BloomingLate

1. work-in-progress Tennis (Game Boy) - BGM 2 Orchestral Remix

11 posts in this topic

After many (sometimes frustrating) hours of work I have finally managed to complete this remix. I turned the second BGM from the classic Game Boy game 'Tennis' into an orchestral piece.
This time I worked with FL Studio 20 and more professional sound libraries such as Cinematic Strings 2 and Garritan Personal Orchestra 5. I first expected to just copy/paste the notes from my MuseScore version, but quickly found that working with better packages was very inspirational. As a result I managed to create a much more interesting and vibrant composition than I could not have pulled off with MS.

I made some important changes compared to the first version:

  • Added a pizzicato intro that is supposed to suggest a tennis match with 2 points scored before a ace is landed. This is a reference to a feature in the game where the computer will often use a nearly unstoppable move (ace in tennis terms) that got me so angry as a kid playing this game. The title reflects this also: 'Ace on Me'.
  • I replaced the vibraphone and harp with the piano, which just sounds much better.
  • I added more voices and used different play styles for the strings sections.

Thanks to this discussion I was able to overcome some problems with getting the volume right. I did my best to make the mix work well, but still need more practice with the mixer, EQ and all that stuff.

I am open to your feedback, but also a bit reluctant to touch this project more. I would very much like to submit it to ocremix, so I guess if it is not up to standards yet, I may have to dive back into it.

Alright, enough talk. To the mix:

Original track:

Previous version:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*bump*

It is about to fall off the first page of the forum and I'm still eagerly awaiting review. :)

Just for my information: how active are the judges/mods these days? I can't shake the feeling that OCR is not the place it used to be, say 10 years ago. Did something happen besides people just moving on to other things? (feel free to PM me on that, rather than comment here).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4 September, 2018 at 8:18 PM, BloomingLate said:

Just for my information: how active are the judges/mods these days? I can't shake the feeling that OCR is not the place it used to be, say 10 years ago. Did something happen besides people just moving on to other things? (feel free to PM me on that, rather than comment here).

Uh, I took a vacation from this subforum to finish the sd3 project, with other staff taking over covering this place. Evaluations have become somewhat less frequent since.

But we didn't always have evaluators/mod reviewers/workshop mods/whatever, yet there used to be a lot more activity here. A bigger reason for the shift since ten years ago is that the community is spread out over multiple platforms. There's the forum, obviously. Then there's different social media, though these aren't that useful for crits. There's Discord, which has taken the role of the irc channels. There's the ocr YouTube, which is convenient but commnts are a far cry from the stuff in the reviews subforum here.

Then there's also a shift in how people use the internet. Ten years ago, forums were a big deal. Nowadays, people interact via any of many social media platfoms instead, which is more geared towards person to person conversations, or broadcasting your status updates to everyone you know. That's not conducive to the kind of community ocr used to be. Left unaddressed so far is reddit, but it's largely anonymous which doesn't foster the kind of community ocr does, and ocr doesn't have a wip forum there anyway. And why bother with the latter? There are already music feedback subreddits, but these tend to either focus on the craft more generally, or get overrun with self-promotion posts.

Basically, the internet has shifted away from forum communities.

If you want to change that, start commenting on people's wips yourself. You're part of this community too.

It's a good conversation to have, mods/admins can splice this off into a new thread somewhere, or move it into the workshop discussion thread I made, if you'd prefer this thread be only about your wip. Just PM and ask them. I figured I'd post here rather than keep the conversation private.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer the question on how late we are in general... well, right now the judges are slow on our end at the moment (this includes me!), and as far as workshop moddin' things have been fairly slow as well. We've taken a few steps to try to alleviate this as Rozo is on vaca and I'm unfortunately divided on my own attention to the forum, things are definitely not as active as I'd like them to be.

On the broader point that OCR ain't what it used to be, yeah, the forums are considerably slower, likely due to the population's switch to Discord channels (which has a robust WIP channel in itself), FB, Youtube, etc., but the staff does still pay attention to the forums. I won't expand on too much more than that, but your observation ain't off too much.

On topic, generally we do pretty well with a PM, though, so send one our way and we'll surely get someone to help you out soon. I apologize that I can't give this a fair shake at the moment. I do appreciate the bump, though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Rozovian said:

Basically, the internet has shifted away from forum communities.

If you want to change that, start commenting on people's wips yourself. You're part of this community too. 

It's a good conversation to have, mods/admins can splice this off into a new thread somewhere, or move it into the workshop discussion thread I made, if you'd prefer this thread be only about your wip. Just PM and ask them. I figured I'd post here rather than keep the conversation private.

Thanks for your detailed explanation. I'm not much of a social media person myself (at all) so I guess that explains why I'm missing a lot of what's going on. I'm starting to see that having more personal connections is probably more valuable than shooting for input from random passers-by.
The reason for my being here is mostly because I've finally got up to a point that I feel somewhat confident enough to put my music out there for other people to hear and critique. That was a big hurdle to overcome in the first place. I haven't really thought about how I should go about connecting to the broader community.

You're right about how I should be commenting on people's wips myself :) That's a good place to start.

Kudos to you both (and others) who have stuck around all that time despite changes in how people interact with the site. I always felt OCremix had a bit of a professional flavor. I would hate to see it go down.
Seeing how there is still a regular output of new mixes and albums I guess I don't have to worry about that yet. :)

15 hours ago, Gario said:

To answer the question on how late we are in general... well, right now the judges are slow on our end at the moment (this includes me!), and as far as workshop moddin' things have been fairly slow as well. We've taken a few steps to try to alleviate this as Rozo is on vaca and I'm unfortunately divided on my own attention to the forum, things are definitely not as active as I'd like them to be.

On the broader point that OCR ain't what it used to be, yeah, the forums are considerably slower, likely due to the population's switch to Discord channels (which has a robust WIP channel in itself), FB, Youtube, etc., but the staff does still pay attention to the forums. I won't expand on too much more than that, but your observation ain't off too much.

On topic, generally we do pretty well with a PM, though, so send one our way and we'll surely get someone to help you out soon. I apologize that I can't give this a fair shake at the moment. I do appreciate the bump, though!

Thanks for your additional comments Gario. No need to apologize though :) I realize you're all doing this on a voluntary basis (right?) and we all have other things that rightfully demand our attention.
I was just curious to learn a bit more about how things are run here, which helps with expectations. Like I said above, I always felt like this place had a professional vibe to it and got the impression that it was full of activity. I was a little confused and mildly shocked to find that it got so quiet around here. Especially with "recent" forum posts dating back to 2009 or 2011. That's why I was wondering if something bad had happened. Something that was best to be discussed in PM, rather than in public.

18 hours ago, Rozovian said:

It's a good conversation to have, mods/admins can splice this off into a new thread somewhere, or move it into the workshop discussion thread I made, if you'd prefer this thread be only about your wip. Just PM and ask them. I figured I'd post here rather than keep the conversation private

I guess my questions were partially triggered by reading the post about the significance of forum feedback in improvement. So I don't know if this discussion belongs to that, or something else.
I'm satisfied with the answers I got, but perhaps if you feel like it is worth exploring more then yeah, we can ask a mod to work some magic on it :D

(Sorry for the double post. The previous one wouldn't let me write more :P)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MOD REVIEW

Hey man, I will give you the heads-up that this is not going to pass right now, and to summarize, the primary reasons are:

  1. The instruments are mechanical, because their velocities predominantly have a quantized rhythm (stuck to the grid), and have similar intensities. This is most easily noticeable in the piano starting at 0:24, in cello/bass starting at 1:22. For example, the piano plays chords where all the notes in the chord hit about the same time instead of slightly different times.

    Something to listen to, to train your ear to hear subtleties like this:
    Robotic Rhythm
    Robotic Velocities
    Robotic Rhythm AND Velocities
    Humanized
     
  2. The accompanying instruments (particularly cello/bass and snare) fall into the trap of (potentially) being copy/pasted while playing a few similar patterns (generally multiple eighth notes in a row), instead of being written to have a certain phrasing that fits with the current musical section. Because of that, it sounds more like it was written on a computer than something that would have come about from being performed off of sheet music (if that makes sense).

Frankly, this is actually pretty enjoyable though, Judges' Panel aside. Some of the good:

  1. I can hear most of the instruments pretty well, so there doesn't seem to be much of a balance issue. I might note that for example, the snare and pizzicato at 2:02 - 2:30 or so gets bit buried behind the cello/bass, which seems to have gotten louder.
     
  2. I can definitely hear the source in there, so anyone could recognize it if they heard the original or played the original game. It's slower, but not so slow that you can't tell what it is.
  3. It sounds like any casual listener could enjoy this, even if they didn't know the game. It's an uplifting arrangement without being too aggressive.

-----

Since this would be a pretty big undertaking to revise and update, here's some advice that hopefully helps for the future:

  • When using FL Studio to write orchestral music, try to make somewhat long patterns, so that you 'force' yourself to adjust them more significantly to differentiate them. Even subtle adjustments to rhythm and note intensities would help emulate the randomness of real players.
     
  • On long notes, never leave a sustaining orchestral instrument static. If it has MIDI CC, consider CC#7 (volume scaling) and CC#11 (expression/dynamics) and modulating those. Basically, CC#7 controls the range of dynamics you can access, while CC#11 moves within the range allowed by CC#7. If the sample library is designed to use those, it's more realistic than automating generic volume knobs in FL Studio (if you did).

Some miscellaneous suggestions that came to mind while listening to this back and forth:

  • That 24-second intro probably doesn't actually have to be there, because it's very bare and somewhat meandering, but leads into a piano that fades in. Because of that, they feel separate. I know it would make the piece sub-3:00, but something to consider.
     
  • It sounds as if you were automating the volume of the piano while keeping the velocities the same (0:24 and on). I'm not sure what samples/VSTs you are using for it, but instead, try to adjust the velocities (the "note loudness") to create that feel of increasing dynamics. If possible (and I don't know if you have a MIDI keyboard), try to feel it out and play it on there for a more humanized phrasing.

END REVIEW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Timaeus, thanks so much for your time and very helpful advice! This is definitely something I can learn from. There's a few points I would like to interact with a little.

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

The instruments are mechanical, because their velocities predominantly have a quantized rhythm (stuck to the grid), and have similar intensities. This is most easily noticeable in the piano starting at 0:24, in cello/bass starting at 1:22. For example, the piano plays chords where all the notes in the chord hit about the same time instead of slightly different times.

Something to listen to, to train your ear to hear subtleties like this:
Robotic Rhythm
Robotic Velocities
Robotic Rhythm AND Velocities
Humanized

This is something I've heard about a lot and I'd love to get better at making things sound more realistic. Ideally I would record myself playing the piano, but I don't have the recording function for FL studio, plus, I am not that skillful at performing yet.

I'm using GPO5's piano patch. It sounds wonderful when I plug in my Casio Digital Piano and play "live", but not so much when you just input notes using the mouse. And I think that has to do with what you're describing: velocities and quantized rhythm. I did try to fix that a little by gently slowing down and speeding up the tempo, but I guess that's not enough. I'm definitely going to work on improving this, because I will be doing more piano stuff in the future (Lord willing).

The humanized version of the song you shared is definitely much much better sounding. The link to Robotic Rhytm is actually the same as the Humanized one, so perhaps you can fix that so I can also compare Robotic Rhythm on its own?

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

The accompanying instruments (particularly cello/bass and snare) fall into the trap of (potentially) being copy/pasted while playing a few similar patterns (generally multiple eighth notes in a row), instead of being written to have a certain phrasing that fits with the current musical section. Because of that, it sounds more like it was written on a computer than something that would have come about from being performed off of sheet music (if that makes sense).

I think it makes sense. By copy/pasting you risk getting "hits" at points that may not work too well with what the other instruments are doing. So I have to keep listening to the whole before I determine when to sound the snare, rather than trust it will be alright if I just let the pattern repeat.

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

When using FL Studio to write orchestral music, try to make somewhat long patterns, so that you 'force' yourself to adjust them more significantly to differentiate them. Even subtle adjustments to rhythm and note intensities would help emulate the randomness of real players.

This part was a little confusing. What did you mean by long patterns? Were you referring to the different "loops" of the main melody? The second part of that bullet point seems to be unrelated to that.
Cinematic Strings does have a "Live Mode" where that randomness of real players is emaluate.

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

On long notes, never leave a sustaining orchestral instrument static. If it has MIDI CC, consider CC#7 (volume scaling) and CC#11 (expression/dynamics) and modulating those. Basically, CC#7 controls the range of dynamics you can access, while CC#11 moves within the range allowed by CC#7. If the sample library is designed to use those, it's more realistic than automating generic volume knobs in FL Studio (if you did).

That's something I'm trying to do, yes. Unfortunately my library that has the flute and oboe doesn't give me too much control over their dynamics, other than just lowering the main volume. The strings are better, but it is still tricky. I need more practice with that, and it would be nice to have an example of what a real sustained string sounds like.
Frankly, the many switches that control volume can be confusing! :D CS2 has the modwheel (CC#1) control velocity for sustained notes. Then you have CC#7 to control the main volume (which would also impact non-sustained notes, which are controlled by the velocity parameter). I'll have to check if CC#11 is different and better to use than the other options.

7 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

It sounds as if you were automating the volume of the piano while keeping the velocities the same (0:24 and on). I'm not sure what samples/VSTs you are using for it, but instead, try to adjust the velocities (the "note loudness") to create that feel of increasing dynamics. If possible (and I don't know if you have a MIDI keyboard), try to feel it out and play it on there for a more humanized phrasing.

Yes I did :) Come to think of it, that wouldn't make sense to do if it was a live performance. I'd have to use velocities instead, as you say.

 

That's about it :) Thanks again for your time and effort! I'll probably come back to this project to improve it. And if not, I'll keep your suggestions in mind for the next one!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, BloomingLate said:

I'm using GPO5's piano patch. It sounds wonderful when I plug in my Casio Digital Piano and play "live", but not so much when you just input notes using the mouse. And I think that has to do with what you're describing: velocities and quantized rhythm. I did try to fix that a little by gently slowing down and speeding up the tempo, but I guess that's not enough. I'm definitely going to work on improving this, because I will be doing more piano stuff in the future (Lord willing).

If you are talking about this one, then it should be able to record via USB. No recording function for FL Studio? I'm guessing you don't have the Producer Edition, which should include it. I would try to see if you can upgrade to that sometime, because that should give you that feature (which is very important to recording realistic acoustic parts).

Quote

The humanized version of the song you shared is definitely much much better sounding. The link to Robotic Rhytm is actually the same as the Humanized one, so perhaps you can fix that so I can also compare Robotic Rhythm on its own?

Whoops! Yeah, it would be here, and I've also fixed that link:

https://app.box.com/s/lr9nxha1zbg5vfcxufqqvuiz9vjnliyu

Quote

I think it makes sense. By copy/pasting you risk getting "hits" at points that may not work too well with what the other instruments are doing. So I have to keep listening to the whole before I determine when to sound the snare, rather than trust it will be alright if I just let the pattern repeat.

Yeah, exactly. An analogy is to make it sound like all parts were written on the same sheet of music by one person for the performance, rather than written in multiple separate sheets of music on separate days, that are then pasted together to use for the performance. I'm exaggerating, but I think you get the idea.

Quote

This part was a little confusing. What did you mean by long patterns? Were you referring to the different "loops" of the main melody? The second part of that bullet point seems to be unrelated to that.
Cinematic Strings does have a "Live Mode" where that randomness of real players is emulated.

Well, since you're using FL Studio, I figured I'd use its terminology. A pattern is what holds the notes and automation that goes with those notes. It represents a measure in sheet music. They go into the Multitrack (the big canvas where you arrange/place your musical objects) along with audio clips, automation clips, etc.

If you left-click the top-left of the pattern in the Multitrack, you can go to "Make Unique", which clones it and leaves the original intact. Then you can add variation to that. I think longer patterns (say, 8 bars instead of 4 bars) should encourage you to do more to differentiate them.

What I mean about emulating randomness is that you can manually shift notes a little bit in this new pattern you made from "Make Unique" for variation where the actual notes stay the same but how they line up differs.

Quote

That's something I'm trying to do, yes. Unfortunately my library that has the flute and oboe doesn't give me too much control over their dynamics, other than just lowering the main volume. The strings are better, but it is still tricky. I need more practice with that, and it would be nice to have an example of what a real sustained string sounds like.
Frankly, the many switches that control volume can be confusing! :D CS2 has the modwheel (CC#1) control velocity for sustained notes. Then you have CC#7 to control the main volume (which would also impact non-sustained notes, which are controlled by the velocity parameter). I'll have to check if CC#11 is different and better to use than the other options.

I think @PRYZM would be able to help you here. He has used CS2 before, I think. CC#7 (volume scaling) and CC#11 (expression) are pretty widely implemented to adjust the same parameters across different libraries, but CC#1 (among others) could differ depending on the library used (for example, it could have been vibrato). You should have the manual as well to look at, which might explain what CC#1 should do for CS2.

Quote

Yes I did :) Come to think of it, that wouldn't make sense to do if it was a live performance. I'd have to use velocities instead, as you say.

Yeah, essentially it was like an actual fade-in, like a volume knob was raised on a digital piano, rather than the pianist just playing gradually harder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CC1 is what you want to use on the long sustained and legato articulation. It controls the actual dynamics of the instrument.

CC7 and 11 behave as if they were master and channel volumes on an amplifier, respectively.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

If you are talking about this one, then it should be able to record via USB. No recording function for FL Studio? I'm guessing you don't have the Producer Edition, which should include it. I would try to see if you can upgrade to that sometime, because that should give you that feature (which is very important to recording realistic acoustic parts).

Aww, that website won't allow Europeans (or just Dutch people) ;_; Anyway, my piano does have a recording function that allows me to record to the device itself, which is pretty neat. I can also save recordings to SD card and put them on the computer. Or record directly to  something like Audacity.

I don't have the Producer Edition of FL, no (couldn't convince my wife that it would be worth it getting that version :P). I am planning on upgrading eventually. It just takes some time to save up money :D Then again, I don't expect to get other instruments than my digital piano, so hmm...

The thing is that it is annoyingly difficult for me to learn a song well enough to make a decent live recording. The piano part in this mix is just beyond my current skill level to actually play. Either way, without the better FL version I won't be able to do much with recordings in the first place.

17 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

Well, since you're using FL Studio, I figured I'd use its terminology. A pattern is what holds the notes and automation that goes with those notes. It represents a measure in sheet music. They go into the Multitrack (the big canvas where you arrange/place your musical objects) along with audio clips, automation clips, etc.

If you left-click the top-left of the pattern in the Multitrack, you can go to "Make Unique", which clones it and leaves the original intact. Then you can add variation to that. I think longer patterns (say, 8 bars instead of 4 bars) should encourage you to do more to differentiate them.

What I mean about emulating randomness is that you can manually shift notes a little bit in this new pattern you made from "Make Unique" for variation where the actual notes stay the same but how they line up differs.

Ooooh. Yeah, sorry, my bad. I thought you had moved on to a different point by then, but we were still talking about humanization. Okay, yes I actually do make longer patterns for exactly the reason you mentioned. But in this case I did do some copy pasting. Changing velocities is easy enough, but shifting the notes... I find it difficult to make it so that it doesn't sound like the "player" is continuously off beat and doesn't know what he's doing. Especially with the piano it can sound cringe-worthy. But like I said, I'll just need to practice that more.

Hmm, come to think of it. When moving notes slightly across the grid, should you kind of go by groups of notes, rather than individual notes? If I move individual notes from a legato 3 note arpeggio I have to keep them together close enough, right?

 

17 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

Whoops! Yeah, it would be here, and I've also fixed that link:

https://app.box.com/s/lr9nxha1zbg5vfcxufqqvuiz9vjnliyu

Thanks for that updated link :) I still can't believe how different that can sound with humanization!

11 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

CC1 is what you want to use on the long sustained and legato articulation. It controls the actual dynamics of the instrument.

CC7 and 11 behave as if they were master and channel volumes on an amplifier, respectively.

Correct, at least with most of the instruments in the libraries that I use. I haven't come across something that uses CC11 yet.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, BloomingLate said:

Correct, at least with most of the instruments in the libraries that I use. I haven't come across something that uses CC11 yet.

Hollywood Strings and Eduardo Tarilonte's Era libraries use CC11 to control dynamics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now