Note: This is the second part of a two-part series discussing software for Film Composers. The first part covered notation software and can be found at this link.
It is not possible to be a composer and not come into contact with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) in your workflow. DAWs are essentially applications used for recording, editing, and producing audio files, thus, are generally the bread and butter software of any composer’s studio. With the amount of DAWs rivaling the number of stars in the sky, there’s no shortage of software out there that will do exactly what you want. For a long time Avid’s Pro Tools has been the industry standard for recording software. That said, Apple’s Logic Pro is extremely popular and, in recent years, has begun to rival Pro Tools. There are many other great programs out there as well such as Cubase, Digital Performer, Studio One, etc.
Regardless of which DAW you choose for your workflow, it is imperative to master its techniques. DAWs allow you the power and flexibility to produce high-quality temp tracks, full scores, masters, etc. In order to get the most out of your software, however, disciplined learning and exploration of the application is key.
I have chosen to use Logic Pro as my DAW for a number of reasons:
- I learned Logic Pro extensively as an undergraduate studying composition.
- Logic Pro is the most user-friendly music notation software to date.
- Logic Pro is the most comprehensively powerful music notation software.
- Logic Pro includes by far the best stock audio processing units in addition to virtual instruments. The “bang for your buck” factor is unparalleled.
- Logic Pro does not require an iLok USB key in order to use its software.
Let’s cover a few techniques within Logic Pro that should be building block tools of any composer’s workflow and project template. Each technique is accompanied by a YouTube tutorial I’ve created to help you learn. After all, it’s much easier to learn software visually than by reading a list of steps!
- Key Commands- Learn your key commands! They are immensely powerful in optimizing your time. Key commands will help you fly through any project.
- Audio Reversal- A stock trade in any composer’s tool belt. The reverse cymbal has powerful anticipatory character for a suspenseful moment or a pop track build.
- Templates- Optimize your workflow by creating Logic Pro templates. Score a lot of horror films? Create a horror template with your favorite sounds, samples, and audio effects. Master your own tracks? Create a mastering template with your oft-used signal flows.
- Signal Flow- Signal flow matters! Clean up your audio by approaching your signal flow meticulously.
- Flex Pitch and Time- Utilize these powerful features in Logic to conform audio to tempo maps, and correct any undesirable pitches.
- EXS24 Sampler- Not only a great tool for producers, but composers as well. This sampler should be a staple of every composers workflow.
- Mastering- A lot of people think mastering is black magic; they’re not really sure how it works. But every composer needs to at least be familiar with how to approach mastering their own material.
Hopefully these techniques take your scoring to the next level. Of course, there are so many tools and techniques to learn within Logic Pro X. For a more comprehensive archive of tutorials, feel free to check out my entire Logic Pro playlist on my YouTube channel.