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Visual Orchestration 3: Doing The Basic Virtual Orchestral Mix

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About the Course

Included In Your Visual Orchestration #3 Course:
1. Ten video lectures totaling approximately 4.2 hours;
2. 17 Impulse Responses from Numerical Sound featuring 10 Early Reflections, 4 Reverb Tails and 3 TILT Filters (will be emailed to you separately by Numerical Sound);
3. Supplemental PDFs with links to orchestral libraries and software covered in videos, plus additional resources for research;
4. BONUS PDFs: 1) For owners of LA Scoring Strings v1-1.5; 2) For Vienna Suite FORTI/SERTI owners; 3) For Verb Session owners (see below for details).

*If you can’t see the YouTube video above, please accept cookies to view and play the video.

About Visual Orchestration 3
Visual Orchestration 2: Articulations and Templates™ taught how to setup the basic virtual orchestral mix through effective setup of your template.

Visual Orchestration 3: Doing The Basic Orchestral Mix™ is the next step with this hands-on video lecture course. The course is aimed at those who create with orchestral sample libraries, and also for those with some recording training, but who’ve had little to no background in mixing virtual orchestral sample libraries.

So what do we mean by the “Basic” virtual orchestral mix? In the virtual orchestral world, I've defined two types of virtual orchestral mixes. The first is basic, the second is advanced. The “basic mix”, our sole focus for this course, is either a single library recorded in the same room, or a mixture of libraries that are being combined in the same template but not layered. An “advanced mix” is where, for example, you might create a violin section by layering two or more different libraries playing the same line. We will not be covering the “advanced mix” in this course.

The teaching idea behind Visual Orchestration 3 is recognizing that you’re recording with that which has been previously recorded, and that no two orchestral libraries from different developers have been recorded in the same location. As each library has its own set of early reflections and RT60s (reverb decay time), the challenge when combining different libraries in your template is how to get everyone sounding like they’re performing in the same room and, as best as possible, sounding like a single orchestra. Once you buy two orchestral libraries from different companies, you also have to learn how to spatially place them stage left to stage right and stage front to stage rear. In Visual Orchestration 3 we’ll look at some of the tools and techniques needed to tackle these mixing issues and you’ll learn how to work with the included IRs from Numerical Sound to work toward getting a good professional sound. You’ll apply the concepts you’ll learn to your own compositions. The learning principle is this: we teach, you do!

Libraries we’ll look at in this course: Cinematic Strings 2.0; Cinesamples: Strings/Brass/Winds/Percussion; EastWest: Hollywood Orchestra Series/Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra series; AudioBro: LA Scoring Strings; Orchestral Tools: Berlin Series/Symphonic Sphere; ProjectSAM: Symphobia/Orchestral Essentials; Sample Modeling: Brass; Spitfire Audio: Albion/Percussion/Mural (Mural is now Symphonic Strings); Vienna Symphonic Library.

Note: the principles learned in this course can be applied to whatever orchestral libraries and software you have.

Numerical Sound Impulse Responses (IRs) Included With Course
Visual Orchestration 3 comes with 17 Impulse Responses in 44.1 kHz created exclusively for this course by Numerical Sound. You can load these into whatever convolution reverb comes with your sequencing program. You get:

1. 5 sets of Early Reflections with one short and one medium length ER per set (10 ERs total) similar to where major sample libraries or film scores have been recorded;
2. 3 TILT Filters that apply a darker EQ to the majority of virtual orchestral instruments to aid in spatial placement stage front to stage rear;
3. 4 Reverb Tails covering the small studio up to a larger recording studio (0.85s - 2.5s RT60).

IMPORTANT! Your Visual Orchestration course videos and supplemental PDF docs will be available for you to download immediately after purchase. Your Impulse Responses from Numerical Sound will be watermarked with your info and sent separately to your email address (about 6MB), normally within 1-3 business days.
By ordering Visual Orchestration 3 you consent to Numerical Sound in Canada receiving a copy of your order information from FastSpring for the purpose of providing you with your custom Impulse Responses. The information they provide does not include payment details.

By using these custom Impulse Responses from Numerical Sound, everyone has the same tools to work with – separate from whatever software you’ll be using. You’ll also learn how to apply these concepts to whatever algorithmic reverb you have. Result: total practicality in teaching you how to mix!

The 10 Video Lectures in Visual Orchestration 3: Doing The Basic Virtual Orchestral Mix Visual Orchestration 3 has ten video lectures with selected audio demonstrations included in the videos plus a separate audio files folder for Lecture 10 on Reverb. Audio demos focus on the String Section. You’ll apply the teaching points given for the rest of the orchestra to your own compositions. Supporting PDFs are included with links to the various orchestral libraries and software we’ll look at in the videos (plus additional resources) for easy reference for you. (PDFs are updated roughly once a year to keep their contents up to date)

Lecture 1 - The Tools Provided (approx. 15 mins)
Overview, what’s provided, explains the impulse responses included in the course (5 sets of Early Reflections, the 4 Reverb Tails and the 3 TILT Filters, a very brief mini-review of Visual Orchestration 2, what you need to provide to do the course (sequencing program w/convolution reverb).

Lecture 2 - The 7 Starting Points Before You Begin Your Mix (approx. 24 mins)
Creating an effective mix has multiple starting points. These include defining your situation, the goal of your template, orchestration issues in setting up your template, seating issues and why they’re spatial placement issues, your virtual instrument players, and defining what the basic mix is.

Lecture 3 – Three Spaces Where Orchestral Sample Libraries Are Recorded (approx. 17 mins)
Examines the three spaces where orchestral libraries are recorded and how that impacts the mix: the concert hall, the cathedral/church, and the scoring stage/recording studio and how these affect your virtual mix.

Lecture 4 - The Sound You Want, The Sound You Have, The Sound You End Up With (approx. 16 mins)
Considers the importance of working out your own sound followed by a review of the following major orchestral libraries: CineSamples Strings/Brass/Winds/Percussion, EastWest Hollywood Series, EastWest QLSO, Spitfire Audio, Vienna Symphonic Libraries and MIRx. Also considered are Berlin Woodwinds, Cinematic Strings, LASS, Sample Modeling, and Symphobia.

Lecture 5 - RT60s of Rooms and Libraries (approx. 18 mins)
RT60s of specific rooms where film scores and orchestral sample libraries have been recorded along with the finished RT60s of specific libraries to begin learning the issues of getting everyone into the same room.

Lecture 6 - First Steps in Working With RT60s and Early Reflections (approx. 19 mins)
In this lecture, you’ll learn how to calculate, test and pick early reflections based on the libraries in your mix, and the sound you’re trying to achieve. You’ll start working with the course ERs provided by Numerical Sound. We’ll also review the ERs/Tails for LASS and Vienna Suite’s FORTI/SERTI.

Lecture 7 - Assigning the Short and Medium Early Reflections (approx. 48 mins)
In this lecture we’ll look at some common tools used for the purpose of adding Early Reflections. Then you’ll learn how to set up your own scoring stage with the appropriate Early Reflections of short, medium and long - including how to assign the Short and Medium ERs provided for you by Numerical Sound.

Lecture 8 - Assigning TILT Filters and High Pass Filters (EQ) (approx. 19 mins)
TILT Filters work in a similar way to EQ in that they tonally shape your sound. They can also impact spatial placement from stage front to stage rear. The three Darker TILT Filters provided for you in this course by Numerical Sound will help in positioning sounds further back in your mix when combined with Early Reflections and Reverb Tails. In this lecture you'll learn how to use them. We'll also take a look at using High Pass Filters to help cut out unnecessary low frequencies and create a cleaner mix. You'll learn how to set the starting frequencies for your virtual orchestral instruments using the Spectrotone Chart (available for separate purchase).

Lecture 9 - Spatial Placement (approx. 51 mins)
Building on Lecture 5, we’ll look at some tools you can work with to help get libraries recorded in different rooms to match in their seating arrangements stage left to right and stage front to rear. Includes Parallax Audio’s Virtual Sound Stage and Ircam Tools/Flux SPAT. This lecture also includes a folder of graphics demonstrating the approximate stereo width of orchestral instruments based on the standard orchestral seating arrangement. You’re recommended to have Parallax Audio’s Virtual Sound Stage (or similar spatial placement software) to get the most out of applying the concepts from this lecture. (Note: Virtual Sound Stage 1.0 and SPAT v3 are demonstrated in the video lectures, but PDFs are included for you with updated instruction matching the new interfaces for Virtual Sound Stage 2.0 and SPAT Revolution.)

Lecture 10 - The Transformative Power of Reverb (approx. 24 mins)
This final lecture includes an Audio Files Folder of four mixes in different size spaces with reverb tails of dry, .85s, .95s, and 1.3s. You will practice with several dozen mini-mixes based on the instructional steps in the Video Lecture. You then apply this with your own reverbs. Demonstrated reverbs include the Bricasti M7, C2 Audio’s B2 and others. We’ll briefly consider hardware vs software reverbs and what to look for when choosing a reverb unit or plug-in. We’ll also look at possible sources of grayness/darkness that can affect your mix.

Bonus Materials
Visual Orchestration 3: Doing The Basic Virtual Orchestral Mix goes one more step with these bonus materials:

For those owning the original LA Scoring Strings (v1.0 – 1.5) which came with custom IRs designed by Numerical Sound, you’ll be shown how to apply and use what you’ve got.

For those owning the Vienna Suite with FORTI/SERTI, which was also designed by Numerical Sound, you’re receiving spread sheet listings for all the Early Reflections and Reverb Tails showing you how to mix and match them.

For those owning Ircam Tools Verb Session you’re receiving a PDF of settings for the custom presets we created matching various recording studios and scoring stages (you can adapt the settings for use with other reverbs).

End Results
By the end of Visual Orchestration 3, you’ll be on your way to creating a professional sounding mix of your music.

What You Need
This course is designed so that you only need to provide:
  • Your sequencing/digital audio program;
  • A convolution reverb to use the Impulse Responses provided by Numerical Sound for this course. You can use whatever convolution reverb comes with your sequencing program (check your sequencer’s User Manual for instructions on how to import Impulse Responses). If your software does not include a convolution reverb please contact your program’s tech support for a recommendation;
  • Whatever virtual orchestral sample libraries you already own;
  • A notebook for taking notes and making observations.

  • If you have not yet gone through the Visual Orchestration 1 and 2 Courses, you’re encouraged to do so to get the most out of Visual Orchestration 3: Doing The Basic Virtual Orchestral Mix. Everything in Visual Orchestration 3 builds on what’s been taught in those two preceding courses, but a brief review of some key principles will be given in the opening lectures.

    Download Info:
  • Your download file(s) will be available for 30 days after purchase.
  • x10 .zip files containing your Video Mini-Lectures (.mov format for Mac and PC). Zip files for Lectures 6 through 10 also contain sub-folders of additional reference files.
  • x1 .zip file containing supplemental PDF documents.
  • x1 PDF "Read Me First" document.
  • approx. 1.88GB compressed (2.35GB decompressed).

  • As stated previously, your 17 Impulse Responses from Numerical Sound will be emailed to you separately (approx. 6MB). Please allow 1-3 business days for delivery of your watermarked files.


    Peter Lawrence Alexander was the first American to create in English the multi-volume Professional Orchestration™ Series which has been endorsed by winners of the Academy®, Grammy®, Emmy®, and BAFTA® Awards. He’s also the author and teacher of Visual Orchestration, Scoring Stages, How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite, The Instant Composer: Counterpoint by Fux, Writing For Strings, Applied Professional Harmony 101 and 102, How MIDI Works, Street Smart Guide to the Vienna Instruments Player, Street Smart Guide to Logic 8 and many more. He was also Film Music Magazine’s award winning Music Technology Journalist.

    A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston with a BS In Music Composition, he studied counterpoint privately with Dr. Hugo Norden of Boston University, and orchestration with Pulitzer Prize nominated composer Albert Harris.

    He coordinated beta test teams for the Vienna Symphonic Library and co-produced the Modern Symphonic Orchestra orchestral sample library for Creative Labs. As a media researcher he produced studies showing geodemographical radio station listening patterns by day segments, and in working with renowned radio programmer Jack McCoy’s RAM Research he laid the research foundation for what later became Arbitron Information on Demand.

    Maintaining Peter's Teaching Legacy: Since the sudden and unexpected passing of Peter Lawrence Alexander in 2015, his music books and courses are now maintained and updated by his wife and long-time business partner, Caroline Alexander, who holds a Master's Degree in Music Design for Film and TV.

    Consulting Engineer

    Ernest Cholakis
    Bruce Botnick, engineer for The Doors, Jerry Goldsmith and the Beach Boys Pet Album project had this to say about the Impulse Response work of Ernest Cholakis:
    ”The best impulse responses I ever heard are from Pure Space [Classical and Mystical Reverberation Impulses]....Ernest Cholakis out of Canada is the genius/mad scientist who listens to music. He's mathematically figured a way to eliminate all of the electronics from the sample. They sound extraordinary. An acoustic room-it blooms. You make the sound and then it [snaps] responds and the room does it's thing. The majority of the digital reverbs are very linear and they die off, but Ernest's samples are extraordinary. I've got one that I think sounds super close to chamber four at Capitol, which is *the* chamber."

    Ernest’s work with IRs includes his own Pure Space Classical, Pure Space Film, FORTI/SERTI for the Vienna Suite, eight (8) software products for Reason (including Bass Tilt Filters, Midrange Tilt Filters, Treble Tilt Filters, Tone Mutation, ReStereo, and RiVerb), and now this special package for Visual Orchestration 3.

    As an instrument developer, he co-produced with Dan Dean the Bluthner Piano.

    Many of Cholakis' unique drone tones have been used in feature films, film trailers and TV by many well known film composer and several movie studios such as Paramont Pictures, Warner Brothers and Lions Gate Entertainment, who have licensed material directly from Numerical Sound.

    Cholakis has co-produced the world's most recorded drummer Bernard Purdie, the world's most sampled drummer Clyde Stubblefield, and top Reggae drummer Sly Dunbar.

    FAQ On Visual Orchestration 3

    What's the teaching idea behind Visual Orchestration 3?
    The teaching idea is you're recording with that which has been previously recorded. With that we recognize that no two orchestral sample libraries have been recorded in the same room. As such, each library has its own set of early reflections and RT60s (reverb decay) ranging from .65s up to 2.6s. Thus, the challenge for the composer, or songwriter, beyond creating a new work, is how to produce it so that all the libraries come close to sounding like they're in the same room. With this, we observed that there were three types of rooms where sample libraries were recorded. Then we looked at the reverb tails of specific rooms where both film scores and sample libraries have been recorded along with the projected reverb tail of the finished libraries.

    How did you come up with the RT60s for each library
    Ernest Cholakis of Numerical Sound developed a methodology which allowed us to project what those numbers were.

    Why is this important?
    In Visual Orchestration 2, we showed how the RT60 of the finished recording was often different, larger, then the RT60 of the room where the orchestra was recorded. This is also true for sample libraries, but surprisingly, these RT60s get smaller, not larger. Once you see this information all laid out, the understanding of how to get everyone in the same room in your template is simplified.

    Why did you decide to have Numerical Sound create custom Impulse Responses for Visual Orchestration 3?
    In his work with impulse responses, Ernest had developed an approach that took the main parts of a reverb unit and broke them down into component parts. This made learning and teaching recording concepts much easier. Since nearly every sequencing program has a convolution reverb, this meant we could provide the same tools to everyone so that it became a hands-on learning experience.

    So what were those elements?
    Room size, early reflections, TILT Filters, and reverb tails.

    And what was next from there?
    The next step was applying the concepts learned from the IR's to an algorithmic reverb unit.Of all the software reverbs out there, and I looked at about a dozen. I settled on Ircam Tools' Verb Session because its controls were the most similar to Ernest's components parts approach. So what you learn with the impulse responses in a convolution reverb, you then turn and apply to an algorithmic reverb. And the two just happen to work well together, too. So this way the composer gains a starting foundation with both convolution and algorithmic reverb.

    Does a student have to buy Verb Session to do the course?
    No, they can apply the information to whatever algorithmic reverbs come with their sequencing programs. They can also download a trial version of Verb Session from

    What are the impulse responses that come with Visual Orchestration 3?
    There are five rooms represented by early reflections, four reverb tails, and three TILT filters. These cover most of the sampled orchestral instruments in a template.

    What do you mean by the terms basic virtual orchestral mix and advanced virtual orchestral mix?
    In the virtual orchestral world, I've defined two types of virtual orchestral mixes. The first is basic, the second is advanced. The basic mix, our sole focus for this course, is either a single library recorded in the same room, or a mixture of libraries that are being combined in the same template but not layered.

    And the advanced mix?
    The advanced virtual orchestral mix is the one where you're layering different libraries together, for example, to create a violins section with, say, two or three different violin libs playing the same line. We will not be covering the layering of different libraries in this course.

    Where does spatial placement fit in with this?
    Well, spatial placement is about where you place the sound stage left to stage right and stage front to stage rear. Once you buy two orchestral libraries from different companies, you have to learn how to spatially place them. So we look at several techniques and tools to accomplish this.

    You have a couple of mantras for Visual Orchestration 3. What are they?
    The two are, "mixing is an ear training experience," and the second is, "we record with that which has been previously recorded."

    If you want a good orchestral mix, then you need to listen to a wide variety of orchestral mixes to know what that is. And that certainly applies to spatial placement, too. No one can hand you a piece of paper containing The Answer because there are many answers.

    And that directly applies to the second mantra since no two virtual orchestral libraries from different companies have been recorded in the same room. These libraries, very definitely, have to be spatially placed so that the samples, as best as possible, sound like a single orchestra.

    Then, some libraries are super dry while others have a lot of room ambience baked in that you can't remove. It's part of the library's sound. So what we're teaching in Visual Orchestration 3 gives the composer some tools they need to work with this reality and get a good professional sound, and those two "mantras" are part of that teaching reality.

    Put simply, ears needed.

    Visual Orchestration 3 Course Reviews
    (from genuine course owners)

    "I'm so enjoying Visual Orchestration. You explain the lessons so clearly and precisely. They're wonderful to learn from. ...Thanks so much. You nutrition for the music soul."
    - Nik S.

    "Thanks for your efforts in the creation of the Visual Orchestration course. Never have I seen this material presented in such a clear and succinct way."
    - Tim B.

    "I'm enjoying Visual Orchestrastion 3. My initial understanding of all this sketchy at best, but the course definitely takes the mystery out of it for me, so thanks. :) Thanks again for a great course."
    - Paul M.

    "Going through the courses "Visual Orchstration I-III" and "Scoring Stages 1 & 2" I would like to give you a warm and hearty "Thank you" for this all. I learned so much additionally to my work as a musician and orchestral MIDI-MockUp-er. It was a pleasure and a lots of peace for me to listen to your agreeably sounding voice and your instructions and explanations which helped pointing the way out of this acoustical labyrinth ... that was a good teaching."
    - Thomas H.

    "Thank you. Thank you so much for your valuable courses in orchestration, time, and effort. They are treasures in the field."
    - Yuan-Mei C.

    "I am a happy customer of many of your products including many of your awesome classes! Your classes are 10x more helpful that the BERKLEE classes I took right before! ...I took 2 BERKLEE online classes and they were so general, unhelpful and boring. Mr. Alexander's are priceless! I learn so much from them!!! THANK YOU!!!!"
    - Christopher D.

    "Peter - Thank you so much for the reply and insight which makes sense. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. Hopefully this has changed, but I was reflecting that university may do a good job of teaching the craft of composition, but not always the post-production aspects in today's world; a void which you have graciously filled. Thank you for that!"
    - Joel E.

    "Hi Peter, I’ve really enjoyed your courses over the years, Pro Orchestration series, Scoring Stages series, Visual Orchestration series etc. Thank you for sharing your expertise."
    - Wayne B.

    "I am a composition student, currently on my last year of studying, and a highly satisfied customer of yours, having purchased quite a lot of your material on orchestration."
    - Raoul M.

    "I am enjoying the course and have gone through many videos numerous times. ...Thanks for your help and amazing classes!"
    - John M.

    "I’m really enjoying the Visual Orchestration 3 course."
    - Joseph O.

    "Just wanted to say hi and express my gratitude for all the learning works you make. I bought many materials, including Pro Orch bundle, How Ravel Orchestrated, Writing for Strings, Counterpoint by Fux, Visual Orch, Scoring Stages, etc. There is so much great stuff there to learn. It's also great because it's so easy to understand (though there are some more complex things). I wish I could have more time to study everything, but even scratching the surface of the materials you provide opens ears and mind to some exciting musical ideas. I especially like the Scoring Stages, which is a wonderful learning journey. Can't wait for the next parts. Thanks so much for all you are doing!"
    - Michael C.

    "I really like all courses, tutorials and materials I've purchased on Alexander Publishing. Best regards,"
    - Franto K.

    "I have enjoyed the various texts I’ve purchased from you as I find your approach refreshing and with new insights. ...Many thanks for your work so far."
    - Alex G.

    "Thanks. I’m enjoying your products and will certainly be purchasing more."
    - Steve B.

    "Hello Mr. Alexander, I am your student for some years and I would say thank you for all your amazing work."
    - Giuseppe F.