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*NO* Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"


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  • 3 months later...

great original track, one of my favorites on the ost.

the intro piano sets a bad tone. there's no variation on velocity like would normally occur, the rolled chords start on the beat instead of landing on the beat with the last note, and the rolls themselves are very slow and non-idiomatic. this becomes more obvious when other instruments are playing.

as soon as the piano drops, we get a typical rebecca scoring method, with harp carrying the melody with some strings and orchestral percussion. the harp realization is beautiful. i found the xylo to be a bit loud but the rest of it sounded great. the cello pizz section at 0:52 was a nice tonal shift, and hearkened elsewhere on the soundtrack which was nice. the abrupt entrance and exit of strings at 1:05 however made me realize something else that was bugging me - that there's not a shared reverb amongst the instruments. your orchestral percussion and winds and harp appear to be in a different space from your strings and piano, and it was disconcerting.

1:21's entrance of left-hand piano is surprisingly loud compared to the rest of the ensemble - i don't know that i'd have chosen that instrument for scoring that as the timbre just doesn't match. the strings and winds carrying the melody are nice however - you've got a puccini-like string theme vibe going on with some fun countermelodic content going in the bassoon and others.

2:13's section is a better and lighter use of keys to drive orchestral content. the bassoon and clarinet carrying the melody here was a nice change. the section from 2:46 onward sounds like original content based on the feel of the original, and honestly is a much more exploratory approach than you took earlier so that's nice. there's a lot more character in this section than the intro for example. this section kind of just ends, and that's the piece.

overall i think this is over the bar but it's closer than normal for you. the string attacks and sustains throughout definitely don't sound as realistic as you've had in the past, and there's some weird stuff with the piano that i just didn't care for. the track is quiet but not overly so, although it could really use some compression to level it out. i think that as a whole you did a nice job realizing the theme and feel of this particular part of the game, and just had a few missteps where you went a direction that i didn't agree with as much.




edit 12/9: that piano just sounds bad. looking back on this after seeing everyone else's vote, i think i do agree that it's not good enough. there's such fun arrangement ideas though that i think i overvalued that ultimately. so, yeah, changing my vote to a NO.

Edited by prophetik music
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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2020/11/11 - (1Y) Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"
  • 4 months later...

Brad really hit a lot of the nitpick points here. I'll add the small one I found as well; the intro harp comes in pretty left-panned which really sounds unbalanced until more instrumentation comes in on the right. Once the piano, etc., did come in it was fine, but the 10-15 or so seconds solo was very strange, especially at the opening of the track. 

The arrangement is lovely, and I really enjoyed all the little details you've added here. Everything feels very fleshed out and fits in nicely with the original. I especially enjoyed the 1:00-1:20 mark, which had some lovely strings really nicely in line with the melody.

Taking into account some of the mechanical instrumentation and some balance issues, I don't think this is the strongest pass ever. However, I think the arrangement makes up for it.


EDIT 11/6

Listened back to this, and I do think Larry is right on further inspection. When there's a full string ensemble, around the 1:00 mark it sounds relatively fine, but the woodwinds and piano in particular are sounding pretty fake/mechanical throughout, and any exposed sections really bring that home. The intro also exposes the strings and they don't shine well when it happens. I think it needs another pass.

NO (resubmit)

Edited by DragonAvenger
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  • DragonAvenger changed the title to 2020/11/11 - (2Y) Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"

Opens with super fakey piano and super fake strings. Then super fake woodwind and even more exposed piano at :10 that sounds so stiff, it's a miracle this was allowed to leave the gate like this. Transitions to harp at :26. Exposed string decay at :29 also sounded awful and fake.

Afterward, the presentation was in the uncanny valley but was more serviceable. Keys at 1:21 had more body to them, but the timing still sounded very stiff, especially around 1:40-1:43 for example.

More stiff, thin sampled piano at 2:13, then stiff, fake sounding strings alongside the stiff, extremely fake piano at 2:16 (the piano lasting all the way until 2:50, yikes).

Nah. I'm genuinely frustrated and not having this. Despite the arrangement being personalized above our bar per Rebecca's usual genre adaptation approach, this sounds like a well-in-progress WIP version with parts dummied in awaiting live performers. OCR's standards obviously aren't to either have 1) live musicians or 2) sampled parts indiscernible from live performance. HOWEVER, my sense of the production bar accounts for either (or a mixture of) 1) blowaway arrangement creativity to outweigh the overly fake-sounding sampled instruments or 2) using production techniques to mitigate the lack of realism of the samples. Neither has been done here to a level I'm comfortable with.

Let's step things up here on the production quality, please, Rebecca, you're capable of more polish. I'd also encourage the previous YESs to revisit this with a more critical ear; I'm not saying it's getting YESs just because it's Rebecca, whose productivity we all respect and admire, but I'd argue that a newcomer's name connected to this might not receive the benefit of the doubt on obvious issues that we're all collectively hearing and agreeing on. DragonAvenger's vote in another Rebecca piece had me correct myself in a recent vote where I myself let things slide, but then I bumped up the volume and just heard all sorts of stuff sounding very exposed. There's production holes in this that a truck can be driven through, it's constantly lacking in realism to the point where it all adds up, and I'm a NO-go.

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  • DragonAvenger changed the title to 2020/11/11 - (1Y/2N) Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"
  • Liontamer pinned this topic

I'm pretty generous when it comes to sequencing, so when I saw that Larry was throwing a fit about everyone else being too generous, I expected to vote YES.  But no, I'm not, and I don't think it's even in a gray area.  The woodwinds were kind of fake, but the strings... they're practically SNES quality.  No humanization, no decay.  The left hand piano barely sounds like a piano at times.  I don't even agree that the ensemble sections sound better; the sample quality is disguised better, but not the mechanical sequencing.

Rebecca, you can and do do much, much better than this.


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  • MindWanderer changed the title to 2020/11/11 - (1Y/3N) Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"
  • 1 month later...

This is a lovely source, and you’ve gone for a similar pace and instrumentation with this ReMix, embellishing it with some nice countermelodies and expanding on the orchestral ensemble. As it’s in a similar style to the original, I’d expect a significant upgrade in terms of production and humanisation, however as the other judges have noted, it falls a little short on that front.

The piano right out of the gate is very clean, and sounds a little prominent in the space compared to the other instrumentation. Prophetik also makes a great point about the rolled chords too - the fact they start on the beat and are played so slowly gives the intro an almost disjointed feel, especially when the other instruments come in and the rolled chords are still playing in this manner.

In addition to the different levels of reverb on each instrument, you’ve got a lot of hard-panning going on here which creates imbalances in 2 different domains at various points in the track. From 0:28-0:38 it’s almost entirely in the left ear, for example. The section from 1:23-2:12 shows the effect different reverb can have. The bowed strings are quite prominent, as is the bassoon, however the plucked strings in the left ear are now so wet they’re underwater! Something I only started doing recently was using ‘send’ tracks to ensure I have the same reverb on my instruments and adjusting the level in the mixer until everything sounds cohesive. I don’t know if you use this method already, but it makes things a lot easier.

There are a few areas where a little more care could be placed on humanising the performances of the strings and flute especially. at 0:57 and 1:03 there’s a little trill on the flute which is played staccato, whereas in real life those notes would much more likely be slurred. The bowed strings in the 1:23-2:12 section also sound like they have the same attack on them, even though when the 1/8th notes are played they would much more likely be played legato, and linked to the preceding/following notes.

To summarise, it’s a lovely arrangement and embellishment that’s just lacking that extra polish that would bring it up to scratch. Hopefully you’ll take another look at this and resubmit!

NO (resub)

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  • Emunator changed the title to *NO* Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"
  • prophetik music changed the title to 2020/11/11 - (5N) Chrono Cross "Strangers Passing Through"
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