Review: Heavyocity Gravity
Ryan McCambridge has a play around with this mega suite of Modern Scoring Tools praised by numerous top sound designers.
Ryan McCambridge has a play around with this mega suite of Modern Scoring Tools that’s already been praised by numerous big-name sound designers.
Heavyocity is renowned as one of the leading producers of software instruments aimed at composers of film and television. Its past instruments, like AEON, Damage and Evolve, have become the sound underpinning countless modern scores. So it’s no surprise that it has now released Gravity, which it is calling “the most dynamic collection of Modern Scoring Tools ever assembled”. Gravity is a cinematic sound arsenal, comprising 100 complex Pads, 48 Hits, 72 Risers and over 450 Stings, placing it sonically between symphonic libraries and virtual synths.
Installation and licensing were easy, mainly because Heavyocity has chosen to use Native Instruments Kontakt as its sampler and licensing platform. For those who don’t own the full version of Kontakt, the free Kontakt Player is available. Anyone who is fully invested in the Native Instruments ecosystem will have the added benefit of Gravity being NKS-ready, meaning it will integrate into Komplete Kontrol MIDI keyboards. Gravity’s potential is realised when you exploit its expressiveness, so this kind of control over the instrument would be quite valuable.
At its core, Gravity is very much about granularity, allowing composers to dig deep into sounds, then meld and mangle them in creative and inspiring ways. Each set of sounds within the instrument, categorised as Pads, Hits, Risers and Stings, is actually the fusion of multiple sounds. Those sounds can be heavily manipulated or changed entirely, resulting in countless potential combinations. This is especially true with the Pads. The resulting combinations are so vast that Heavyocity has provided Kontakt snapshots with each patch. They demonstrate how the sounds can differ extensively, from playable bell-like instruments and ambient textures, to alternate swell patches and whatever else is imaginable between them.
Composers will likely find the Hits patches to be Gravity’s most unrivaled element. I know of no other instrument that gives this level of control over such an integral part of sound design. Hits are divided into the Swell, the Sub, the Impact and the Tail, each of which are interchangeable. Within the various patches of all categories, the idea is to layer multiple sounds of differing timbres, which vary slightly depending on the type of instrument that you are using. The sounds within the instrument accurately carry descriptions like “atonal”, “hybrid organic”, “disturbing metals” and “aggressive”, which is both its strength and its weakness.
Gravity is clearly the descendent of Heavyocity’s past instruments. I wouldn’t say that sounds are necessarily a giant leap forward for Heavyocity, however, Gravity’s intuitive, adaptable interface shows so much promise for the future. This isn’t to say that Gravity doesn’t sound fantastic, because it really does, but as it stands, it seems better suited to composers who are looking for moody, intense, or action-rich sounds. You are likely not going to be scoring an intimate period drama or romantic comedy with Gravity. That said, I had the pleasure of using Gravity’s first expansion pack, Natural Forces, which shows the organic and softer sounds that Gravity is capable of and ultimately the capacity of the instrument as a more complete composing platform. I’m looking forward to eventually trying the second expansion, Vocalise, as well because it seems to push Gravity further into territory that Heavyocity isn’t necessarily known for.
Many composers on tight deadlines will appreciate how Gravity sounds out of the gate. Thankfully the interface is absolutely alluring, just beckoning you to manipulate the sounds, and this is really where composers will find they get the most out of Gravity. Individuality can also be pulled from Gravity using its effects section, which in typical Heavyocity fashion houses distortion, spatial and motion effects, all of which offer syncable patterns.
Gravity’s Motion section is one of the most impressive parts of the instrument, allowing volume, pitch and panning to be creatively altered over time. The linear development of sounds really is the essence of composing for picture, which is likely why Heavyocity puts so much focus on the Motion Designer. They can easily be added to sounds and controlled freely, or they can be time-based, applied using patterns of up to 64 steps.
Heavyocity has created an instrument that sounds incredible with very little effort. Though there will inevitably be the temptation for composers to overuse it at its most superficial, Gravity will reward those who explore its potential. In that potential, Gravity can also be a tool for anyone who writes music, to picture or not. Though the instrument won’t replace traditional orchestral sound libraries for composers, it is a perfect augmentation to them. I imagine that Heavyocity will continue its reign in film and television scores and that calling Gravity a set of “Modern Scoring Tools” is something of an understatement and more of a prophecy.
- Over 12GB of production-ready instruments
- 100 Pads; 48 Hits; 72 Risers; and over 450 Stings
- Playable Trigger FX for real-time control
- Available in Standalone, VST, AU, DXi, AAX and RTAS versions
- New Motion feature for fully customisable? control of volume, pan and pitch modulation
Ryan McCambridge is a freelance audio engineer, writer, producer and programmer from Toronto, Canada. He has taught audio production in workshops and universities, is the creator of the production blog Bit Crushing and is the frontman of A Calmer Collision. www.bitcrushing.com www.acalmercollision.com