Joined: Oct 2008
achabloop5080 - I have an iPad but I don't use it for any TouchOSC stuff or switching articulations or any of that. I have all those apps but I just fiddle with them and then decide that they make everything too complex - and it's just another thing that I'll start to depend on just in time for something to break or be discontinued. I really try to keep my setup as simple as possible, despite the crazy Logic environment... which is why I use so much EXS24 and so little Kontakt, Omnisphere, etc. All I can really count on to be there when I wake up in the morning is Logic, so if NI and Spectrasonics and everybody else go out of business while I'm asleep I won't have any nasty surprises. This way if I need to replace my entire studio all I need to do is stop by an Apple store and pick up whatever Mac they're making that week and a copy of Logic, drag my non-copy-protected EXS libraries onto the drive and get to work. No iLok worries, no ViennaKey needed, no outboard servers, no NI Service Center... nothing but Logic and EXS are really crucial.
Basically my template has Instruments laid out in 8 bricks of 16:
(drum stem is color-coded red and consists of these two bricks of 16 plus any audio tracks that meet these criteria)
Drums (that which is hit with a stick and/or is big-sounding - aka "low perc")
Perc (that which is hit with hands or is small-sounding - aka "high perc")
(keys stem is color-coded green and consists of these two bricks of 16 plus any audio tracks that meet these criteria)
Metals (bowed metals and other weird stuff)
Keys (including synths and any guitars or guitar-based weirdness)
(orch stem is color-coded blue and consists of these four bricks of 16 plus any audio tracks that meet these criteria)
Strings long (four low basses insts with various tonalities - one is just three samples from classical records)
Brass (yes, 16 brass is enough for me - two low stacks, six french horns, six bones, and two empty for wildcards)
Orch FX 1 (hits + swells)
Orch FX 2 (sustainy clusters and chaos fx)
with a bonus brick of 16 that I only use once in a while:
Strings short (spiccs and staccs)
I started using bricks of 16 back in the days of GigaSampler since I was dealing with hardware MIDI interfaces and ports, and this just make sense. Now, it still makes sense if you're using VEPro, Kontakt, etc. because things are still in bricks of 16 MIDI channels.
In each brick of 16 I generally leave the last two empty for wild-card instruments that I can load on the spot without needing to put, for instance, that one extra brass instrument somewhere outside the normal brick of 16 brass instruments...
If I use any Omnisphere or Alchemy stuff (almost never) these go in the Keys brick and generally get bounced to audio and put in the Audio tracks at the top of the template. This is where I also put any newly recorded live audio and all the stuff I do in Ableton and bounce over.
If I use any Vienna or Kontakt stuff for legatos these go in the 10th brick, after the short strings, which are in the 9th brick - but this happens very rarely.
I have all the Kontakt libraries that everyone has, but I usually go through and extract or manually sample all of the content out of them and turn them into EXS instruments using Redmatica KeyMap. I can make EXS instruments that sound identical to the Kontakt versions very easily, complete with all the round-robins and all that stuff - the only thing I lose is legato transitions presets - for the rare occasion when I need these I use the actual Kontakt version.
When I'm sampling from Kontakt to EXS I keep the "stage mics" and discard the rest. For a keyswitched Kontakt instrument I make separate EXS instruments for each articulation, and then put them into the appropriate folder. For instance, my strings directory looks like this: String Sections (long, short, fx) - Basses (long, short, fx) - Bass Solo (long, short, fx) - Cellos (long, short, fx) - Cello Solo (long, short, fx) etc.
All of my EXS instruments are named like this: "strings-SULPONT-kh" and "strings-SULPONT-ew"; or "violas-SPICC-ew" and "violas-SPICC-kh". The first part of the name ("strings" or "violas") indicates the instrument, the second part ("SULPONT" or "SPICC") denotes the articulation, and the last part ("ew" or "kh") denotes the manufacturer of the library ("ew" stands for East-West and "kh" stand for Kirk Hunter for instance). This way, I can look at my "strings - long" directory and see ALL of the various "SULPONT" presets right next to each other in the list, and I never have to go up three folders, over two, and down three folders to see if maybe I've forgotten about a really good SULPONT preset that's hidden somewhere. If there's a "violas-STACC" preset in my library, it can only be in one place (violas-short), and I can quickly audition them and compare the tonality of the various manufacturer's sounds instantly. This is the only way I can work. When I try to build a template using Kontakt, loading from the various "library" panes, I lose my mind.
I don't use woodwinds, ever, except for a single EXS instrument with some Ligieti-like dissonant high woodwind clusters.
Regarding Channel Strip Presets - when I build a template for a project, I put up the EXS instrument, then apply stock Logic compressor and eq, and adjust to my liking. I also adjust reverb and delay sends, and then set all of the channel volume faders somewhere around -12db - in a nice straight line across all 128 instruments. I then adjust the output level knob on EXS and the output gain slider on the compressor to set my default mix level. I painstakingly build my default mix this way, so that I can "zero" the mix by setting the channel faders back to -12db. I used to use 0db as my default fader position but I found it's nice to have the ability to turn things up right from the fader. Once the mix sounds the way I want, I save each channel's state into a channel strip preset into a set of folders just for that project - the first three characters of the name of each preset is a number indicating which instrument (001 through 128) it is meant for, with the rest of the name being the name of the EXS instrument contained therein - this way when they are all dumped into a folder they alphabetize into a list with everything in the correct order, just as it would appear in the Arrange window.
I do all of this level adjusting of the EXS output knob and the compressor output slider with the mastering compressors on each stem set to "stun" and the speakers at the loudest of my three preset volume levels. (I use a Dynaudio AIR 5.1 system which has AES inputs and a dedicated volume controller that can store presets for volume levels - very soft, working level, and very loud). I have a TC MasterX5 5-band mastering "finalizer" compressor on each stem submaster and nothing on the final mix submaster. The stem compressors are set to limit the output to -6db so that when all three stems combine nothing clips.
Now, when I recall a channel strip preset, it comes up at the right level, because the level is set on the EXS itself, or else on the compressor - so all I need to do is set the channel fader to -12db and that is the level that each sound "should" be at. For the fx sends, I rarely use any level other than 0db - so just command (or is it option?) clicking on the send knob turns the send to the "right" level.
I also manually save each EXS instrument from a template into another set of project-specific folders after the template is built so that if I make any changes inside the EXS Editor (keysplits, velocity splits, etc) I'm not messing up the "library" version of the instrument. These instruments, like the channel strip presets, have the first three characters denoting which of the 128 slots they were loaded into - this gives them a name which is different to the stock "library" version of the EXS instrument so that Logic won't get them mixed up. I have found that if you have two copies of an EXS instrument on your hard drive which have the same name that Logic may load the wrong one, so I insure that each project's set of EXS instruments get renamed in a unique manner - usually with a four-letter suffix denoting the project.
I have the keycommands "Control-page up" and "Control-page down" set to "Next/Previous Plugin, ChannelStrip, or EXS Instrument preset" so that I can quickly scroll to the next/previous saved setting of WHATEVER is in focus - if a Plugin window is open and topped, then I'm scrolling saved Plugin settings - if the Channel Strip Preset pane at the top of the channel strip at the bottom left of the Arrange window is "focused" (by clicking on it once so that a white outline appears) then I'm scrolling Channel Strip settings - if an EXS is open and topped, then I'm scrolling through my EXS library. This is freaking awesome and I will not go into battle without it! I save commonly used presets for eq and compressors so that I rarely have to set these up manually.
I also have assigned keycommands to copy and paste channel strip settings. Let's say I'm in the middle of a project and I didn't build out the brick of 16 Strings Short into this template because I thought I wouldn't need them, but I find that I do want them. Since I have all of the EXS instruments and channel strip settings from previous projects right there, I go to the first empty slot in the 10th brick, manually choose the first of the Strings Short channel strip settings from the directories of a previous project, and then copy channel strip setting. Then I down-arrow to the next track, paste, then copy THAT, then down-arrow, then paste, then copy THAT, etc. This means I can quickly build out a brick of 16 from any previous project without importing tracks. I started with this functionality before Logic allowed you to import track data, and I find that this is actually a cleaner technique as it does not mess with your environment by adding new objects - you are merely importing settings to existing objects. This is why my basic empty template has 256 Instruments even though I might only use 128 or so - I've always got more pre-configured and empty at the end of the list, waiting for new settings to be called up.
For busses, I lay them out in the same order that my hardware outputs are - 1 through 6 are the main mix in 5.1, 7 through 12 are the drum stem in 5.1, 13 through 18 are the keys stem, and 19 through 24 are the orch stem. Even though Logic can use a single bus for a stereo pair, I skip over busses so that the numbering is the same as it is with the mono hardware outputs, and the same as it will be in ProToos, which needs to use two mono busses for a stereo pair. So, while I could use only four Logic busses for a 5.1 set (one stereo bus for front L+R, one stereo bus for rear L+R, one mono for Center and one mono for LFE, I use bus 1 for front L+R, skip bus 2, use 3 for rear L+R, skip bus 4, then use 5 for Center and 6 for Lfe. This way the numbering is consistent across all busses and hardware I/O in both Logic and ProTools. FX sends start at bus 33 and go up from there - drumverb front, drumdelay front, drumverb rear, drumdelay rear, keyverb front, etc. I pre-configure 4 sends from each of the instrument slots in my template so that all of the instrument slots, empty or not, are already going to the correct fx sends - this way I'm never screwing up the look of the Environment by causing the objects to "grow" in vertical size when more sends are added. I used to use "label" Environment objects to create colored blocks of text below each brick of 16 Instruments to indicate what they were, but that just looked cheap. If you set the color of all of the objects in the Environment before you start recording, all of the regions that appear in the Arrange as you record will inherit the color of their objects, so you Arrange window will show you at a glance how much stuff you have going into each stem. This helps when you want to bounce just one stem within Logic - simply select all the red objects, hit object-solo-lock, and bounce. No need to use the solo buttons on the channel strips. Way better.
Building a template usually takes me a day or two at the start of the project - I am watching the movie the whole time that I'm auditioning sounds and building the template in an attempt to pick things that are appropriate. I build a unique template for each project, based on my central setup but with various instruments swapped out depending on what I think I'll need. Once I've got what I think will work, I take an hour or so and ruthlessly save and name all the channel strip settings and EXS instruments to a new set of folders just for that project. It works very well and is worth the time.
Another HUGE advantage of using only EXS for all my sample-based instruments is that I can "Save Project" and tell Logic to "Include EXS Instruments" and "Include EXS Samples" (as well as Space Designer IRs). This way, I can go back to a project from years ago and everything comes back, even if I have made changes to my main EXS library by renaming or deleting stuff. This is invaluable and is NOT even remotely possible if I were using lots of Kontakt or Vienna stuff. Native Instruments went out of business? LA Scoring Strings got updated and they changed the instruments? Not a problem for me, my stuff was all copied over to the project folder the day the film wrapped. Best of all, the EXS libraries are not copy-protected in any way, so I can freely drag them to backup drives, or even to another computer and I'm ready to go with no authorization hassles. The only thing I have to worry about is my TC MasterX5 stem compressors, but I'm gradually switching to Ozone5 and I hope that Logic X will have something similar so that I can use NO third-party plugins or instruments at all. For me this would be perfect!