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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
So now it's time to talk a little bit about fades and automation. Fades are a great thing that we can use to kind of clean up our files. They come in really handy all the time, but if you're doing a lot of editing, they can kind of be a lifesaver if some edits are hard to make without a pop or a click, and they can also just be a really efficient way to make quick edits. So, I'm going to go in and show you a couple of edits using fades, instead of zeroing in on that zero crossing, but kind of doing it quick and dirty and using fades. You can add fades at the head or the tail of a file, and you can do that via the file.
You can actually draw a fade to a region, or you can draw it in the track. We're going to start by drawing it to the region, and then later when we're talking about automation, I'll show you drawing volume changes actually in the track, or in the channel. Again, we're in Pro Tools, but a lot of the same functionality will be available in a lot of different audio software. So, I'm going to go in here and trim up my bass track a little bit, and take a listen so you know what we're working with. (bass playing) I get this little tool that I can draw there to fade that in.
We'll make it long, so it's obvious. (bass playing) Pretty straight ahead. You can move these around, put different curves on them. (bass playing) So, that's just a kind of a straight fade at the head of a sound. We can also go in here and put one at the end, so it fades in and out, and adjust those fades. (bass playing) Pretty simple, pretty cool! It works great when you're ending long files, and you just instead of going in there and finding the zero, you just give yourself a little bit of breath.
If you know another file is going to pick up, like a voice file or like this file, I can go in there and do this and do this. That way you know you have silence here, but you know that your in and out points of the edit will be silent, because this fade is turning the volume up from zero. And this, of course, represents kind of bringing up the volume to the full level. But the other kind of fade that you can do which is really interesting is the crossfade, which actually fades one region into another. So I am going to go ahead and take these fades back, just make them real tight.
Now, let's say I wanted to go in and just shorten this bass note. Now, I could go in and find where the waveform crosses the 0 axis. But what I'm going to do is just drop that out, because I know I want it to be at certain length, bring them pretty close together, and then use the Fade tool. In Pro Tools I can drag like this. See how I now have two fades. What that's going to do is trim that outgoing region down, and the incoming region up at the same time.
So, we kind of have a blend or a crossfade. (bass playing) So, you notice there is no pop or click, we have a little bit of a dip there in terms of the volume. So, it's not the best edit. This is a bigger one, so that you can see what's going on. Let's get rid of the fade. Do another one. You can make a really, really short one, and we'll zoom in actually, so you can see that. Notice this is actually a pretty bad cut, and that still was pop-less, so that's cool. So, here is this really short crossfade. We'll zoom back there, and take a listen of that.
(bass playing) So, now we've got a little bump. It's actually there. (bass playing) But the other thing you can do with a crossfade, and this is important and definitely worth knowing about, is that this kind of crossfade is a linear crossfade, in that the volumes are coming and going at the same time. So, actually when you get to here, you're at a low point volume, and you can kind of hear that. When we play it back, you can hear that the volume level dips. (bass playing) Something called Equal Power basically means that the rate it goes out and the rate it comes in kind of becomes a wash, so that you maintain a consistent volume.
This is great for making quick edits on the fly. (bass playing) There's till a little waver in there but-- (bass playing) --it's a lot better than the linear fade. So, those are things you can do. If you're working with a lot of voiceover files and trying to push things closer together, or replace things, crossfades can be a quick way to make a lot of seamless or seemingly seamless edits. They can also be great if you're doing sound design or trying to make sound effects. You can use a fade to make a sound appear quickly or slowly.
You can take something, like if you have an explosion, if you fade that in slowly instead of having that big impact at the beginning, you can actually make it sound kind of like a bonfire or something like that. So, same deal with taking a sound and making it fade out quickly or slowly; you can really have an effect on the character of a sound. This is also great with music at the end, when you get to the end of a song or end of a track, and you want things to kind of fade out or end: applying different separate fades to different tracks can be really convenient, as opposed to having to just fade down the whole mix.
So, it's something to keep in mind no matter what you're working on. That's talking about drawing fades actually on the file, but let's talk a little bit about automation. We'll start by doing some volume fades, but with automation. To do this, we'll keep using our bass track, but I'm going to change what we're looking at to show volume. This line represents volume. I'm also going to open up the Mix window. Here I'm going to hot-key into our Mix window, and we'll kind of reshape this so that you can see it. I put it over here and move this over here.
Now I want you to see what's going to happen over here. So, I can go in, and this line basically corresponds to where this fader is. We don't have any automation there yet, so when I move it, nothing happens. But if I go in and draw some automation here, which is really just clicking and dragging. Here is no volume, here is up, you can see when I click on there, I get a little number that shows me where I am volume-wise. So, I can go in and draw a fade-in. Here we'll make this face in all the way from zero.
And it will do, it will fade in. Now what's cool is if you look over here while we're doing that, you can see that the fader actually follows that animation. Here, I will pull that down so when we're here--it's all the way down, and then if you watch that, as we play, it comes up. So that's kind of how automation corresponds from the Edit window into the Mixing window. You can automate other things, like pan. I want to get rid of that so we can just focus on the next one. We can go into pan, which is left/right, which sonically you might not be able to hear this because you might not be set up to enjoy the thrill of stereo.
But in a nutshell, I'm going to use this automation to pan the audio to the left side, and then to the right side. You'll be able to watch the pan control over here in Pro Tools move. (bass playing) So, that's pan automation. Pretty cool! When you're doing mixes, things like automation are a great help, because you can set these things up and know that they're going to be the way that you set them. So, if you want to mute a certain section, you don't have to always remember as you're playing back to hit the Mute button;, you can automate it, and it will happen every time.
Then if you don't like the way it works, you can go back and just make slight adjustments. So, let's look at the last thing you can automate here, which is the Mute button, and we'll do some fast mutes here. Let's do another one, so we get kind of cool effect. Well, might not be that cool, but we're going to do it. Again, you can watch the Mute button here. It will probably light up here and over here when it goes into mute.
(bass playing) So, we've just automated mute, which is also another really cool thing you can use in terms of kind of mixing, and in editing. If you're working with voiceover, I would probably go in and take out all the sounds. But if you want, you could go in and just draw mutes or volume fades for different purposes. If you're putting a music bed behind a voiceover track, you can automate that it fades in and then maybe automate it muting out at the right time, or fading out.
So, that's it for fades and automation.
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