I just successfully auditioned my band's first track in RB and I figure right now is a good time for me to share the notes that I took for the devs re: troubles I had. First off, I tried to author as much as I possibly could before auditioning which meant that I had fully sequenced all four playable parts before I started working with Magma. Effectively I did everything except some animations and camera work. Also, I did things the hard way and inadvertently used the "RB Blank Template" instead of the normal template, which caused me no end of pain at compile time.
First off, I think you guys made the right choice in committing to Reaper as the RBN tool of choice. It's inexpensive, straight-forward, and has some great features that go well with the task of sequencing RB stuff. Hiding unlabelled/unused notes is a GREAT UI tweak that makes life much easier in the piano roll. Also, the playback speed scrubber is really great. You should suggest that people drop the speed down for transcribing those tricky parts (particularly drum parts if you're a guitarist like me). Extra tip: drop the speed to .5 during vocal sequencing and it'll be exactly an octave down, making it much easier to hear the timing of the formants (vowels). Finally the "find next peak" (tab) in the tempo-mapping phase is essential. You should bold that text in the docs.
One thing I had a problem with, which I suppose I should file with ****os, is that Reaper has a bug with the looping. In order to really nail down our singer's very emotive performance I had to loop tiny (a few dozen milliseconds) sections of his track to hear the exact tone he was singing. But as I moved the loop points around half the time Reaper's playback head would escape the loop. Annoying, but not disastrous.
The docs are pretty good so far, but more elaboration on the vocal authoring would be a good idea. Screen shots, example clips, etc. would go a very long way in describing a very difficult to describe process. A particularly confusing issue is the use of MIDI text events, but I'll come back to that. More elaboration on what's appropriate for animations, transitions, etc would be good. I want to make the levels lively but not frenetic. Ideally I want them to look like it was authored by Harmonix, so some in-house rules-of-thumb would be good.
Vocal authoring would be a LOT easier if you guys turned your formant detector into a Jesusonic plugin that would create an initial stub MIDI track. The vocals authoring really was the hardest part of this whole process by a long shot, and I'll still need to do a bunch of testing to make sure I got it right. The vocals authoring took more time than the other 3 playable parts combined so anything you can do to ease the workflow would be greatly appreciated.
Reaper question: how can I line up an audio track with the piano roll? Is it possible? It would've helped in a number of places.
I've been using MIDI and sequencers for 20 years now (started with Sonix on an Amiga 500) so it was all pretty straightforward for me, but I think the biggest "WTF?" moment for me was the use of MIDI text messages. Text events are an uncommonly used part of the MIDI spec unless someone is authoring MIDI for distribution (who does that anymore?) The use of it makes perfect sense, but you really should devote half a page to discussing this concept because it can throw off even experienced users. Additionally, you should point out the distinction between a Track Name event, a Text event and a Lyric event as this tripped me up for a bit. Also, more clarification on the use of modifiers in the lyrics process. For example, I have a phrase "Victory is mine" that is unpitched. I used "Vic^- to^- ry^ is^ mine^", is this the right use of combined ^ and -? I mean, it worked, but is it correct?
Ok. Enough rambling from me for now. All in all I think you guys did an AMAZING job of breaking down what is a very complex authoring process into something pretty straightforward. I have an enormous amount of respect now for the guys/gals at Harmonix who have built oh-so-many levels for RB (and previously GH) over the years. It takes time and care to do right and you've been doing it really well.
Thanks for the tools, and thanks for making RBN happen! I'll post more feedback as I polish this tune up and work on the other three we have planned for RBN.