V.I. Control Forum is a virtual-instruments-applications-oriented-community that has some of the most highly experienced post contributors in real time. Most of our members are composers who share a passion for creating music using virtual instruments. VI Control Forum has become an important resource for thousands of musicians and composers all over the world. Many of these contributors are experts in their field.
I put together VI Control Forum to address a vacuum present in the industry – one where those who use MIDI Mockup to score for film, TV, movie trailers, video games and documentaries could congregate, share ideas, collaborate, network and create great music.
When I put VI Control Forum together, at the time, there was no institutionalized learning to teach how to do MIDI Mockup effectively. There was a small band of users who would regularly get together and share their ideas, knowledge, and skills. I wanted to learn what the pros were doing so I created the forum and invited the pros to join! I began to learn that way – many did. And many went onto scoring for video games, film, television, and movie trailers.
Historically, VI has been a composer-based community. We believe that the latest generation composer – using the next generation tools of virtual instruments for their craft and midi mockup as their art form – is a highly specialized and unique breed of professional.
Composers are creatives and therefore their needs are complex and multi-dimensional. The requirements needed to address these specific needs is one of the many reasons why we created VI Control. Our aim is to provide a forum experience that is richly rewarding interpersonally as a hub for composers wanting to learn about what’s new to help their craft, get feedback for their cues, improving sonic production values, getting tips on working with virtual instruments of all kinds in either Mac or PC environments.
V.I. Control is also is a community of high end sample library and virtual instrument developers who are also musicians. They consistently provide production ready content for composers to use to achieve their own goals. V.I. Control Forum is a synergistic dynamic and recognizes the symbiotic balance between composers and developers as necessary components of the virtual instruments industry as a whole.
V.I. Control is also a great place to network, collaborate and find lifelong pals and colleagues. V.I. Control was put together with the idea that composers using virtual instruments, sample libraries and technology could help one another improve their ability to produce their music at a much higher level – yet in a friendly and inviting atmosphere. V.I. Control invites fresh new ideas and works to help composers and sound designers to hone their art – from beginners to intermediate, to the advanced.
V.I. Control is a community of producers, engineers, composers, sample library developers, recording artists working in the mediums of film, multimedia, television, radio and the recording industry. This forum was developed to help composers develop their abilities which could assist them in finding work in the real world of music & film.
At V.I. Control, it’s really about musicians helping musicians.
Enjoy the forum!
Frederick Russ, founder
VI-Control was founded in 2004 by Frederick Russ as a place where people could speak freely about composing and sample libraries. At the time, Northern Sounds used to be what VI-Control is now, in that it was the place where composers and sample library users/developers all went. It was a great forum.
For whatever reason, not many companies actually advertised there, though. Probably because the rates were insanely high. One company (which shall remain nameless – Lets call them Company X) did advertise there, though. They also had their own sub-forum, which I’m guessing they paid extra for.
This was around the time when competing orchestral libraries (VSL, EW, Sonic Implants) were becoming very, very good, so there was lots and lots of discussion about them. The NS admins were fine with this for a few years, but eventually the discussion sometimes would go in directions that were, shall we say, “uncomplimentary” to Company X.
Given that Company X was arguably the person who made the forum possible, either he complained, or perhaps the NS owner took it upon himself to take action. It started with the deleting of negative posts about Company X. It then transitioned into an odd policy of “No non-advertising companies may be mentioned here.”
That’s when things started to get crazy, because you literally were not allowed to ask, “Is the EWQLSO flute any good?” People started getting banned if they broke those rules. Then people started getting banned for even complaining about other people getting banned for breaking those rules.
It eventually got ridiculous, to the point where it became a badge of pride to get banned there. (Got my badge right here!) Being clever people that we were, people just created new profiles. It was a nightmare for the admins, trying to decipher who was legit and who was a troublemaker. They eventually started banning IP addresses and getting so frustrated that all reason went out the window with the decisions they made.
Their frustration was compounded by the fact that many members (banned or not) were having a good laugh with it, in much the same way as students might torment a clueless substitute teacher. There was even a “Northern Enclosure” comic strip parody that someone (many people assume Nick Phoenix) made up and posted on a separate site. (Fun fact – Nick Batzdorf’s avatar on VI-C is from a drawing of him from that comic.)
VI-Control was not the only forum to come out of all this. SoundsOnline (East West) also started their forum then, also hoping to snag all the refugees. I, for instance, joined there before I joined VI-C. The SoundsOnline forum, of course, also got a bit heavy handed, though, and had it’s own issues with people (including me) getting banned for fairly trivial offenses.
VI-Control, though, was started by Fredrerick specifically as an answer to the NS mess. This is why the moderation here is ultra-light. With a few exceptions, you can say just about anything about any company. You can even mention other forums. Frederick never considered that “competition.” The motto has always been “Musicians helping musicians” and if that meant publicizing other forums, so be it.
Frederick’s wife, Cindy, had a huge hand in running the forum. Everybody loved Cindy. Sadly, she passed away in 2012. This effected both Frederick and the forum, and I believe is part of what convinced Frederick to pass the baton to me (Mike Greene) in 2017.
This is a great forum. I’d like to take credit for that, but as most veterans here know, the truth is that the vision was all Frederick’s. My role is to carry on that tradition. (And to keep raising those ad rates! 😉 )
So to Frederick, thank you!
What is MIDI MOCKUP?
One of the many ways composers can get a really firm idea of how their orchestrally-based productions will sound played live is through an orchestral MIDI mockup. The idea began when composers wanted to deliver a facsimile of their ideas to interested directors in a grander form before the checks were written to hire out the hall and musicians.
Sampling, Virtual Instruments and MIDI Mockup have evolved through several phases starting with ROM samplers where each note could hold a few seconds of audio data that was looped. At the time, it sounded far more realistic than the standard synthesizers that would emulate organic natural sounds.
Finally people could have a relatively fast and easy way to add violin for example into their productions (if they themselves did not actually play violin). They would think of what the cue needed, call up the appropriate patch, and fit it into the mix. EMU, Roland, and others were at the forefront of this new technology.
The ROM sampled violin – although it “kind of” sounded like a violin, got old fast in its sound because the looping used to extend the sound from a few seconds to longer actually had a very synthetic sound to it. Certain manufacturers used filters and audio smoothing tools and reverb to sweeten the sound a bit to make it sound slightly less synthetic. Korg and Yamaha tried their best to make it work and sound better.
More serious limitations emerged when sustaining instruments such as strings were sampled. Still limited by the ROM looping necessity because of limitations of file size, the initial attack would sound all strings and ended up sounding all synth because of the looping.
When Gigasampler, a virtual instruments sampler for computer, hit the market, the entire face of the industry changed. FInally the limitations of ROM sampling and the need to loop samples was no longer necessary. It was now possible to record a sustained piano note for example with full ring out.
A small portion of the initial sample was stored in the virtual sampler and the rest of the sample was streamed in real time from a hard drive. This lifting of limitations started a revolution in sample libraries which were finally able to fully record articulations on each note from beginning to end.
Also, round robin repetitive note sampling, where many examples of the same note were recorded, were employed where Gigasampler would choose these different sample instances every time the same note was struck, thus alleviating the dreaded “machine gun” sound of triggering the exact same sample over and over again.
Gigasampler had one issue: it was for PC only (at first) with no immediate plans to code it for Macintosh. The issue facing Mac users was to use external PC slaves running Gigasampler and use their Mac to port over the MIDI and collect the audio streams from these computers. It was an added expense.
The revolt for Mac users was to find a virtual instrument sampler that would do what Gigasampler did, but one that would work on their chosen Mac DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in the box. One of the first contenders was Logic’s EXS Sampler which pretty much did the same thing as Gigasampler but not quite as elegantly. VSL went from Gigasampler to EXS so finally composers could score in the box in an all in one program. This brought a lot of users over to Logic’s sequencing engine.
Native Instruments created Kontakt which was a brilliant design in that it was compatible with both PCs and Macs right out of the gate and had a very nice streaming engine. Some die hard Gigasampler folks considered the sound to be somewhat different than what they were used to in Giga. Sound tests seemed to confirm otherwise. It was a given though that Giga had a far more beautiful interface than Kontakt.
Kontakt had a problem though: piracy. Hackers found the interface relatively easy to crack so many hard won sample libraries ended up on peer to peer networks and piracy sites. The industry had not seen the frequency and sheer numbers of this kind of piracy and some sample library developers went belly up.
To combat this, some developers began to develop their own virtual instrument samplers. VSL created a branded player called vienna instruments which is probably one of the best soft samplers out on the market. It was difficult to hack. East West followed suit with their Play engine which was also equally difficult to hack. Yellow Tools also developed a strong soft sampler contender. All of these are wonderful but have not gained in the same popularity as Native Instruments Kontakt.
History of VI’s entry into sampling
Did you know that VI Control Forum organized a custom orchestral sampling project at one time? Not everyone is aware. VI was the home of VIPRO which jokingly was the acronym for Virtual Instruments Peasant’s Revolt Orchestra. Why was it dubbed that?
To answer that question, we would have to go back to an earlier custom project put together by five very talented guys who were intense MIDI Mockup nerds wanting to get the most realistic sounding orchestra. They called it Project Prague, or PP for short.
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