Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested)

Posted by: Icelander

Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/30/14 08:57 AM

There are presently very evident shortcomings & limitations to the UT concept as a whole, and we can only hope it's something they will continue to address and work to improve in future updates. I have found that making even the simplest patterns work smoothly without these cut-offs, pitch and 'bleeding' issues that have noted, has been an utter pain that require a LOT of tweaking and trials.
Among the primary shortcomings of this whole feature my experiments have revealed:

1. Timing is extremely sensitive, i.e. needs to be ridiculously precise, much more so than you'll get on the official RT's, and this goes for note lengths as well (no overlaps or lingering legato - and NO REVERB!). This becomes even more important with fixed-note instruments, such as pianos, vibes (just my luck) and so on, or else you get very weird pitch distortions on chord changes, particularly when it's a progression not used in the UT's creation template. On the flip side though, if your instrument is guitar or others where bending notes is a natural occurrence, you're more likely to 'get away' with the slight timing inaccuracies.
2. Any attempts of syncopated playing needs to be planned with great care, if not avoided altogether (this is especially true of swung patterns). Especially try avoid playing on the upbeat just before the next chord/bar, or else the engine's 'anticipation' feature kicks in and tries to treat it as a part of the following chord. Once I discovered this, I had to rework a lot of my playing and omit all those lovely 4th bar entries I had done, because of this issue.
3. And of course, the 1-minute template is rubbish if you hope to get any sort of decent results in terms of actual usage. For a glaring example, they don't account for any 2 chords-per-bar instances at all. So use it as a learning/practicing tool, then go make your own chord progressions (and lots of them!), that's my advice.

The best way then to reveal these issues in a UT on testing, is to make a song with chords that were not included in whatever template was used to base that UT on.

p.s. On a personal side note, I'm almost finished making ending templates for my vibes sets. Stay tuned! cool
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/30/14 11:11 AM

There is a learning curve and improvements to be made with any new feature introduction. I think in a case like this it's difficult to imagine the many ways a feature maybe used until it is released.

The UserTracks feature still needs much improvement before it can move from the novelty column and into the gotta' have column. In my mind major improvements include:

(A) 3/4 waltz time compatability
(B) accomodate holds, shots & rests without using a work around
(C) accommodate eighth and sixteenth note pushes.
Posted by: seeker

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/30/14 11:46 AM

Quote:
There is a learning curve and improvements to be made with any new feature introduction. I think in a case like this it's difficult to imagine the many ways a feature maybe used until it is released.


+1
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/15 05:37 PM

Bump
Posted by: PeterGannon

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/05/15 10:43 AM

Good tips and suggestions Icelander. Thanks. We plan on updating the Usertracks features in January, for a free latch, and hopefully those suggestions can be addressed then.
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/05/15 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
Good tips and suggestions Icelander. Thanks. We plan on updating the Usertracks features in January, for a free latch, and hopefully those suggestions can be addressed then.
That's great news, Master PG! I emailed the UT supervisor with much more detailed reports on this subject around the time we were beta testing for my platform last spring, which should be of further help.

And many thanks to Mr. Fogle for bumping this thread, which obviously resulted in catching PG's notice this time around, so a bump well "spent" smile
Posted by: rodipoet

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 04/28/16 01:07 AM

Peter Gannon promised a patch for the shortcomings in the user tracks for january.
It is now almost may, four months late.................
Posted by: Pipeline

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 04/29/16 12:02 AM

There has currently a lot of post January beta testing of new features and fixes - that were put on hold for the 2016 Mac version that has been released early, coming closer to the features of the Win version and eventually the same release date maybe - so now they have a bit more time up their sleeve we could very well see these user track fixes in an update for both Mac & Win - but don't hold me to it.

Maybe they could release some decent professional templates to bring user tracks more inline with real tracks.
Posted by: Noel96

Re: Usertracks - 04/29/16 02:39 AM

I agree with Pipeline. Priorities change as circumstances demand and there's no doubting whatsoever that PG Music have been working really hard since before Christmas! The program has undergone huge changes for both Windows and Mac. I'm really glad to have this latest version!
Posted by: Jon Thomas

Re: Usertracks - 04/29/16 11:35 PM

+1

I just wanna say that, in my personal opinion, the UT feature is absolutely crucial for Band in a Box. It's really a wonderful, fantastic feature, but still needs MANY improvements to be really usable with a quality comparable to the official real tracks. To me, this is so important that I would be perfectly happy to have NO other improvements at all for next year, but a perfectly working UT feature.
Please PG !! :-)
Posted by: Pipeline

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 07/07/16 03:29 PM

Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
Good tips and suggestions Icelander. Thanks. We plan on updating the Usertracks features in January, for a free latch, and hopefully those suggestions can be addressed then.


Bump..Bump..Bump

So are these the fixes we are all still waiting on ? :

3/4 waltz
holds, shots, pushes & rests
Avoid Transpositions in UserTracks
Intro starts on this bar (2 or 3 bar intro/count-in/lead-in/pickup for bars -1 & 0,1)


Can anyone add to this ?
Posted by: balbuena

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 07/07/16 11:28 PM

Hello, yes that's true function UT and essential dan band in a box and still missing 3/4 waltz hold, shots, shoot and rests Avoid transpositions in UserTracks Intro begins on the bar (2 or 3 bar introduction / countdown
Yet Peter Gannon had announced in December 2015 that his team would ensure that the UT is resolved.
  It would be nice if Peter Gannon or Andrew could give us an explanation.
Balbuena thank you
Posted by: Jon Thomas

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 06:34 AM

I'm bumping this old thread just to ask if there's any improvement in the UT engine in BIAB 2018. I'm eagerly waiting for my BIAB 2018 hard drive, but it's gonna take some time - I live overaseas - and I couldn't find any info on possible UTs improvement in 2018. Anybody has any info about it?
Posted by: Matt Finley

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 08:58 AM

Jon, I haven't tried this feature, but I believe there was nothing announced during the testing of version 2018 that changed it.
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 09:20 AM

According to some comments Andrew made some items were fixed. UserTracks now work with 3/4 waltz time signature and they worked on improving the endings.
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 11:13 AM

But that's also just about all they've done, and I've yet to check just how well the Waltz fixactually works (they keep presenting far better RT's for anything I'd been working on, grr).
The function still absolutely fails to detect anything from the Chord Settings, meaning no Shots/Holds/Pushes will work (all they did to 'fix' that was force all UT's to go silent during shots/holds, which obviously did not FIX anything!), the playback still randomly makes the instrument jump up/down an octave for absolutely no apparent reason (sometimes even during a single chord/bar!!), the function still randomly omits endings of the UT when it can't find a 100% match (ie. faulty pitch stretch), and don't even get me started on that massively strict timing requirements followed closely by even worse cross-fading mechanism (which I just can't wrap my head around considering how amazingly fantastic that same mechanism works on the RT's).
And the sad thing is, I've now reiterated yet one more time some of the main problems with this function but right now is "New version release + sales month", so absolutely NO ONE AT PG WILL DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS!

Ok, minor rant over...I feel better now crazy
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 12:25 PM

Well Eddie,

Your "minor rant" did a pretty good job of listing some of the UserTracka shortcomings that are still outstanding. Continue listing if you think of any more.

I think it is good for all known UserTracks shortcomings to be available for viewing in one message. That way anyone that attempts to create a UserTracks can have a good idea what to avoid while the PG Music software developers, testers and support staff can easily discover what the known UserTracks issues are.
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/03/17 03:47 PM

And here I was feeling all better! grin

But of course you have a point, and fortunately the above rant, plus other comments earlier on this thread, do address the bulk of it - or at least the most serious things.
You sometimes need to push the bigger stones away in order to discover the smaller grit anyway, you know.
Posted by: jford

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/04/17 11:21 AM

I hope they will address this. I don't think the UT's we develop will ever fully compete with the ones they produce, so there is no major competition there. But I believe this feature should provide the same capabilities as RealTracks (as you have said, all supported time signatures, as well as shots, holds, and rests, as well as defined 2-bar endings).

It would seem to me that all those could be read from the template file to define those elements (i.e., if I have a hold chord in the template file, that automatically gets translated as a hold for the UT).
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/04/17 12:29 PM

Originally Posted By: jford
It would seem to me that all those could be read from the template file to define those elements (i.e., if I have a hold chord in the template file, that automatically gets translated as a hold for the UT).


Great idea! Why not put it on a wishlist?
Posted by: Jon Thomas

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/04/17 11:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Jim Fogle

Why not put it on a wishlist?


That's a good idea - even though I'm sure that at PG they are well aware of the current issues with th UT features.
Anyway, here's my wishlist:

- allow more flexibility in the timing requirement, as Icelander already stated. I think this is really the most relevant problem, because it really, really limits the quality and the kind of "usable" UTs that we can make. Icelander explained the issue very well, I'm not going to repeat it here. But this is really crucial.

- limit the amount of key transposition. This is also a big issue. Right now you can avoid wild transpositions from the BIAB playback engine, but you have to create 12 keys UTs (and set the BIAB playback to avoid any transposition), which is an enormous waste of time, hard drive space etc (imagine creating 12 keys performances for ALL variations, chords, substyles etc). Instead, if you create, say, a 6 keys UT, the BIAB playback engine should transpose at most by 1 semitone, not more (which would just fine, you dont lose much quality at all if audio is transposed by 1 semitone or two). As far as I can see, this is not what happens now. You get wild transpositions, no matter what. So, the solution could be:
A. make sure that the BIAB playback engine transposes only for the minimum necessary amount of semitones, at any given chord
B. give the user the ability to set the maximum amount of transposition (as a global setting, or as a song setting)

- implement holds, stops etc

I'm still hopeful smile

Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/05/17 11:13 AM

Look at the POP style templates posted in 2014 shortly after the UserTracks feature was introduced. You will see that you must make 50 UserTracks to enable the UserTracks to work properly over every available tempo between 50 - 300 BPM. The default is enabled so Band-in-a-Box makes it easy to overlook just how many RealTracks are needed for a guitar part played at different tempos. Take something "common" and "standard" like the Hank series of acoustic guitar rhythm tracks. Look inside the folders and you'll see there are bunches of audio tracks. You'll also notice there are bunches of folders to accomodate tempo changes. There is a lot of audio for just that one series. Same with some of the piano RealTracks. I understand why it takes a lot of audio to create a UserTracks once I look at RealTracks more closely.

RealTracks has an option so RealTracks automatically substitute when tempos change. Is that true of UserTracks? Don't know. Do we still need 50 UserTracks to cover all available tempos since élastique Pro by zplane has been upgraded to V3.1.11? Don't know.

Truthfully, the main use I've found for UserTracks is to fulfill a musical arrangement need specific to a song project. For example you want a specific guitar riff to play. Within that constraint a UserTracks works fine but outside of that song many people likely will not find the UserTracks very useful.
Posted by: jford

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/05/17 11:26 AM

I think that, much like Bob Norton and his MIDI styles, were UserTracks to work mostly the same as RealTracks (and yes, it should take more than one minute and one take to create quality UserTracks) with holds and shots and ending and multiple chords and tempos, then that opens up a market for semi-pro players to create additional commercial-grade content for BIAB. But until all the issues are resolved, it's going to be perceived as a novelty and folks won't invest the time in creating that content.

The MIDI stylemaker (even with it's shortfalls) is pretty stable and mature and has a lot of capability for the average user to make really nice styles in the same quality as PGMusic provided styles. I think an overhaul to the StyleMaker user interface is in order, but it does work and it works well if you know what you're doing.

The same should be true of the UserTracks process.

My $0.02 worth.
Posted by: Jon Thomas

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/05/17 03:42 PM

Jim
it's true that if you want to create a good quality UT you need to record a lot of audio. That's out of the question. Also, tempo is not really the problem with UTs. The problem, as I see it, is that:

1) even if you create A LOT of audio, in many case the UT will still sound bad, when changing chords, because of the extreme timing precision requirement that Icelander was talking about. Now, for some UTs this is not too much of a problem (when you don't have legato between chords, for example - I did create some UTs that sound absolutely perfect!!). But for (many) other kinds of UTs this problem makes it almost impossible to have them sound good, no matter how much audio you record, no matter how precise you try to be. Anyway, on this issue Icelander is much more competent than me and I think he explained it already very well

2) the other problem is also not about the tempo, but about key transposition. If during playback you set the song so that key transposition is allowed, with UTs you get some weird transpositions that don't seem to make musical (or logical) sense. If I have a recorded audio with the C major chord, and BIAB needs to play a Db major chord, I would want BIAB to transpose my C chord by 1 semitone, which would be totally fine. Instead, what happens is that I hear transpositions of MANY semitones (so for example not from C to Db, but from G to Db, or so ... I'm just guessing here), which is not only sounds really bad, but it's also unnecessary, since BIAB can use my readily available C major to be transposed into Db!
So, at the moment, there's only one solution to this problem: to record a 12 keys UT, and forbid key transposition with the song setting parameter during playback. Which is ok, it does lead to good results, but it's VERY inefficient. Why not allow the user to control the maximum number of semitones that BIAB transposes during playback instead? It would be a much more efficient way to manage the issue. In this way, I could record audio not to (unnecessarily) cover all keys, but to make a better UT with more variations etc.

Jford,
I totally agree with you. I think that PG will address this, eventually. I don't see why not, really. But BIAB is a very complex program and I guess that UTs are not a top priority. I think it's understandable. Maybe many users don't care about UTs, I dont know. I guess time will tell.
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 08:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Jim Fogle
Great idea! Why not put it on a wishlist?
The simple answer to this rhetorical question is: Because it's redundant, since what he was basically proposing falls under what the function is already supposed to be able to do!
And specifically requesting for a function to actually work is not something any of us should ever have to make around here, for any function smirk
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 08:16 AM

Originally Posted By: jford
The MIDI stylemaker (even with it's shortfalls) is pretty stable and mature and has a lot of capability for the average user to make really nice styles in the same quality as PGMusic provided styles.===The same should be true of the UserTracks process.
I have to agree and I'd even argue that as things are right now, by using the Stylemaker approach coupled with some decent sound plugins, you're far more likely to get dependable results.
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 08:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Jim Fogle
RealTracks has an option so RealTracks automatically substitute when tempos change. Is that true of UserTracks?
I just spotted this in the midst of your li'l "essay" there and thought I'd clarify: The answer to that question is No.
See, the Tempo swapping RT's are all listed and clearly defined (e.g. at what tempo one should take over from another) in a specific file, for which there's no equivalent assigned to Usetracks (nor can we apply any of its very confusing 'UT settings' to define our own ourselves). As for the stretching engine, that one does work on Usetracks (as it does with any audio file used in the program), but you would still want to create specific UT for each given tempo range (like I've done with my EleFfred sets for example), if your goal is to be able to confidently use it over a very wide tempo spectrum.
Posted by: Jim Fogle

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 06:58 PM

Eddie,

Thanks for the clarification.

I propose a good starting point is for PG Music would be to add an explanation for each setting in the UserTracks Development Settings screen. The explanation should be added to both the Band-in-a-Box and RealBand user manuals. I can't find it in either 2017 version.

That's been one of my annual wishlist requests since 2014.
Posted by: Jon Thomas

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 11:28 PM

Mr Gannon,
thank you, that would be surely very useful.
However, I have a feeling that it wouldn't solve the problems that have been highlighted in this thread, but I could be wrong of course - for example, the "beat / bar markers" section in the settings is still "mysterious" to me smile so, I don't know .. maybe knowing how to use this setting would help in decreasing the artifacts that are heard when chords change in UTs with "legato-like" performances? I'm not sure. Anyway, explaining these settings would certainly be a very welcome help, and at least it would help us to have a better picture about what are the areas in which the "UT engine" needs improvements, and to clarify what users can and cannot do with UTs at the moment.
Thank you for listening!
Posted by: balbuena

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/06/17 11:42 PM

Hello to all please excuse me, I do not speak English so I use a translator.
Could Peter Gannon tell us if the usertrack problems mentioned above are likely to be solved in 2018, thanks for the response and good music to all.
Posted by: PeterGannon

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/07/17 10:07 AM

Jim: >>> I propose a good starting point is for PG Music would be to add an explanation for each setting in the UserTracks Development Settings screen

Jim,
Yes, thats a good idea. We should get to that in Jan. 2018.

Balbuena: >>> Hello to all please excuse me, I do not speak English so I use a translator.
Could Peter Gannon tell us if the usertrack problems mentioned above are likely to be solved in 2018, thanks for the response and good music to all.

Balbuena,

Hopefully we can address many of them.

Peter
Posted by: Icelander

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/07/17 02:34 PM

Originally Posted By: PeterGannon
>>>
Hopefully we can address many of them.

Peter
Hear hear! smile

Oh, and if this is indeed happening, then by all means please make sure to provide some video clips to go with, especially for the obscurely named UT "Development" section - and with audible examples of what changing those many confusing parameters actually sound like when checked/unchecked (very important!). That whole section is in my view the very heart of UT (or perhaps the 'brain' is more fitting) and the essential key to creating a UT product worth the effort in the first place.

p.s. I guess my 'rant' wasn't quite as finished as I thought after all crazy
Posted by: JohnJohnJohn

Re: Plenty of issues & shortcomings still to fix (for staff & others interested) - 12/07/17 02:56 PM

I was Very Excited when User Tracks were first added to BIAB. But then, based on the issues with them I have just assumed they had been abandoned by PGM. Does this thread mean they are going to be finished and fully implemented? It has always been a great idea.