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Composer Russ Landau Tackles Shrinking Music Budgets

Uses Vienna Symphonic Library orchestral samples to save money (August 20, 2004)

Is it a live orchestra or is it the Vienna Symphonic Library? Hollywood composer Russ Landau says that it’s often difficult to tell the difference. “I think that my scores [using the Vienna Symphonic Library] are just about indistinguishable from the small size orchestral stuff,” Landau explains.

And, that fact hasn’t escaped the notice of producers and studio music department heads that now rely heavily on composers working with sequencers, giga studios and sample libraries such as VSL, distributed by Malibu, CA-based Ilio Entertainments, to help rein in the high cost of live music. “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.

Landau, 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 says. “So my task is to create a sizable score orchestrally, without having to go out and record an entire live orchestra.“

While Landau says that his preference is to work with live musicians, he admits that using the VSL is a way to “give producers what they want on their terms.”

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. With the loop-based stuff, a monkey could score a film, but everyone’s film is going to sound the same.”

Landau, who typically works on three or more projects simultaneously, has been a VSL user since the product’s release more than two years ago. He says that he will soon be employing the Vienna to help score an upcoming film titled “The Lost.”

“When it comes time to start work on the orchestral portions of the film, the Vienna will be part of the mix,” Landau says. Landau further refers to the VSL as being an integral part of his “pallet of orchestral sounds.”

A former New York City bass player, composer Russ Landau is a Grammy Award-winning record producer based in Hollywood, CA.

The Vienna Symphonic Library is an Orchestral Sample Library of unprecedented sonic dimension. For the first time ever, the complete range of the modern symphony orchestra has been recorded in a specially constructed recording stage designed expressly for the rigorous demands of orchestral sampling. The library is produced by highly-educated composers, played by top musicians from Vienna’s world-renowned orchestras, recorded in 96 kHz/24 bit and perfected by a team of over 30 highly specialized editing engineers.

About ILIO Entertainments
ILIO Entertainments, based in Malibu-CA, is the exclusive North American distributor for the Vienna Symphonic Library. Ilio features the best in virtual instruments, sample libraries, and creative tools for professional musicians.

For more information visit


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Related Keywords:Ilio Entertainments, Russ Landau, Vienna Symphonic Library, Sample Library, musicians,

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