19 February 2018

Cinematic Strings 2 Quickstart Guide

To begin using Cinematic Strings, select a patch from the instrument list and either double click or drag it into Kontakt.

There are 5 patches in version 2.0 of Cinematic Strings. 1st Violins, 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos and Basses. Each patch gives you full access to all microphones and articulations within that section.

Selecting Articulations

Selecting articulations can be achieved in 2 ways. You can either assign what are commonly known as Keyswitches, or use a MIDI CC.

Articulation browserA Keyswitch is a key on the keyboard outside of the playable range of the instrument, with the purpose of selecting between articulations, or interacting with switches (eg switching legato on or off). By default, we have used the octave below C1, ie C0 – B0. So while using these default settings, pressing C#0 will activate Tremolo, and F0 will activate Staccato. Switches like Legato can be switched on and off via G#0 and A0 under the default settings. These settings can easily be changed to fit in with your own working method. To assign your own Keyswitches to the articulations, simply hold "Shift" and click on any of the buttons next to any of the articulations.

The other method is to use a MIDI CC to select your articulation. Select "Keyswitch" via the drop down box on the advanced menu and choose your desired CC. After you select a CC for the Keyswitch function, you can then move that CC to the following values, to select each articulation and function within the library:

MIDI CC selection

0 - 10 Arco low position
11 - 20 Arco high position
21 - 30 Tremolo
31 - 40 Halftrill
41 - 50 Wholetrill

51 - 60 Run mode
61 - 70 Staccato
71 - 80 Marcato
81 - 90 Pizzicato
110 - live mode on

111 - live mode off
112 - legato on
113 - legato ff
114 - Staccato overlay on
115 - Staccato overlay off

116 - Vibrato on
117 - Vibrato off
118 - Releases on
119 - Releases off


On Off Switch

Articulations can also be switched off to save additional RAM by clicking on the switch to the right-hand side. Clicking the switch back to the on position reloads the samples for that articulation back into RAM. You can switch various articulations on and off and resave these Kontakt patches if you'd like to create your own database of individual patches.


MixerThe mixer operates just as you'd expect it to. Each fader will control the volume of the microphone listed below. Microphones can be loaded and unloaded from RAM to save memory if desired. In the patches provided, the Mix position will load by default – you will know a microphone is loaded when the blue light beneath the fader is on. If you click on this light, a yellow light will come on to indicate that it is muted.If you wish to unload a microphone to save RAM, simply hold shift and click on the area where the 2 lights are located below each fader. To load a microphone, click on that same area without holding shift


Legato, chords and vibrato control

Legato transitions are triggered by overlapping 2 sustained notes. Playing a legato note with a velocity of less than 60 will trigger a standard transition – this will sound without vibrato and smoothly transition to vibrato. If you'd like a quicker, more direct transition, play the new note with a velocity of 60 or greater – vibrato will come on faster and it will sound more energetic. This effect is subtle, but useful - practice and experimentation is key.

On Off Vibrato ControlTurning legato off via the switch on the main page will disable the monophonic playing mode and allow you to play chords.

MixerControlling vibrato intensity in realtime is possible via CC2 by default. You can assign your own CC via the drop down box on the advanced page. 


Playing Position and Short note switch

High and Low Playing positionUpon selecting the arco articulation, you'll notice the "playing position" dial on the right-hand side displays 2 settings – Low and High. Cinematic Strings features sustains recorded in low and high position. For example - playing a high position G3 on the violins (G one octave above low G) will be performed on the G string. This has a much smoother and richer tone than a low position G3, which is played on the D string – which sounds much brighter. Each have their distinct uses, and we recommend experimenting with each to gain a better idea of what to expect.

Staccato and StaccatissimoUpon selecting the staccato articulation, the same dial discussed above will now display the labels "staccatissimo" and "staccato." Both the playing position and the staccato switch can be selected in 2 ways. One way is to simply click on the switch itself, on the interface. The second way is via what we call a “velocity sensitive keyswitch.” This means that depending on how soft or hard you press it, it will alter the position of the switch upon changing to the selected articulation. 

Important note: Both the Arco and Staccato Keyswitches are “velocity sensitive.” If you press the Arco Keyswitch (C0 by default) with a velocity of 0-64, it will select Low Position, while 64-127 will select High Position.

Live mode

Live Mode

A big part of the beauty of an orchestra comes from what you might call "natural human energy." The sound of the combined efforts of 80 odd musicians working together in harmony to create something emotive. In fast passages, even the best orchestras in the world will go slightly out of tune and time with each other, and this effect sounds great!

With Live mode, we aimed to capture this natural effect. To use it, play a fast passage in staccatissimo mode – a fast ostinato, an arpeggio or a run – you decide. Live mode automatically splices custom samples into the mix which gives the feeling of players slightly missing the beat, being slightly out of tune – all the sorts of things you'd expect in a hectic musical passage. You can switch it on or off via the switch on the main page, and adjust the intensity of it via the dial on the advanced page.


Short note lengths

Short Note LengthsUpon switching to the advanced menu, you'll notice slider bars for controlling the length of your short notes. These work by shortening the first portion (the attack) of the note if you move the left hand side of the slider, and the second portion (the release) if you move the right hand side of the slider. This way, you can create a tighter, snappier sounding staccato, whilst leaving the release trail fairly long. Alternatively you could shorten them both to create a very short, controlled staccato note.

Staccato overlay and releases

While playing any of the sustain aritculations (arco, tremolo or trills), you can trigger what we call a “staccato overlay,” which as you might guess, layers a staccato sample over the top of the start of the note. This can be done by simply playing a note with a velocity of 60 or above. The volume of the overlay sample will increase depending on the velocity between 60 and 127. This is a useful feature for accenting notes.

Releases are triggered automatically via our advanced scripting system - which adjusts the volume of all triggered releases automatically depending on the volume of the current note you are playing and its position in the passage. We recommend leaving them on for maximum realism, but if you’d like to turn them off you can, via the switch in the advanced menu.


reverb slider

We've included a hall reverb preset which matches the sound of the hall we recorded in. This reverb can blend nicely with other reverbs, and is low on CPU usage (about 2% on an average computer). Click and drag to adjust the setting – drag all the way to the bottom to switch it off, control click to reset it to its default setting of +3dB, which we recommend when using it on its own.

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