Vienna Instruments, Garritan, Kirk Hunter Studios are a few of the many names that manufacture computer based sample libraries for creating realistic sounding music scores. The score and music cues these days are very often the combination of an orchestra and computer based electronic music, computers and sampling technology in general have made it possible for even very low budget films to have a great sounding score. Orchestral scores can easily be made up using Vienna Instruments or East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra for instance, and your low budget film will sound like you had a full on orchestra playing the score for you.
Are sample orchestras as good as the real thing?
No, but they certainly help smaller films obtain a great sounding score cheaply, and they do sound great, the best of these huge sample libraries are used in several top TV shows because it is easy to write and record music quickly and cheaply without employing a full orchestra. I even know first hand of instances where parts of a score were played and recorded by real musicians, and then later re-recorded with a high end sample library, and to be honest the computer version sounded at least as good and was the version that was eventually used, and no one even noticed.
In bigger budget films many composers nowadays do a mockup of the score and cues using computer based samples like those in Vienna Instruments, this enables the director and the composer to see how well it works, it can then be re-recorded using a full orchestra playing to picture once everyone is satisfied.
If you need an orchestral score and you are on a tight budget, then using a composer who works with a MIDI orchestra is your best choice. There are also many great library disks of orchestral music available when budget is a factor.
Here are some orchestral sample library links and tutorials for anyone interested in finding out what they sound like and how it’s done. There are many more but I have kept to the ones I am familiar with.
The first one, Garritan Personal Orchestra gets the Music For TV vote and my vote also for someone just getting into writing scores with computer sample libraries. This package has been around a long time and comes in at less than $170. There are better more fancy libraries like Vienna Instruments for instance, but for price and sounds this is a hard one to beat unless you have five times as much money to spend.
Garritan Personal Orchestra 4.0 Standard
This is a free scoring course for download:
Principles of Orchestration