Cubase Pro 8 & Digital Performer 8 for Film Composition?


I’m thinking about studying an MA is Film composition and as I get further down the Rabbit hole, I am discovering that Digital Performer is a very popular DAW for Film Composition. I’m just wondering why and whether any Film Composers on this Forum use Cubase Pro 8 and Digital Performer together to create soundtracks/Orchestral mockups/Music? Does DP offer something great that is lacking in Cubase Pro 8?

Would love to understand DP’s popularity and thanks for any advice!

Jono not Bono

Yes, MOTU call this ‘chunks’. ALL other DAWS insist on one linear ruler /one project (with however many cues along this single timeline), PITA, given potentially shifting film edits, locations, sigs, tempos - anything earlier in the timeline can effect later, depending on a host of matters …

DP8 allows for multiple sequences /projects within the one ‘Session’. i.e. ‘Chunks’. These can be all set independently to start at their own timecode start locations, meter, length etc etc - completely without effecting each other. When all the cues are finished, these can be ‘flattened’ into one contiguous sequence via ‘Song’ mode - if you wish, though not necessary.

Elsewhere, DP8 also mimics this kind of ‘independent’ operation, within a virtual ‘Studio’ if you like, independent from the ‘songs’ /instruments. i.e., Multiple mixers, a ‘Virtual Rack’, that is VIs and effects etc can be located within on a master rack, then which all sequences /songs may access (or not).

DP8 is made for film - nothing like it, and for live performance for that matter, chaining songs, FX cues, lighting cues etc. Be warned, it is quite quirky though, and the small font size /busy screen a bit annoying. Has other features very unlike the standard DAW - MOTU goes way back to the 80s; while Steinberg & Emagic were doing their thing in Hamburg, this was what was happening in Cambridge, MA. The history & approach has stuck a little. Can see why people may use another more recognisable DAW like Cubase to prepare & fly things in. Ableton Live or Reason & rewire also works very well.

Al of that is briefly explained at e.g., ‘multiple sequences’, and ‘V-Racks’ MOTUNATION is an excellent independent forum thats been running for a very long time. Really nice, helpful people. Worth dropping in, asking questions, looking around. - Index page

PS, also has a rather unique ‘hit point’ feature w/ pre-roll warnings etc

I think profdraper sums it up pretty well. DP’s chunk feature is really useful. That said, the quirkiness is definitely there. There is no object orientation akin to what you find in Cubase and other DAWs. There are no midi or audio “clips” for instance. You can’t grab some bar(s) of midi notes as a single ‘event’ to copy/paste, move, etc as a solitary unit for example. (There is a powerful feature called “clippings”, but it’s meant for a different use case.) Depending on how you compose, that can be a real PITA. The interface is fiddle too like profdraper noted.

I think Cubase is slowly laying the ground work for a “chunks-lite” feature given how instrument racks and track versions are evolving. Or maybe I’m just hoping…

There’s a 30 day free trial of DP and Cubase available. Give them a try and see which is more comfortable for you.

Nuendo is the best for Film Composition.

Thanks for all your responses. I love Cubase Pro 8 and won’t be leaving it but I am obviously up for getting into other Music Software if the features are there and not in Cubase.

The Chunks Feature looks wicked. Also, I have noticed there is a feature called “Step Time”. Looks very handy! I wonder if Cubase plan on doing something like this?

Could you explain why you think (or Know) this? I am genuinely interested in why Nuendo actually exists and even more so, why its better than Digital Performer 8 for Film Composition!

Thanks Again!


I’ve had the same question too. I don’t see advantages that justify the price difference and the slower development cycle. Am willing to hear about it though…

I’m currently trying out the DP 8 Trial. Man, where is everything? haha!

The only advantage I can think of in Nuendo over Cubase is that you can use streamers on the video as in DP. What else is there?

Fine until you start mentioning other DAWs … they auto-prune the DAW names and there are some fairly high and mighty users there too ready to pounce :laughing: … and if you are on Windows, expect the core Mac group to treat you with a little disdain… :astonished:

However, that aside, I started with (pre Digitial )Performer in the 80’s, its an excellent product, best MIDI tool I’ve worked with overall, but these days the product has evolved in every direction and has a steep learning curve, though I’ve not tried version 8, version 7 and prior had terrible VST support or none at all… and it is more expensive.

I’ve made my home with Cubase for the past 10 years, no designs on DP8 here.

Yes, I keep waiting & hoping (like many others I work with) that the penny will finally drop and perhaps Nuendo will simply go away, & where a true Cubase ‘Pro’ would pick up the difference.

One of the main differences for Cubase vs. Nuendo is the same as for Pro Tools /Pro Tools HD, Samplitude /Sequoia etc: multichannel outputs. Somehow the ‘lite’ version says with the old 5.1 (6 channel limitation) whereas the ‘pro’ versions allow for many more channels or in some cases unlimited. This allows for more complex cinema mixing scenarios for example. The thing is, this misses so much installation /live /experimental work by artists where 8 channels should be the default - that is, to match the common 8 out audio interface & allows for all kinds of useful & creative mixing possibilities. That would be my big request for CP8 - 8 channel surround, or rather, any kind of 8ch mix set-up, including 5.1 (which let’s face it, is a little old w/ much baggage /assumptions from the film world - not the music world).

Otherwise, Nuendo offers the excellent Iosono Anymix Pro surround panner; no big deal, I have this as a standalone VST/AAX plug; then there’s the Nuendo’s extensive ADR voice over /script /replacement tools & again, there are arguably better third party options for Cubase if that is a required workflow; & finally, a fancy Voxengo EQ, also replaceable.

Object-oriented edited would have been the most obvious addition for the Nuendo cost here I would have thought, but not so (a la Sequoia). I’d be putting out a big ‘my vote’ for Steinberg to lose Nuendo but fold the audio channel features into a true, one platform Cubase Pro The rest could be optioned if needed. Won’t happen, but 8 ch surround on Cubase please.

Speaking of options, Nuendo doesn’t come with all the instrument & MIDI features of Cubase & so you need to pay extra to option on ‘Cubase Music Tools’ [called NEK]. Mad. And yes, finally, would seem that the product dev. cycle of Nuendo is always one step behind Cubase.

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I did a bit of that first when I first trialed DP7, really helped get me up to speed. The other was, I downloaded a few abstract, beautifully shot short vids from Vimeo. Great to work with those and draft up a few compositions.

Thank you! A great help.

Nuendo is made for post production. Cubase is made for composition and live performance (although, I haven’t met anyone who uses it for live performance).