1. #1
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    The Notetracking FAQ

    THE NOTETRACKING FAQ
    By The Rocksmith Notetracking Team at Ubisoft Studio SF (@UbisoftStudioSF)
    Last update: 5/22/14

    Many of you have expressed an interest in knowing more about our notetracking process -- who makes them, how we arrive at our musical transcriptions, and why they end up the way they do. So for the curious among you, here's a little insight into how we get it done.


    Our Team

    Every song you play in Rocksmith is created by a team of notetrackers. Our notetrackers are experienced musicians who painstakingly transcribe the guitar and bass parts —that’s their full-time job. Some are working musicians with decades of experience playing guitar and bass professionally; some have advanced degrees in music; some are experienced studio musicians with a background in both music and recording technology; some are veterans of other rhythm game franchises. All of them pass an extremely rigorous battery of tests before joining the team, demonstrating that their ears are good enough to hear what's going on, that they have mastered guitar well enough to understand how it's being played, and that they have a deep understanding of music and can interpret what's going on in the context of each song.

    The notetracker's ears are the primary tool used in creating Rocksmith guitar transcriptions, but we don't rely on their transcription skills alone. We compare what we think we're hearing against live performance videos, official music videos, interviews, alternate recordings, and any other source of information we can get our hands on to deconstruct a song..


    Our Standards

    The question we continuously ask ourselves when deciding how to track a song is "How was this actually being played in the recording?"

    Of course, it isn't always possible to know the answer to that question with absolute certainty. We watch videos of live performances to confirm hand and finger positions, but it's fairly common for players to change the way they do things live from the way they did it in the studio, so that isn't always definitive. Sometimes a guitarist will even play the same thing different ways on different takes during a single recording session. Studio recordings frequently include parts that are edited together from multiple takes, so that even the players themselves can't accurately say for sure how something was played during the session.

    In these uncertain or ambiguous cases, we just make our best, most educated, well-informed guess using our knowledge of music and guitar technique to arrive at the most likely transcription, then we hand it over to the other notetrackers for review.


    Our Review Process

    After the talent and training of our notetrackers, our review process is the biggest factor in the consistency and quality of our notetracks. Every single arrangement gets multiple levels of scrutiny throughout its development.

    Our notetrackers take their work very seriously, and our conversations about the proper way to play things get pretty intense. Ultimately, a consensus is reached among the team about how we think a section was played based on all the evidence at our disposal and our collective musical experience.

    The original notetracker creates a transcription, then checks it for any mistakes before sending it off for a transcription review. Another notetracker then checks it, raising any concerns or possible alternate approaches that might make it more accurate.

    The original notetracker then creates the leveling structure for the chart – that’s the dynamic difficulty that goes up or down based on how accurately you play while learning a song -- and sends it off for a second round of review. The notetrack then goes through yet another round of revision and refinement: we call this review the “peer review.” After the peer review is addressed, each arrangement then gets a final review pass from one of the senior notetrackers to ensure that our quality, accuracy, and style are as consistent as possible. Finally, the original notetracker plays through the entire song on every difficulty level to check for any mistakes or to make any final adjustments that might be necessary.

    That's just our internal notetracking team review process. Each chart is then rechecked by our QA team for any technical errors that might need to be addressed, and only then is the chart ready for public consumption.


    FAQ

    Q: Why doesn't "Song X" match the official transcription? Why don't you just get the official original transcription from the band and use that?

    Mostly because there really isn't such a thing as the official, original transcription. Official published transcriptions that are sanctioned by the artists (or more likely by their publishers) are generated via a process not unlike the one we use, by transcriptionists with backgrounds not unlike ours. Only in the very rarest of cases is the original guitarist actually playing from tablature written before the recording, which is then submitted for publication afterwards. Even in those cases where the original artist does weigh in, there's no guarantee that they're remembering correctly how they played a song in the studio - we frequently encounter cases where the way an artist plays a song live has evolved significantly from the way it was originally recorded. When there's a discrepancy, we try to favor the way it's done on the recording over the way it's done live, unless there's a good reason to do otherwise.


    Q: I found a mistake in "Song Y". Why did you put a mistake in there?

    First off, good catch. We've definitely come across a few clunkers that slipped through the cracks ourselves, and it’s a major bummer for us. But it happens; we're human, and musical transcription is difficult, especially when the goal is 100% accuracy on a note-for-note transcription of three to five songs a week, each of which has three or more arrangements, each of which contains hundreds, if not thousands, of notes. We hate it when we realize we've made a mistake, and we sincerely, deeply, and humbly apologize for any cases where our mistakes have made the game less enjoyable for you.

    But keep letting us know! Unfortunately, due to the way the pipeline works for delivering new game data across multiple platforms, it isn't a straightforward thing to simply correct a mistake in a chart and swap it out. However, we do keep track of these mistakes when we find them, and when opportunities do arise to fix them, we do.


    Q: Why does the guitar stay on this part instead of going to that part? Why did you include this and leave that out? Why is there a big gap? Why am I playing this part that clearly isn't a guitar? Why do I hear a guitar that I'm not playing?

    Studio recordings are complex things. Parts are often double- or triple-tracked. Sometimes a very subtle extra part is recorded to double another more prominent part, just to make it sound a little richer, fuller, or cooler. Other times, parts are edited together or overdubbed. The upshot is that you don't always have a guitar part that starts at the beginning, plays all the way through, and stops at the end. You have parts that come in for four bars and then go away. You have parts that drop out for 16 or 32 bars, then come back in.

    Then you also have songs with awesome, killer guitar parts that are preceded and followed by long empty passages. Or you might have a song with a fun, iconic part that isn't played by a guitar, but that is so closely identified with the song that it wouldn't be complete without it. In cases like these, we have to balance our goal of being as accurate as possible with the reality that Rocksmith should be fun to play. We do our best to make that balance work.


    Q: Why do you have this fingered this way, or played on this string, or played as an open note, or not played as an open note? Wouldn't it be easier if you did it the other way?

    We're going for accuracy; we're trying to teach you how to play the song the way the original artist plays it on the recording. Sometimes, these players have idiosyncratic playing styles that result in them playing something in a way that is not quite the easiest way to produce those notes. Sometimes, on lower difficulty levels, we will teach you to play a passage with a seemingly unnecessary jump up or down the fretboard because that jump will become necessary on higher levels, and it's easier to introduce that move when there still aren't too many notes coming at you.

    Often, it's a creative judgment call by the notetracker. When we can know for certain how it was done, we do it that way. When we don't know or it cannot be known how it was done, we make the best, most educated, most informed guess we can make, try to get a consensus from the team about how it should be, and then move forward with it.
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  2. #2
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    The Notetracking FAQ

    THE NOTETRACKING FAQ
    By The Rocksmith Notetracking Team at Ubisoft Studio SF (@UbisoftStudioSF)
    Last update: 5/22/14

    Many of you have expressed an interest in knowing more about our notetracking process -- who makes them, how we arrive at our musical transcriptions, and why they end up the way they do. So for the curious among you, here's a little insight into how we get it done.


    Our Team

    Every song you play in Rocksmith is created by a team of notetrackers. Our notetrackers are experienced musicians who painstakingly transcribe the guitar and bass parts —that’s their full-time job. Some are working musicians with decades of experience playing guitar and bass professionally; some have advanced degrees in music; some are experienced studio musicians with a background in both music and recording technology; some are veterans of other rhythm game franchises. All of them pass an extremely rigorous battery of tests before joining the team, demonstrating that their ears are good enough to hear what's going on, that they have mastered guitar well enough to understand how it's being played, and that they have a deep understanding of music and can interpret what's going on in the context of each song.

    The notetracker's ears are the primary tool used in creating Rocksmith guitar transcriptions, but we don't rely on their transcription skills alone. We compare what we think we're hearing against live performance videos, official music videos, interviews, alternate recordings, and any other source of information we can get our hands on to deconstruct a song..


    Our Standards

    The question we continuously ask ourselves when deciding how to track a song is "How was this actually being played in the recording?"

    Of course, it isn't always possible to know the answer to that question with absolute certainty. We watch videos of live performances to confirm hand and finger positions, but it's fairly common for players to change the way they do things live from the way they did it in the studio, so that isn't always definitive. Sometimes a guitarist will even play the same thing different ways on different takes during a single recording session. Studio recordings frequently include parts that are edited together from multiple takes, so that even the players themselves can't accurately say for sure how something was played during the session.

    In these uncertain or ambiguous cases, we just make our best, most educated, well-informed guess using our knowledge of music and guitar technique to arrive at the most likely transcription, then we hand it over to the other notetrackers for review.


    Our Review Process

    After the talent and training of our notetrackers, our review process is the biggest factor in the consistency and quality of our notetracks. Every single arrangement gets multiple levels of scrutiny throughout its development.

    Our notetrackers take their work very seriously, and our conversations about the proper way to play things get pretty intense. Ultimately, a consensus is reached among the team about how we think a section was played based on all the evidence at our disposal and our collective musical experience.

    The original notetracker creates a transcription, then checks it for any mistakes before sending it off for a transcription review. Another notetracker then checks it, raising any concerns or possible alternate approaches that might make it more accurate.

    The original notetracker then creates the leveling structure for the chart – that’s the dynamic difficulty that goes up or down based on how accurately you play while learning a song -- and sends it off for a second round of review. The notetrack then goes through yet another round of revision and refinement: we call this review the “peer review.” After the peer review is addressed, each arrangement then gets a final review pass from one of the senior notetrackers to ensure that our quality, accuracy, and style are as consistent as possible. Finally, the original notetracker plays through the entire song on every difficulty level to check for any mistakes or to make any final adjustments that might be necessary.

    That's just our internal notetracking team review process. Each chart is then rechecked by our QA team for any technical errors that might need to be addressed, and only then is the chart ready for public consumption.


    FAQ

    Q: Why doesn't "Song X" match the official transcription? Why don't you just get the official original transcription from the band and use that?

    Mostly because there really isn't such a thing as the official, original transcription. Official published transcriptions that are sanctioned by the artists (or more likely by their publishers) are generated via a process not unlike the one we use, by transcriptionists with backgrounds not unlike ours. Only in the very rarest of cases is the original guitarist actually playing from tablature written before the recording, which is then submitted for publication afterwards. Even in those cases where the original artist does weigh in, there's no guarantee that they're remembering correctly how they played a song in the studio - we frequently encounter cases where the way an artist plays a song live has evolved significantly from the way it was originally recorded. When there's a discrepancy, we try to favor the way it's done on the recording over the way it's done live, unless there's a good reason to do otherwise.


    Q: I found a mistake in "Song Y". Why did you put a mistake in there?

    First off, good catch. We've definitely come across a few clunkers that slipped through the cracks ourselves, and it’s a major bummer for us. But it happens; we're human, and musical transcription is difficult, especially when the goal is 100% accuracy on a note-for-note transcription of three to five songs a week, each of which has three or more arrangements, each of which contains hundreds, if not thousands, of notes. We hate it when we realize we've made a mistake, and we sincerely, deeply, and humbly apologize for any cases where our mistakes have made the game less enjoyable for you.

    But keep letting us know! Unfortunately, due to the way the pipeline works for delivering new game data across multiple platforms, it isn't a straightforward thing to simply correct a mistake in a chart and swap it out. However, we do keep track of these mistakes when we find them, and when opportunities do arise to fix them, we do.


    Q: Why does the guitar stay on this part instead of going to that part? Why did you include this and leave that out? Why is there a big gap? Why am I playing this part that clearly isn't a guitar? Why do I hear a guitar that I'm not playing?

    Studio recordings are complex things. Parts are often double- or triple-tracked. Sometimes a very subtle extra part is recorded to double another more prominent part, just to make it sound a little richer, fuller, or cooler. Other times, parts are edited together or overdubbed. The upshot is that you don't always have a guitar part that starts at the beginning, plays all the way through, and stops at the end. You have parts that come in for four bars and then go away. You have parts that drop out for 16 or 32 bars, then come back in.

    Then you also have songs with awesome, killer guitar parts that are preceded and followed by long empty passages. Or you might have a song with a fun, iconic part that isn't played by a guitar, but that is so closely identified with the song that it wouldn't be complete without it. In cases like these, we have to balance our goal of being as accurate as possible with the reality that Rocksmith should be fun to play. We do our best to make that balance work.


    Q: Why do you have this fingered this way, or played on this string, or played as an open note, or not played as an open note? Wouldn't it be easier if you did it the other way?

    We're going for accuracy; we're trying to teach you how to play the song the way the original artist plays it on the recording. Sometimes, these players have idiosyncratic playing styles that result in them playing something in a way that is not quite the easiest way to produce those notes. Sometimes, on lower difficulty levels, we will teach you to play a passage with a seemingly unnecessary jump up or down the fretboard because that jump will become necessary on higher levels, and it's easier to introduce that move when there still aren't too many notes coming at you.

    Often, it's a creative judgment call by the notetracker. When we can know for certain how it was done, we do it that way. When we don't know or it cannot be known how it was done, we make the best, most educated, most informed guess we can make, try to get a consensus from the team about how it should be, and then move forward with it.
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  3. #3
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    This was created as a result of forum and fan discussion about the process -- the team took the initiative to answer some of those questions. Hope you find it enjoyable and informative.
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    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    This was created as a result of forum and fan discussion about the process -- the team took the initiative to answer some of those questions. Hope you find it enjoyable and informative.
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  5. #5

    It is fascinating. You are really doing great
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  6. #6
    MAng0r3's Avatar Senior Member
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    Nice thread Dan!

    Is there a way to know if some mistakes found in certain songs will be corrected at some point. I'm not talking about tracking mistakes but rather some stucture mistakes that happened in songs like Aces high per example. One of the chorus is having chords from the verse section.

    Check there>>>http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php...ight=aces+high
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  7. #7
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    Originally Posted by MAng0r3 Go to original post
    Nice thread Dan!

    Is there a way to know if some mistakes found in certain songs will be corrected at some point. I'm not talking about tracking mistakes but rather some stucture mistakes that happened in songs like Aces high per example. One of the chorus is having chords from the verse section.

    Check there>>>http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php...ight=aces+high
    Well, as the FAQ says, when tracks can be amended, they are, but I don't have a list right now of what's fixed and what's pending. The different environments of console and PC make it a little easier to push fixes in a timely manner on the latter. Not that they'd never appear on 360/PS3, but you might get incremental changes on PC while console awaits a more efficient larger title update.

    I'll check with the notetrackers, but they read the forums too, so they may know about this before I bring it up.
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  8. #8
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    Originally Posted by MAng0r3 Go to original post
    Nice thread Dan!

    Is there a way to know if some mistakes found in certain songs will be corrected at some point. I'm not talking about tracking mistakes but rather some stucture mistakes that happened in songs like Aces high per example. One of the chorus is having chords from the verse section.

    Check there>>>http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php...ight=aces+high
    Well, as the FAQ says, when tracks can be amended, they are, but I don't have a list right now of what's fixed and what's pending. The different environments of console and PC make it a little easier to push fixes in a timely manner on the latter. Not that they'd never appear on 360/PS3, but you might get incremental changes on PC while console awaits a more efficient larger title update.

    I'll check with the notetrackers, but they read the forums too, so they may know about this before I bring it up.
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  9. #9
    Steel_Nirvana's Avatar Senior Member
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    Here's a question for the FAQ: Why have the transcriptions changed between RS1 and RS14? Several of my previously favorite songs have fallen off my playlist, because the transcription is different...and not in a good way. "Smoke On The Water" is a good example, though there are others.
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  10. #10
    BazzTard61's Avatar Banned
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    Thanks Dan, that was really informative, exactly what I was wanting an insight into.

    Keep up the good work.

    A similar post about the song selection process would be fascinating
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  11. #11
    Kynlore's Avatar Senior Member
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    It was a good read and nice to have some insight into the process.
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  12. #12
    kidmeatball's Avatar Senior Member
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    Awesome thread Dan. I could read stuff like this all day. Take every opportunity to keep us informed about your development process, please.

    If I may, one of the interesting things about the guitar is the redundancy of so many notes. You might find a tab out there that may be based on a video someone watched of a performance that closely resembles the track. Take the time to really look at it though. There might be an easier way for you to play it. It will also teach you something about your instrument. This game might not always work with the same principle for some of the reasons Dan mentioned. Sometimes, at the lower levels, the shifting is to prepare you for the harder levels. That being said, outside of the game (which is why we play) take the time to look over the tabs and try some other fingerings or positions. You might just find it a heck of a lot smoother that what jimbo71823 uploaded to UG.
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  13. #13
    infocat1's Avatar Senior Member
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    Great! I've been meaning to ask for exactly this!
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