Hollywood composer Russ Landau (pictured), who got his first major break composing on the Sea Quest DSV television series in 1995, says that live orchestras are becoming rare in television. “The budgets in today’s TV programs usually don’t support the luxury of using a live orchestra,” Landau comments. “So my task is to create a sizable score orchestrally, without having to go out and record an entire live orchestra.” And, while Landau says that his preference is to work with live musicians, he admits that using the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) is a way to “give producers what they want on their terms.”
The trend toward library-based scoring hasn’t escaped the notice of producers and studio music department heads that rely heavily sequencers, giga studios and sample libraries, such as the Malibu, CA-based Ilio Entertainments’ VSL. “The end result of using sample libraries is that they save money. Producers know they can shave off $20,000 from an orchestral budget by using samples,” Landau says.
However, Landau says that saving money isn’t the only reason he turns to VSL when scoring for current reality TV projects Survivor 9, Fear Factor, The Assistant and Average Joe. “I make a lot of my own samples for individual shows and movies I score, because I don’t want my stuff to sound like everybody else’s,” Landau relates. “The great thing about using Vienna, as opposed to using loop-based orchestrals like Apple Soundtrack, is that it allows your work to sound unique, as long as you’re writing your own music.” Landau will soon be scoring the upcoming film The Lost.