Controlling Procedural and Physical Modelling Plug-Ins

Up to this decade recorded sound effects for the theatre have, in the main, been derived from recordings of the actual noise making animal, mineral, or vegetable, or a recording of an imitation of a realistic effect, made by other means. Physical Modelling has been more prevalent in the electronic synthesis of real musical instruments, as an alternative to sampling all the notes of an instruments range, with various dynamics and articulations. In physical modelling the characteristics of any instrument are distilled into mathematical formulae which can be manipulated to produce an amazing range of transformations within a single model. For a guitar the shape of the body, the type of strings, any fingering position, microphone types, amplification etc can all be derived from the model, where in a sampled instrument new recording sets would be needed for each variation.

In response to the needs of the computer gaming industry, these modelling techniques have been applied to sound effects generation, including atmos, foley and spot effects, and those engines are now being made available as standard audio plug-ins for DAWs.

This is a new frontier in theatre sound effects design, and one we may all need to explore and gain proficiency in.

Most of these plug-ins have been designed with the needs of video and film  post production foremost. The controls have very fine resolution and are designed to be recorded as lane based automation data in timeline based DAWs.

This chapter looks at how we can best use these plug-ins in a non timeline based system, like QLab. The main example uses TURBINE by BOOM Library – Rohrbach, Langer, Sillescu GbR. This plug-in models a variety of jet engines, flying  in a simulation of a real world environment. It is available on a 7 day free trial to see if it is useful in your workflow.

These Plug-ins are categorised as music devices, rather than audio effects, and therefore do not appear in  QLab effects menus. They must be used within another program, which both allows the plug-in to be hosted, and also to receive and send  MIDI and/or OSC data.

These  examples use Plogue Bidule.

Plogue Bidule is available as an AU plug-in, which can be used within QLab using some quite advanced techniques, outlined in this chapter of The QLab Cook Book:

AU Instruments in QLab

However, in this chapter we will use it as a standalone program. There are 2 reasons for this.

The standalone is available as a free trial, often with months available before it expires.

TURBINE offers 4 channel output and many plug-ins of this type will be used to their best advantage in multichannel environments.  Plogue Bidule plug-in can only be used in QLab as an insert on cue outputs, (not audio cues),  and these only  support 1 or  2 channels.  The standalone will support as many outputs as your interface provides.

There is no problem with running the Standalone version of Plogue Bidule at the same time as QLab, and both programs can share the same outputs, on the same audio interface without difficulty. We will explore using MIDI, OSC, and programming structures to optimise the control of these plug-ins by QLab.

Here’s a short demo of the sorts of things that can be achieved:

Warning:Large File (125MB) Very Loud Jet Engine Passes in 2nd Half of video. Monitor carefully. Best Viewed Full screen.

On the next pages we will look in depth at how all this works.

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