Day 21: Templates

Ah, templates. Every composer uses them. A template is a set of commonly used instruments (virtual ones of course) in a project. That way you don’t have to load every instrument from scratch every time you start a new piece of music. My template for example is all the common orchestra instruments, because that’s the kind of music I write. I still usually need to add a few unique ones for each individual project, but it saves time. On a TV show, you usually have the same template throughout the seasons, and a new template for every new series you’re working on.

I’ve only had to use the SVU template at the studio so far, but today I had nothing to do and wanted to get a jump on creating a template for a main title sequence. I know that’s my next project after my review so I wanted to get a handle on how to create a template using Mike’s gear. Originally I wanted to use my own stuff that I brought with me, but after talking to Atli, he said to take advantage of the better gear that they have, so I intend to do just that. Especially because this is the gear the rest of the industry is using too, so knowing how to use it may just help me get a job. It wasn’t until I got started that I realized how complicated their system really is.

WARNING: This segment is about to get very technical, so skip to the end if it starts to get boring.

Logic runs on a Mac Pro in the studio. It’s where all the writing is done. To get sound out of logic, you need to use virtual instruments. To do that, you load each instrument into Logic so that logic can control it. That’s all well and good so far. My setup works the same way. But on mine, it ends there. All my sounds are on an external drive and that’s that. In Mike’s studio, the sounds aren’t on an external drive at all. They’re on another computer, and it’s a PC. Two of them in fact. Those PCs are running a program called Vienna Ensemble Pro. On a normal computer, when you load a template, it has to load every instrument one after another, and then you can write. If you load too many your computer crashes under the strain. If you load another cue, or another template, it has to load all the instruments again. That can waste a lot of time. Vienna Ensemble Pro allows you to load the instruments once into a server. Logic then accesses that server when you write, so even if you switch projects, the instruments don’t have to reload. They’re already there, which is really brilliant when you think about it. The problem is. . . I have no idea how to do any of that. To create a new template on Mike’s system you need to program all these connections between 3 computers, 2 virtual desktops and a server. Then once you have sound, you need to route that to another Mac Pro running ProTools which is attached to the mixing board where the speakers are so you can actually hear that sound. Whew! That was tough even to write.

The techno-jargon stops here.

Needless to say I couldn’t figure any of it out so I came home empty handed. I spoke to Brandon and he said he’d show me how to make a template that way. He said once you see it done, it’s not that hard, but definitely overwhelming the first time. So that all starts next week. Until then.

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