It's that time of year again! It's officially December, everyone's getting sick of Thanksgiving leftovers, and Christmas is pretty much in full swing here in America (sorry other holidays). Smart shoppers probably have half their gifts already bought, while busy (forgetful) shoppers like myself are still in the planning stage. In case you know a composer, or you are one yourself, I've come up with a list of relatively affordable film composer toys for this holiday season!
A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Personally, I prefer Digital Performer for film scoring, though Pro Tools has been an industry standard for years and Logic is becoming increasingly popular.
Digital Performer 8 - $499 on MOTU.com
Pro Tools 11 - $899 on Avid.com
Logic X - $199.99 on Apple.com
A Midi Keyboard
I've been using the M-Audio Axiom for years and it does everything I need it to. I have worked with a Keystation in the past and it was fine; I've never used the Komplete Kontrol keyboard by Native Instruments, but it looks kind of cool and people seem to like it.
M-Audio Axiom 61 - $320 on Amazon.com
M-Audio Keystation 88 - $199 on Amazon.com
NI Komplete Kontrol S61 - $699 on Amazon.com
These three studio monitors are probably the most popular for beginning to intermediate producers. There are definitely more powerful monitors out there, but for the price these ones definitely get the job done.
M-Audio AV 40 - $119 on Amazon.com
KRK Rokit - $499 on Amazon.com
Yamaha HS8 - $343.99 on Amazon
Judy Green Music has a score pad for just about everything. My personal favorite is the 2 groups of 6 lines with a click track. It gives me just the write amount of staves to sketch out my cues quickly and also gives me a place to write down the production information. Judy's manuscript paper has been used by some of the most famous names in music history.
Score Pads - $22 on JudyGreenMusic.com
The Complete Guide to Film Scoring
This is a great read for anyone interested in film scoring. Richard Davis was one of my professors at Berklee College of Music, he's a great guy and he knows film scoring. This book is actually a required text for Berklee's Intro to Film Scoring course.
Complete Guide to Film Scoring - $21.14 on Amazon.com
Sibelius 7.5 Notation Software
Finale has been the industry standard forever, and to be honest I can't stand using it. I find Finale to be cumbersome and unintuitive, which is the complete opposite of Sibelius. Don't get me wrong, Finale is extremely powerful, but Sibelius is very user-friendly and does just about everything Finale can do.
Sibelius 7.5 - $515 on Amazon.com
Just a few sample libraries to get your scoring template set up. I recommend all of these libraries below to complete your orchestral template; VE has great sounding woodwinds, CineBrass has a very cinematic sound, True Strike gives you some great big percussion, L.A. Scoring Strings has a ton of articulations and very realistic samples, and Omnisphere is a super powerful synth library that is used by just about every big name in Hollywood.
Vienna Ensemble Pro - $291.11 on VSL.co.at
CineBrass Core - $240 on CineSamples.com
ProjectSAM True Strike - $299 on ProjectSAM.com
L.A. Scoring Strings - $999 on Audiobro.com
Omnisphere - $499 on Spectrasonics.net
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
I've used these headphones for a long time and they're great quality and a fair price. They're very comfortable and they sound great.
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO - $99.95 on Amazon.com
Shure SM57 Microphone
The ol' SM57, the go-to for many beginning to intermediate producers and engineers. This is a great mic and you can't beat the price. High quality, durable, and versatile.
Shure SM57 - $99 on Amazon.com
A John Williams Score
If you can't read music, you're going to want to learn! For many film composers, John Williams is a bit of a hero; for some, including myself, he's one reason we even do what we do. Star Wars? Jurassic Park? JAWS?! Fantastic and iconic scores, and you can have them in your library of study scores (you do have a library of study scores right?).
Star Wars Suite - $75 on SheetMusicPlus.com
Suite from Jaws - $60 on SheetMusicPlus.com
Theme from The Lost World - $48 on SheetMusicPlus.com
What are you asking for this holiday season? Leave your wish list in the comments!
Film | Music
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