Project Sam – Colours Adaptive Runs
There is always a buzz of excitement surrounding the release of anything from Project Sam, but this one sneaked up on us a little out of the blue. It’s not a huge flagship product like last year’s Symphobia 4 Pandora, however it is still something that existing owners are likely to want to add to their Project Sam collection.
The affordable ‘Colours’ series that currently consists of Orchestrator and Animator, now becomes a trilogy by adding Adaptive Runs to this line up. It uses the rather clever adaptive sync feature we first saw in S4 Pandora, to apply that same beat sync technology to a full collection of orchestral runs.
The library will require 14GB of disk space, this having been compressed down from it’s original 28.3Gb using the NCW format, utilising high quality 48 kHz 24 bit samples.
Running in Kontakt 6.4.2 and above or the equivalent free Kontakt player, Adaptive Runs has NKS support for use within Komplete Kontrol.
The various orchestral sections and combinations use NKI files for their presets, of which there are 15 in total.
Download & Installation…
Download can be either through your Project Sam account or directly from Native Access, and authorisation is via the latter.
A re scan of Komplete Kontrol in standalone mode, will add the product to your KK database on the factory side, and have you up and running promptly ready for use.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Mapping
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 & 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Bowed Strings, Brass, Flute, Reed Instruments, Sound fx,
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Cello, Ensemble, Viola, Violin, Trumpet, Concert, Piccolo, Bassoon, Clarinet, Oboe, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra,
Knob 7 – Character: Sample Based, Tempo Synced
Knob 8 – Presets: 01 Combo Strings & Winds full range runs, 02 Combo High Strings & Winds Runs, 03 Combo Flutes & Piccolo Runs, 04 Combo High strings, Flutes & Trumpets Runs, 05 Combo Combo Low Strings & Winds Runs, 06 Strings Full Range Runs, 07 Strings Violins Runs, 08 Strings Violas/Cellos Runs, 09 Winds Full Range Runs, 10 Winds Flutes Runs, 11 Winds Piccolo Runs, 12 Winds Oboes, Clarinets, Bassoons Runs, 13 Winds Flute fx Runs,14 Brass Trumpets Runs, 15 Brass Trumpets Chromatic Runs
Plug-in Edit NKS Mappings
Page One – Sync, Envelope & Effects
Knob 1 – Sync Downbeat
Knob 2 – Sync Beats
Knob 3 – Sync Seconds
Knob 4 – Sync Manual
Knob 5 – Envelope Attack
Knob 6 – Envelope Release
Knob 7 – Reverb Mix
Knob 8 – Limiter
Page Two – Microphones & Sections
Knob 1 – Microphone Mix
Knob 2 – Close Mic
Knob 3 – Stage Mic
Knob 4 – Far Mic
Knob 5 – Wide Mic
Knob 6 – Sections (Variable depending on loaded preset for example Violins, Flutes, Piccolo)
Knob 7 – Sections (As Above)
Knob 8 – Sections (As Above)
Page Three – EQ, Stereo & Tweaks
Knob 1 – Master EQ
Knob 2 – Stereo Width
Knob 3 – Pan
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Tweaks (Range Shift)
Knob 6 to 8 – Unallocated
For those of you who already own S4 Pandora and use the adaptive sync feature, then Adaptive Runs will need little explanation and already feel like familiar territory to you, for those that do not, then I will cover this shortly, as it is an important integral part of how the library works and it’s great that NKS inclusion is supported.
Aside from this, there are useful controls for attack, release, reverb mix, limiter, microphone selection, instrument section mixing as well as EQ, pan and Tweaks (more of which later).
These familiar and sensible choices of NKS parameter mappings fall in line with other Project Sam releases offering all of the vital accessible controls you will need to effectively use the library.
Adaptive Runs provides minor and major key runs for the Brass, Strings and Woodwind sections of the orchestra, and the presets do also offer combinations of each with the added ability to mix the volumes of each section.
The direction of the run is controlled from the mod wheel, in the down position the run goes from low to high, mod wheel up switches the sequence from high to low.
There is a global pan control, but not the option to pan individual sections independently of each other, either from NKS, or through the Kontakt UI if loaded outside of KK
The switching between minor and major key runs by default is actioned via velocity trigger, so playing a key softly triggers a minor run, while a harder press gives you major.
There is an alternate option to change this to a key switch trigger instead, however I was unable to do this accessibly, so I would hope that a way of implementing this could be made possible.
Personally I feel that a dedicated key switch is a more surefire way of selecting something as fundamental as a major/minor key, so having an alternative or even both options would be quite helpful for us.
The function of the ‘Tweaks’ control may not be immediately obvious from it’s slightly spurious NKS title, however it is actually a really handy facility that allows you to shift the entire playable range of the currently loaded instrument preset, up or down the octaves of your keyboard, which if you do happen to have a 25, 32 or even 49 note controller, will be a useful benefit.
Perhaps renaming the control label from ‘Tweaks’ to ‘range shift’ would be more descriptive, although it’s something you would otherwise quickly discover.
Hitting the Beat…
On then to the Adaptive sync capability of the library. This is Project Sam’s name for their clever scripting algorithms that enables you to time your events to end on specific bars & beats, or even non-musical time values like seconds.
This averts the need to nudge midi notes around on your timeline trying to achieve those important hit points.
As you can appreciate in a library like last year’s Sym phobia 4 Pandora, this soon became a real boon for media composers, for a product crammed full of cinematic risers, crescendos, stabs & hits, syncing to an important hit point is critical for film composition, and this takes that tiresome manual legwork away.
In Adaptive Runs the concept is the same, we can simply hit the note where we want the run to begin, and then using the NKS controls adjust the end point to suit our requirements, whether this be on our chosen downbeat, incrementally adding beats to taste, or the more finite time based option.
The length of the entire run can also be adjusted, from just a simplistic trickle of grace notes, to a wholly more grandiose four octave sweep, depending on the loaded instrument.
The scripting is intelligent and copes intuitively with the majority of time/tempo demands, when required it can employ the help of Kontakt’s time stretching, but in practice unless those demands are unrealistic, it performs admirably well.
With a preset like the Strings full range runs, the various string sections kick in according to their natural playing range, Bass, Cello, Viola and Violin, the strings you hear of course depend on your start note and whether there is an instrument crossover as a part of the runs overall note range, naturally though it is entirely possible to hold down several notes across multiple octaves at once for a fuller symphonic sound.
If you have a sustain pedal connected, you can use this with a note held, to revolve or ‘bounce’ repeatedly in an up and down cycle, which is something some will undoubtedly find of use within their compositions.
Close, Stage, Far & Wide…
Referring here to the available microphone choices, Project Sam have not disappointed in keeping with previous iterations of the Sym phobia series, and the same method of microphone implementation.
The close microphone setting reveals in beautiful detail across all instruments the clarity that the 24bit 48khz samples bring to the party, the bowing of the strings, tonality of the woods and vibrancy of the trumpets are pleasingly detailed.
In common day to day use most users will probably opt for a blend of several microphones, however there is also a pre configured and balanced mix with it’s own levlel control offering that cinematic Project Sam sound right out of the box.
Adaptive Runs was incidentally recorded at the same concert hall venue in Budapest, home to previous Sym phobia libraries, ensuring a natural sound integration with other products you may already own.
Reaper & Spoken Feedback…
It is important to stress that the NKS controls that are available offer equal usability across all platforms and accessible Daw’s. I am keen to maintain a non bias within these reviews, however I will briefly mention in passing the additional spoken feedback that those using Reaper on Windows & MAC, and as I understand also Pro Tools/Flow Tools users may benefit from when surface reader feedback is employed on the plug-in edit side of Komplete Kontrol.
The Adaptive Sync feature will announce the number of downbeats, beats and milliseconds. Binary states are spoken as on/off, pan will indicate a left or right value such as L15. Note shifts for the playing range are semitone values from the original root, and finally all other values are expressed as percentages.
There is much more to Colours – Adaptive Runs than first meets the ear, whether you consider the necessary immense pool of recorded samples from across all of the instrument sections that needed to be captured in varying tempos in order to meet the wide range of demands from the user. Then There is the scripting itself that instantly calculates the best sample to use with your choice of tempo and desired hit point, which from the programming perspective is little short of mind boggling.
Finally though, using Adaptive Runs boils down to the quality of the sound, which undisputedly stands alongside any other Project Sam product, and the interface which harnesses this technology and seamlessly integrates it into your creative process with the minimum of head scratching.
Happily, Colours – Adaptive Runs delivers on both counts, and will work harmoniously in conjunction with other Project Sam libraries to add extra musical control and depth to your compositions !
Colours – Adaptive Runs from Project Sam is available to purchase from their web site from Thursday December 3rd, Price 149.00 Euros.
Colours – Adaptive Runs Product Page:
Colours – Adaptive Runs, Overview with Guy Rowland:
Colours- Adaptive Runs Quick Overview:
(c) Chris Ankin
December 2nd, 2020
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based solely on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.