There's been some discussion lately in the Sonar forums about the use of project templates. I find that a good template can greatly ease the work required for a new project. Even editing existing projects is easier because there is a common structure being used. You know where to look for tracks and settings. You know how your instruments are set up, which channels are used, what the common bus routings are, etc. Here;s how I set my main template up for orchestral work.
Sonar has both track and project templates. We will be reviewing the use of project templates here. In Sonar, a project template can contain information about the tracks, their settings, virtual instrument tracks, the virtual instruments themselves, mixing console settings and more. I've set up my template to preset the following things:
MIDI track folders for each section of the orchestra
MIDI tracks for the common articulations for each instrument
Empty VSTi's for each instrument
MIDI routings from the tracks to the VSTi'section
Effects sends for each section with the most common reverb loaded
Initial CC data for each track
Screen layout with markers and console on second monitor
Here's a snapshot of the main screen. You can see the track folders collapsed at the left side and the synth rack preloaded with instances of each VSTi on the right.
Track folders are something that Sonar offers. Not every DAW will have this feature. They work great to keep large projects organized and makes it easier to quickly locate a particular track. I group tracks by orchestra section. The tracks and folders are ordered in score order. That's just my preference. You could order them any way you like. Here's a shot of the strings folder opened up:
The cello and bass sections are set up exactly the same way. You can see that I've preset tracks to certain articulations, the most common ones I use. Since I usually compose with EWQL Holly wood Orchestra, I need to set up separate tracks for each articulation. Each track is preset to route to the correct VSTi and to the correct channel on the VSTi. I always use the first 5 channels on the VSTi in the order shown. For example, Pizzicato is always channel 4. I also preset the automation lanes for the common CCs needed to control the VSTi. THe initial values are set to something that is akin to mf and medium vibrato. Here's how the violin track is set up:
I know OMNI inputs can cause issues but I use a control surface to send multiple CCs while playing the notes on the keyboard controller, so initally all tracks are set to OMNI.
The VSTi's are also setup in score order. It makes it easier to relate the sections to their VSTi. I do not load any samples in the template. I may only use a few of the articulations and I may not even use an entire section in a particular composition. You also might wonder why so many instances of EW PLay. Play works more efficiently if you have multiple instances set up so your DAW and the OS can use multiple CPUs. My PC has 8 CPU cores and having many instances of Play allows the DAW to distribute the processing across all eight cores.
I also set up the send routings and console view just the way I like it. I place the console on the 2nd monitor along with the marker view. Setting the template up this way means that I can get down to writing very quickly and I know exactly how the project and each track is set up. I think it saves quite a bit of time and keeps tech stuff from killing creativity. Hope this is helpful to someone!