Yes-please features for massive projects

This thread is only about feature/functionality requests regarding workflow in massive projects that cannot be kept in RAM or even played back in realtime without extensive workflow optimizations/adjustments.

Some background: I generally work with projects that require 60-200 tracks. These tracks usually contain: 40% EWQL diamond grade patches (I’m forced to stay away from the Powerful System patches due to the workflow becoming insanely slow when constantly loading and unloading 2-4GB patches), 40% synths (mostly Komplete and U-He) and 20% percussive tracks. I employ a great deal of effects, usually numbering around 200-600 in any given project. About half of the effects are CPU-heavy (Ozone).

My specs are pretty okay for a home system - 24 GB RAM, i7 960 (4 cores, 8 threads) and 500 GB of SSDs + another TB or so worth of HDDs. I think this is a relatively realistic system for a single-workstation setup on a moderate budget that people can be expected to have. However, this computer is nowhere near enough to being able to handle the projects I work on in realtime.

As such, I’ve painstakingly developed (and continue to do so) a workflow that would allow me to:

A) minimize the number of tracks in a project by using a relatively high number of send busses and fx-branching
B) keep things running without audio drops as best as possible (lots of bouncing and working on single instrument groups at a time, much of the time in two or more passes)
C) optimize CPU load distribution (a single instrument with 8 effects loaded can make a difference between playable and not playable when all effects are active - overload one core and the track won’t play)

As such, I have a very genuine list of feature requests that for the most part seem relatively easy to implement. These would simplify workflow on all large projects (I will add reasoning where required to really show how these adversely affect workflow):

Add a bypass switch to most tracks

  • add BYPASS switches to all tracks on the editor instrument bars (these would bypass all instruments and effects entirely - much of the time effects trails aren’t needed and a single-click solution would simplify load leveraging A LOT). This should also apply to group/folder tracks. While bypassed, the track can remain silent, even if frozen (otherwise this would double as an insert bypass switch)

Separable output routing for instrument channels

  • add separable output channel routing to instruments (this exists for instruments loaded into the VST rack, but not for instruments loaded directly into instrument tracks). Many patches nowadays include 4 (or more!) mic positions that could be treated separately (I’m not even talking about multi-instruments, which are performance killers to start with due to limited CPU load leveraging). Working with the VST rack is a pain and does not outweigh the effort in terms of versatility.

A more comprehensive and dynamic freeze system

  • allow freezing send targets, eg GROUP and FX tracks that consolidate everything down the chain (for me - I usually route most instruments to 2-4 FX tracks EACH, which combine different effects to optimize CPU load, which are then routed to a group track that possibly adds some final touch-ups; these routings generally apply to instrument groups, eg legato strings, each layered synth, each percussive group, etc). Being able to freeze/unfreeze a group of instruments using a single click would speed everything up IMMENSELY

Allow exporting complex presets with routing data

  • allow exporting large presets for components that include fx (!) and group tracks. Multi-track preset export is fine as long as the tracks are self-contained, but becomes useless if the audio is routed in any way. Templates are a way around this, but working with a master template is painstaking and takes a lot of time to set up and maintain. Being able to export presets for instrument groups with respective fx, folder and group channels would allow a far more modularized and dynamic workflow. For this to work even better, presets should optionally not load sample data automatically for instrument channels, but rather start in a disabled state so the composer has full control over what and when to load. For instance a group of light legato string patches can easily be 15 GB across 10+ tracks. If each of these contained effects, only a few of the tracks would be playable at once - by deferring most of the effects to 3-4 fx channels, this can be eased quite a bit, but becomes a nightmare to port from one project to another.

Indicate whether instrument is loaded into memory or not

  • indicate in some way on the UI if a frozen instrument is loaded into memory or not. The reasoning behind this is quite simple: while getting SSD-s is increasingly more affordable, some mass storage still needs to be in the form of regular HDD-s, which net really slow loading times. Disk load balancing suggests separating large libraries on multiple disks anyway and as such there are always patches that are played off of slow disks and as such take a lot of time to load (mind you - I don’t have an issue with playback, which is up to individual disk setup, but initial load times, which can take up several minutes for large patches and amount to a LOT of lost work time when having to constantly throttle them in large projects!). Hence it’s more efficient to keep select patches loaded in memory even when the tracks are frozen. However, when the RAM runs out and you start working on entirely different parts of the piece, it’s good to see at a glance which frozen tracks can further be unloaded memory. Being able to load/unload instruments that are frozen would be nice as well as it would avoid having to re-freeze the track.

Tempo stretching for forzen tracks

  • the lack of AUTOMATIC tempo stretching for frozen tracks is a seriously annoying issue that really rears its ugly head when you’re done with most of the track and you start fine-tuning tempo changes only to discover that ALL of the 100 or so tracks you have need to be constantly re-rendered or manually bounced and re-imported, doubling the number of tracks. Cubase already contains spotless interpolation algorithms - as such it’s confusing to see why time stretching isn’t applied to frozed tracks. After all, these are essentially audio tracks, which do benefit from this feature. A UI indicator would be nice to see which tracks are out-of-date and need re-rendering. To cap things off, the re-freezing process should be batchable and not require user interaction.

Copy MIDI blocks from frozen channels

  • enable copying MIDI blocks from frozen channels. I cannot see the logic behind disallowing this. I think the reasons for wanting to do this are self-explanatory.

Manually control pre- and post-fader

  • a small gripe I’ve encountered a few times: manually assign pre- and post-fader insert modes. The fixed 6+2 format isn’t always flexible enough (for me personally, in most such cases I’d prefer to make all eight pre-fader).

Batch freezing

  • a standard request and really a must for large projects: allow batch freezing for ALL track types. Batch bouncing is there. Freezing isn’t too different and in fact doesn’t even require a separate export dialog.

Selective freezing

  • allow selected freeze on individual midi blocks with adjustable trail (eg “selective freezing” within a track that freezes only a user-selected portion of it). While the frozen block is played, the track should switch to bypass mode. This is often necessary for heavy passages where instrument and note polyphonies get high. Examples: heavy percussive passages or full chord marcato strings, which often have a note polyphony of several hundred (due to crossfading within the patch). This would allow continued working on different parts of the same track while preserving the ability to play back the entire piece.

Group automation editing

  • another standard request: as many have requested, group automation editing would help things out a LOT. When working on orchestral patches, you 90% of the time tamper with expression and modulation, but to get really smooth transitions, oftentimes volume needs to be automated as well. When you have 8 patches that double each other, this amounts to 24 automation lanes that need to be adjusted. After a while manual copying gets really old.

Extended macro capabilities

  • add even more control to macros! A simple for instance - I get this strange echo sometimes that records double notes when recording MIDI. I spent a lot of time scratching my head over this, but eventually I figured out a workaround : select the notes and run “MIDI - Delete Overlaps (mono)” (reduces one of the copies to zero (or maybe 1/64) length) + “MIDI - Delete Notes” with a really small threshold value, which deletes the shortened notes. This still opens up a dialog, but is pretty effcient. What is not efficient is the inability to bind stuff like Logic Editor presets to keys cobinations or insert them inside macros. A fully recordable click-anything macro system would go a long way towards streamlining workflow. Visual Studio has this. Word has this. Excel has this. And it’s wonderful.

A more visual routing system

  • a clearer/more visceral routing system would actually be nice. While Cubase’s routing capabilities are commendable, it lacks the clarity of, say Reason, in large projects. While I don’t personally prioritize this, getting a bird’s-eye view of routing within a project is pretty darn essential when you need to revisit and old piece.

Allow me to use my computer while patches are loading

  • THIS IS SUPER-IMPORTANT: remove system-wide modality from the sample load progress dialog, which renders the rest of the computer inoperable while a patch is being loaded. Even if the dialog is opened by an instrument, Cubase has the ability to make this modal within Cubase, NOT system-wide. Loading a large project often takes 5-10 minutes (and I only have 24 GB of RAM while large studio projects can easily go up to 50-70 GB). However, what is even more annoying, is the fact that I can’t use my computer when I throttle frozen instruments, which need to be constantly unloaded and re-loaded from disk to preserve RAM.

Simultaneous instrument loading
I understand the volatility behind this, since Cubase has zero control over where sample data is kept. However, when you do have 4 dedicated drives for samples, loading from just one of them at a time seems just silly. SSD-s have great parallel access times, so do allow me to at least suggest to Cubase how many instruments might be okay to load simultaneously. For synths this is even sillier, since these require more CPU time than disk time, which can be really easily sourced to different cores. Luckily synths load fast at least.



THE ÜBER-FANTASTIC BONUS IDEA
Most professional suites in other fields have their own modding environments (3DS Max, AutoCAD, VS, etc). Add modding capabilities for Steinberg products and the community will take care of 80% of the things you don’t see a reason to address or don’t have time for. You won’t lose a dime. People will instead see increased reason to use your product and commit to it even further by investing in third party peripherals.

To recap, I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing my Cubase workflow, customizing my key commands, building macros and overall finding ways to efficiently edit projects that are way too large for my computer. I think I have a fair amount of experience, but if anyone can chip in any tips or ideas, I’d really appreciate it! Other than that, feel free to throw in your own ideas/requests - however, do also provide some reasoning or an example to put them in perspective!

To recap, I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing my Cubase workflow, customizing my key commands, building macros and overall finding ways to efficiently edit > projects that are way too large for my computer> .

And, having done these “favours” for Steinberg you now want a custom system? Somehow I don’t think they’ll be too pleased to slave away for the next ten years just so you’ll be the only one to bung them an extra $100.
Rather than having you wail around for several years on this forum it would be far easier for you to buy another computer or two to run your “way too large” Projects on. Mind you, most people who did these sort of projects used to manage way before Cubase got here.
If I were running Projects as large and involved as yours I guess I would be looking at the back end of some $30,000 quickly receding. At around $3000 tops for your system including Cubase I reckon you’re doing handsomely.

:laughing: Only 6 posts in and he’s overtaken everyone else’s word-count.

Agree with the above kinda. This was one of my personal “show stoppers” with freeze.

  1. You freeze tracks to reclaim memory so you can go beyond your available memory with large sample sets.
  2. But frozen parts don’t move. You can’t insert time, nudge, etc, and have frozen bits stay in time.
  3. If you have 8 gb of RAM and 9gb of frozen tracks and you need to insert a couple of bars into a song, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Steiny handles it’s edits in a “virtual” way, in the background, in many cases. Not sure why frozen regions - which are also virtual clips - can’t follow minor timeline adjustments without having to be unfrozen.

You have some great ideas in there, and I hope Steinberg is reading them. Specially the stuff about Frozen tracks, which are very limiting IMHO - even displaying the audio waveform of a frozen track and allowing editing (with suitable warnings about no longer matching the MIDI etc) would be a great step forward. And warping, as you suggest.

This shortcoming (which is well overdue for review) causes me to rarely use Freeze - I render tracks to audio and re-import. Takes very little longer and is much more flexible.

However I have to agree with Conman’s characteristically sardonic views (someone had to) that you really can’t expect Steinberg to jump up and implement your personal wishlist in order to ease your private workflow (I’m sure that’s not the point of your mail, but it does come over that way a bit).

FWIW, I think he’s right about running some of the libraries on another machine - what you need in this situation is a slick workflow, which you’re never going to get if the computer is sweating under the load. It sounds like you waste a lot of time juggling stuff around to keep the computer running. You must have already passed the point where the samples cost more than the computer, so it would redress the balance a bit. If that’s not the case and the samples were …er…a bargain, then you should be ashamed of yourself and definitely spend the money saved on a faster computer. And buying the samples.

Not taken with your uber-fantastic bonus idea, sorry. The idea of Steinberg developers spending even 5 minutes allowing users to tinker under the bonnet seems to me to be 5 minutes wasted. Forget it, they wouldn’t entertain the idea, and I don’t think they should either.

Finally, why even use Instrument tracks? Less flexible than MIDI tracks and no advantages that I can see…

Agreed - and to that end, is what VST System Link was (kind of) made for…!

To the OP - see p501 of the C6 manual for more detail if intrigued enough. Even any ol’ spare, low powered machine hooked up to your main one, may bring big benefits… You do need a similar soundcard/interface capability on both machines for this to work mind… :slight_smile:

Yes please!

Separable output routing for instrument channels
i think this is just a question of time…


Allow exporting complex presets with routing data
+1 000 000
and/or export the Audio for preview…
https://www.steinberg.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=24551

Tempo stretching for forzen tracks
but when we unfreez the Track wich control an Effect we could get maybe confused by what will happen…

Copy MIDI blocks from frozen channels

Manually control pre- and post-fader
hmm, that is one reason more to use Bidule…

Batch freezing

Selective freezing
i dont understand: when the track is freezed, the whole track is freezed?


Group automation editing

A more visual routing system
virutal wires^^ (why not)


Allow me to use my computer while patches are loading


Simultaneous instrument loading

THE ÜBER-FANTASTIC BONUS IDEA
Most professional suites in other fields have their own modding environments…

Can you explain?

Well, I don’t like the virual wires idea. I like the Cubase Routing and that it’s not
visualized like in Reason.

So -1 for this.

It seems that some of the performance problems have their roots in using excessive amounts of instrument tracks (as opposed to the VSTi rack, which I still find very useful) and possibly excessive amounts of insert effects as opposed to sends.

I truly would like to hear just a few bars of any one of your projects with all the stuff you describe.

I do think that the “virtuality” of studio technology has somehow made it less important to work in a resource-aware way at all.

I always try to remember the question how I would have solved any particular problem in an analogue studio (with real machines). It seems that any problem that could possibly have been solved with any kind of hardware (even in a very large and well-equipped studio) and no software emulation at all should easily be doable even with a 2012 average consumer PC without even getting close to maxing out the performance.

Well, in case of production I rather use the VST Instrument Rack
with multiple outputs. I just use instrument tracks for instruments
that do not have 'em (like Retrologue for example).
Sure, I use a lot of FX too. But most of the time I only use the Cubase onboard FX.
And most of them do not kill my CPU that hard.
It’s rather that I have opened an instance of halion and kontakt in the VSTi Rack with
lots of programs opened and several Instrument tracks for those who don’t have OP routing.
My problem also seems to be that my computer is not the most powerful that you could get right now.
Well, I’m still able to finish my work which is most important for me.
Still I find some of the ideas in this thread useful.
Not only for massive projects.

Best regards.

Agreed. This idea-locked way of working is totally non-productive and leads to a culture of people who want software to enable them to work the way they imagine they could rather than how they actually work.
The trouble with asking for and suggesting improvements for is that all improvements are born out of how people actually work.
ie: The composer finds a way to do something and then tells others how to do it and the technique evolves out of the practicalities developed.
ie: The composer gets on with doing what he does whatever because, for the composer, it has to be done because it’s a piece of music developed using the technology available and if he has to ask for the technology to be developed he will just not develop his art. Either that or his vision is so great that the whole industry will bend to his design.
As the physicist Feynman said when they built Cern after one of his sketches “Didn’t you trust me? You had to build it?”
He could function without it being built.
If you have to ask for all these extra resources for your huge “workflow” then, sorry, but most observers will wonder how you get the “workflow” in the first place.
I for one would certainly believe it if someone said they used good old pen and paper.
They’ve done very well with Cubase but it’s still not that accessible or immediate. In most musical compositional terms Cubase and any other DAW just allows the composer to throw a bit more crap at the wall. :mrgreen:

He’s such a clown. It’s getting funnier with every post.
The best thing is that it’s not even his real opinion.
He just made it his life-work to give a contra-opinion
for every thread. That’s what the con in his name is all about.

No, sonny. The forum is getting funnier and more unrealistic with every post. If anyone takes themselves seriously in here you know they’re in trouble.
I can only give contra-opinions to an opinion and not assumptions and fantasy posing as opinion.
And I don’t make snidy comments about you or any other poster because I’m not that insecure. :mrgreen:

Well, it’s not that I feel insecure about anything here.
But conman, seriously, if someone has a request it should
be posted here. Either to tell them that it’s already possible in
some way or just to imagine if it’s useful. A lot technologies were
predicted in utopias before their invention. So what’s your big deal
with people having ideas? Sure, I also work with Cubase and I like it the
way it is. But that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect already.

If you have such a problem with those posts, why do reply to them all the time?
I mean this one is quite a big request. I didn’t even read the whole thing.
Well, you did. So you’re still interested in those topics.

And you do make snidy comments about other users.
You just put 'em all in one sack.

It’s not a personal thing, conman. I just hate cats. :wink:

As has been stated already you’d be better off changing your workflow to using a slave machine,this is what 99% of people who work with your kind of projects do, and for good reason.


Keep your current machine as your master.

spend $1000 on an i7 32 gig ram machine as your slave.

Get Vienna pro


Load all your heavy hitting samples onto the 2nd slave machine and save as your default template.

that way your orchestral stuff is always available without re-loading in which ever cubase project your working on. Obviously you need to load up your slave first thing on a morning but after that you can jump between cubase project no problem.


MC

So what’s your big deal with people having ideas?

If the ideas are original and I haven’t seen them before a few hundred times, no problem.
And I will recommend you to the last post of Norbury Brook. The common sense way to actually do things like large projects as opposed to the smartass way to reinvent the wheel as an inverse square. :mrgreen:
That’s all the common sense you need but I guess “geniuses” have “ideas” and non geniuses just use boring old common sense. :laughing:

And you do make snidy comments about other users. You just put 'em all in one sack.

Huh!? :cry: :unamused: I don’t say who’s in the sack. If you want to be that’s up to you.
But I suppose that’s me being personal while you calling me by name isn’t.
Tell me off but you got to admit that’s a plonker’s ideology. :laughing:
At least I have something to say about the subject rather than insult posters personally.

I guess you’re right. As I’m just a non-genius it’d take you
or at least someone who’s close to insanity to show me
how stupid we and our ideas are. :mrgreen:

I didn’t mean to insult you. I was just cheesed off.
So please forgive me that I was such a bad-ass! :cry: :unamused:

And you just wrote it yourself: The problem of the person
who started the thread leaded to a post that might help him
to deal with it. :sunglasses:

We should stop to discuss this. This leads nowhere.

But,

Allow exporting complex presets with routing data
+1 000 000
and/or export the Audio for preview…
https://www.steinberg.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=24551

Tempo stretching for forzen tracks
but when we unfreez the Track wich control an Effect we could get maybe confused by what will happen…

Copy MIDI blocks from frozen channels

Manually control pre- and post-fader
the whole mixer: Multi-Instrument Track (Or save for F11Rack)

Batch freezing


Group automation editing

A more visual routing system
virutal wires^^ (more a joke, but i realy think this would be the greatest solution^^ but i think “Manually control pre- and post-fader” is one of the reason why this problem ocure )


Allow me to use my computer while patches are loading
Simultaneous instrument loading



are realy non+ultra features…

But this would be a feature of the VST-Plugin?
or you mean F11-Rack freez?

THE ÜBER-FANTASTIC BONUS IDEA
Most professional suites in other fields have their own modding environments (3DS Max, AutoCAD, VS, etc). Add modding capabilities for Steinberg products and the community will take care of 80% of the things you don’t see a reason to address or don’t have time for. You won’t lose a dime. People will instead see increased reason to use your product and commit to it even further by investing in third party peripherals.

I will later post here what i`m thinking would help:
You surely know that there are Solutions for anything, but th Problem is that we can’t rout Midi-Tracks @ anything,
without external Workarounds…

and the Mixer don’t makes it sometimes much easyer to find something, (because of sometimes “stupid routing” much “useless” channels, routings…)

this deserves a bump