Quality “Mock Ups” by others?

How might one get their score orchestrated by others?

I’m writing the score for a short film.

From this site and the fact that 90% of all current TV and much of cinema is VST, it’s demonstrable that rich, pro level orchestral sound from VST is the norm in the industry and achievable these days even from simple hobbyists with the know-how.

However, “know-how” is the main issue, i.e.- general experience in orchestral music overall, properly using Mod and Expression swells to maximize realism, knowing not to write parts for sections or instruments beyond their optimal range, appropriate use of which sections or instruments (and their relationships to each other) to best achieve which effects, mic positions and other VST settings, and so on.

I’ve written music all my life, but for guitar based bands. I’m confident I can write a decent score / motifs for the film, but being a total noob to full orchestra and VST stuff, I’m sure much of the above will be lacking.

I imagine a scenario where I write my stuff in whatever DAW (I use Nuendo 11) and hand it off to a “professional” (or anyone competent) where they would take that and return a quality full orchestration with it, i.e.- change or add various additional instruments to enhance it per actual orchestral convention, add percussion or other “underlying” things an average listener wouldn’t even notice or pick out individually but make the difference with overall sound, etc.

I’ve been told by a professional composer that this does indeed exist in the industry, i.e.- someone writes the gist of it where it’s then handed off to others to orchestrate it.

Can anyone share any and all ways this could happen? I’m sure there are actual teams / companies that do it in the “industry”, but you likely have to be on the “inside” and is out of price range… I would imagine there may be some Fiver options maybe?

I’m not sure how much of this works and would hate for a score that could have otherwise been great to instead sound noobish and miss the mark, simply because available solutions or options weren’t known and utilized.

yea, I think it would be pricey, just because of the time involved. And they’d want some for their skill as well. If you have the time, it would be better to learn to do it, which would also help all around in composition. There are semi-reasonably priced orchestration ‘courses’ on https://www.alexanderpublishing.com/ that have you work with sample libraries [of your choice]. It may no be the best out there, and I think there are others, but I haven’t come across many that aren’t asking for college level tuition, such as Berklee online. They offered a free introductory course recently, in order to get more paying students.
The other option you mentioned, Fiver, is the only other type of place if you need affordability. But I’ve never had any luck there for things even as simple and straightforward as getting someone to sing. It may be a matter of timing, because people often suspend their services while keeping the ads up, so you end up wasting time looking at dormant pages.

Thanks Jim!

Man, isn’t that the truth, hahahaha. Fiver is so hit or miss. I’ve had wonderful results for cheap, and results from supposed pros with credits and accolades who produce something you wonder if was done by the family cat… I also try to use UDEMY for education which is also hit or miss.

First I’ve heard of alexanderpublishing, which looks very interesting, thanks for the tip!

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I know that orchestration definitely exists in the industry as a service with a very broad range, all the way from composer writes everything and orchestrator is basically just proofreading to make sure the parts are split up correctly, to composer writes a melody and some chords and orchestrator fleshes it out into a full arrangement. There’s also the more traditional orchestration where the goal is to prep things for live players and there’s MIDI orchestration where the goal is a high quality digital arrangement using sample libraries.

If you have the capability, I’d always recommend learning the skills yourself. It never hurts to learn new skills. If you’re confident enough in your ability to write music and you’re familiar enough with your DAW, it’s really not that much further to learn how to make sample libraries sound realistic. Just a lot of simple tricks and nonsense. If you’re a guitar player you already know how to dial in the right tone for a song. It’s not much different than that.

If you want someone else to handle it, Fiver could definitely work. But like you said it’s a mixed bag. Best to get as much sample work as you can from the applicants to listen to.

I would think a professional orchestration service would be pricey, but should get you the most pro sounding output.

Another option is just to visit composer forums (like this one) and composer discord groups, build some relationships there, and you might find someone who could do the job but not charge an arm and a leg because you’re now internet buddies with them.

Good luck with the score! Just by having a short film to score you’re ahead of a lot of the hobbyists. What kind of film is it? Does it need to be orchestral or can it be more hybrid or digital or guitar-based?

Thanks Mike!

“Just a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”

…especially when letting go your conscious self and acting on instinct I would guess… :wink: :laughing: :laughing:

“If you’re a guitar player you already know how to dial in the right tone for a song. It’s not much different than that.”

You know, that’s usually right, but with my situation I might wonder. In terms of composition, I was playing Mozart on keys at 7 (not Sviatoslav Richter level, but hey), wrote all parts for all instruments to all songs in my decade plus touring “rock” band, with the music being so layered and orchestrated as to be inaccessible and unappealing to the general public (and not at all because it sucked… cough… audience more selective… cough… Spinal Tap… cough…) but had always been somewhat incompetent in terms of “tone”.

All my peers were gearheads, while I kept the same amp the entire time, never once moved the toggle switch out of bridge position. While having written everything, I always left all mixing, mastering, etc. up to others in the studio when recording albums because while the written stuff itself was considered awesome, I knew I had no talent or business in that area and was the last person to be able to “scoop out a place” for the different instruments… not grasping frequency and tonal relationships and that what sounds good to me for tone with an individual part would make everything sound like mush if left like that.

“What kind of film is it? Does it need to be orchestral or can it be more hybrid or digital or guitar-based?”

It’s a horror / action film… like some might have wanted “The Witcher” Netflix Series to be. The current vision is totally classical / orchestrated, but only to the layman’s ears maybe, i.e.- I made a reference film and for temporary score pieces used a majority of Oblivion and Skyrim music (which I guess would be considered hybrid), along with some of Graham Plowman’s Lovecraft inspired stuff he posts online.

I even hit up Graham to check his rates for either composing or preferably just the “MIDI orchestration where the goal is a high quality digital arrangement using sample libraries” options you described, but he was out of price range and was too busy at the time anyway.

I messaged you some links if you’d like to check it out!

Some of Alexander’s books [at least in the past] were literally zerox quality. But he does have some helpful hints on orchestrating from normal staff notation [like something written for piano]. I recently bought his whole package for around $250, but I haven’t gotten the time to try any of the MIDI mockup lessons, so I can’t vouch for how helpful they may be, but I have tried the methods for translating piano notation to strings [and woods, brass] and it’s impressive [if you didn’t already know it]. Not hard or complicated either.
For me the hardest part of orchestration is translating keys of instruments like viola, Bb horns etc. But if you compose and orchestrate the whole thing yourself you shouldn’t have to bother with that.
A VERY good book on orchestration you may want to buy is “Creative Orchestration” by George McKay.

Just out of curiosity, what was his price? Or range, if you don’t want to quote exactly.

Ah yes, udemy. I was once intending to make some tutorials for orchestration/composition etc. to put up on that site, but with the amount of work I was putting into it, I started realizing I would be lucky to recoup $5 an hour for my time. I haven’t checked back there in awhile, but not too impressed with what I saw last time I was browsing the courses there. I think the book I mentioned in my last reply will give you more to work with than the best udemy course, but… maybe/hopefully I’m wrong and they’re moved things up a notch lately.