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Installation

The Stage

The Players

Articulations

Playing Style

Vibrato

Features

Dynamics

System Requirements

What is Spotlight Strings?
Spotlight Strings is a SOLO STRING library comprised of 4 soloists per section and an optional "Ripieno"* backup section.
So it's 4 solo string libraries in 1, and THEN some!
-4 solo violins
-4 solo violas
-4 solo cellos
-2 solo basses
-Ripieno (Italian for stuffing or padding - refers to the bulk of instrumental parts of a musical ensemble who do not play as soloists, especially in Baroque music. These are the players who would play in sections marked tutti, as opposed to soloist sections. It is most commonly used in reference to instrumental music,)
-5GB

Why did you create Spotlight Strings?
Actually, Spotlight Strings started out as "Solo Strings 3" back in 2008. I was experimenting with Kontakt's LFO abilities to simulate string vibrato. This was due to the fact that I wanted to be able to have the user manipulate vibrato in any way so as to suit his or her needs. At that time, it seemed there was really no way to realistically alter vibrato speed, intensity or fade-in time in real time by merely using samples and crossfading. So LFO manipulation seemed to be the solution. And also at that time, it seemed to me that there was just no convincing way to simulate a good string player's vibrato using Kontatk's LFO's back then. It was ok, but not good enough. This was until I started really digging into Kontakt's LFO structue and some other related features. So it seemed, at least in theory, that there could be some possibilities. Sure enough, after a lot of sampling, and re-sampling and playing around with a bunch of Kontakt's modules, I found what I thought was a very convincing vibrato emulation. And after getting really good results from a single solo, I thought to myself, "Why stop there?" Since I have an arsenal of great string instruments, I decided that I would record at least 4 of them and then try to combine them so as to create not only a bank of 4 soloists, but up to 4 in any combination. It proved harder than I thought. All kinds of clever randomization and tone colorings were needed in order for the 4 soloists to blend together without weird-sounding phasing and chorusing. Once that task was complete, I thought it would be really neat to see how all of this would sound combined with a big string section. So I took some of the samples from Concert Strings 2, and put them behind the new soloists. The result, in my opinion, was very promising. However, to make this all work really well, I needed to completely re-script the Concert Strings 2 samples to fit this new sound.

How do the solos in Spotlight Strings differ from your other Solo Strings Libraries?
First, there is the recording of the samples. Spotlight Strings' solo samples were recorded using the Blumlein Pair setup. The mics used were Cascade Fat Head - SP Ribbon Mics. IMO, the sound is very natural. Because the Blumlein Pair setup pretty much requires a bit of distance, I recorded the instruments from about 7-10 feet away in distance. This required a bit of trial and error. Too close, and the sound was "tubby". Too far, and it got too thin. At the end of the day, the sound, compared to my other solo string libraries, is more full, has more presence, and will sit better in a mix.
But the BIG difference is how you can control the vibrato. Seriously, this is the biggie. You have full control over vibrato intensity, vibrato speed, and vibrato fade-in time. Any of these parameters can be controlled via velocity, MIDI CC or static settings. It's up to you - the user. And since there are so many different tastes, I put in 8 "factory" presets, and added 5 presets that the user can create. So now you're not limited to a certain style. You can do any style ranging from "Gypsy", Celtic, Bluegrass, Classical, Modern, and just about anything.
And then of course, you get FOUR soloists in this library.

CHART COMPARING KIRK HUNTER SOLO STRINGS LIBRARIES:

Spotlight Solo Strings Solo Strings 2 Solo Strings 1
Control Vibrato Intensity, Speed, Fade-in-Time X - -
Number of Solos 4 violin, 4 vioila, 4 cello, 2 bass 2 violin, 2 viola, 2 cello, 1 bass 1 violin, 1 vioila, 2 cellos, 1 bass
Stereo Samples X - -
Built-in and User-Defined Presets X - -
Additional Programming When More Than 1 Player is Performing* X - -
Includes Full String Orchestra X - -
Connect Bow X - -
Slur X - -
Portamento X X X
Jamboree X - -
Left Hand Pos. Shift X - -
Variable Staccato X - -
Legato Programming X X -
TruLegato Programming X - -
Keyswitcfhing X X X
purge/reload X X -
Sordini X X -
RapidFire X - -
*Additional Programming When More Than 1 Player is Performing
If you have more than 1 solist performing in an instruments, they will automatically "blend" just as real string players would do, so as to make a more "unified" and musical experience.

And how does the "Ripieno" section differ from Concert Strings 2?
So I put some of the samples of Concert Strings 2 into the templates of Spotlight Strings solos. Immediately, I noticed that the playability was greatly enhanced. This was because I created very detailed flex envelopes that manipulated parts of the sound without dealing with typical "ADSR" envelopes. For those of you who don't know, ADSR envelopes suffer a lot when you start adding attack time, etc. That's because when you do so, you invariably delay the time of the initial attack of the sound...which can really muck things up. However, if you instead use Kontakt's flex envelopes and then create a lot of "breakpoints", you can manipulate things with a lot more realism. Therefore, I believe I have achieved a very high degree of playability for the library. For example, you can get all kinds of realistic sounding passages such as fast runs, bowed runs, etc.