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Digital Performer 101: Why
Choose It for Film Scoring?
By John Graham on June 28, 2012
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Digital Performer 101: Why Choose It for Film Scoring? - SCOREcastOnline.com
http://www.scorecastonline.com/2012/06/28/digital-performer-101-why-choose-it-for-film-scoring/[24/06/2014 21:38:49]
Writing about sequencing software inevitably generates two emotion-laden responses.
First, nearly every time it degenerates into a mines the best tit for tat about whose
sequencer is superior. Second, the promise of features in an upcoming release muddles
the discussion how soon will the release roll out (including the question of how soon
any bugs get ironed out) and how good will the new features be?
To the my sequencers best crowd I would gently remind all of us that weve heard very
good music produced on just about every sequencing software set and rubbish as well.
Similarly, its worth noting that what some piece of software didnt do three or four years
ago may well have been addressed, so old saws about what doesnt work in a
competitor sequencer may now be inaccurate and out of date.
For Digital Performer, on the cusp of a major release (the upcoming DP 8), it is
unavoidable to talk something about the promise of new features, though Ill keep that to
a minimum.
Key Features That Distinguish DP
From my perspective as a film composer, there are a number of areas that I think are
outstanding about DP. These are areas that are either unique or best in class / second
to none:
1. Clippings you can easily grab any combination of stuff midi tracks, audio
tracks, conductor info and place it on a clipboard, ready to drag into another
cue.
2. Tempo, meter, and conductor track manipulation is fabulous and generally
regarded as the best available. This includes an excellent tempo calculator and
the ability to readily move barlines to fit a performance youve played in with free
tempo, rubato, etc.
3. Direct export to QT format of a cue with audio (including dialogue and SFX if you
like).
4. Chunks think of it as being able to put multiple cues in one file, saving the time
of reloading samples, using the same track list for similar cues and otherwise
duplicating effort already expended. So if you want 4M5 to sound a lot like 2M2,
you can save the 2M2 chunk and write 4M5 right away with virtually no
interruption in workflow.
5. Pitch correction is easy to use and works very well. Will do pitch to midi (pitch
correction is a very good feature no longer unique but so easy to work with
that I put it on my Outstanding list).
6. Consolidated Window you can place as much as you want on a single window
called the Consolidated Window. This may sound trivial but is a big deal when
working fast. You can include or exclude drag on/off or set in the preferences
what parts of your sequence you want to see in this master window.
7. Streamers and punches you can program streamers and punches into your
Digital Performer 101: Why Choose It for Film Scoring? - SCOREcastOnline.com
http://www.scorecastonline.com/2012/06/28/digital-performer-101-why-choose-it-for-film-scoring/[24/06/2014 21:38:49]
sequence to assist with conducting (and soloists).
8. Film Score notation, that includes timings for film music, including markers on
the score for dialogue or key moments (ka-boom for example).
Cool Stuff about DP
In the next rank are features that are not unique to DP but cool nevertheless:
1. Very good note transcription allows transposition for non-concert-pitched
instruments like French Horn, Clarinet, or Trumpet. It corrects well for parts that
are not played strictly, almost magically figuring out whether what you played in
to the sequencer was intended as an eighth note (quaver) or a sixteenth note
(semiquaver) followed by a sixteenth (semiquaver) rest. Tuplets are handled
very well too.
2. Complex click tracks I have yet to dream up a click track that you cant
program into DP.
3. Extensive list of plugins / FX / guitar chains and other sound manipulation
gadgets. These include a very good leveller, EQ, delays, and guitar stomp box
emulations.
4. Lots of audio capabilities (pitch correction, editing, slicing, stretching, etc.).
5. Customizable interface it is almost indescribable how many different ways you
can set up your windows and tools in DP. Different colours (skins), different tool
sets and working groups. Its superb.
6. Mix takes that allow you to keep various versions of mixes.
Things Looking Forward to in DP 8
1. 64 bit (hooray!)
2. Windows 7 Compatible
3. 15 new plug-ins
4. Support for VST plug-ins
5. Full 1920 x 1080 HD video hardware support
Things I secretly wish for in DP!
1. Articulations menu in notation
2. Percussion note-heads and the ability to use let ring ties
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John Graham
J ohn R. Graham has scored fourteen movies, dozens of
trailers, short films, television, and commercials. Educated
as a composer and conductor at Charterhouse, Williams
College, Stanford University and UCLA, J ohn lives in Los
Angeles with his family.
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Digital Performer 101: Why Choose It for Film Scoring? - SCOREcastOnline.com
http://www.scorecastonline.com/2012/06/28/digital-performer-101-why-choose-it-for-film-scoring/[24/06/2014 21:38:49]
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Digital Performer 101: Why Choose It for Film Scoring? - SCOREcastOnline.com
http://www.scorecastonline.com/2012/06/28/digital-performer-101-why-choose-it-for-film-scoring/[24/06/2014 21:38:49]
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