Mixing a big live orchestra with samples

Following on from Christian’s popular real-time fly on the wall experience of a large orchestral session at Air studios, which you can watch below (now with rights clearance for Germany and USA). Christian drills down into the demoing process, preparation for the sessions and then how he mixed sampled elements with the real to give it a truly epic flavour. Alongside new visual and audio content, the team has prepared a zipped study pack of scores and MIDI files.

We thought we were mad creating a nearly 3 hour YouTube video where we record a lot of music very quickly. But we did, and it turns out a great deal of you enjoyed witnessing for yourself what British musicians and studios can achieve in such little time provided there is ample preparation.

For those of you who had difficulty viewing the first time because of copyright restrictions, we’re pleased to announce Sony Classics has now lifted the restrictions for USA and Germany:

Many of you requested examples of the process, so we can thank Christian for re-visiting 3 of his favourite cues for us to unwrap and delve into.

First, here are the three final samples only demos for 2m20, 2m21, and the series climax 4m20 (not filmed in the video above) before the orchestra went on.

All of these demos use 100% Spitfire commercial libraries (mainly Spitfire Symphonic Strings, Spitfire Chamber Strings and Albion ONE) and some pre-records featuring the sublime vocal group Synergy. Christian adds a degree of reverb (TC6000, large warm hall 2.6sec decay) to the different tracks. He talks about reverb distribution in more depth here: ‘How To Program Realistic Strings #2’.

Then you can see 2m20 can be seen being recorded at 01:33:28 and 2m21 at 01:43:42 in the video above.

You can also listen to the final mixes via iTunes with 2m20 featuring in track 9 ‘Tomb Discovery’, 2m21 featuring in track 22 and 4m20 featuring in track 21.

We’ve also created a study pack of these three cues containing full MIDI files and full scores for all three.

We think you’ll notice how Christian uses very broad sounding presets, ensembles patches and Albion presets to get an enormous sound quickly which he then enhances with legato details of the individual sessions.

You can also see he works very freely with few things being quantized. Another key aspect of his work on TUT is the combining of both Mural (Now Spitfire Symphonic Strings) and Sable (now Spitfire Chamber Strings) on top of each other to give a rich symphonic bed with the searing detail of the chamber group to give it a more lyrical and traditional feel. But by just looking at his MIDI files you’ll get an idea of the speed in which they were created and with a good knowledge of how to get the best out of one’s samples in the quickest possible fashion that impressive results can be born of very big brush strokes.

We finally focus in on the season climax (4m20) where Christian has opened up his final dub conform so we can listen to how his different stems combine, mixing fake and real, even notably with the strings, to give that thick rich and modern sound.

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