A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Helen Vallaud of Audio Impressions, who are the developers of DVZ (say it out loud, and if you’re British, pronounce the Z as “zee”), a sample library with unique divisi string capabilities, about a new tool they had been working on called Notation Switchblade.
For professionals working in film, TV and video games, it’s common for the composer to complete sketches or mock-ups in a sequencer, and then hand them off to an orchestrator or copyist to turn those sketches into completed scores and parts for the recording session. The process of bringing the MIDI mock-ups into Sibelius can be quite time-consuming, with lots of work to consolidate the dozens of tracks typically used in the sequencer (one track per articulation, per instrument is not uncommon), quantize the rhythms, and get everything looking shipshape.
It’s this time-consuming process that Notation Switchblade is designed to streamline. It acts as an intermediary between your sequencer and Sibelius. You set up a configuration inside Notation Switchblade that helps to map your tracks onto instruments and tells it the capabilities of your sample library (it ships with ready-made configurations for DVZ and Audio Impressions’ other products, as you would expect), and then you’re ready to go.
Once you load a MIDI file into Notation Switchblade, it automatically figures out which notes are keyswitches, and removes them from the output (so you don’t have to find and remove them manually in Sibelius), even replacing them with text directions that can be imported into Sibelius. The output is in MusicXML format, so you get a well-quantized score with the right instruments, playing techniques and other markings included right away.
It’s a specialist tool to be sure, but if you do a lot of work going between a sequencer and Sibelius, Notation Switchblade is definitely worth a look, and could save you a huge amount of time. The product currently costs $99 (a special introductory price), and a free trial version is available directly from Audio Impressions.