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"Hollywood" sound from VLS
Last post Sun, Jul 24 2011 by gerard kruse, 8 replies.
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Posted on Tue, Jul 19 2011 13:14
by Sleeping in Seattle
Joined on Fri, Jan 12 2007, Seattle, WA, Posts 36

i came across a post several years old that explained how to get the "Hollywood" sound from VSL. Unfortunately the link containing the information (screen shots I think) doesn't work.

Suggestions?

Posted on Wed, Jul 20 2011 08:39
by el-russo
Joined on Wed, Jul 11 2007, Posts 69

I don't know what was said in that particular thread, but when I layer Appassionata strings with just very slightly audible Solo strings, Hollywood, whatever is meant by this term sampling -wise, lines up and marches far and away.

Posted on Wed, Jul 20 2011 08:50
by el-russo
Joined on Wed, Jul 11 2007, Posts 69

Now jokes aside, there's a very nice post the user named PaulR made  regarding this subject over here: http://community.vsl.co..../28515.aspx?PageIndex=14 (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Posted on Fri, Jul 22 2011 08:37
by mon_art
Joined on Sat, Oct 23 2004, Switzerland, Posts 65

That is a very complex question actually.
And there's no easy answer. Let's put aside for now the "you've got to
learn to write good music first" argument, and instead only focus on the sound aspect of the problem.


So what is the problem? The music that you
refer to, "the Hollywood sound", isn't a registered trademark: there
are many kind of Hollywood sounds. Take Star Wars, the Lord of the Ring, and
Gladiator. Three famous scores which sound totally different, meaning recorded
in different ways (orchestra set-up, room, microphones, mix). Yet they share a
common denominator, a type of sound NOT SO different than a “typical” classical CD actually.


So how can you achieve that with VSL? And why is it so hard to achieve that sound with VSL?


To me, the MAIN
problem with the VSL libraries is the way it was recorded. Our beloved company
chose to record in a “dry” room, the silent stage. That in itself is not a problem;
it is actually a smart move. It allows them to precisely record note transitions
(for legato techniques for example). And it allows the end user/composer to sculpt the sound the way he/she wants. So, where’s the problem(s)?


1/ The
instruments of the VSL libraries are close mic’ed (to my ears it sounds this way).


That means,
during the recording the microphones were placed close to the instrument. I’m
not going to go into orchestra recording techniques here, but basically you
never record an orchestra this way (there’s often a main pair doing 80%-90% of
the sound, and maybe –depending on the recording engineer- spot mics doing the
rest). So with VSL, you hear a lot of UNWANTED details that translate into… weirdness?


Let’s be more
specific. Take for example the wonderful VSL demo “The Rite of Spring”
programmed by Jay Bacal. In the intro, you have the bassoon playing the famous…
well, intro. After 3 seconds, I can tell you this is a sample library. It
sounds weird and fake, because you clearly hear the sound of the room, a
concert hall, YET at the same time you hear all the mechanical part of the
bassoon. That’s hard to explain in words. Compare this demo with a real
orchestra recording, the later will sound smooth and fluid (not what Stravinsky
wanted btw). In the VSL demo, you hear all the “internal” part of the
instrument, the keys being pressed etc… It does not sound real – let’s say
there’s something bizarre about that sound. Imagine recording an opera singer
the same way you record a pop singer (mic <10 cm from the mouth): the
experience is unpleasant. I know because I tried. You are going to hear all
kind of normal “noises” from the throat. Put the mic 1 meter away, it’s much
better. You have fewer details, but the sound recorded is a better representation of the instrument, IMO. It’s the same with the VSL instruments.


They should
have built a much bigger silent stage and placed the mics further away. Unfortunately,
there’s nothing you can do about that: no EQ or anything can remove these “unwanted” details from the instruments.


2/ The instruments/sections of the VSL libraries are recorded in a dry space. Separately.


As I’ve mentioned,
this is a good idea. But it is then very hard for a composer (the end user) to mix
the different sections together and add a simulation of a real space around it. How loud is the 1st violins section compared to 4 horns? With VSL,
you have to mix yourself the entire orchestra, to adjust the volumes of each
instrument relative to each other. Either you play yourself in an orchestra, or
you go very often to concerts, or you’re screwed. But you MUST know how an
orchestra sounds, and translate that in your template. That takes time to do, and tweaking atemplate never stops.


About the
reverb now. Just slamming it on the main buss is not going to cut it. A
solution is for example to add first a room IR to the different sections of the
orchestra (Altiverb Todd AO is good for that). And then add a smooth tail with
another verb (an algorithmic reverb is great for this part; or see the VSL Hybrid reverb, excellent for that).


3/ You have to apply lots of EQ to VSL for it to sound satisfying.


That’s my experience.
Maybe a result of the close mic’ing sound, I don’t know. The best way to go
about it is to mock up some real pieces, and compare the sound with a real orchestra
recording. Then adjust. Take away some nasty resonance. And repeat. That takes
a lot of time to do. Again, the problem is that the end user is often not a mixing engineer…


As you can see,
your question is complex. When you think about it, how can two orchestras sound
similar (VSL vs “Hollywood” orchestras) when they have been recorded in such different
ways? It’s almost impossible. Yet, there are some VSL demos out there that
sound impressive and are satisfying. A lot of time and effort has been made in
creating them. It’s not easy. I hope my lengthy answer was helpful to you. Not sure about that…
J Good luck anyway!

Sleeping in Seattle wrote:

i came across a post several years old that explained how to get the "Hollywood" sound from VSL. Unfortunately the link containing the information (screen shots I think) doesn't work.

Suggestions?

Posted on Fri, Jul 22 2011 09:22
by devastat
Joined on Sun, Jul 17 2011, Posts 45
mon_art wrote:

That is a very complex question actually.
And there's no easy answer. Let's put aside for now the "you've got to
learn to write good music first" argument, and instead only focus on the sound aspect of the problem.



Thanks a lot for your post! Finally we do get some informative and useful discussion on this matter..

P.S There are some good articles related to this topic in here: http://scoringfilm.wordpress.com/ - including some music comparisons of the same piece recorded for live orchestral performance vs film music.
Posted on Fri, Jul 22 2011 11:06
by jammusique
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Paris, France, Posts 258

One on the strengths of other new libraries, is that you have 3 samples (mic positions) going at once. Thats how real orchestral recording is done, and that gives you total control. That also gives you real reverb, which has exponentially more delays than even the best convolution reverbs.

IMO, VSL could record all future libraries with standard 3 mic positions, and modify VIP to play back multiple positions at once.

WW complete. MirX Teldex, Cubase, PC
Posted on Fri, Jul 22 2011 11:39
by devastat
Joined on Sun, Jul 17 2011, Posts 45
That's a really good point. To have 3 (or more) mic positions really helps you to get your instruments to sit in the mix, or to make the sound "bigger". This is the reason why I really love instruments like HS and Spitfire Percussions for. Another important element offcourse is a good reverb. Something like Altiverb with Todd-AO Impulse Response can give you a very lush and complete sound. Off course the way the instruments are recorded matters a lot on the results..


What I find somewhat challenging is that when you are working with various different libraries that have been recorded in different spaces, it becomes more complicated to get everything to sit in the mix and sound complete. Easiest solution is to turn more towards the close/mid mics and then connect different libraries via the convolution reverb you are using, but then you are missing on the beauty of the natural reverb of the space recorded with the main decca tree and the surround mics.. But multiple mic positions gives you all these options.
Posted on Sun, Jul 24 2011 17:34
by gerard kruse
Joined on Sat, Apr 25 2009, Leiden, The Netherlands, Posts 101

Not a musicologist, neither professional musician, am I, but

the Columbia recordings of Strawinsky directing his works in 1950s -60s (1958 ??) can be a case in this discussion, especially since Igor was mentioned in the posts. It struck me that the master made the individual phrases and instrument performances stand out more individually than later (other) recordings, some of which I appreciate more than Strawinsky's. The instrument "noise", also of the intro bassooon, is well audible on these old recordings (nb), as is the director, and his paperwork.

So it really may depend on the intention of recording and listening and on getting used to.

(The close micing characteristics of instruments are actually there when the instrument plays. Much depends on the frequency dependent attenuation, which requires eq-ing for which Instruments Pro gives a suitable approximation.)

Gerard

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