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Using automation for volume and other parameters

From: Audio Post Workflow with Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools

Video: Using automation for volume and other parameters

In some of the previous movies, we talked about changing the volume of your tracks, but with some tracks like the music tracks, you might have noticed that when you move the volume, it automatically snaps back when you hit Play. Watch the volume level after I adjust the volume and hit Play. (music playing) It snaps back to a different value. This is because this track has volume automation breakpoints already written to it.

Using automation for volume and other parameters

In some of the previous movies, we talked about changing the volume of your tracks, but with some tracks like the music tracks, you might have noticed that when you move the volume, it automatically snaps back when you hit Play. Watch the volume level after I adjust the volume and hit Play. (music playing) It snaps back to a different value. This is because this track has volume automation breakpoints already written to it.

In this movie, we will explore how to view and draw in volume automation and plug-in automation also. To see volume automation, you have to first change the view of your tracks. Let's go to the volume view in the MUS 1 track. You can also click into the track and type the minus key to toggle between waveform and volume view. So here's our volume automation. These breakpoints came across from Final Cut Pro in our XML/AAF transfer.

But now we will refine them further in Pro Tools. With the Smart tool you can click and drag on any of the breakpoints to move them around. To create new breakpoints, hold the Command button and click on the line. You can also select the Pencil tool and draw in automation by hand. To delete a breakpoint, hold Option and click the breakpoint. To delete more than one breakpoint, you can select a range and type Delete on the keyboard.

Automation can also be copied and pasted from one area to another as we see here. Select Command+C to copy and Command+V to paste. And during the mixing stage of your project, you can and should spend time refining the volumes of all your clips in the sequence with automation. But remember, volume isn't the only parameter you can adjust. Basically, any parameter you can imagine is able to be automated over time in Pro Tools, like plug-in parameters for instance.

Plug-in parameters can be automated just like volume, but there's one small twist: you have to first enable the parameter you want to be automated. Let's take, for example, this EQ insert on the B ROLL track. Let's solo the track, and we will take a listen to this first clip called B ROLL picking. It has a nice open sound. (video playing) Now let's take a listen to the second two clips, especially the second half. You will hear some high-frequency hiss in there.

(video playing) So we will use automation to enable a low pass filter on the second two clips while we'll leave the first clip alone, and any other clips on this track will be left alone if we do this right. First, let's enable the low pass filter and dial it in for the second two clips. Click the IN button on the low pass filter and dial it back until it sounds good.

Around 7 kilohertz, we should hear the hiss reduced. (video playing) Next, we have to enable that parameter to be automated. So we'll click the box right below the word Auto in the Plug-In window. This opens our Plug-In Automation enable menu. Here we can scroll down, and we will add the LPF Enable to our list of parameters. Once we do this, we will click OK. Here's a good hint, another way to enable a plug-in parameter is to Ctrl+Option+Command, all three modifiers, click on the parameter you want to add.

That way you don't have to go into that complicated menu. Now that we have the Low-Pass filter enabled, I will close the Plug-In window for a second, so we can see better. Now where we found the volume automation in this menu, we can see the 7-Band EQ and Low-Pass filter is there. We will select it. Now this parameter has two states, it's either on or off. So let's enable it in just for those two clips we want to alter with the Trim tool. Good! Now if I open the Plug-In window again and hit Play, we will see I will go in just before the clip, and it will turn off just after automatically.

(video playing) We have now automated this plug-in parameter. So now that you have seen how automation works in Pro Tools, your project's mix can now be as dynamic and flexible as you want it to be. In the next movie, we will talk about where your volume level should be ideally.

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