Build huge templates?


I’m not a working composer (pretensions and aspirations to be). I am trying to work some small projects to build up my portfolio and gain experience. I’m in the process of building templates to help my workflow. Nothing huge, but large enough to require a bit of scrolling about if everything were visible and many many instance of Kontakt to host the various instrument articulations.

As I was building them, it occurred to me that having instrument “families” (eg, CineSample Core and Pro Brass) configured as Track Presets (which can include the separate midi and audio output channels), would allow me to configure templates quickly “on the fly” instead of having multiple huge templates keyed for various project types. All midi assignments, VST output assignments (eg, Kontakt main out, Kontakt 3-4, etc.) and corresponding aux tracks, and track names ARE remembered in a track preset, and the actual Cubase template file would only contain a standard set of submix channels (eg, stringSub, brassSub, windsSub, or variation). (This is necessary because audio output assignments and output channels are not memorized in a Track Preset and all multi timbal outputs default to stereo out when you load the preset.)

So, the workflow would be: I load a pre-configured, multitrack track preset, assign the audio outs to the pre existing submix channel(s) I have in a template, roll the new instrument into a folder, and repeat as needed. No huge template to wade through and which I may not use a lot of, with lots of unused VSTs gobbling up resources.

My question: is there something I am not seeing here that is a show stopper? Seems like most people build huge templates as opposed to using short cuts to build templates on the fly like this. As I can’t be the only person to ever think of this, there must be a reason. Is there something I am not seeing here?


Interesting. I’d like to hear more about this, too.


Your idea should work fine. I am scaling back my gigantic template in favor of a hybrid approach similar to what you are discussing.

This is likely the reason they call it Track Presets, as opposed to project presets, LOL.

The huge templates for larger compositions only works (obviously just my opinion) while in specific projects, since the premise often changes between projects. Across a variety of projects then, smaller “groups” and even, to some extent, single track presets makes for a better all round setup, IMHO. I find that I reuse a few of these group presets more than others, and single track presets. I think it’s because it’s just as easy to pop a new instrument track online, at least the way I am doing it.

So I use quite a bit of external equipment also, simply because I am old and refuse to give in, and this limits me in a sense, in terms of using track presets, but the instrument agility (buttons, knobs and sliders) make up for it. But for VSTi group presets (like you were saying) makes a whole lot more sense to me, than enormous project templates… eh… I meant of course track presets. :wink:

It could work pretty well, and I get the logic of it. But if track presets can’t remember output assignments and multitimbral outs are all going to the default out, that’s a significant drawback. Really the entire point of a template is speed - no setting up to do on a day by day basis.

Funnily enough, I’m exploring a modular template for use in Pro Tools, stealing parts of my Cubase template (hosted in VE Pro) if I need them there. The cool thing that PT can do that I think Cubase can’t is importing specific tracks that you need from another master project complete with sends, inserts ad - yes - routing to groups (or auxes as stupid pro tools calls them). Even there its not perfect though - you have to reroute the multimbral returns which are greyed out by default. Fine for occasional use, but I wouldn’t want to use it like that day to day.

That sounds like a good idea for smaller projects, for larger projects there are to many vst & audio out tracks that need to be routed and named to keep track of stems’/splits for post house mixing so I find it better to keep large templates and break them down into categories and color code each category in advance to make it easier to navigate as the hours get long. Also the automation lines will show the same color designated for track which is helpful when you scroll across 100’s of tracks quickly. Then you can use folders and track view presets to keep it all somewhat manageable.

So, I have master folders named in these categories with a midi section, and audio track section, instruments in blue, rhythmic in green, sound design in orange. Only instruments has one other color, orchestra in red. Orchestra is a sub folder of instruments, violins is a sub folder of orchestra, etc.

So imagine your working away and have 15 drum, percussion , loops etc , tracks and maybe guitars and a string section, you can then scroll around and instantly know what section your in by viewing the color of the track and automation , then set your track visibility by section with key commands and you can jump to rhythmic , instruments, sound design midi, and the same for audio only, so that’s 6. Presets, 7 is all midi, 8, is all audio…

That’s a great system. I have not been fortunate(?) enough to have a project with 100s of tracks (the largest so far was about 96 tracks), but I can see the logic in this.

So it might make sense to have this type of “uber” setup ready for a larger project as you say. I like it.

I have been considering a similar approach as my my current system is a bit under powered for the current version of Cubase. CS.

Not sure if it’s what you’re referring to, but I have huge templates loaded in VEPro on a slave machine. It also contains groups of certain VI’s (Evolve Mutations, Omnisphere, etc) that are all ready to go on their own tracks…I just need to select the patches. Also, a full orchestra is in the templates along with my “staples”. The best part is, I can switch between projects without ever having to load anything…it even saves tweaks that I make for each VI/project. For example, the current film I’m scoring, has about 100 cues. I save each cue as its own project because I don’t ever need to load anything between each one; super fast workflow.

Curious, How are you saving each cue without creating 100 instances of vepro? Also are you recording audio for each cue as you score it?

Being organised is great. However…

Templates tend to lead one down a particular path.

Good if you do the same things over and over… and are on deadline.

But… templates tend to lead one down a particular path.

One other thing… there are practical considerations with making mega-elaborate templates

  1. The bigger the CPR the more likely that weird things happen.

  2. It’s no thrill having a CPR with ‘hundreds of tracks’… certainly no badge of virility. Hard to navigate. Large track counts are often the result of
    a) the limitations of sample libs… where you need 12 tracks to emulate all the articulations of one set of violins. can’t be helped.

b) people going nuts. :smiley:

The template I choose gets loaded once…when I open the first project template. I have many Cubase templates ready to go ie: Horror, Action, Romantic, Classical, etc. Once I sequence the cue(s), I save it as a project. For instance, it might be called “cue 23 car chase”. Once I’m finished with that cue, I can either delete the tracks and rename it as the next cue, or close it completely and reopen the template. I typically just move onto the next section in the film and “save as” the next cue. The cool part is, all of the instruments remain loaded in VEPro (called the “preserve” function), and it only takes a few seconds to load each project. A film I’m working on right now has eight instances of VEPro loaded, with sixteen channels loaded in each (32 output channels). Each channel can contain up to sixteen instruments, but I usually only load about eight in each (this is the beauty of the VEPro VST3 version!). All of the sections in Cubase are divided into group folders, so I simply collapse the ones I’m not using which cleans up my screen real estate in the project window. And by having everything loaded on the slave PC, all of my Mac resources are dedicated to the DAW and not virtual instruments.

As far as recording (or rendering) the audio, this can be done at any time. Once the cues are 100% complete, I just export them. They can be exported as stems or as single audio files…whatever is required. Cubase is so damn easy for film scoring, best move I ever made! I came from using Cakewalk for twenty years.

True, but it’s a very time consuming task to audition and load up your instruments every time you want to get creative. Especially with film, where you could spend hours sifting through your sounds. With templates, it’s all right there ready to go. And in C7.5, you can hide all of the tracks you don’t want to see.

Ahh, same path not in my case, the template is the frame, it’s the vst’s that I save by project and or genere and swap those as needed for each project…

ahh I see, I really like this workflow idea , process of yours, modular / cue approach… I have a VEpro license its two years old , I abandoned it so I will take a look at this in between projects. Are you getting zero, or low latency from slave to master? Given the large amount of tracks you can dump into the master project without the limitations of an ADAT audio card, how do you deal with Cubase limitations on internal outputs on the master sequencer ?

My slave right now is dedicated to brass and strings only, and its all on key-switches and routed into my template so I turn on the slave and dont need to tinker, nor have it take up monitor space, this leaves three monitors for my project views, the 4th monitor plays the video.

I actually work in MIDI for the entire score,( including rendering one stereo stem from midi for purposes of review ) until all revisions are made and approved, then I render all tracks, do a rough mix, and deliver to post house. Obviously the advantages are huge in flexibility to make changes, copy and paste parts across cues, add an octave to a string part or change the melody in the middle of a sequence on the fly all without audio tracks to deal with, or re-do, etc.

This reminds me of something I heard in an interview with Brian Eno. He said when he got a new synth, the first thing he did was delete all the presets so they wouldn’t influence how he approached the synth.

In general, templates are for orchestral instruments which sound like, well, orchestral instruments. No need to reinvent the wheel - or viola - every time you need one (unless you’re into sound design stuff).

Synths - I don’t think anyone has synth patches in their template (do they?) I have blank instances so they’re all routed, that’s it.

yes, sort of, I have blank vst instances that are routed except some contain staple sounds such as sub base, a few pads, etc, around 30 vsts routed and ready to go, Then I fill l in the vsts slots as needed for the genre, the score. Orchestra is stagnant once set up so it does reside on the slave and awaits key switch commands.

Yes, but those blank instances are still part of a template…it’s a huge time saver.

Brian Eno: Can’t stand his music, but -many- of his ideas about ‘creativity’ are worth thinking about. And here’s one (for me anyhoo.) EVERY decent musical idea I have ever had has been as the result of a mistake that I then tweaked. Unless you FORCE yourself to change things up you’ll keep doing the same junk over and over. Which may be what you want. But creativity is mutation… which is by accident.

And so my emphasis is to make it as easy as possible to AVOID using templates. Do what you need to do to be able to do something really different every time out.