The Reaper Experience

KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
edited September 2009 in The Rock Band Network
Common Problems while authoring in Reaper:

Make sure you name your track.
[LIST=1]
[*]In the midi editor, click View -> Mode: Event List.
[*]With your cursor set at the beginning, right-click -> insert text event.
[*]Text = 'PART GUITAR', 'PART BASS', 'PART DRUMS', or 'PART VOCALS' and Type = Track Name. Click Ok.
[/LIST]
Place your notes in the right places.
Place expert notes in midi lanes 96-100. Hard, 84-88. Medium, 72-75. Easy, 60-62.

Well lately I've been rhyming and rhythming my way through charting music in Reaper. I thought I would inform others about what I encountered while the documentation and whatnot is still being worked on.

=Mixing=

Song: Megadeth - Moto Psycho/Coming Home
Those are two Megadeth songs, which I conjoined in Reaper. If you have charted any custom songs in the past (FeedBack anyone?) you probably haven't had the advantage of a digital audio workstation like Reaper. This allowed me to append Coming Home's first cymbal/bass hit to the end of Moto Psycho's last measure before its fadeout, flawlessly.

Count-in: I used a conventional two half-notes, then four quarter notes in the beginning to get the 1---2---1-2-3-4 effect. Reaper seamlessly took my ride sample and with the bpm that I had set, made a satisfying count-in similar to what you find in Rock Band.

=Charting=

Syncing: Much, much, much better. I'll again compare it to FeedBack (dB), since it seems that's still the standard for most charters. In dB, you have a black line with Guitar Hero-style circular frets on top of that. You have to chart the note that starts in the middle of that line and in the center of the frets. However in Reaper, you time the chart by looking at nice, thin lines. And right at the beginning of that line, or midi note, is where the sound originates.

Previewing: For listening to the audio track, and basing notes from what you hear, Reaper lets you input your own playback rate, that can be, get this, less than .5! (girly scream!)

Drums: Since I don't yet have the free Rock Band plugins for Reaper, I am forced to memorize what midi lanes are what colors. This is mad easy though. I got the hang of it about one measure in. And again, the plugins will add the colors (source: creators.rockband.com video)

Events: Adding an event is about as easy as adding a note. Locate where you want to place an event on the midi track, switch to event list view. Presto.

Finished Product: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ1s4RGobEw&fmt=18

Comments

  • afterstasisafterstasis Washed Up
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2833446 said:
    I downloaded the trial version and started playing around with it, but I still haven't figured out the MIDI editor. I figured out how to place notes but I can't play them back (there's no sound to represent the notes I made). Anyone have a link to a good beginner's guide on this stuff? :o
    if you're wanting audio to play off of midi notes you'll need a virtual instrument.

    http://www.kvraudio.com is a wonderful resource where you can find some pretty decent free VSTi's.
  • iruhlmaniruhlman Opening Act
    edited August 2009
    yeah many of us ANXIOUSLY await the release of those docs. Its a little frustrating that others are given a head start.
  • BillyBlaze314BillyBlaze314 Unsigned
    edited August 2009
    iruhlman;2834632 said:
    yeah many of us ANXIOUSLY await the release of those docs. Its a little frustrating that others are given a head start.
    Yeah, I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to let us see them so we can be ready to go when we are able to get the tools and the update patch for Rock Band.
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    afterstasis is right. Reaper comes pretty lightweight, so if you need any effects, you should search some up on google.

    Though I did not use one in the OP, since I've become accustomed to charting without playback sounds (I know I'll be using them for vocals though).
  • davidshekdavidshek Community Playtester
    edited August 2009
    BillyBlaze314;2834757 said:
    Yeah, I don't understand why it would be a bad thing to let us see them so we can be ready to go when we are able to get the tools and the update patch for Rock Band.
    Because the docs obviously aren't finished yet. If they were finished, they'd be released.
  • edited August 2009
    correct. They aren't finished yet. We're using the feedback from the Closed Beta period to refine and develop them for everyone.
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    Knucklesdude;2834798 said:
    afterstasis is right. Reaper comes pretty lightweight, so if you need any effects, you should search some up on google.

    Though I did not use one in the OP, since I've become accustomed to charting without playback sounds (I know I'll be using them for vocals though).
    Yeah, it's for vocals, so I want to be able to hear a piano or some kind of tone representing the notes to see if they match up properly with the song's vocals. I glanced at that site but couldn't figure out exactly what I need to download, but it was late and I had to go to sleep. :) I'll take a look at it tonight.
  • BillyBlaze314BillyBlaze314 Unsigned
    edited August 2009
    HMXEnosity;2834973 said:
    correct. They aren't finished yet. We're using the feedback from the Closed Beta period to refine and develop them for everyone.
    I guess I'm just a little frustrated because I was able to see what you had for about a day, and there was a lot of interesting and useful information.
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2835031 said:
    Yeah, it's for vocals, so I want to be able to hear a piano or some kind of tone representing the notes to see if they match up properly with the song's vocals. I glanced at that site but couldn't figure out exactly what I need to download, but it was late and I had to go to sleep. :) I'll take a look at it tonight.
    Since you play piano, try one of these: http://www.kvraudio.com/get.php?mode=results&st=adv&soft[]=i&soft[]=e&soft[]=h&soft[]=d&soft[]=w&type[]=8&f[]=0&f[]=au&f[]=dx&f[]=ladspa&f[]=rtas&f[]=vst&linux=1&osx=1&win=1&free=1&sf=0&receptor=&de=0&sort=1&rpp=15

    There's many choices. Synth would probably work well too.
  • afterstasisafterstasis Washed Up
    edited August 2009
    Knucklesdude;2835083 said:
    yeah, piano and sometimes organ for long sustains are probably the best "default" sounds to work with in my opinion.
  • AKALinkAKALink Road Warrior
    edited August 2009
    Do you need a midi keyboard to place in the notes though?
  • afterstasisafterstasis Washed Up
    edited August 2009
    AKALink;2835469 said:
    Do you need a midi keyboard to place in the notes though?
    no, there's a built-in sequencer.
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    Actually, that brings up an idea. I'm sure there's a way (I just need to find out how) to hook up my keyboard to the PC and "record" what I'm playing as MIDI notes and then edit it in Reaper. That'd be a heck of a lot faster than placing every note one-by-one with a mouse. :) My keyboard isn't one of those super-fancy workstation ones but it definitely supports MIDI.
  • davidshekdavidshek Community Playtester
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2836095 said:
    Actually, that brings up an idea. I'm sure there's a way (I just need to find out how) to hook up my keyboard to the PC and "record" what I'm playing as MIDI notes and then edit it in Reaper. That'd be a heck of a lot faster than placing every note one-by-one with a mouse. :) My keyboard isn't one of those super-fancy workstation ones but it definitely supports MIDI.
    Yep, I had the same idea after watching the video on creators.rockband.com. There's a brief clip in that video that shows one of the HMX Audio Team members apparently authoring a drum track by playing the notes on a small MIDI keyboard.
  • afterstasisafterstasis Washed Up
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2836095 said:
    Actually, that brings up an idea. I'm sure there's a way (I just need to find out how) to hook up my keyboard to the PC and "record" what I'm playing as MIDI notes and then edit it in Reaper. That'd be a heck of a lot faster than placing every note one-by-one with a mouse. :) My keyboard isn't one of those super-fancy workstation ones but it definitely supports MIDI.
    it's usually just a matter of hooking your keyboard up (either via USB or midi cables) and making sure reaper detects it, and if there is a problem (or you're simply ready for an upgrade) you can get a pretty nice midi controller suited to your preferences really cheap these days.

    it took me forever to give midi a fair shake, but now i use both my keyboard controller and electronic drums as midi controllers on a nearly daily basis.
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    Thanks guys, I've got the MIDI editor somewhat figured out now. :) My next question is, how do you set the proper BPM so that the gridlines match up with the song (as they do on the charts in RB)?

    I tried doing it by "trial & error", changing the BPM and playing the song with a click track over it to see if the clicks are in time with the song. While it may start out that way, it gradually gets off-time as the song goes on. I know that some songs intentionally change tempo mid-song, but that's not the case here.

    So basically, how do you figure out the exact BPM of a song? Is there an automated way to do that in Reaper?

    (Note: I'm just experimenting using an MP3 I have on my computer. I don't have master tracks or anything. I realize that may be part of the problem as I'm assuming it's easier when you have an isolated drum track.)
  • davidshekdavidshek Community Playtester
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2857782 said:
    I tried doing it by "trial & error", changing the BPM and playing the song with a click track over it to see if the clicks are in time with the song. While it may start out that way, it gradually gets off-time as the song goes on. I know that some songs intentionally change tempo mid-song, but that's not the case here.

    So basically, how do you figure out the exact BPM of a song? Is there an automated way to do that in Reaper?
    The problem you're seeing is not that you don't have the exact BPM of the song figured out. The problem is that the drummer did not record it to a click track, so the tempo drifts throughout the song. You're not going to be able to set one BPM for the whole track in cases like that.
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    davidshek;2858573 said:
    The problem you're seeing is not that you don't have the exact BPM of the song figured out. The problem is that the drummer did not record it to a click track, so the tempo drifts throughout the song. You're not going to be able to set one BPM for the whole track in cases like that.
    That makes sense. I guess there are some lazy drummers out there. :) Is this a common thing that HMX has to deal with, and now people charting for RBN will have to deal with? I've heard people complain of BPM changes in the RTTH cover from RB1, for example.

    On a related note, when a band decides what tempo to record a song at, do they usually stick with "standard" numbers or is it common to have tempos such as 172.3 BPM?

    Thanks. :)
  • edited August 2009
    Part of the authoring process is making sure the Tempo is properly Tracked. we have to do this on every DLC song and anyone authoring for RBN will have to do this before they start laying down notes.
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    trg007;2859307 said:
    That makes sense. I guess there are some lazy drummers out there. :) Is this a common thing that HMX has to deal with, and now people charting for RBN will have to deal with? I've heard people complain of BPM changes in the RTTH cover from RB1, for example.
    Very common! Take a live track for example, or Megadeth. The tempos are rarely consistent.

    To change the tempo, simply right-click (or shift+c) on the location in the track where you want to 'insert a time signature marker'.
    trg007;2859307 said:
    On a related note, when a band decides what tempo to record a song at, do they usually stick with "standard" numbers or is it common to have tempos such as 172.3 BPM?
    They can if they want to. The technology is totally there. ;)

    Don't know why though. Not really necessary, but you have bands like Protest the Hero going with all these technical time signatures, and tech death metal bands going at 300-400 bpm, so I don't know. :rolleyes:
    HMXEnosity;2859332 said:
    Part of the authoring process is making sure the Tempo is properly Tracked. we have to do this on every DLC song and anyone authoring for RBN will have to do this before they start laying down notes.
    Is the beat track generally the first that is created?
  • edited August 2009
    Knucklesdude;2859339 said:
    Is the beat track generally the first that is created?
    The Tempo Track is usually the first created by the user in the Midi file.
  • SHPhr34kSHPhr34k Opening Act
    edited August 2009
    Once the BPMing has been finished it can be difficult to go back and make changes without screwing up something else. Best recommendation is to test test test test... really give the metronome a good listen with the music playing... make sure it's all in the right spot before you lay a single note down :)
  • dragonflyrdragonflyr Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    look foreward to seeing the vid, knucklesdude.

    being a keyboardist, i have used daws/sequencers for years, but charting will be new to me...although i kinda think i already have a pretty good feel for the process.

    i've only messed with reaper for a few minutes, but .. is there not some sort of "tempo sync/ tempo match" tool? acidpro had this; you could plug in a audio clip/loop/ etc, and it would analyse the audio and present a tempo map that you could manipulate further if needed. i was really hoping there would be something like that in reaper?

    i'll look into it . . .
  • dragonflyrdragonflyr Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    http://benvesco.com/tonemonster/reaper/2008/reaper-tempo-map/

    didn't look at it too much ... but the above link deals with tempo mapping. i was just hoping for an automated process, even if it is one that requires manual "tweaking".

    guess i should read on more . . .

    btw ... tempo mapping will be much easier when you've got individual tracks or "stems" and you can point to the timekeeper track (drums be easiest to either manually or automatically latch on to).
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    Now I need to figure out how to create this Tempo Track...I know about the tempo change markers of course, but didn't know there was a way to create a separate track with this info. I wish there was a "For Dummies" guide on all of this. :)
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but fixing the tempo map is the hardest part of the process. I've charted guitar, drums, bass, and vocals all before, but as I can tell by playing Harmonix charts, the timing is absolutely essential (even critical) to the quality of the product.
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    Well I ended up making a video myself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ1s4RGobEw&fmt=18

    What I really want to do is use that channel for tutorials and such when the RBN (open beta) finally hits. Hopefully I have the time.
  • dragonflyrdragonflyr Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    very cool, knucklesdude. btw ... what happens when you miss or stop playing .. does ALL audio drop out? cuz you just made this from a generic (stereo) mp3/wav, right?

    but ... from a quick viewing ... nice chart.

    can't wait to get into this. although, i'm on a ps3 .. so i won't even be able to audition. maybe, once i get going, someone wouldn't mind auditioning stuff for me locally on their xbox..
  • trg007trg007 Your Ever Rocking RBN Forum Guru
    edited August 2009
    Knucklesdude;2865729 said:
    Well I ended up making a video myself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ1s4RGobEw&fmt=18

    What I really want to do is use that channel for tutorials and such when the RBN (open beta) finally hits. Hopefully I have the time.
    Very nice, now do a vocals chart. ;)

    Videos demonstrating how to do stuff in Reaper would be VERY helpful, as would the HMX documentation (come on HMX, get with it! :)).
  • KnucklesdudeKnucklesdude Rising Star
    edited August 2009
    dragonflyr;2866205 said:
    very cool, knucklesdude. btw ... what happens when you miss or stop playing .. does ALL audio drop out? cuz you just made this from a generic (stereo) mp3/wav, right?
    Yeah, I used mp3s (converted to ogg for FretsonFire), so I can choose to have all the audio drop out, or keep it in (my preference).
    trg007;2866242 said:
    Very nice, now do a vocals chart. ;)
    I'll do vocals for a song that isn't so agonizing to my eardrums. :o
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