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Albatross' guide to making CDLC


albatross213
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This will be spread across multiple posts for reasons of organization. For a while a lot of the posts will just be placeholders, but I'll eventually fill things out. This will be pretty comprehensive, and I hope touch on some things that aren't addressed in other tutorials, and also bring together a lot of accumulated knowledge that's now scattered across this site. It will also be in mostly text and pictures, simply because it's easier to update text and pictures than video, and probably less time-consuming overall for both me and you.

 

I'll probably be skipping some of the more basic things that are contained in other tutorials. For example, the basics of what programs you'll need and how to arrange them are covered in @@Darjusz's tutorial. Some of the later material is outdated because of updates to the software from some of our hardworking developers (for example, you don't need to work directly with Wwise anymore, but can instead put guitar.ogg into the toolkit and it will produce the .wem from that), but it provides an excellent introduction to most of the tools you'll be using.

 

Also, don't expect every CDLC of mine to perfectly implement everything that I mention here. Some things I've learned since making certain CDLC and haven't updated yet, others I might have decided weren't worth the time for the song, and so on and so forth. We do this as a hobby, so we can't really expect everything to make everything perfect. But if we find a flaw, we should notify the creator so it can be fixed - fixing this will not only improve the quality of that CDLC, but also likely will help improve subsequent output from that charter.

 

 

I guess I'll start with my philosophy on making CDLC. 

 

First thing is to do what I can to make sure things are accurate. My sense of rhythm is pretty good, so it's pretty easy for me to tell if something is off rhythm or not once synced. My sense of pitch is pretty bad, but even so I can usually tell if something (like in a guitar solo) goes significantly higher or lower than the tab and the melody is completely off. If I see things like this that are off, I then have to decide whether to scrap the project, fix it myself, or release as is and try to get someone from the community to help with fixing it.

 

Next is to make learning the song more approachable - you shouldn't (intentionally or unintentionally) make it harder to learn a song. There's a lot to do here, some of which may get noticed (RR sections and DD), but much of which probably won't (Fret Hand Positions/FHP, chord fingerings) but can still be very important, especially for songs that beginners will play or will prove popular.

 

 

The rest of this guide will be spread throughout several replies to this post. The topics will include (they will be presented in this order, but probably won't be written in this order):

I'm almost certainly not the foremost expert in all of these subjects on here, so if anyone wants to assist in the writing on some of these subjects, or just present an alternative perspective on one, all help would be greatly appreciated. Also, if there are any other topics you think should be included, let me know!

 

 

It's a little hard to judge the quality of a DLC without playing it, but here's a rough guide of what I'd consider important for a good DLC that I'll come back to often and enjoy playing. The exact order can depend on the content of the DLC (techniques, chords, arpeggios, etc.), so don't take the order too seriously.

 

The essentials:

  • Accurate tab, with good fretboard logic
  • Beat synced, not note synced
  • High quality audio
  • Useful RR sections. If there's something that's both new and hard (it could be a chord progression, a new idea in a solo, a fill, etc.), it should be towards the beginning of a section, and I shouldn't have to wait too long to practice it each time around.
  • Well done slides. Too many bad slides (which often means slides left alone after import, as a lot of tabs manage slides incorrectly) can ruin the experience of an otherwise good custom. Pay attention to slide timing, whether it should be legato or not, whether it's a slide in or a slide out, and whether the slide should be pitched or unpitched.
  • Tones. At the very least, have a tone. Even if you can't come up with tones that fit every part of the song exactly, it's better to have something (that people can switch away from if they choose) than to break the tone engine of everyone who ever plays your DLC.

Of great utility (sometimes):

  • FHP. This is especially important for tapped sections, or places where the index finger is rooted and one reaches over more than 4 frets (quite common in solos given the size of frets higher up the fretboard, but also possible lower down). If these aren't done manually it can create a lot of visual clutter and be quite confusing, which does not help anyone trying to learn these (generally tough) passages.
  • Chord fingerings. It can sometimes be a bit of a chore to enter them all, but it's really frustrating trying to learn a new chord while actually playing the song (especially if its chord pane is partially obscured by other chord panes), and if you don't put in the chord fingering (and maybe a chord name), it won't appear in the chord book.
  • Suitable scroll speed. The RSToolkit default of 2.0 is often way too slow. Most official DLC have a scroll speed of 1.3, and some are faster. More technical songs often benefit from higher scroll speeds, and rhythm and lead often benefit from faster scroll speeds than bass (so that chord panes get space out appropriately). It's down here because if people dislike your scroll speed, it's one of the easier changes to make.
  • DD. It's also reasonably simple for the user to add if the charter doesn't, but more time consuming. I don't consider it essential since I'd usually rather play the full riff at a slow speed than a simplified version at full speed so I don't use it very much unless I absolutely can't sightread something. But I know many others will disagree with me and consider it essential.
  • Good use of tech notes and techniques. Accurate bends can add a lot of nuance to a solo. Good use of handshapes and arpeggios can make it much easier to understand complicated passages. Using the wrong techniques in some places can be confusing (for example, harmonics shouldn't have slides, bends, or vibratos, but pinch harmonics can have these techniques. Also palm muting vs. fret hand muting, as sometimes tabbers get these wrong, or just leave out palm mutes).

Nice to have:

  • Alternative/bonus arrangements. If there are multiple guitarists that trade off solos, it might be nice to have arrangements for each individual guitarist in addition to a lead path that has all solos. If a custom uses a 5-string bass, it is nice to have an arrangement for 4-string bass so that most people can play it.
  • Lyrics. And please, if you're going to go to the effort of making lyrics, make sure they're synced appropriately and have line breaks at natural places (I've seen a lot of CDLC with the entire song as one line, which means the game makes line breaks once enough text has accumulated, which only rarely coincides with actual lines).

Most of the other posts will expand on the topics introduced in this post. Thanks for reading!

Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of spectrogram view. Here's an old post I made about it. Now in progress.

 

What is spectrogram view?

 

Spectrogram view is an alternative way of viewing the waveform for the song. Rather than showing you the waveform itself, it shows you how intense each frequency is over each short time interval in the song (for those who are more mathematically inclined, it basically shows the Fourier transform of the waveform for each time interval).

 

http://i.imgur.com/tXNX3ln.png

 

Above is how spectrogram view looks for the beginning of a Rolling Stones song in EoF. Left to right (obviously) represents time

 

The bottom of the spectrogram view represents the bass and bass drum frequencies, the lower-middle is roughly where rhythm guitar and vocals usually sit, the upper-middle is roughly where guitar solos usually sit, and the top is where higher harmonics of guitars and some cymbal noises and things like that reside.

 

The colors represent the intensities for each frequency block in each time interval. Colors towards the bluer end of the spectrum represent low intensities, while colors towards the redder end of the spectrum represent higher intensities, with the highest intensity being the darkest red.

 

 

Tips for "reading" spectrogram view:

 

One of the first things you probably notice with the above image is that there are vertical lines where there are clear "peaks" of higher intensity that are spaced pretty regularly. These usually correspond with beats (or in music with more complex drumbeats, something that the drums are doing, as drums tend to be the loudest and least sustained things in any mix), and so are one of the things you'll want to pay attention to when syncing the songs. Using these as guides, I synced the measures in EoF to the notes, which looks like this:

 

http://i.imgur.com/Lg9dd8v.png

 

You can see how now the beats in EoF now correspond with the intensity peaks in the spectrogram.

 

To this point, I haven't really shown you anything you can't do in waveform view, as these intensity peaks are also pretty clearly apparent in waveform view for this song. However, for some songs, the waveform peaks aren't nearly as apparent, particularly in newer metal that's been compressed due to the loudness wars.

 

For example, look at this waveform:

http://i.imgur.com/uO8yhSE.pngIt's in sync, but that's not particularly obvious, since it's not always obvious what's a "beat spike" and what's a "random noise spike". However, in spectrogram view, it looks like this:

http://i.imgur.com/TTLZu81.pngHere, you can see things slightly easier using spectrogram view, as drums and bass can stand out in the low end even when the overall intensity spikes aren't too dramatic.  For example, in measure 38, you can clearly see bass drum kicks on the 1, and after one and two dotted eighth notes, and that these lie exactly where they should between the beat markers.

 

So, learning to read the drums in the spectrogram are also an important skill, particularly if you're charting metal. The bass drum, as seen above, tends to make the lowest frequency block of the spectrogram deep red for one time block.

 

Here's another fast drum beat that alternates the bass drum and... I'm not really good with identifying drums. Not sure if it's toms or snare, but the bottom of the frequency range is probably 100-150 Hz:

http://i.imgur.com/hyTn8pM.png

The bass drum hits on the beat and every eighth, while the other drum hits halfway between those in a higher frequency range. By the fact that the bass drums are evenly spaced between the beat markers (though they seem to lag the start of measure 156 slightly), you can tell that the tempo I have entered is pretty close to correct. To tell whether each beat is where it's supposed to be, you can use the audio to detect whether the guitar notes shift at the right times, and also look to the start or end of this riff, where there will be more obvious changes in the guitars and/or drumming.

 

Just for comparison, I took this same part of the song (not the exact same part or track, but it's quite close) and set the tempo off, so you can see what it looks like when the tempo isn't right:

http://i.imgur.com/UChvflN.png

Here you can see that the beats in measure 155 are pretty close to correct, but by the time you get to measure 156 and (especially) 157 that the beats have drifted off, and that the signatures of the drum that you can see in the spectrogram are gradually moving left of the beat markers, which shows the tempo set is slower than the tempo of the song. Similarly, if the tempo set is faster than the song, you'd get behavior where the drum beats are moving to the right relative to the beat markers.

 

Spectrogram view and slides:

 

The above is all about intensity peaks, but you can also use spectrogram view to help with charting things that happen to sustained notes, such as slides and bend. While vertical lines in spectrogram view tend to be related to intensity peaks, horizontal lines are related to sustains, so if you see a continuous line move smoothly up or down, it usually means that there's a slide or bend there, which can help you figure out the timing of the slide more precisely.

 

For example, here is an example from the end of Long Distance Runaround, where the bass does an octave slide up.

 

http://i.imgur.com/tz8YDJO.png

 

In the spectrogram for this image, you can see at the bottom that the intensity in the bass frequencies moves up between about 3:25.6 and 3:26, where I have the slide start and end. You can also see this in the harmonics, a little bit above the notes, where there's a clear upward trajectory leading into the 3:26 mark. It's a little hard to tell exactly where the slide begins (for that you'll have to use your ear and slow playback if you want to get it exactly right), but the end is pretty clear.

 

You tend to be able to see these types of things more clearly with guitar, especially in guitar solos. Here's an example at the end of a solo:

 

http://i.imgur.com/Ti4lLdZ.png

 

Here, below the green 13 note, you can see the sustain in the spectrogram, and you can see it transition into a slide down where I have the slide beginning in EoF. The choice of the endfret is somewhat arbitrary, but you can see things in the spectrogram go down several "steps", so somewhere around fret 5 seemed reasonable. And it's an upitched slide, to the exact endpoint doesn't really matter.

 

You can also see bends in the spectrogram view, but the idea is basically the same as with slides, so I'll save that for the later section where I talk about charting bends.

Edited by albatross213

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Placeholder for discussion of syncing. In the meantime, there are other good tutorials out there (though somewhat different from the way I do it), like this one by @@GetTheLedOut. See also the GoPlayAlong Tutorial by @@Brooklyn_Sounds.

 

Since syncing is the fundamental thing in making a DLC, this will be a pretty extensive section.

 

 

First steps:

 

Before starting to sync, you should add leading silence to the song audio if the song starts immediately. I usually aim for the first note to occur around 4 seconds into the song to give players time to get ready. When adding leading silence, the streaming option doesn't work very often, so you should use the re-encode option to be safe (and find something else to do for a short time while waiting).

 

If there's an extended wait for the part of the song with guitars and bass to start, sometimes I'll trim the audio down so that starts sooner, which you can do in Audacity be selecting the audio you want, exporting the selected audio as a .ogg (use quality 10), and loading that .ogg in EoF.

 

Once that's done, it's also good to set things so that there's a measure before the first notes in the song. You can do this by pushing the offset back the appropriate number of beats (4 beats for a 4/4 time signature), or by adding a measure to the start of the GP file and then importing the file. I usually use the bass track if it's available. My reasons are roughly

  • Basses rarely play chords, so they block the view of the spectrogram (or waveform) less. Sometimes I'll switch over to a difficulty I'm not using in EoF so the notes don't block the view of the bottom blocks of the spectrogram to check how the sync is doing.
  • Bass is often locked in with the drums, and as I've noted before, drums are loud, transient, and leave identifiable signatures in spectrogram view. Consequently, a lot of syncing for me is moving bass notes onto drum beats in spectrogram view.

 

Next, you want to get the tempo of the song (or at least the beginning, if it changes) set. The GP file should have a tempo indicated, which you can enter into EoF (right click the beat, go to Beat -> BPM change then enter the number), but will likely only approximate the tempo of the song - I've seen tempos be off by almost 10%, even in highly rated tabs. I'd suggest going into spectrogram view (or waveform if you prefer) and making sure it's quite close to the average bpm for a few measures, and then setting that average bpm as the new one if it's significantly different.

 

At this point, I'll now take a break from trying to sync things closely and sync things coarsely for a while.

  • First, I'll look through the tab for any major tempo changes, if they occur. Adding a blank track to the GP file can facilitate this, as many measures will be visible at once. Then, I'll go to the corresponding measure (this is easier if you "unpack" repeats in the GP file, see the next section) and input that tempo change, and again make sure it's approximately correct. I'll also check that the tempo change is roughly synced with the right place in the song.
  • With the main tempo changes in place, most things in the song should be reasonably close to where they should be, which makes it easier to do some finer syncing. Transitions between loud and quiet parts (most commonly clean and distorted passages, but also sometimes brief pauses and things like that), the beginning and end of the chorus (and sometimes the verses), the beginning and end of the guitar solo, the end of the song, and things of that nature are common targets. If you get all the tempo changes in and get these in place, most of the things in between should be very close to being in place as well.

Once that's done, it should make doing the job of the finer adjustments, measure-by-measure (or even smaller) much easier.

 

 

How I sync a beat:

 

Coming soon.

 

Miscellaneous syncing tricks:

 

Claps: These are sounds that EoF plays whenever it passes a note in EoF, and you can then compare the timing of that with the timing of the music. You can also set it up so it only plays when notes on a specific string are played. Keyboard shortcut is "C".

 

Metronome: Like claps, but the noise is produced on the beat. Keyboard shortcut is "M".

 

I personally find claps and the metronome not very useful for faster songs, which is usually where I have problems with syncing, but many people find them useful.

 

Playback Rate: This allows you to slow down the playback rate in EoF, which I find very useful for figuring out trouble spots when syncing (usually at 50% speed). With the "Time Stretch" feature enabled this is pretty CPU intensive, which can lead to desynchronization between the audio playback and the video playback if your computer isn't up to snuff. Rewinding slightly or pausing then resuming can fix this problem (sometimes only temporarily).

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Placeholder for discussion of preparing/arranging tabs. This is now mostly done, but I'll just say, the reason I have this after syncing is because I don't want you to waste your time on arranging a GP file meticulously when it might turn out that the tab is crap and doesn't sync well. Some of the things (like expanding out repeats) might help with doing the sync, but for the most part, you should be able to sync with the bass part (which will pretty much always be on one track, unlike how guitar parts often are) without doing much of this stuff.

 

Arranging Guitar parts:

This won't be focused on bass parts because in my experience, there's usually very little to do with preparing a standard 4-string bass part for import into EoF. Other than having a look through at the fretboard logic, I can't think of too much that I've had to do for bass in particular.

 

For guitar, however, parts are often scattered between a few different tracks. There's usually at least one for a distortion/overdrive part, one for a clean part, and one for solos (and sometimes more for each of these), which you'll have to put together into a lead track and rhythm track. To add complications, sometimes different parts will have different tunings (for example, an open tuning for clean parts, and standard tuning for distorted parts), so you should always check tunings before copying and pasting things from one track to another.

 

Before doing too much copy/pasting, sometimes I find it helpful to expand out repeats (especially for longer and more complicated songs), so that the measure number in the GP file corresponds with the measure number in the EoF file. This takes a bit of time, but can save a lot of time later on.

 

For the lead guitar, I usually duplicate a main rhythm guitar part (with higher harmonies if there are different rhythm parts), then paste over the solos (sometimes with a little buffer space around them so you don't go directly from riffing to solos). As I copy things from different tracks I sometimes will put in a text signifying which track it came from, as often different tracks will require different tones.

 

For the rhythm track I usually find whichever main track tends to have less leady parts and use that as my bass. Then I'll add in the less leady bits of what other tracks are available (clean, harmonies, or whatever), and again note likely points for tone switches.

 

Past that I don't think there's too much to say for standard 6-string guitar parts, other than again to check the fretboard logic.

 

True 5- or 6-string bass parts:

To have a "true" 5- or 6-string bass part that actually uses all of the strings, the process is relatively simple, but a bit counterintuitive. First, there are some steps in EoF that you'll want to do after importing the bass track:

  • Change the arrangement type to a guitar type (I usually do rhythm). To do this go to Track -> Rocksmith -> Arrangement type -> Rhythm.
  • Change the tuning to the correct guitar tuning. Since BEADGC is -5,-5,-5,-5,-4,-4 relative to E standard (EADGBE) tuning, you'll want to subtract those numbers from the numbers already there (which will be relative to BEADGC tuning, which EoF uses for 5 and 6 string bass tracks).
  • When EoF offers to transpose the notes to keep them the same pitch click "No".

 

As an alternative to the above, you can also import it on a guitar track, and when it offers to change the arrangement type to a bass arrangement type, click "No". This is most easily done with an open guitar track, but (since many songs will be using both) you can also do it by changing the arrangement type of the bass track to rhythm guitar before importing the bass tab.

 

After this, once you're done making edits to the arrangement, you'll need to add it to the toolkit.

  • Add the arrangement in the toolkit
  • It should automatically import as a guitar track with the appropriate relative tuning. You may want to mark it as a Bonus arrangement to make it clearer that it's not a guitar track (and be sure to mention so in your release notes).
  • To move the pitch to the bass region while allowing the low B (or lower) notes to be detected, we also change the frequency under "Tuning Pitch" to 220 Hz.

Then do all the usual stuff with tones, scroll speed, and whatever else. Then generate the package, and you should find the arrangement under whichever guitar arrangement you set it to.

 

Note: You can only score attack main arrangements on a path.

 

5- or 6-string bass arranged for 4 strings (most of this also applies to 7-string guitars):

Here you can choose to make the tuning either BEAD (or some different tuning with those strings) or EADG, depending on the contents of the track. If the song heavily relies on use of the B string, it probably makes sense to put it in BEAD for 4 strings. If it only occasionally uses the B string, it might make more sense to put it in EADG (so more people can play it, even if it doesn't use the G string too much).

 

To do so, you'll have to figure out how to handle the notes that are outside of the range of the instrument or are on strings that you're not including.

 

If it's outside the range, you can either

  • Delete the notes. I don't like this, because I find it weird to only play some of the notes that I hear (which is the same reason I don't like dynamic difficulty). It disrupts the flow of the song and just doesn't feel good as a player.
  • Transpose the notes. That is, you'll move the notes (or whole lines including the notes if you want to preserve the melody) an octave so that they lie in the range of your instrument. This means some notes will be "wrong", but since it's by an octave they'll fit into the song well and will be well tolerated. With these notes moved around, you may have to rework the fretboard logic of some of the surrounding stuff a bit. PLEASE don't just move the notes into the available strings and leave the player having to jump way up and down the neck randomly just to hit single notes.
  • Do the above, but also add a pitch shifting tone to shift the pitch back into the original octave of the recording. This doesn't have the drawbacks of the above methods, but it takes a lot more work and I never felt like the pitch shifting tones worked as well as I'd have liked.

Some riffs may make heavy use of a mix of open strings and fretted notes higher up on the fretboard. These will probably necessitate keeping those strings in, as the transposition will usually move the open notes to fretted and make the riff much harder to play. An exception is when there's drop tuning, as open notes on the lowest string will remain open notes when transposed up an octave.

 

If tuning a bass track to BEAD, after you add it to the toolkit you'll need to set a special tuning for it. This would usually be -5,-5,-5,-5, but because the in game tuners don't detect the low B, you'll have to set the tuning to 7,7,7,7 at a frequency of A220. You should be able to figure out other tunings from there.

 

Special considerations for 7-string guitar parts:

Most of the above is true for 7-string guitars (except the stuff regarding needing to tune to A220 and such), but there are two additional complications: clean/acoustic bits and solos.

 

Many clean or acoustic bits make heavy use of the open e string, which can cause complications when combined with heavier riffage. Sometimes you'll be able to rework one or both to accommodate the other. Sometimes you'll have to drop the clean part if it's relatively minor.

 

Solos can also be a bit tricky to handle because some guitarists like to use pretty close to their entire tonal range. Some things that can be especially tricky to handle in Rocksmith are sweeps that go across all 7 strings or runs that would go outside the range of the instrument. Sometimes you can find ways to handle these artfully and provide a playable solo for the player, but usually when I see things like these I just give up on the tabs as a lost cause.

 

If you're doing a standard 6-string arrangement of a 7-string, another thin you can do to handle stuff played on the low B string is to change normal power chords to inverted power chords. This allows you to get the same notes as the power chord without having to go up a full octave.

 

Another additional complication is that EoF will only import 6 strings from a GP file, and will discard the extra string of your choice (lowest or highest). Thus, the iimport can "destroy" certain notes or parts of chords if you haven't edited things fully in GP beforehand. One way to get around this would be to import the lowest 6 strings on one track, the highest 6 strings on another, figure out which parts you want from which track, edit them there, and then copy/paste them together. Copy/paste pastes one color in one track to the same color in the other track (that is, it ignores tuning completely), so be wary of that.

 

If starting from the B string, you have to choose whether to do the extended standard (BEADGB) or standard tuning down 5 semitones (BEADF#B ), or something based off of either of those. I don't think it makes too much of a difference (7-string guitars can easily tune the G string down a semitone to F#, while a 6-string that can tune to BEADF#B can probably also handle BEADGB).

 

If anyone has any better ideas on how to handle 7-string guitar parts, I'd love to hear them!

Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of sectioning and adding DD. In progress.

 

 

For each section you make in EoF, you get one of those yellow segments that you can select in riff repeater. Thus, these serve as the foundation for some of the best practice that can be done in game, and are exceedingly important in making your custom approachable for anyone who's skill level doesn't yet match that of the song.

 

Since the main point of RR is to practice parts that people have difficulty with, your main goals when sectioning should be to make difficult parts easily practicable, but also anticipating what people will find difficult (which may depend on your expected audience, which will be very different for classic rock as compared to tech death). Thus, almost anything that's difficult should be at the beginning or near the beginning of a section, at least the first time it appears. If the exact same lick shows up again later but can already be practiced in a previous section, you don't really need an extra section for that later instance.

 

This can get relaxed a little bit during solo sections, since something novel and difficult can be introduced nearly every measure. In those cases, it may make sense to do a section every two measures (especially for slower tempos, where a lot can get packed into two measures), four measures, or some mixture of section lengths depending on how quickly the solo is moving at different points.

 

Some other guidelines for sectioning are

  • A song can only support a maximum of 100 sections. This isn't likely to be a problem unless you work on some really long, technical songs, but you should be aware of the limit.
  • For use with DD, sections should only begin on the first beat of a measure.
  • There should always be an intro section at the beginning of the song, and for the section to be visible in the song it has to begin on a note (a ghost note, which won't show up in game, is also OK).
  • Section names don't matter too much beyond Rocksmith telling you to "Riff Repeat this [section name]" if you didn't play it well, so don't agonize too much on whether something is a pre-bridge, bridge, post-bridge, or modulated bridge, or whatever. It doesn't really affect anything as long as you're consistent.
  • Try to have at least one section for each of the usual song pieces (verse, chorus, etc.) each time they appear. But as I said above, don't worry too much about finding the right name for the section.

 

For DD I don't have as much to say since things are mostly automated by @@Chlipouni's awesome DDC creator, but here are a few guidelines for it:

  • A song can only support a maximum of 100 phrases. You're much more likely to run into this limit than the one with sections, and if there are too many phrases all of that stuff at the top of the screen just disappears - you'll still be able to adjust difficulty and use riff repeater, but it won't be visible. Thus, if you use a phrase length of 4, make sure that the song has fewer than 400 measures (which it probably will if it's not really long or really fast, but it's easy to check).
  • I don't see too much point in having phrases that are much shorter than the typical sections that you use, since at that point you won't have much control over the exact difficulty of a particular phrase if you want to level it up or down manually. If you play much ODLC you've probably noticed that most sections only consist of one or two phrases. I don't agree with every decision made in ODLC, but I think this definitely makes more sense than having many more phrases, and I've seen some on here that probably have 16 phrases in some sections. If you want roughly 1 phrase per section you can set the phrase length to something extremely long (say, 40) measures.
  • If things aren't beat synced, DD probably won't work how you want it to. Make sure you've beat synced your song rather than note-synced it!
Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of slides. Still needs images and examples, but the meat of the content is here.

 

I'm doing this one first, since it's one that really bugs me if it's done incorrectly, and I don't think it's been sufficiently addressed elsewhere.

 

First, there are a number of reasons why slides can go wrong upon import into EoF:

  • The timing of the slide isn't explicitly set by the tabber. Upon import into EoF, this usually results in a slide over the duration of the note, which goes terribly wrong for longer sustained notes. Slides are usually done quickly, not over a couple of seconds (especially if it's a small slide).
  • GP naturally supports slides after notes, but not before (except by use of grace notes, or manually authoring a slide in). For this reason, many slides into notes are authored as slides out of notes, with the author hoping you'll figure out which is which.
  • The first note played after the slide is at the same fret as where the slide starts, or an open string. This will cause the slide to import as a one fret slide, when it should be something else.
  • Slides in GP usually don't indicate whether they are done legato (without picking the note at the end of the slide) or not.
  • Slides in GP don't distinguish between pitched and unpitched slides.

Knowing these problems with GP tabs and keeping an eye out for slides that look "suspicious" when in EoF is the first step in authoring good slides. Probably the safest mindset to have is that when you see a slide in EoF, it indicates that there is some sort of slide at the beginning, end, or during that note, but that what has been imported is in some way wrong (even if it is right, you should confirm it first).

 

 

Next, is going about fixing bad slides. Some useful EoF commands for this are

  • Shift+L, "Precise select like". This will select all notes with the same technical status, and allow you to perform the same manipulations on them. This distinguishes between slides up, slides down, and unpitched slides, but does not distinguish between notes based on the length of sustains or the ending fret of the slide. Learning how to use this well can save you a ton of time.
  • Ctrl+UpArrow, Ctrl+DownArrow, Ctrl+U for slides up, down, and unpitched, respectively.
  • Shift+N. This applies link-next status, which causes the sustain tails of two notes to run continuously without noteheads in between, making it useful for legato slides and slide-ins. (If the frets don't match, this looks really weird).

Now that you know the commands, I'll talk a little bit about how to decide what the slide should be. The first thing is to listen. If you listen carefully (perhaps at a slower playback speed), you should be able to answer whether the slide is a slide in or a slide out, and whether it's legato or not.

 

If it's a slide in:

  • If the starting fret is not specified, you'll need to figure out where the slide starts. Common places to start are 1, 2 (more like passing tones), 5, or 7 frets below the ending note.
  • You'll also need to figure out the slide timing. Sometimes slide-ins start before the beat with the sustain at the ending note starting on the beat, sometimes they start on the beat with the sustain starting a bit later. Listen closely, at a slow speed if need be.
  • It's pretty much always legato.

[Will put in an image or two showing a legato slide-in in EoF showing how spectrogram view can help you figure out the timing of the slide]

 

If it's a slide-out I guess the first thing to decide is whether it's legato or not. If it is, then it must be a pitched slide, and you just need to figure out the timing, either by listening closely or by looking at the spectrogram.

 

If the slide-out is not legato, then you'll need to decide whether it should be pitched or unpitched. It's hard to give a reliable guide for deciding between these, but here are some of the guidelines I use:

  • If the slide is between two chords of the same handshape, I'll lean more towards pitched slides.
  • If it doesn't seem very necessary to have the same finger fretting at the ending fret, I'll lean towards unpictched slides.
  • If the slide occurs over many frets I'll lean more towards unpitched slides.
  • If the slide occurs especially quickly (particularly if it occurs over many frets) I'll lean more towards unpitched slides.

In general, if in doubt I'll do unpitched slides simply because the note detection is more forgiving for them, and they'll still do a good job of capturing the feel of the recording.

 

 

I think this gets most of the main body of things I wanted in this section. I'll try to add some examples of slides from GP files and how they import vs. how they should show up in game. Does anyone have any good suggestions for these?

Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of various other technique stuff in EoF. See also the tech notes tutorial by @@Berneer.

 

Bends:
Like slides, bends are another thing that can go wrong upon import into EoF. This can happen either because of lazy GP authoring (you don't see what's inside of bends, and most people won't remember the nuances of each bend) or because of linked notes in bends (things that may be intended to be spread out throughout the sustains get clustered into the first part of the sustain).

 

While bends often go wrong, I view fixing them as less of a priority than slides because they usually don't go so bad as to destroy immersion. While the timing of bends can be more complex than slides due to multiple releases and rebends, most bends are either 1 or 2 semitones and note detection isn't especially particular about timing (as long as you hit the initial pitch and maximal pitch at some point during the sustain tail it seems you can avoid misses), so even when they're off they only rarely go as awry as slides do.

 

Like slides, bends happen in sustained notes, so for higher notes you can pretty clearly see the shift in the pitch in the horizontal trace in spectrogram view. Below is an example where I used spectrogram view to help shape the bend:

 

http://i.imgur.com/87Dr9Pq.png

What you see here is hopefully pretty clear. The note is sustained for a bit, slowly bent up to 2 steps, held there for a moment, then quickly released to a sustain. In EoF this is accomplished using tech notes on that string. There's probably a little slide out at the very tail end of the sustain before the next chords that I hadn't entered into EoF at this time.

 

Palm Muting:

Palm mutes are unfortunately often left out by people who make GP files, and can be quite a chore to put back in. Sometimes things can be sped up with putting them back in by using the "precise select like" (Shift+L) function, and the toggle palm muting function (Ctrl+M).

 

Using this, if every (or nearly every) note of a certain type throughout the song is palm-muted, you can select it, then do precise select like, then add palm muting. You'll then have to hunt down instances that shouldn't be palm muted.

 

Another possible strategy that would be useful if many palm muted notes are also un-muted elsewhere would be to mute a few measures at a time, and then un-mute the notes that should be un-muted (perhaps with a riff with palm mutes on the E string but not the A string, or something similar).

 

Also, sometimes palm mutes will be in places where they shouldn't be. This happens a lot if people copy over a rhythm guitar track as the start for a bass track (particularly if the bass track is fingered). To remove palm mutes on a track that shouldn't have any, you can select all notes with Ctrl+A, then remove palm mutes by going to Notes->Pro Guitar->Remove Palm Mutes.

 

Harmonics and pinch harmonics:

Distinguishing between (natural) harmonics and pinch (artificial) harmonics is something that many GP authors are lazy about, so sometimes things that should be notated as artificial harmonics will import as natural harmonics.

 

The quickest thing that can show that something authored as a natural harmonic should be notated as an artificial harmonic is some manipulation of the string - a vibrato, bend, or slide. These can't be done with natural harmonics without muting them (except perhaps using a whammy bar).

 

Another giveaway for artificial harmonics is if the harmonic is away from one of the standard frets for harmonics: 12, 7 (and 19), 5 (and 24), 4 (and 9 and 16ish). Other natural harmonics are definitely possible to play, but usually they're quite difficult to play well and not done very often.

 

Useful commands with pinch harmonics and harmonics are Shift+L (precise select like), Ctrl+H (toggle harmonic status), and Shift+H (toggle pinch harmonic status).

 

Arpeggios and handshapes:

I don't feel like this is an area where I have much expertise, especially with regards to the recently added capability to author ghost handshapes, so take my advice with a grain of salt (and if anyone wants to help author this, send me a PM).

 

For handshapes not in chords, you've probably seen them all over the place for guitar, and if you play bass, you probably haven't seen them too often. Handshapes are one way that you can show a player how to place their hand when playing a string of notes that's spread across multiple strings but isn't a chord (and should change whenever new notes are played on a string). Handshapes can be authored by selecting the range of notes and pressing Ctrl+Shift+H.

 

Arpeggios are another way of showing a suggested handshape to a player. This one will display a chord pane and potentially a chord name as well as the handshape. Arpeggios also tend to imply that you let the notes ring. Arpeggios can be authored in EoF by selecting the range of notes that comprise the arpeggio (make sure no string has two different notes!) and pressing Ctrl+Shift+G.

 

So basically, I tend to thing of arpeggios as handshapes with a little extra ornamentation (chord box and chord names) and connotation (let the notes ring). But sometimes I use arpeggios rather than handshapes because I like having the chord name and chord panes since they seem clearer in signaling the handshape needed and when it changes. For things that repeat a lot I also think it's a bit more helpful in breaking up the track into smaller chunks. I also have to admit that official practice sometimes handshapes in places where I can't understand why arpeggios wouldn't be used (e.g. rhythm tracks on Simple Man and For the Love of God)

 

I believe chords can now be included provided that they fit within the handshape or arpeggio via the ghost handshape capability, but I don't remember all the details of this at the moment, so I'll say no more for now.

 

EoF now allows for everything associated with handshapes and arpeggios to be copy/pasted as well as the notes, which makes authoring handshapes or arpeggios for riffs that repeat several times much easier than before.

 

Tremolo picking:

Tremolo picking can be used for multiple purposes to simplify authoring and make what's being played easier to read than if done with many notes. For example

  • Bends which are picked many times while being bent to full strength.
  • Long slides that are picked a lot (especially common with descending slides)
  • Things where people just pick really fast, like sometimes in outros or whatever.

These should only be authored for single notes or chords and can include notes that are connected via linknext (for example a sustain then slide that's tremolo picked).

 

Tremolo picks can be authored by selecting the notes to be included then pressing Ctrl+Shift+O.

Edited by albatross213
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For discussion of setting FHP in EoF. Currently in progress.

 

As mentioned above, the place where the auto-generated FHP most commonly go wrong are in sections of the song that are tapped, or in solos high up the neck where the reach of the hand is much greater than the 4 frets usually considered. Sometimes it also happens in rhythm parts that are lower down on the neck but a 5 fret reach can still be done.

 

[Will try to add images of bad FHP for tapping and solos. Likely culled from some of my old DLC]

 

Because the FHP can shift as often as every note in these situations, it adds a lot of visual clutter to the noteway, which makes it harder to read these (already more difficult to read) passages. It usually also doesn't take too much effort to fix the FHP for these situations, so it's well worth it for the charter to take a couple of minutes to fix them.

 

In order to fix the bad FHP, one has to remove the bad FHP (most easily done by selecting the range of notes the bad FHPs go over, then going to the "Note" menu, then Rocksmith->Remove FHP), then add the good FHP back in (navigate to the note where you want the FHP to start. If it's on a beat, you can just right click on that beat. If it's off a beat, then you can navigate to it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+PageUp/Down to move to the next/previous grid snap position, or by selecting a neighboring note, pressing "N", then pressing either the "<-" or "->" button at the bottom. Once there, press Shift+F, then enter the fret number for the index finger).

 

[Will add images of a before and after in EoF, and after pictures of how they look in game]

 

There are also some other instances where manual FHP will prove useful. Sometimes the auto-generated FHP will shift at a hammer-on or pulloff, which is obviously a little unrealistic. There are also some licks like diminished 7th arpeggios (somewhat common in metal) where the FHP jumps won't occur at the natural places to move your hand, and so manual authoring would ideally be used to reflect the way it's actually played.

Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of making lyrics in UltraStarCreator (USC) and EoF. See also @@SmellyOrc's Lyric tutorial. This covers the basics pretty well, so I'll mostly stick to some other time-saving tips that I've found useful for the times I decide to do lyrics.

 

In USC:

 

-In USC, you can undo the most recent lyric added and rewind the song a second by pressing X. This is very useful if you accidentally press the spacebar once or twice too much and would end up with some lyrics way out of place, or you can press it a few times to get a second chance at a line you know you messed up pretty badly.

 

-USC often doesn't do a good job of breaking words into syllables. It's best to read through carefully to try to catch any words that didn't get broken properly, as otherwise you'll probably just keep clicking every syllable and get ahead of the lyrics by accident.

 

-As an alternative to using USC for breaking words into syllables, there are websites that do something similar but are generally much better. I've used http://juiciobrennan.com/hyphenator/ some for English lyrics, and while it's not perfect, it tends to require far fewer fixes than doing it in USC (the main failure I've seen is that words with added apostrophes don't get broken up so something like "enemy's" won't be broken up while "enemy" would be, but that's much easier to deal with than all the random words USC misses, like anything with "ever" in it). It adds hyphens, which means you need to convert "-" to "+", which is most easily done using the "Find And Replace" function in a word processor to make it work in USC.

 

-If a lyric is repeated exactly (or rather close to it, as is very common with pre-choruses and choruses), I just do it once in USC, tidy it up in EoF, then paste in the other places it occurs. That is, in USC I delete later repeats of these parts so I can skip past them when without consequence when listening to the song in USC.

 

-If there's a long instrumental passage (or choruses and pre-choruses that you've already done and have deleted the lyrics for later repeats), you can seek through to find the next lyric in USC. I think to get the lyric stuff started again after seeking through you have to click rather than press spacebar. You might be able to get around this before the lyrics start by clicking the lyric, pressing X to undo it, then pressing spacebar from then on.

 

In EoF:

 

-Even if you do a relatively decent job in USC, you'll almost surely want to tidy things up in EoF. I don't really notice the amount of tidying I have to do to make the lyrics to my liking decreasing too much by using slower playback speeds in USC, so unless the vocal lines are extremely fast (so that I'd have to worry about pressing the spacebar the right number of times), I usually do them at 100% speed or close to it. The slower playback is also just slowed down audio, so the pitch shifting is weird. Anyway, when I use USC, I only expect to get the lyrics in roughly the right place so that I don't have to struggle to find them in EoF.

 

-When adjusting lyrics in EoF, you may find it useful to use a coarser Grid Snap than when manipulating notes. Since Rocksmith doesn't handle anything with pitch changes in vocals, most vocals can be handled with a 1/8th or 1/16th grid snap. When manipulating sustains you may want a finer grid snap.

 

-If you accidentally made a whole line occur a bit too late or too early, you can move the line to the left or right by selecting the notes in that line, then either clicking and dragging or by using Ctrl+[ and Ctrl+] to move left and right. Then if any lyrics are still a bit out of place, you can click and drag those individually.

Edited by albatross213
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Placeholder for discussion of all the stuff you do with the toolkit: Adding tracks, Audio, scroll speeds, etc. In progress.

 

Audio

Back when most of the tutorials were written, in order to produce a .wem you had to work within Wwise and navigate the labyrinth of folders it produces to extract it to where you want it to go. Nowadays, the toolkit can handle all of this for you. All you need is

  • An appropriate version of Wwise installed. You can download it from this link, where there will be a dropdown menu under "Wwise Authoring and SDK" where you can select different versions. I'm pretty sure all of the 2013.2.x builds work, and I also have had success with the 2014.1.5 build 5282, but I'm pretty sure the 2015 builds don't work.
  • The guitar.ogg file that you've synced to in EoF.

Thus, you no longer need to have EoF set up to produce .wav files, which can take up a lot of space.

 

 

Once you have these, you just need to add the guitar.ogg file in the toolkit, and once you're ready to generate the .psarc, it will handle all of the conversion stuff (it takes a little time, but less than using Wwise directly). Afterwards, the toolkit will have produced a few .wav and .wem files for both the main audio and the preview audio. You can just delete these to save space since once the .psarc is generated you can always recover the audio by importing the package or just generating from the .ogg again.

 

Setting up Tones:

Before you add the tracks to the Toolkit, you should set up the tones that the tracks will use. If you add a track with tone changes before the tones are loaded, it will auto-generate default tones with those names, and you may miss that you didn't actually use custom tones. And then you'll crash everyone's tone engine, and no one likes that.

 

As for making tones yourself, I don't have much advice. It helps to be familiar with many of the pedals in the game, and the range of sounds you can get from different combos, but obviously testing that will take a ton of time. What I usually do is take tones from the same band or other similar bands, then make tweaks if necessary. This is not always successful, but usually I can find a tone reasonably close to what I want without spending too much time fiddling around with tones.

 

For naming tones, official practice is to add something relating to the song title then the type of tone, but usually I'm lazy and just name the tone after its type or dominant effect, so I'll just have Bass, Distortion, Lead, Wah, Echo, and so on. And make sure the tone names match the names you have in EoF for where the tone switches occur.

 

Adding tracks:

Special details for handling 4 string bass tracks involving tunings starting with B or lower, 5- or 6-string bass tracks, or tracks made from 7-string guitars are handled in the discussion above for preparing tabs.

 

For normal guitar tracks, things are simpler. Files made from PART REAL_GUITAR_22_RS2 automatically get set to Lead Guitar, while files made from PART REAL_GUITAR_RS2 automatically get set to rhythm guitar. If you swapped where the lead and rhythm tracks are in EoF, then it's easy to change the "Type" so things are set up correctly. Tunings should be automatically imported. If you have no tone changes, then the tones will have to be set manually (it will automatically be set for whatever tone is at the top of the list, which may not be what you want). Otherwise the tones will be set automatically. Lastly, you'll also need to consider the scroll speed of the path: see below for my advice on that.

 

For normal 4-string bass tracks, either bass "PART" from EoF imports to the bass path. Tunings will often need to be set manually for tunings other than E standard (I haven't tested extensively with the latest versions of the toolkit and EoF, but I remember having to set the tunings myself for Eb and D standard tunings). You'll need to set the tone (since bass tracks don't have tone switches too often) and scroll speed, too.

 

For lyrics you just add the lyric file produced by EoF. Nothing else to say here.

 

Scroll speeds:

As I said in the introduction, scroll speeds can vastly affect how easy it is to read the noteway in your custom. A faster scroll speed (smaller number) will spread notes out more (making it easier to read chord changes, the order of string switches, and the like) but reduce how far ahead in the tab you can see, and also reduce your reaction time to new things coming on screen. Therefore, choosing an appropriate scroll speed will result in some balancing of these factors.

 

Some things that will benefit from faster scroll speeds are

  • String switching. Because the notes get offset up or down depending on which string they're played, sometimes it can be hard to read the order of notes played across different strings. Moreover, if played at the same fret, or with open strings, sometimes one note can block the other from sight.
  • Fast chord changes. Because chord panes are pretty tall, they can also block things behind them. In particular, with fast chord changes the chord pane of one chord can prevent you from seeing the fingering of the next chord, which makes it hard to play.
  • Really, really, fast stuff. Like solos, which can also include lots of string switching (especially sweep picking)

 

Most ODLC are made with scroll speeds of 1.3. For the ones I make, I usually start with a baseline of 1.5, make it .1 faster if it's really fast, .1 faster if there's lots of string switching, .1 or .2 faster if there are lots of chord changes, and a bit faster if there's sweep picking or just general craziness in the solos. My fastest scroll speeds tend to be around 1.1 for lead on songs that either have lots of fast chord changes or sweep picking, while rhythm and bass will tend to be a bit slower.

Edited by albatross213
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I updated the post about 5- and 6-string bass arrangements based on some recent stuff I discovered. What I had before worked for the most part, but would make the game detect chords very poorly. The new approach (which ensures that the relative tunings in EoF and in the toolkit are the same) makes it so that chords should detect pretty well. I haven't tested it with all kinds of chords, but I was able to get good detection on low B tritone chords in a song, where they never detected using the old method.

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The essentials:

 

  • Tones. At the very least, have a tone. Even if you can't come up with tones that fit every part of the song exactly, it's better to have something (that people can switch away from if they choose) than to break the tone engine of everyone who ever plays your DLC.

I've never really understood this.  Does the default tone break the engine?

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@@missis sumner - I don't know too much about the back end stuff (the toolkit devs might know more), but here are a few more details based on what I've seen.

 

The "Default" tone in the toolkit isn't really a tone (it doesn't have an amp, cab, or any effects pedals). It probably acts more as a placeholder so that the toolkit can produce the necessary things to build a functioning .psarc package (given the consequences, I think one could argue that it might actually be nice if it couldn't be built with a "default" tone). Anyway, the default tone is not the "menu tone" that the game supplies for the lead, rhythm, or bass paths, as some might think is implied, but more of an undefined tone.

 

Default tones can also show up if you add an arrangement that has tone switches for which at least one of the tone names doesn't yet exist in the Toolkit. 

 

If there are multiple tones in the toolkit, some of which are defined and some are not, some of the defined tones will be used in place of the undefined ones. I haven't tested this enough to tell you exactly how it chooses which tone to use, but it will choose a working one from what I've seen. For this reason it's not as big a deal if a .psarc where a guitar tone is used but they say they used the default for the bass: the bass path will use the guitar tone (which probably sucks for bass), but it at least won't break the tone engine so you can switch out to something you like.

 

Lastly, killing the tone engine is a much bigger deal on guitar than on bass. The tone that a dead tone engine uses for guitar sucks (it's a tinny clean tone) and tone changes are much more prevalent on guitar, while the bass one is bearable enough that sometimes I wouldn't notice the tone engine was dead if not for the difference it makes in the animations (sound waves emitting from the cabinet or whatever). Which I guess makes sense since you can record bass direct and it will sound fairly decent without having to use any VST software, which is not something you'd ever do with an electric guitar.

 

I think that's about all I've got. I hope that's helpful!

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@@albatross213 and @@missis sumner The toolkit at one point in time defined a default tone that had no amp nor cab which would cause the tone engine in the game to break completely. Then the problem was understood and the toolkit got an update to use a default tone that include the bare minimum for the engine to keep on going.

 

Right now the default tone seen in the toolkit isn't the tone that would be use in the game if you don't touch it. i never cared about what the toolkit default to when it needs to (aka to replace any bad tone) but at least the toolkit make sure the resulting psarc won't cause any major break down in the game.

 

Note that when the tone engine broke down, you only hear the signal that you send to the cable directly without any modification which of course is bad (who likes the dead clean tone of guitar anyway :D ) but clean bass is a bit more bearable and bass i usually louder do to the active pickup.

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@@firekorn - I'd seen you mention that before, but I didn't believe you since there were still a ton of tone-breaking customs released since whenever that update was. I just tested it out with a lead track with no tone and it indeed seems to load the "menu tone" that you get on the lead path. So I guess all of those repeat tone-breakers were from old versions of the toolkit (which probably happened since there was no non "test build" update for the toolkit until the recent one since... April 2014 or thereabouts from what I can tell)?

 

I guess those will die off now that there's a new release build for the toolkit. Given that so many people seem not to try the beta versions and breaking the tone engine was by far one of the most annoying and by far the most common, I can't understand why they didn't update the release build until now, though.

 

Anyway, I'll update things soon since this problem should truly be behind us now.

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@@albatross213 I don't have any idea why the release didn't get updated in so long and it happened because i asked Cozy directly if they were anyway to put the current beta build as a release one so that every user can benefit from all the amazing update the toolkit got and i can only thanks Cozy to actually taken the matter into his own hands on this and to have done things so quickly.

 

So indeed the issue should disappear naturally now and i can only hope the release version of the toolkit will get updated a bit more often :D

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