The Composer’s Challenge

So let’s explore every composer’s challenge – especially newcomers –  when first stepping into the world of virtual instruments.


The #1 Question on VI-Control Forum: How do I setup and configure my orchestral template?

The #1 Answer:  There isn’t a certain way because you have to figure out how to make your personal workflow fit your DAW.

The questioner is now left with no way but trial and error until something works and flows…most likely resulting in an extremely inefficient setup that doesn’t scale very well.  Then this dialogue takes place:

“Should I use track based, or rack based VIs? Maybe I should use articulations per track, or should I use key-switched multis? If I use articulations per track, do I load a Kontakt instrument per track, or one instance with individual midi tracks routed to the VI? And how the heck do I route Kontakt’s outputs where they need to go? Maybe I’ll use VEP so I only have to do this once. How do I route VEP efficiently into my DAW? Ah got it! What now? Ram limitations on one machine? I’ll just freeze and disable tracks. Oh wait!! I can’t freeze tracks using VEP? Now do I need to setup a host of slaves? That seems expensive. Nope. Back to figuring out how to pre-setup and disable tracks in my DAW. Track count maxed out! What now?!”

bored-manSeem familiar?

No doubt you’ve had these same questions. Once that gets sorted out in some defeated compromise, then the following dialogue takes place:

“Cool. Let’s make music. Hmmm, these orchestral sections don’t blend well together. Oh yeah. They were recorded in different halls. So now what if I want to blend an Orchestral Tools library into the same hall as a Spitfire library? Wait, more Kontakt outputs? How the heck do I route Kontakt’s outputs where they need to go so I can mix the microphone positions? Or do I need to mix these in each Kontakt instance? I’m already out of tracks, that might just be the only solution. And what if I want to change the different microphone levels for every instrument in a section? What if I decide it would be better to just use close microphone positions and route them to a virtual hall? Gah. Why have six months gone by and I still have yet to finish my first song? At least the midi is complete…”

And it doesn’t stop there…bored_man2

“Ridiculous. 6 months later and now I am about to mix this track. Let’s see… Do I use reverb on each track? What if I need to EQ the reverb? Doesn’t that require an Aux bus? More tracks. Geez. I abandoned ProTools when it choked long ago due to setting up the number of tracks I needed. I thought that was the mixers choice? I guess I’ll bounce down and bring it into ProTools. Now how do I bounce down stems? You mean I’m going to have to manually mute and solo different tracks or buy some other type of scheduling software that i have to configure? Sheesh. More work but it eventually gets done. Onto importing the tracks into ProTools. Wait, some of my plugins won’t work in ProTools? I needed an excuse to buy new plugins. Cool. The wife will understand. Purchased. Loaded up. Now, let’s make this beautiful in surround sound. Wait. You’ve got to be kidding me. I need a ProTools HD rig to do 5.1???? And I just bought all of these plugins. The wife won’t understand an HD rig purchase. Back to…wait, which DAW was I using?”

But, eventually a mix comes out. Then rinse and repeat the process.

This is the story for every newcomer, and even every veteran in the industry. If you are lucky enough to be in the financial space with the likes of Hans Zimmer, you have a team of people solving these problems for you on a constant basis and have the DAW manufacturers catering to your desires. But we aren’t all Hans Zimmers, so we are left with a conundrum. How can I just make music?



Now imagine this.

Sit down at your DAW. Load up Reaper. The OTR template loads up upon startup. All STEM categories are already pre-setup (e.g. Strings, solo strings, brass, solo brass, etc). Right click on a STEM category. Insert track from template. Navigate to your pre-configured sample library track template (preconfigured with OTR). Ask yourself, do you like one articulation per track, or multi keyswitches. Chances are you have both options (based on the design of the sample library) to pick from in your track template folder. Bam. Everything is loaded. That wasn’t just loading a Flute from Berlin Woodwinds. That was loading ALL INSTRUMENTS from Berlin Woodwinds with one click. If you wanted just the flute, you could have done that too. But we were setting up a woodwind section in this example, so we chose the entire library with one click. Now repeat this for each instrument and/or section you desire. Then make music. If this is too much work, save this template for a rainy day and you can load it up fully built at will. But since this is your first time, it required some choices. Now it is time to make music. What is that? Done already? Cool. Need to route some reverb and FX? Awesome. Just add the plugins to the pre-routed FX sends and point your track in that direction. Now your mix is done? Fantabulous. Let’s bounce to stems. Do I want to render each one of the 22 categories to stems or maybe just one? Maybe I want to render the pre-grouped sections like the industry-standard strings, brass, winds, percussion, choir, vocal stems. What the heck, let’s do them all and give the client choices. Click a button. Go get coffee. Done.

That is OTR. And that is why your perception on DAWs has just been changed.


Musical Notes Clip Art #21423