Composing music for Film and TV can be a great job – but sometimes you can be up against a deadline – another composer has just dropped out of a project and the director needs a full score for his feature length film in two week’s time! Cases like this are not unheard of – back in February this year I had to turn around a full feature length score for a horror film within a timespan of around 10 days.
Templates are a big part of my work, and I’m sure many other composers use templates to speed up the process. If you compose a lot of projects in the same style of music (epic dramatic music for example) then do you really need to be loading up instruments, compressors, EQ’s, bussing channels to FX sends, e.t.c. every time you want to make a new song? There are instruments that I’m sure we all use every day (legato strings, staccato strings, brass, percussion, e.t.c.) that you can easily adapt into a template.
I wanted to spend some time showing you my main orchestral music template that I use in Cubase. It’s one of my most used templates, and it is the starting point for a lot of my projects. The full list of channels included is as follows –
|Staccato Strings Hi||Hollywood Strings Gold|
|Staccato Strings Lo||Hollywood Strings Gold|
|Legato Strings Hi||Hollywood Strings Gold|
|Legato Strings Lo||Hollywood Strings Gold|
|Piano||East West Pianos Gold|
|String Clusters and Penderecki||East West Symphonic Orchestra|
|Staccato Brass Hi||Hollywood Brass Gold|
|Staccato Brass Lo||Hollywood Brass Gold|
|Legato Brass Hi||Hollywood Brass Gold|
|Legato Brass Lo||Hollywood Brass Gold|
|Flute||Hollywood Woodwind Silver|
|Clarinet||Hollywood Woodwind Silver|
|Oboe||Hollywood Woodwind Silver|
|Taiko Drums||Stormdrum 2|
|Godzilla Hits||Stormdrum 2|
|Deep Sub Hit||Groove agent Kick drum|
|Big Acoustic Drums||Studio Drummer Native Instruments|
|Guitar Audio 1||Live Audio Channel|
|Guitar Audio 2||Live Audio Channel|
On top of this, I have an output section with various groups of instruments sent to busses:
Instruments included and effects applied
|Strings||Multi Band Compression, Master reverb,|
|Brass||Multi Band Compression, Master reverb,|
|Woodwind||Multi Band Compression, Master reverb,|
|Percussion||Multi Band Compression, Master reverb,|
|Synths||Multi Band Compression,|
|Live Audio||Multi Band Compression, Master reverb, Guitar Rig|
This allows me to open up a project, and straight away start composing the moment that inspiration hits. When you are up against a deadline, or even if you have all the time in the world, you don’t always want to be spending time adding instruments, tweaking the EQ, bussing instruments, e.t.c.. All of this can take considerable time, which is why I have quite a few templates set up in Cubase for a variety of styles and genres.
I have a template for the big orchestral style cues, as well as my ‘band’ template that has all the standard pop / rock band channels set out, mixed and mastered ready to go (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, e.t.c.). On top of that I have an electronic music template with all my synth parts laid out, and a few other templates that are aimed at very specific genres.
I did this because I was finding that I was doing the same repetitive tasks for each and every song. The major downfall of all this is that you have the same patches and mix settings for all your songs, meaning that you start to ‘sound the same’. If you are not careful this can be a real danger.
To get around this, I always make sure that for each and every project and each and every song, there will be additional instruments added, presets changed, slight mix adjustments, e.t.c.. Templates allow you to have the basic building blocks ready to go, you just need to add in you content, and give the template a bit of variety.
Finding sequencer templates online
There are actually companies out there now that sell templates for Cubase and many other top DAW’s. It’s a great idea – a well known producer has made available his exact presets, meaning you can get a pre mixed and pre mastered template for a very low price, all you have to do is add your own conten! Check out some of the sites below –
|www.cubasetemplates.com||Huge choice of templates, and very competitive prices.|
|www.producerbox.com||Good choice of templates, but quite focused on dance music.|
|www.song4mix.com||Only three templates, but good quality. Focused on rock and guitar based genres, very good pricing.|
The above list is not exhaustive, and just provides a small selection of the top results that Google brings up when searching for ‘Cubase Templates’ – with a bit of searching you could find hundreds! So with a bit of leg work you could have all of your templates set up and ready to go for any possible genre of music, making your life as a busy composer that little bit easier!
Don’t forget as well that Cubase has some pretty nifty templates already built in. Check out the welcome splash screen in Cubase for a huge range of templates for mixing, mastering, recording live audio, sound to picture and lots more!
One thing that I would encourage you to do is find the last song that you finished (something that you have spent a lot of time on, mixing and mastering and tweaking so that it is just right). Open it up and spend some time tweaking it for making it a good solid template. This could be anything from applying colours to instrument groups, to bussing similar instruments together.
Once you are happy with the layout, look and sound of your template, delete all the Midi parts and audio blocks, leaving you with a blank template. Go to File > Save as template and give it a suitable name. I find that I will continually tweak and update my template from one project to the next, always making it better and easier to work with.
Sequencer templates are a great way to enhance your workflow, making it easier and quicker to get the results you want. Whilst you will have to put in a little more time and effort at the beginning to create the templates, it will help in the long run! Songs sounding the same can be a problem with templates, so make sure that you make various preset and mix adjustments with each track, and you should be able to get around this!
I find sequencer templates a great way to work, and a great starting point to build your song without worrying about setting everything up from scratch each time!