Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

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Project Anvil
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Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Project Anvil » Thu 11 Mar 2021 17:45

I've been making and discarding templates for ages. Always end up getting annoyed at how huge and unwieldy they get, plus I think I tend to overcomplicate a lot of stuff.

So I took a step back and tried to make something decent out of CSS/CSB/CSW. I'm using a lot less FX than before. Mostly just panagement, eventide sp 2016, some eq's, 7th heaven and revelation with custom IRs. The reason I choose the cinematic series is because of how consistent it is within each family of instruments, but also between families. It's not the best for everything, but since it covers the most-used articulations and since it's consistent in the keyswitches as well, I thought it would be a nice foundation.

Anyway, I am quite pleased with how I managed to make CSB sound, except the trumpets, they don't have a sharp enough attack for shorts imo. Very open to criticism:









Plan is to use Abbey Road percussion for perc + hollywood perc for missing stuff in abbey road like crotales, tubular bells, etc. Then I will probably also add Vista and maybe some HWS too - though I am cautious of not adding too much too soon. Don't want to make this a massive template again >.<

Curious to hear what people think!
Last edited by Project Anvil on Sun 18 Apr 2021 13:43, edited 1 time in total.

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The Impartial
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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Headshot » Thu 11 Mar 2021 20:36

That's nice.

What mic positions do you use ?

(why in the trash compactor ?)

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Project Anvil
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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Project Anvil » Thu 11 Mar 2021 21:49

Headshot wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 20:36 (why in the trash compactor ?)
I put it in here because I read in a reaction to one of Kyle's posts (I think) which was about template testing stuff, that you asked him to put it there. But feel free to move it if it's in the wrong place!

Headshot wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 20:36 That's nice.

What mic positions do you use ?
For the horns it's room and close.
For bones it's main and room.
For tuba it's close main and room
For CSS it's main and close if I remember correctly, but I also recenter the panning in kontakt, and then reposition later in the mixer.
For CSW I've only used mix mic + narrowing + SP2016 reverb to push it back. I can't make any of the other mics work nicely, either there is too much stereo shifting (OH mics), or it's too roomy (room mics), or it's too thin and dry (close mics).

To give one example. for the horns a4 this is the processing chain:

Horns a4 [Kontakt instance], overall volume = -2.9db

Horns a4 -> Close -> -1db
Insert 1: Panagement 2 (Far=0.19, Angle=-68.44. Reverb OFF)
Insert 2: SP2016 Reverb (Mix=100%, predelay=4ms, decay=200ms, position=10%, diffusion=73%) [I have saved this as a preset, I use these exact settings a lot. This insert helps push the instrument back into the space)

Horns a4 -> Room -> -6db
Insert 1: Fabfilter Pro-Q 2
Shape=High Cut
12db/Oct
7173.6HZ
Q=0.912
Mode=Stereo (R) [So, cutting high frequencies from the R channel).

I should probably make a video, it will be easier to show that way.

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Headshot » Thu 11 Mar 2021 21:54

What is your goal, I mean what kind of mix are you aiming for ? What are your favorite recordings ?

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Project Anvil » Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:13

Headshot wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 21:54 What is your goal, I mean what kind of mix are you aiming for ? What are your favorite recordings ?
Several goals.

1. Empire strikes back is my absolute favorite

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIFLnEehNTE&list=PLeigbpMXUkYm9yh32UAjGL-ozEVn0fQNi&index=5

that was recorded in Anvil studios in denham (hence the name of the soundcloud). Now, I am not aiming for an exact replica of that sound, but for a replica of the qualities of that sound:
-> Not a lot of reverb, but still feels spacious
-> Sections have a "hard-panned" feel to them. Every instrument/section in that soundtrack takes up quite a narrow space in the stereo field.
-> Detailed sound. More a close, dry, studio sound rather than a distant, very roomy sound. It's hard to describe, but I always think of it as a "close-wide" kind of sound.

I also like Howard Hanson Merry Mount Suite but that is a more "hall" type of sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1exdLGqjSs

2. The mix I am aiming for is one that has good volume balance. It needs to be a good foundation mix, it doesn't have to be a final/complete mix in the box because I have the routing set up in such a way that I can still export all the mic positions individually and rebalance the rendered wavs if I want to do a dedicated mix. On the whole I like a dry-ish, but spacious sounding mix where there is an audible sense of room/space, but there's not a lot of washy reverb. Clean, detailed, and a little raw and dirty sounding.
3. I want to keep a relatively small template and try not to make it too complicated. I am OK with having a slightly suboptimal out-of-the-box sound if it means having fewer tracks to deal with. The template doesn't have to be 100% perfect. 80% is good enough if it keeps things simpler.

Oh and I have done my homework a bit (still in progress reading everything): https://www.malonedigital.com/starwars.pdf

It does seem that Eric Tomlinson did use more close mics:
The studio was readied for recording in half a day during which approximately 23 microphones were carefully positioned at distances ranging from two to ten feet from instruments. Alan Snelling was Eric Tomlinson’s assistant from 1975 to 1979 and recounted “Eric’s order of the day” for miking Star Wars, which included many Neumann and Telefunken tube condenser microphones – see side bar. 20 It was this choice together with prudent placement and Tomlinson’s wide stereo panning that gave Star Wars and the Anvil recordings from the 1970s their distinctive sound
Whilst the miking setup remained essentially the same as the first film, assistant engineer Alan Snelling explained that “After recording Alien, Eric used three Schoeps mikes for LCR ambient pickup.” 38 “They were just there to enhance,” related Tomlinson, describing his use of spaced overheads. “The other mikes were not exactly close but they were closer. Closer so that I could actually handle things and get a balance.”
Last edited by Project Anvil on Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Headshot » Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:46

macaroniman wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:13 1. Empire strikes back is my absolute favorite
Image

macaroniman wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:13 -> Not a lot of reverb, but still feels spacious
-> Sections have a "hard-panned" feel to them. Every instrument/section in that soundtrack takes up quite a narrow space in the stereo field.
-> Detailed sound. More a close, dry, studio sound rather than a distant, very roomy sound. It's hard to describe, but I always think of it as a "close-wide" kind of sound.

Yeah I will descirbe it as : close + depth.


What do you think about your actual template ?

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Project Anvil
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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Project Anvil » Thu 11 Mar 2021 23:05

Headshot wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:46 Yeah I will descirbe it as : close + depth.

What do you think about your actual template ?
I feel this is a trick question lol

I like the sound I got out of CSB, except for the trumpets. They don't have enough of a sharp attack (especially on shorts). They still feel a bit washed out to me. Maybe I should add some kind of plugin that shapes the transients but tbh, I've never used a plugin like that and I am not sure if it would fix that problem. As a sidenote, I've always like this Close AB mic on Metropolis Ark 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoid8yqyxLo&t=322s It's a shame it is only on that one patch though, to me that sound comes pretty close to some of the brass I hear in Empire Strikes Back.

Strings are decent, but just today I was comparing Vista Cellos (close mic + eareverb) and CSS sounds muffled in comparison. It works well enough, but I think I could brighten the strings more. I do have gulfoss to help with it, but I don't want to run that in realtime. The other solution I saw someone post was to use the VSL exciter. I haven't tried this yet because I don't own the plugin, but I did screengrab the settings they posted (I don't remember where this was posted, but the examples sounded good to me):
VSL Exciter for CSS settings.png
VSL Exciter for CSS settings.png (203.81 KiB) Viewed 703 times
Woodwinds are also decent. The only problems are with CSW itself. Legato on clarinets and bassoon is sluggish and washy. I don't like the bass clarinet. I've been thinking of dusting off my BML reeds and BML Low reeds libraries (now SSW, but with the old BML libs I have more mics to try) to replace the bassoon and clarinet from CSW. BML/SSW bass clarinet is awesome so that's almost certain to be a replacement.


EDIT: for percussion I started with Hollywood Orchestra percussion because it also a good studio (reasonably dry) sound. However, then I got tempted by Abbey Road Orchestral Foundations percussion. Only problem is that I absolutely hate the spitfire player. So much so that I've already begun re-sampling some perc patches so I can work in Kontakt without random ass 100% cpu spikes or 15% cpu for running a single patch lol

(this is what you get when you let a design company build your audio vst. It's the most pretentious ass plugin ever made, seriously, their stupid icons, total waste of space [they could easily fit all mics into a single view, the space is there, but they refuse to because of """Design""" aesthetics]... I could go on)

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Headshot » Thu 11 Mar 2021 23:29

macaroniman wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 23:05 However, then I got tempted by Abbey Road Orchestral Foundations percussion. Only problem is that I absolutely hate the spitfire player. So much so that I've already begun re-sampling some perc patches so I can work in Kontakt without random ass 100% cpu spikes or 15% cpu for running a single patch lol
hahaha I have the same issue
macaroniman wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 23:05
Headshot wrote: Thu 11 Mar 2021 22:46 Yeah I will descirbe it as : close + depth.
What do you think about your actual template ?
I feel this is a trick question lol
lol

My question was more about the overall sound, the room.

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Project Anvil
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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Project Anvil » Fri 12 Mar 2021 00:04

Well, I like what I have so far in terms of room. It sounds cohesive (enough) to me and has decent depth and stereo image. I just hope I'll manage to keep a sense of transparency in the sound by the time I add in all the percussion.

To my ears it currently sounds like a medium-sized studio, but I think the perceived size will be increased when I add in the (resampled) Abbey Road percussion.

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Hurt my feelings

Post by Project Anvil » Sun 14 Mar 2021 05:04

Hey there, I shared some snippets in the trash compactor of my new template but figured I could post here as well (I don't think many people look in the trash compactor anyway)

Anyway, I intend to share the exact setup of this template publicly sometime this month - it's been a labor of love from someone who definitely isn't a professional mixer. Here are some sound demos I've cobbled together, have at it:









Tell me if I suck, I can take it.

P.S: I am more or less incapable of composing pieces longer than 1 minute, sorry! Still working on that!

P.P.S: I should probably note that my goal is to use the Cinematic Studio Series libraries exclusively with the exception of percussion. There are many reasons for this but primarily: it's the most consistent set of libraries and it covers most bases articulations-wise. My aim is that this template becomes the backbone which I can further supplement with other libs to address its weaknesses.
Last edited by Project Anvil on Sun 18 Apr 2021 13:43, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Hurt my feelings

Post by Cathbad » Sun 14 Mar 2021 10:41

Sounds lovely. Very nice melodic writing and clear orchestration.

In terms of mix, it sounds quite flat front to back, and also a bit narrow for my taste. I'd also prefer more reverb. However I'm listening on headphones at the moment so others will be able to give you a more accurate perspective.

What did you do with mic positions, panning and reverb etc?

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Project Anvil
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Re: Hurt my feelings

Post by Project Anvil » Sun 14 Mar 2021 14:20

Thank you for listening and for the feedback. I think you are on to something because the amount of reverb used is indeed quite minimal in this template, that's largely because I personally prefer a drier sound. That said, the settings are so minimal at the moment that I probably have quite a bit of leeway before running into "soupy" territory.

As for the depth, that's probably the most important thing to me, so if you feel it's lacking there I will have another look at it. Is there a particular section that you find lacking depth? Because my own thinking is that it's probably the woodwinds & trombones that could benefit from an added sense of depth. If you listen to this:



I hope you will agree that the horns have good depth, because to my ears they do. Trombones are however pretty close sounding, but I feel it works well in the balance.

For the horns it's room and close.
For bones it's main and room.
For tuba it's close main and room
For CSS it's main and close if I remember correctly, but I also recenter the panning in kontakt, and then add a stereo enhancer + repositioning later in the mixer. I stole this from a trick someone posted on That Other Place which gives a slightly brighter sound to CSS.
For CSW I've only used mix mic + narrowing + SP2016 reverb to push it back. I can't make any of the other mics work nicely, either there is too much stereo shifting (OH mics), or it's too roomy (room mics), or it's too thin and dry (close mics). A pretty simple setup all things considered and it took a lot dicking around with all the mic positions before I came to this solution.

EQ was fabfilter but I am replacing it with a free eq (TDRNova) because I want to reduce the number of paid plugins as much as possible. Panning is done with panagement 2 (free version), with the built-in reverb disabled.

Reverbs used are custom IRs loaded into one of the cubase stock reverb plugins. I'm still playing around with these (currently using an abbey road IR created by user on That Other Place + eq corrections) - there's one free ToddAO IR floating around that I haven't tried yet.

EDIT:

Here is a mix with the winds pushed back more, an overall tail reverb added, and an M/S eq added to widen the overall mix a bit:

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Re: Hurt my feelings

Post by Cathbad » Sun 14 Mar 2021 18:09

CAVEAT: Listening on headphones, so I could be talking nonsense...

The brass excerpt does sound nice. A roomy sound rather than a concert hall. Tuba comes at me very central and the bones feel a little too far to the left (in the full orchestral version too). Depends what seating arrangement you're imagining though I suppose.

In the second excerpt, trumpets sound very forward. High strings sound too distant. So I'm confused because of the following...
macaroniman wrote: Sun 14 Mar 2021 14:20
For the horns it's room and close.
For bones it's main and room.
For tuba it's close main and room
For CSS it's main and close if I remember correctly, but I also recenter the panning in kontakt, and then add a stereo enhancer + repositioning later in the mixer. I stole this from a trick someone posted on That Other Place which gives a slightly brighter sound to CSS.
Strings sound (to me) further back but have no room mics? Did you find that panning the strings created any phasing problems? I tried to re-seat my CSS with 1st and 2nd violins opposite each other, violas and cellos in between. It was not very satisfactory...

How did you mic the trumpets? Why the different mic combinations for the other brass? And how do you avoid problems panning with room mics, or do you just pan the close mics?

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by FriFlo » Sun 14 Mar 2021 18:10

Nice! I listend a little closer to the action cue, because you provided a separate track with the low brass. I think, here you could improve many things. To start with, I think the drum rhythm does not work nicely together with the horn and low brass rhythm. Something could be improved compositionally here. And with the trumpets entering it gets a little confusing ... IMO you might work out a piano-only sketch for that little piece first and orchestrate from that when it really works and you know what you want to do there.

Soundwise, I think your Cinematic Studio template works quite nice for many things and I like it. It probably is a good starting point when Empire Strikes back is your goal. But if finding that sound is your goal, I would rather recommend replicating something from that score and compare it to the original. That will help you much more in finding the right mic positions, processing and complementary libraries then your original compositions.

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Re: Cinematic Studio Mixing experiments

Post by Headshot » Mon 15 Mar 2021 17:10

FriFlo wrote: Sun 14 Mar 2021 18:10 I would rather recommend replicating something from that score and compare it to the original. That will help you much more in finding the right mic positions, processing and complementary libraries then your original compositions.
Yes, you could start with the first 30 seconds :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzAZQrOoAwA&ab

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