Automation - tips an techniques

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Walter Odington
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Automation - tips an techniques

Post by Walter Odington » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:14 pm

so there has been some sidechain talk where automation was mentioned (http://www.nuskoolbreaks.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=40914). There are lots of ways to skin a cat, so lets hear some from the automaiton camp


It will be of interest to me to hear how other apps differ from Logic





I'll start the ball rolling by mentioning the elementary automation of modulation amounts, rather than a direct parameter. For instance increasing the LFO>filter so that a sound get varied over time nicely. Same for Panning amount, and LFO speed etc.
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Post by shapshankly » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:24 pm

automation in the mixing environment of cubase, i use the uc-33e on the channel strip preset to control one channel at a time and then use the faders to automate things like send amounts, overall volume, and eq bits and pieces.

this way of working is a godsend for tweaking parameters and i would recommend anyone that is thinking about getting a control surface for dedicated DAW control to do so. worth it's weight in productivity.

in other automation news, i like to assign the faders and knobs on my ozonic to different midi channels and then record automation in for VST instruments and effects. this always gives a good starting (if not finishing as well) point for automating settings within synths and fx.

automation is the key to interesting mixes, it really helps make sounds interesting and allows you to put your own personal touches onto the production side of things!
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Post by klarky » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:39 pm

totally agree re surfaces - gots me a trigger finger and bcr 2000 and they are a god send - ive just found a program that uses a graphics tablet as a midi controller which could be handy - ill post a link later, not got a tablet myself but cosidering getting one
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Post by TT_ » Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:42 pm

Finish your tune (at least a rough version) and get a good "static" mix before you start automating stuff.

Possibly the odd effect send type move could be automated whilst writing a track.

This isnt a hard and fast rule but i think it avoids some nightmarish plate of tangly spaghetti type of situations.

Automation is good for complex tracks with lots of elements. It means you can make things get a little louder when they are important to the music and a bit softer when they arent such a feature in the track. Its a bit like being a conductor in an orchestra.......

You can also try putting a hi and lo pass filter on every element in your tune and arranging your track by automating the cuttoff frequencies.

The most obvious use of automation would be to fade something in or out

You can arrange a whole tune using just volume fades if you feel like it.

The whole of Precision Cuts "Another World" was arranged in this fashion. Possibly a few other moves but basically it was fades and filters.

Personally i have used plenty of different types of automation but i find that bizzarely the automation in reason is the one i like most. I use logic 7 but its a bit annoying.
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Post by dopamine » Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:50 pm

Sonar 5 comes with new envelope modes for beat sync patterns and stuff. Looks very interesting.

Agree with Tam on automating at the end, especially volumes. Nothing worse than realising you need to adjust some levels when you've got wires holding everything down.

Automating filters and volume are the obvious applications, but I like controlling interesting things like the frequency of a comb filter, delay speeds, gate thresholds/attacks/decays, bit crushers, reverb parameters etc etc....
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Post by shapshankly » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:29 pm

i automate different elements of tape delay plugs. lurrrvely stuff.

in regards automating at the end, i sometimes find that automating stuff to get roughly how it sounds in your head down on the computer, and then when you come back to mix, starting afresh (i.e. removing all automation on a track) to do the mix properly works quite well. it's rough and ready during writing as it doesn't often require great accuracy, just something to sketch your ideas out.
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Post by foxington » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:47 pm

tamprecision wrote:You can also try putting a hi and lo pass filter on every element in your tune and arranging your track by automating the cuttoff frequencies.
nice 8)

some wicked stuff in this forum recently, big up yaselfs!
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Post by SubtleGestures » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:02 am

You guys covered everything already: I'll try to add something new.

Basics

In LIVE and CUBASE - every track has the basic mixer parameters that can be automated - these should be tweaked whenever you feel the need (i.e. volume, pan, etc).

Now, in regards to LIVE - I assume everyone knows this stuff but here goes anyway: The clip parameters are some of the coolest to automate imo.....

If you're in Warp mode (Tone or Texture) try automating the grain size for some cool granular type efx. Also try modulating the Sample Offset parameter to do some cool SupaTrigga type efx (can sound lame, but can also sound great).

The ONE thing I like about Live the most is the pitchbending capabilities. It's super fast and fun to do all different kinds of pitch bends by automating the Transposition of the clip. It doesn't sound the same as doing it at the actual synths level, but it has it's own character that's well worth playing with. Try going from 48 to 0 over a period of 2-16 measures and you'll see what I'm talking about.... or you can do quicker pitch bends as well.... whatever the situation calls for. Try it on vocals, bass, drums too, anything is game.

Volume automation is also very easy to do in Live - and very fun, and very rewarding.


If you pull an effect in Live - you get all of the efx parameters at your fingertips for doing any automation you see fit. As Dopamine pointed out, try messing w/whatever parameters your effect has available. For example - on a decimator type effect, try playing with the bit depth parameter and you'll encounter the classic filter distortion tweak found in so many of our beloved break records.


One cool thing to do if you're into making truly crazy sounds is to say:
Get a bassline on a single track - run it through the filter of your choice... maybe even some delay as well (whatever comes to mind), do some automation on some different parameters..... RENDER that.... bring it back in and run it through some different efx once again.... and also doing more automation...

Do that as many times as you want - obviously, you could end up with a bunch of noise, but if you know what you're doing, and you know what you're aiming for - you can come up with some really crazy shit.

Look at Si Begg as an example - he uses these kinds of tactics to come up with a lot of his creative bleeps and blaps.


As others have already said, automation is key to making this electronic stuff sound interesting..... especially considering that we're all rehashing similar ideas over and over and over.


Don't forget about automating all kinds of things inside of your synths.... whether it's routing an oscillators output to an LFO, or an EG, etc.

The possibilities are truly endless when you think about it.
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Post by TakeRecords » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:14 pm

strategy wrote:
tamprecision wrote:You can also try putting a hi and lo pass filter on every element in your tune and arranging your track by automating the cuttoff frequencies.
nice 8)

some wicked stuff in this forum recently, big up yaselfs!
eh? i don't get it.
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Post by TakeRecords » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:16 pm

don't forget about the different tools that can be used to create automation shapes in cubase.

I'm sure that logic etc have something similar.
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Post by nectarios » Wed Nov 23, 2005 3:37 pm

dopamine wrote: Agree with Tam on automating at the end, especially volumes. Nothing worse than realising you need to adjust some levels when you've got wires holding everything down.
In Logic, by selecting the track, highlights all of the regions, then simply by Ctrl+clicking the begining of the automation, ups and downs everything, like simply moving the fader up and not ruining the automation. You can select certain regions to apply this to as well. Look if there is an equivalent shortcut in Sonar, as it saves lots of time.
The delay feedbacks/mixes are the ones that get the most automation lines, but also sends , faders, high pass filters in Logic, and the filters on my modular when I do stereo patches, in order to have the same cut-off movements on both left and right channels, as well as the voltage controlled phase shifter. In general though I rarely automate synth patches, it is much more fun tweaking away in real time than just drawing lines and years of tweaking experience means I always get it right! ;)
I don't need to do any crazy automation for weird effects, I simply program synth patches that do that straight up.
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Post by TakeRecords » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:24 pm

nec wrote:
dopamine wrote: Agree with Tam on automating at the end, especially volumes. Nothing worse than realising you need to adjust some levels when you've got wires holding everything down.
In Logic, by selecting the track, highlights all of the regions, then simply by Ctrl+clicking the begining of the automation, ups and downs everything, like simply moving the fader up and not ruining the automation.
yeah i meant to mention you can do this in cubase too although i suspect it is the shift key.
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Post by dopamine » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:58 pm

Cheers nec, i'm sure sonar has this option - i'll look into it.
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Post by hutson » Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:00 am

i like using a delay as insert and automating the bypass to accentuate transitions and break downs. just one idea.
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Post by soapdodger » Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:35 pm

Just a quick automation tip for Cubase users:

If you have automated the level of a channel, but later decide that you want to alter the overall level without affecting the automation try this:

You can turn the channel up and down in level with the little grey knob above the fader (you will need to hold shift)

or you can send the channel to a group and alter the level from there.
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Post by JayRad » Thu Nov 24, 2005 3:14 pm

One thing I always forget and porbably a llot of other peeps in dance music is panning control. in ableton it's a breeze to do but in cubase I often find it's best to to do that last once all the elements are in place. With regards to synth automation if your working with loops, record looong takes of those loops and really explore that sound. Then you can keep the bits you want and you may surprise yourself.
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Post by Llupa » Sun Nov 27, 2005 10:45 am

nec wrote: In Logic, by selecting the track, highlights all of the regions, then simply by Ctrl+clicking the begining of the automation, ups and downs everything, like simply moving the fader up and not ruining the automation. You can select certain regions to apply this to as well.
You freakin' legend - this is gonna save me loads of time and grief!

Thanks,

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Post by SubtleGestures » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:13 am

This might be common knowledge, but I just figured out the other day the COOLEST thing in Cubase.


When running VSTis on multiple tracks: have more than one track selected and play your keyboard - voila - Cubase instantly turns however many synths and tracks you've got selected into one grand Multi-Timbral instrument = BADASS!!!!

I don't know why it never occurred to me before.... I was showing a friend of mine the Trigger Finger operating uTonic.... and he was like, "why don't you assign one instance of Tonic to the first 8 pads, and then assign a different instance of Tonic to the other 8 pads", and I was all, "I don't think I can play multiple tracks at the same time", and I was shaking my head thinking about it....

So I selected Track 1 (1st instance of Tonic) and Track 2 (2nd instance) using the shift key..... and holy fucking shit.... you can select as many tracks at the same time as you want.


I'm curious: does anyone know if this can be done w/Live 4 or 5?


Talk about getting some HEAVILY layered sounds from multiple synth platforms in one easy and convienent go..... after your midi clips are recorded for each track - go and edit each one to your hearts content, for example.... taking away various notes on some clips... doing pitch automation on others... etc.


I'm really liking Cubase SE :p
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Post by macrocosm » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:44 am

/\ heh, nice....didnt know you could do that

Now if they'd only add some kind of decent effects bounce down for audio tracks (without having to export) :roll:
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Post by SubtleGestures » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:50 am

Obviously, it depends on your cpu, but if you've got enough juice - you can make some crazy Multi-Timbral sounds using this method.



"Now if they'd only add some kind of decent effects bounce down for audio tracks (without having to export)" - You've got me confused.... I know what bouncing is used for... but what is an "fx bounce"??? Is that where the software would make a temporary "render" into RAM?
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