As mentioned before in Of Masters And Slaves, the main function of VE Pro is to host my large orchestral template. As promised in this blog post, here I will describe the contents of the template and how I work with it. In a future post, I will also post a tutorial how to setup tracks in Logic so that they can control instruments within VE Pro.


What is a template good for in the first case?

When writing for media, there are a number of standard instruments which are used in nearly all projects. These are of course strings, a bit of brass, some standard percussion and so on... Depending on the project, not all of these are used, but the majority usually is.
To have this selection of instruments readily available without long loading times is especially important and useful during the sketching phase, i.e. when the composer tries (usually without success^^) to find ideas. If a wonderfully romantic string line crosses one’s mind, its execution should not be hindered by a three minute loading time of the corresponding string patch :)

The template

To have the most used instruments readily available and to be able to quickly switch between instruments, we have a custom template in Logic Pro 9, which is hosted in equal parts on a MacPro and on a Dell PC slave with Vienna Ensemble Pro.

Currently the template has 104 tracks, which are colour-coded into six categories: Woodwinds, Brass, String, Percussion, Choir and Other. All woodwind tracks for example are red, which makes them easily discernible from the other groups.
For controlling instruments we use both keyswitches and modwheel. Usually keyswitches are used for switching articulations (legato, marcato...) and the modwheel controls the note velocity.

One big advantage of having a template is that instruments from different libraries are pre-loaded and can be used interchangeably. By this we can use several violin patches at the same time because everything is already loaded. Furthermore, because everything runs in VE Pro outside Logic, the samples stay in memory when switching projects, which means that there are little to no loading times. In the morning when the computers start up, they automatically load the template, which takes about ten minutes and than that’s it in terms of loading time.

VE Pro

To keep Logic snappy and to preserve samples in Ram between sessions, all instruments are outsourced into instances of Vienna Ensemble Pro on both the MacPro and the PC. Every instance of VE Pro can address 16 MIDI Channels, which means that 16 instruments per instance can be used. Theoretically. We use only 15 because sometimes when using channel 1, weird things tend to happen.
VE Pro computes the instruments and sends the audio back on auxiliary channels. As audio is transported over LAN in case of the PC slave, having an aux channel for every single instrument would create a very high network load, possibly leading to crackles and pops. Therefore we group similar instruments into one single channel, so that there are only 14 stereo channels going from the PC to the Mac.

All instruments are set to medium volume levels inside VE Pro so they sound evenly together and can be controlled in their volume by the sliders in Logic, which are set to send MIDI CC information to change volume in the VIs inside the VE Pro instances. MIDI information from Logic (for example when playing on the keyboard) is sent to VE Pro by a plugin instantiated within Logic so that there is no audible or visible difference between instruments loaded in Logic or in VE Pro.

Inside Logic, a few plugins are loaded, such as Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Stylus RMX. These are 64bit, so we do not need the Apple AU Bridge.


Currently we have seven VE Pro instances, four on the MacPro and three on the Dell slave. As we are using Logic and therefore the VE Audio Unit plugin, we are limited to 16 unique channels per instance, which is a limitation of the Audio Unit format.

1) Vienna Orchestral Collection

2) EWQLSO Silver and Kirk Hunter Diamond Strings

3) Various Instruments

4) EWQLSO Gold

1) Cinesamples Hollywoodwinds and Omnisphere

2) EWQLSO Silver and Kirk Hunter Winds and Brass

3) Kontakt 3 Percussion and Various

If we need any additional instruments that are not already contained in the template, we just load them directly into Logic. With more and more plugins going 64bit, the need for the 32bit bridge will surely decline, which should make things even more stable.

Hopefully this overview about our template helped you a bit, if you have questions, post a comment! As mentioned before, in a future post we will describe how to setup Logic to work best with all these VE Pro instances.

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