Orchestral Mockups in Film Scoring
Authored by Andreas Bjørck
Course Code: OCOMP-507
Level 5 (Proof of a Bachelor's Degree Required)
This course emphasizes the creation of realistic-sounding orchestral sequences, using current, professional-level orchestral sample libraries and DAWs. You will learn how to emulate live orchestral performances, using industry-standard tools and techniques utilized by composers across the film, TV, and video game scoring industries.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
Create orchestral MIDI mockups that sound exceedingly realistic, by maximizing the potential of current orchestral sample libraries, professional MIDI editing techniques, and tools found in modern DAWs, and mixing tools like reverb and EQ
Evaluate the qualities of, and appropriate areas of use for, current orchestral sample libraries, based on sound quality, playability, and stylistic versatility and application
Configure and modify existing sample libraries to enhance their performance and maximize their potential effectiveness across a wide variety of uses
Solve common MIDI mockup problems that often detract from a realistic orchestral sound, such as repeated notes, woodwind and string runs, the “organ effect,” and unnatural instrument balances
Configure a complex orchestral sequencing template, based on professional standards for performance, workflow, and delivery requirements
Manipulate sample library articulations using a variety of touchscreen solutions, and/or real-time MIDI input methods, that interface with current DAW articulation management systems
Utilize mixing concepts and techniques specific to orchestral mockups, such as blending different sample libraries, spatial placement, managing multiple microphone layers, and managing room- or noise build-up
Lesson 1: Orchestral Mockup and Sample Library Fundamentals
- Orchestral Mockup Objectives and Philosophy
- MIDI Basics/Review
- Orchestral Sampling Overview
- Assignment 1: Dynamic Control
Lesson 2: Basic Template and Reverb Setup
- Basic Track/Template Creation
- Setting up Reverb as a Send Effect
- Basic Reverb Techniques for Orchestral Mockups
- Assignment 2: Small Template Setup
Lesson 3: Woodwinds
- Woodwind Overview and Challenges
- Woodwind Sequencing Techniques
- Woodwinds Reverb and EQ Considerations
- Assignment 3: Woodwind Sequencing
Lesson 4: Brass
- Brass Overview and Challenges
- Brass Sequencing Techniques
- Brass Reverb and EQ Considerations
- Brass/Woodwind Chords and the “Organ Effect”
- Assignment 4: Soft Brass Sequencing
Lesson 5: Percussion, Harp, and Piano
- Percussion, Harp, and Piano Overview
- Percussion Techniques
- Harp and Piano Techniques
- Perc, Harp, and Piano Reverb and EQ Considerations
- Assignment 5: Percussion, Harp, and Piano Sequencing
Lesson 6: Strings (Part 1)
- String Overview and Challenges
- String Sequencing Techniques—Short Notes
- String Short Note Reverb and EQ Considerations
- Sample Latency and Negative Track Delay/Offset
- Assignment 6: String Short Note Sequencing
Lesson 7: Strings (Part 2)
- String Long Note Overview and Challenges
- Long Note String Sequencing Techniques
- Divisi String Sequencing
- String Runs
- Legato Sample Pre-Delay
- Assignment 7: Strings Long Note Sequencing
Lesson 8: Reverb and Room Placement
- Reverb Concepts
- Scoring Stage/Studio vs. Hall/Tail Reverb
- Creating a Hall-Like Reverb Tail
- Multi-Mic Sample Libraries and Blending Different Libraries
- Assignment 8: Hall Reverb Setup
Lesson 9: Template Building and Articulation Management
- Template Philosophy
- Track/Instrument Management
- Articulation Management
- Assignment 9: Final Project Template Setup
Lesson 10: Stereo Panning and Audio Routing/Stem Concepts
- Stereo Panning vs. Stereo Balance
- Routing and Reverb Send Implications of Panning
- Routing/Bussing Concepts
- Assignment 10: Stereo Panning
Lesson 11: Final Mixing and Mastering
- Mixbus Processing
- Stem Mastering
- Gain Staging and Healthy Audio Levels
- Limiting and Dither
- Assignment 11: Final Project
Lesson 12: Touchscreen Controllers and Networked Server/Host Setups
- Touchscreen Controllers
- Useful Third-Party Utilities and Workflow Enhancers
- Vienna Ensemble Pro
Proof of a Bachelor's Degree
Ready to submit an unofficial copy of your transcript?Submit Transcript
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Film Scoring 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Students should have:
- Solid piano/keyboard skills.
- A strong familiarity with orchestral music and the instruments of the orchestra.
- Knowledge of instrument transpositions, and the ability to read a transposed score.
- Familiarity with basic MIDI concepts, including note messages, velocity, and continuous controllers.
- Experience with MIDI sequencing in a DAW such as Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer, Reaper, or Pro Tools. Students should have a generally strong operational ability in their DAW, including configuration, organizing tracks, and basic recording and editing of MIDI data
- An understanding of basic audio concepts in a DAW, including routing and bussing, setting up send effects using aux tracks, and recording/bouncing audio files.
- Recommended: The Guide to MIDI Orchestration 4e by Paul Gilreath (Focal Press, 2010)
- Recommended: Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer (2nd Edition) by Andrea Pejrolo (Routledge, 2016)
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), one of the following:
- Cubase Pro (recommended option)
- Logic Pro (recommended option)
- Digital Performer (limited support)
- Pro Tools 2018.12 or higher (First, Intro, and Artist editions are not sufficient)
- Note: While Pro Tools is required in certain Film Scoring Master's courses and can serve as your single primary DAW for the program, we recommend using Cubase or Logic for sequencing.
- High-quality algorithmic reverb, such as:
- LiquidSonics Cinematic Rooms
- iZotope Exponential Audio R4, Symphony, or Stratus
- ValhallaDSP Room
- Lexicon Native PCM Reverb Bundle
- Note: Altiverb (industry-standard convolution reverb) can be used in lieu of an algorithmic reverb.
- Orchestral sample libraries (click here for list of approved options)
- Note: Orchestral Tools' Berlin Orchestra Created with Berklee is strongly recommended.
- Recommended: Notation software, one of the following:
- Dorico Pro
- Sibelius Ultimate
- Finale (full version)
- MIDI keyboard controller with at least 49 keys, mod wheel, and additional MIDI CC knobs/faders, such as Novation Launchkey 49
- Professional over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, etc.
- Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as necessary cables. Monitors with 8-inch woofers are recommended, such as JBL 308Ps or better.
- Audio interface
Important Technical/System Considerations
- Your computer must be powerful enough to run large film scoring sessions smoothly. You should consider:
- At least 32 GB memory. 64 GB or more recommended.
- Recent Apple M-series Pro (e.g. M2 Pro), Intel Core i7, AMD Ryzen 7, or better processor.
- Note: The entry-level M-series Apple Silicon (e.g. just M1 or M2) is not sufficient, but we highly recommended a Mac equipped with an M-series Max or Ultra chip for this program.
- NVME M.2 SSD primary internal drive (or Apple Silicon)
- We recommend storing sample library content in a secondary internal or external SSD with 1 GB/s or higher read rates. Alternatively, you may opt for a Gigabit network solution, such as Vienna Ensemble Pro and secondary computer.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Author & Instructor
Originally hailing from Norway, Andreas Bjørck is a US-based composer, producer and remix artist. As a composer, Andreas has specialized in scoring documentaries for film and television. He has also scored a wide variety of short films, commercials, promos, and corporate videos. His most recent work includes the score to FEMMEfille, a feature length documentary by acclaimed director Kiki Allgeier, the PBS/NOVA documentary special, Hunting The Elements, and the PBS documentary, The Gene Doctors. Andreas is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, with a degree in Film Scoring and Electronic Production and Design. He is a former staff composer, sound designer and engineer at Verité Music, the premier commercial music house in Boston.
When taken for credit, Orchestral Mockups in Film Scoring can be applied towards these associated programs: