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Hollywoodwinds | MusicTech Magazine

Rating: 9/10 Stars - MusicTech Innovation Award Back to Hollywoodwinds product details

Cinesamples develops niche samples libraries for film and media composers that fill specific gaps in the market - and this latest product is a typical example. After analysing other libraries, the company spotted a significant lack of non-ethnic woodwinds in tutti and ensemble form and set about rectifying the matter. The result, Hollywoodwinds, is a Kontakt-based virtual instrument containing a large collection of sampled orchestral woodwind material with advanced tempo-sync features.

Consisting of runs, phrases, chords, textures, trills, FX and full ensemble patches, the material comes with a choice of staged or close microphones or a mix of the two. Both legato and staccato patches are available where appropriate and a basic three-band EQ is also included.

Stacked octaves are common in film scoring and the examples here include a three-octave stack of instruments that encompass the soprano range and higher - oboe, B, clarinet, flute, E, clarinet and piccolo. They're cleverly voiced without any artificial range orchestration or doubling and sound totally convincing in use - very fluid indeed. The tutti patches use the entire ensemble and extend much lower, with some juicy bassoons to be found at the bottom end.

Closely voiced triads stacked across two octaves is another classic technique. Major and minor versions are available together here, which means that moving between the two is easy. These ensemble patches are mapped per pitch across the keyboard and are completed with a unique set of half - and whole-note chordal trills.

Woodwind runs and rips are an integral part of orchestral soundtracks but they are time-consuming to sequence and the results are sometimes less than convincing. To help composers along, Hollywoodwinds has a range of pre-recorded examples to choose from - ascending, descending and sometimes a mixture of both, across one or two octaves. These are triggered with the right hand and keyswitches are provided for the seven tunings, which as well as major and minor types also include chromatic and whole-tone examples.
The rips come in two flavours - tonal and atonal - and are available for short and long hits in a variety of instrument combinations. With so many similar-sounding runs, sleecting the right patch can be tricky, so a notated piano reduction appears in Kontakt to help.

All of the scales (but not the rips) use CITE (Cinesamples Inellligent Time Engine), which provides automatic tempo synchronisation. The samples were recorded at two tempi and the selected patch decides which one is appropriate to use. At that stage, micro adjustments are made to lock with the sequencer tempo.
A third section is devoted to textures and effects, the former consisting of tonal full-section phrases that will loop as long as a key is held. These range from marching patterns through light-hearted motifs to repeated chord patterns. Some are more useful than others, but our favourites included the chordal trill quarter notes and lydian thirds, both excellent for adding mysterious atmospheres to a score.

Initially sceptical of an orchestral library containing so much pre-recorded material, we immediately found Hollywoodwinds highly engaging thanks to its authentic Hollywood sound. If you already write orchestral music that's cinematic in style you'll find much of this material very useful - and in some cases inspirational. We mixed some close-mic patches with instruments from the Vienna Symphonic Library and they blended surprisingly well.

It isn't, however, a 'be all and end all' solution to woodwind writing and, to be fair, it doesn't pretend to be. A basic selection of solo winds are a 'must' if you're in the business of producing original-sounding scores. That said, this is an innovative and intelligent library and we wouldn't hesitate recommending it to professional and amateur composers alike.

Verdict: An original and innovative library of Hollywood-style woodwinds combining idiomatic pre-recorded material and samples ensembles.

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