I add song-specific instruments that I can quickly access to edit and link to CC or automation. And I do all the song-specific mixing in Cubase.

Some notes about resource usage. I feel like this template setup has been suprisingly stable and capable on my machine. (96 GB ram, 6-cores Xeon E5-1650 v3, 3.5 GHz)
  • I personally am OK with a slightly higher latency, which is a big help to my system working well. I've gotten used to playing MIDI with that little extra lag, at least for slow passages. And Cubase compensates for the delays to line things up correctly after recording too (I think that's due to Asio Guard feature? not sure)
  • Disabled multi threading in Kontakt, I rely on Cubase and VE Pro to manage the multi threading.
  • Loading most of the EWQL Play VST instruments in the first VE Pro instance - I feel like that may make a difference in the order that instruments load, and I feel like letting the EWQL Play VSTs load sooner somehow helped avoid stability issues (back in the day when Play had a worse reputation)
  • VE Pro threading set to 4 per instance
  • I know Cubase shows my CPU meter to be fairly high, I remember that's due to Helix Native plugins or something related to my Shreddage guitar mixes. And maybe some other song-specific VSTs. If I deleted all the song specific stuff, the CPU usage isn't that high.
  • I actually don't use my audio interface's ASIO (RME). I should give it a try again. Believe it or not, I've found FL Studio's ASIO to be rock solid and perform great (with a slightly higher latency), and it also mixes with windows audio output, so I can switch between any other media player, Netflix/YouTube, and Cubase and all audio Just Works! My RME in theory can do that too, but I had disabled those drivers for a while because of one specific bug - otherwise the RME solution was working just as great.
To be continuned on the next Post....
Man, you must be rich to own all of that hardware and software. How did you get your big break?
 
OP
C

cpaf

Member
It may help to have some place for disorganized non-template stuff in your workflow. That way you can give yourself a real chance to explore the libraries and get to know them - after you are familiar with your own preferences and how you use your libraries, it will be a lot clearer how you want to put things into your template.
Yeah I saw someone on yt do this - an "audio laborarty" and that's exactly what I call that category! Im just still confunded about exactly how you Composer with choirs/voices in an efficient manner fx with expression Maps. Gotta search YouTube some more i guess!
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
Man, you must be rich to own all of that hardware and software. How did you get your big break?
Hah no way, maybe I'd be rich if I hadn't bought all that stuff. I'm not a pro who's had any "big break". It can be barely affordable by buying only a few things a year and doing that for 10 years.
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
Hi again! So im almost there with the template - its quite some work to actually see through, load and decide on what instruments/sounds to have in the template. I'm only getting to sendes and busses now!

I am particually not finding it easy to setup choirs/voices. I bought the voice bundle on sale from NI from soundIron which I think is amazing in sound and value! But how do you set it up? There are so many different "instruments" and each one with different words - like staccato has some Words and legato others.

And the expression Map setup takes ages... Damn Cubase, could you at least let us copy paste/duplicate in the editor...

Did you make your video about your template yet :)!? Im also getting into modular so gotta setup some tracks for that to!
Well I recently ported my whole workflow to Reason. I found out I was working on templates more then working on music, a very real trap one can fall into!o_O

Since going to Reason again my music output has gone up tenfold. I am no longer worrying about a template. I have a very, very simple and barebones one in Reason, and that's it. I have also gone through my plugin list and deactivated any and all that I haven't used within a year.

Simplicity is king for me. Simplicity=free thought=creativity.

There is a thing as simply having so much sh*t (yes I call it sh*t) that you become paralyzed. It's a real danger. Be careful not to fall into it.
 
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