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How to create smooth, intuitive Vel-Xfade curves
Last post Fri, Apr 19 2013 by civilization 3, 6 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Nov 05 2012 16:17
by Jim Shipley
Joined on Wed, Nov 11 2009, Posts 21
I'm looking for an intuitive alternative for creating natural swells and dynamics on sustained notes. It's not very satisfying penciling in controller curves (or even using the Mod Wheel, for that matter) that end up not feeling as smooth and natural as I'd like.

It seemed that the breath controller was a good option, except they don't seem to be available any more. I'd love to have a controller where I can apply pressure with my fingers since I'm a pianist by background.

What other controllers are people using? Has anyone tried the Keith McMillan QuNeo Controller Pad? What about the standard DAW controllers? Are there any iPad Apps that utilize the touch-sensitive screen for sending CC controller messages?

Any suggestions and stories of your experience will be appreciated.

- Jim
Posted on Thu, Apr 18 2013 16:43
by jbm
Joined on Fri, Jan 16 2004, Posts 1159

I just found out about the QuNeo -- that looks extremely cool! It looks like it could offer a really brilliant way of handling both keyswitches and continuous changes. I'd be really interested in trying one out... And it's kind of ridiculously cheap, too ($250?). I expected something around $1000... Hopefully I can find one to try somewhere soon.

Posted on Thu, Apr 18 2013 22:41
by jbm
Joined on Fri, Jan 16 2004, Posts 1159

Okay, so our local shop had one. I managed to try it out, but wasn't too impressed, unfortunately. If you need something with precise control of continuous data it just doesn't cut it. I was a bit worried when I saw that all the demo videos were focused on electronica and drum patterns (it does have that kind of design). It's probably great for that, but VSL needs something more refined, with greater precision. Too bad. It's a great idea, and probably great for a different kind of composer/music, but not so appropriate here, imho.


btw, Jim, did you ever find a good solution? I'm curious about that new(ish) USB breath controller:


Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2013 13:35
by ptbbos
Joined on Wed, Jul 04 2007, Posts 18

I've just recently picked up the TEControl breath controller, and find it really easy to record breath/modulation/whatever cc curves, very quickly and intuitively. Especially for the brass lines, I find it really helps getting parts to "breath", by thinking more about where real players would have to take a breath, etc.

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2013 17:47
by Pyre
Joined on Thu, Jun 28 2012, Posts 151
Hi Jim,

I know exactly what you mean, and am going through the same thing myself. Not only do you need something intuitive and quick to respond, but also something very precise. While velocity crossfade has a very wide range, I find I often only want the swell within a band of 10-15 CC values. My modwheel jumps, controller knobs don't quite respond fast enough, and my ribbon controller isn't that sensitive (and resets to 64 as soon as the finger is released).

The breath controller seems the obvious option, but as you say, they're hard to get hold of. Also, I think they might get tiring after a while. At the moment I'm drawing the curves on in Cubase, but I long for a better option. I'm very excited by the possibilities of the Leap Motion, which launches in May. I was looking at MIDI-theremin designs, for 'conducting' the velocity levels in mid air in real time, but that was pretty expensive (£750ish for a very nice theremin, stuffed with features I mostly wouldn't be using). The Leap Motion looks smaller, more versatile, and much much cheaper. If a developer can make a basic CC control program, it could be brilliant. Here's a video someone on here posted of it in action:


That, to me, seems like the best option for velocity crossfade - intuitive and precise, but doesn't cost the world.
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Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2013 18:11
by civilization 3
Joined on Sat, May 16 2009, SF Bay Area, Posts 1942

I think assigning that to a knob on a keyboard controller is as good as it gets. But more than that I think you may find at the end of the day the most precise thing is to draw them in the lane and it isn't a slower workflow as you're going to be editing your live curves anyway... I found after some time that chasing after physical controllers was a fool's errand and just got on with my life.

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