Hey everyone,  I'm new to these forums and I'm very excited to be here.  


I'm from Chicago and am scheduled to go to Columbia College this fall
for Music Composition (transferring in as a junior) and I would like to pursue film/tv/video game
music as a career. I am also willing to relocate to L.A. and possibly pursue a masters degree from USC in Motion Picture and Television Scoring if I don't get any decent hook-ups in Chicago while going through school.




I'm seriously debating upgrading my technology and getting some
sample orchestra libraries so that I can learn all the ins and outs of
these programs while I go to school.  Do you think that I should just try and use the macs and software that my school offers or upgrade and purchase my own?  I'm concerned that I might not get the amount of hands-on time to fully learn how to utilize these programs to their fullest if I'm fighting for lab time.

I currently have an outdated PC and Cubase LE4 and was thinking of either purchasing a refurbished imac (with i7 intel processor and upgrading the ram myself to 12G-16G) or upgrading my PC (getting new motherboard, 6-core processor, upgrading ram) and then upgrading to Cubase 6 (educational discounts are tasty!).  Upgrading my PC will be much cheaper (or even purchasing a new PC with equal processing/run power to a mac) but I know the industry standard is Mac (still, I've been reading about how PCs are just as capable for film scoring).

I was also thinking of trying to purchase VSTi orchestra libraries like VSL
special edition or ensemble pro or Hollywood Strings Gold, but I might
have to use some of my extra student loan money to purchase this new
hardware/software.  What libraries do you use and do you think trying to
purchase it earlier with some student loan money to have more time to
learn the software by the time I'm out of college is prudent or should
I just use my school's stuff and try to learn as much as I can during
lab time?

I feel like I should be trying to utilize my student status for getting educational discounts while I can.


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  • Hey man interesting post. I am an amateur composer and really love using sample libraries. I use it to make my music (https://www.youtube.com/thepianolovingman) if you are interested and it has really made me grow as a composer. I strongly recommend EWQL products and VSL (It's what the pros use for making mockup scores). If you have any specific questions feel free to email me at sk8foreverrrrr@gmail.com


    Eric Poretsky
    A place where my ideas turn into feelings into Music. Artists paint their pictures on Canvas while I paint my music on Silence. Music is a thought…
  • Speaking specifically to your question about whether to upgrade while in college or wait till you're out, I have to say do it while in college so that you have the time and undivided attention to work with everything extensively before you're out in the working world.  Also, your cost for almost everything will be substantially less while you are an active student.  The deals on both hardware and software (even on the mac side) are so much better if you're a student, that I have recommended that people sign up for school just to be able to use them.  Not working musicians, obviously, since most student software can't be used in some paid work situations (you should check these out before buying since you'll be working with some of this stuff after college).  The thing is, if you have even just a couple of years before you graduate, you will want/need to upgrade again before leaving anyway.  The hardware you buy as a student isn't under the same limitations as some of the software, by the way.  


    As for whether or not to use a PC - hmmmm.  I used to say, don't do it.  But, Apple is getting as proprietary and senseless about how often they change their operating system as Microsoft so it's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

    I use both and, with the right knowledge and tweaks, they are more or less equal (they each have their strengths and weaknesses which you've got to get used to).  All major DAWs are amazing - it's all about which you are familiar with rather than which is better.  


    One last thing I'd add, though, is that I still find it easier to hook everything up on/through a MAC then on/through a PC, especially when it comes to wanting to run a dozen different kinds of software and pieces of hardware at once (for example, while broadcasting a live show over the net and/or different brands of sample libraries or different DAWs).  If you are already used to that being the case, no biggie.  But, if MACs are still industry standard, I'd probably lean towards getting a MAC.  It's just easier to send files back and forth that way.


    BTW, I totally agree with Eric about EWQL (East West/Quantum Leap) - I have so many of their products, they should pay ME!  LOL  They're expensive but worth every penny in almost every case (I don't use one of the products I have of theirs as much as the others - but I have 6 so I can't complain).  They have sales which really make a difference if you already know what you want.  I got for the price of 4 and a half by working the sales.  ;)


    I agree with Ray, too, about having experience performing but I know people who do okay without that.  I think it's more fun and one's career is probably more satisfying over time with performing experience, though. ;)

  • Well I certainly have plenty of experience performing.  I play piano, guitar, bass, drums, cello, and sing.  I have performed all throughout my highschool years on guitar/piano/vocals in a band, performed in numerous choirs including a performance of the Messiah with an orchestra, and I have played in small ensembles on cello and played at recitals and jury duties.  edit: Not to mention I used to sing in a church choir all my life and I've performed at weddings and funerals as well)


    I love to perform music! =D But I also love to write, and I also work very well when given deadlines, so I think that pursuing film or television career would be good for me.  Sure it's a really tough path and there's no guarantee that I'll ever make it, but it'll definitely keep me motivated and working efficiently.

    Ray Kemp said:

    I always cringe a little when someone young says they want to score for films etc.

    For me there is only one apprenticeship for such work and that starts with performing music. As a trumpet player, a guitarist or even a drummer. In fact percussion is a major part of film music so drumming is good LOL

    Yes! study everything and anything but the experience of making the sounds to a live audience is invaluable.

    There may be exceptions to this rule so if you come across any, let me know.


    Have fun.

    Upgrade technology now? or after college? (also: DAWs and VSTs)
    Hey everyone,  I'm new to these forums and I'm very excited to be here.   Intro: I'm from Chicago and am scheduled to go to Columbia College this fal…
  • Ray - Indeed! ;)


    Michael - I had the feeling you must have some experience given that getting into the program you're entering sort of depends on that as well.  If it's anything like the ones out here (SF Bay Area).  If anything, I'd expect a program at Columbia to require even more than one out here.  I find California to be a bit laissez-faire about such things in comparison to the East Coast (grew up in Philadelphia).  Still, I have to admit that I've become a bit more relaxed since living here and that's not a bad thing given how much of a perfectionist I was to start with.  lol

  • I was talking to my husband about this and he reminded me of some things I didn't mention.  First of all, we both think it's better to buy a tower than an iMac of ANY description.  If you can swing it, it's worth it because 1) you can expand the memory further and you can do it yourself; the (more than 2) multiprocessor environment gives your software and other hardware threading and multi-usage options which don't exist on the iMac; 3) it will last you longer because of being more upgradeable.  I currently have a 8 Core Xeon Tower with 10 gigs of RAM and 5 hard drives holding 8 terabytes of space (mostly full, scarily enough!).  Not only are music files huge, music software (especially good sample libraries) are enormous and the ability to access them seamlessly is crucial.  Loading times for instruments and the ability to thread them efficiently is crucial.  So, although they cost more, towers are worth the expense in the long run.  Also, since the monitor and box are separate, if one goes south on you, you don't lose them both.  


    Another thing I forgot to mention is that I have a fully-functional and fairly seamless Windows box running via VMWare on my Mac.  So, I don't lose out on software (some of which is so much cheaper for PCs or which doen't even exist for Macs) or other Windows environment options at all.  That's one thing you can't do with a PC (run a Mac inside it in a supported and reliable manner - there are Hackintosh solutions but they are fiddly).  


    Last, but not least, you should look at the student loan options through Columbia's Mac store (or Apple Store for Education).  Last time I looked (admittedly it's been a couple of years), you could get a loan to buy any Apple equipment or software which carries no interest for a certain number of years.  If that's still the case, it would pay to go that route to get the best equipment for the task.

  • Michael, I kind of agree with Carla J on the PC route but- equally important, look at which system is "less" costly (Cmptr mgmt skills, existing SoftWare, etc) for you to upgrade to.  My experience in the I.T. world, is the advantage/disadvantage between PC & Mac are more subjective and truly depend on the person's habits who, will use the computer.

    1) You mentioned using VSTs; 2) You mentioned having been using Cubase LE4; 3)You also, mentioned about possibly "upgrading" your PC yourself.  For these reasons, those that Carla gave, and your own PC history, I agree the PC may be your better choice. 


    Not because PC is better than Mac or Mac is better than PC but because of the Global hardware standards for any type of DYI (Do It Yourself) on technology that you are already comfortable using. If you go PC, and go Win7, "do" get the 64-Bit version as the 32-Bit CPUs have a 4GB RAM ceiling. Cubase 6 (Pro Tools 8, Avid, etc) will have much more working resources.  In addition, most of the "top shelf" DAW Apps have a 64-Bit ready version. So, you can upgrade to Cubase 6 (or whatever the latest version) . Plus get a student discount. Often, as low as 1/2 the price.

    But if you do go Mac, you will not be hurting your music productivity.  Maybe a little time to adapt to the nuances of the Mac world. And I heard Pro Tools (The most popular DAW amongst USA Studios) has both a Mac & PC versions. And by all means upgrade from Cubase LEs. If you had a full blown Cubase for 1 week, you would never want an "LE" again! :-)

  • Thank you so much for all of the replies so far!


    So you think that using EWQL Platinum would be a good starter library for me?  Or some of VSL or LASS/Hollywoodstrings?


    I also see talk of Play Vs. Kontakt players, which one do you feel is better, more diverse playability, and more userfriendly?

  • I personally feel that Play is the best thing out there - I prefer to use it over every other player out there.  I have Kontakt, Omnisphere (which I also love but I still like the Play environment better), and some oldies like Chris Heins Horns (which are just samples - really tedious to load but sound fantastic - wish Hollywood Brass had existed when I got that Horns package because it's horns in the Play environment - I'll prolly break down and buy them when there's a sale on!).  


    I have the full orchestra from EWQL but the gold level - I don't need the extra mic positions that are in the Platinum level and I saved a lot of money that way.  I LOVE IT.  The sound quality is simply breathtaking.  Besides the orchestra, I have RA, SILK, MOR (Ministry of Rock), Storm Drums 2, and Gypsy.  I use at least one, if not several, of them every time I sit down to compose.  But YMMV - everyone's way of working is slightly different.  For me Play is the best in all areas but hopefully others will chime in here as well and give you some breadth of opinion.

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