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Using automation to create dynamic mixes

From: Logic Pro 9 Essential Training

Video: Using automation to create dynamic mixes

Once you have all your volume levels, panning, processing, and effects in place, it's time to give your mix a little life. The thing that separates a good mix from a great one is a little movement. Automation refers to any mix control that moves automatically during the course of the song. It refers not only to fader volume, but panning, plug-in parameters and even software instrument controls. Automation can be written and recorded in realtime or drawn in and edited by hand. Let's see how to use it in Logic. Automation controls are not seen by default.

Using automation to create dynamic mixes

Once you have all your volume levels, panning, processing, and effects in place, it's time to give your mix a little life. The thing that separates a good mix from a great one is a little movement. Automation refers to any mix control that moves automatically during the course of the song. It refers not only to fader volume, but panning, plug-in parameters and even software instrument controls. Automation can be written and recorded in realtime or drawn in and edited by hand. Let's see how to use it in Logic. Automation controls are not seen by default.

To see the Automation controls, you can go the View menu and click Track Automation or just type the A button on your keyboard. You'll notice the track size automatically compensates and all tracks now show the first Automation type, Volume. You can click in this Automation parameter pulldown menu to choose Automation type, which, for now, is set to Volume as we can see, because it's checked. You also notice, in yellow, a guide in decibels that tells us the current volume state that we are at. Right now, the fader is set to -2.2 dB and I can see that's reflected on the Channel Strip.

We also have a yellow column that represents the fader position here. We can click on this and drag up or down to change the fader position. Currently, all tracks are in their initial state, meaning no Automation has been written. This initial state is also signified by the Automation status button, which is currently set to off. If we want to write Automation and commit some moves, we'll change this state to Touch. Just click where it says off and you get a pulldown menu. We'll choose Touch. Touch Mode allows us to write any parameter we are currently controlling with the mouse, or touching if you have a touch-sensitive control surface.

This means that if you are moving the fader during playback, it'll write that move as Automation into the track. If you're touching the panner and moving the panner, Logic will write that information into the track. As we start to write Automation, the gray line running horizontally across the track will start to contain Automation nodes, which are Automation data point that tell the parameter where to be. This singer has a tendency to fall off at the end of phrases. So, I am going to use Automation to lift up the end of his words. I am going to hit Play and start moving the fader. You'll see the nodes written as I go.

(Music playing.) Now that we have written Automation, we can go into a Safe Mode, Read Mode where the Automation parameters can follow what we wrote.

In Read Mode, nothing can be written, but as we play it back over this section, you'll see that the fader will automatically follow over the nodes we wrote. (Music playing.) See how the fader in the Channel Strip is automatically moving up and down according to the moves we just made. If you want to rewrite something, we can always pop it back into Touch and revisit a move. (Music playing.) As soon as you are in Touch Mode and you start moving the fader, it'll write that move until you let go of the control.

Latch Mode is like Touch Mode. It will write data only when you're touching that control, except it's different when you release. When you release, it latches onto the last setting and continues to write at that level. I'll demonstrate this. (Music playing.) I let go of the mouse when the fader was at 3.7 and in Latch Mode, it continued to write that point out until I hit Stop. At any time, during Automation, you can always hit Command+Z to undo the last Automation pass you did.

The last mode, Write, ignores what you were touching altogether and writes Automation for all parameters at the current state they are in. Because Write Mode is potentially destructive, meaning it will write over stuff you aren't even currently touching, Write isn't used very much. Okay, now that you get the swing of how Automation works for realtime recording, let's talk about editing and writing it in by hand. Let's zoom all the way into the vocal track to see our Automation's move. With the Pointer tool, Automation nodes can be clicked and dragged on to make adjustments.

When you drag to the left or right, over other nodes, they go way. But if you drag back, it will reveal what was left behind. If you hold the control key after starting to move a node, it restricts your move vertically and makes the adjustment finer. I can't move left to right when I am holding Control. A quick single-click on a node erases it and a quick single-click on the line creates a node. Just like regions, Automation can be copied and pasted. To do this, choose the Automation Select tool.

Now we can drag to make a selection, and we can use Option+drag to move this selection somewhere else. Curves in Automation may be made with Automation Curves tool. Click on a line between two points and drag left or right to make an S shaped curve and drag up and down to make a normal curve. You can also use the Pencil tool to freely draw points. And you can use the Eraser tool to erase points.

You can also view more than one Automation type at a time. If you wanted to view Volume and Pan for the vocal track, just click the disclosure triangle on the left-hand side. Change this Automation parameter to Pan and we can view Pan and Volume. I'll write in some pan moves. Notice it color-codes it. So, Pan is green and yellow is volume. When you are done using Automation, you can hit the A key to go back to normal view. Once you hit the A key, you enter a whole new level of Logic you may not have known it existed, but if you master working with Automation, you'll be able to breathe new life into your mixes, making the mix process as much of a performance as the recording process.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Logic Pro 9 Essential Training
Logic Pro 9 Essential Training

74 video lessons · 28206 viewers

Scott Hirsch
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 55s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 5s
  2. 17m 39s
    1. Installing the software
      3m 19s
    2. Launching Logic for the first time, using the templates
      5m 15s
    3. Understanding audio interfaces
      3m 35s
    4. Understanding MIDI interfaces
      5m 30s
  3. 32m 15s
    1. Getting to know the Arrange window
      5m 15s
    2. Using the many windows of Logic
      4m 13s
    3. Creating your own screensets
      2m 23s
    4. Using the Transport window and controlling playback
      4m 54s
    5. Using the Toolbox
      2m 37s
    6. Naming tracks and regions
      3m 27s
    7. Learning useful and custom key commands
      5m 18s
    8. Saving and going mobile with your project
      4m 8s
  4. 41m 41s
    1. Setting up for recording
      5m 43s
    2. Understanding Metronome settings or the click track
      4m 7s
    3. Understanding tempo
      4m 37s
    4. Recording live instruments and vocals using multitrack recording
      3m 56s
    5. Playing with guitar madness: Amp design
      5m 13s
    6. Playing with guitar madness: Pedal board
      4m 5s
    7. Working with takes recording and comping
      4m 51s
    8. Punching in to replace bad audio
      4m 51s
    9. Using Varispeed to create an old tape machine sound
      4m 18s
  5. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding MIDI
      4m 41s
    2. Using the Logic synth instruments
      7m 4s
    3. Working with the emulator instruments
      5m 23s
    4. Using the EXS24 sampler
      3m 7s
    5. Building tracks with Ultrabeat
      5m 31s
    6. Using channel strips to select a virtual sound
      5m 29s
    7. Understanding the basics of MIDI recording
      4m 38s
    8. Learning how to use MIDI with Cycle Record
      4m 9s
    9. Using Logic's step input
      4m 3s
    10. Mastering quantization
      6m 18s
    11. Working in the Piano Scroll window
      5m 33s
    12. Editing controller messages with Hyper View
      4m 8s
    13. Working with the Hyper Editor
      5m 29s
    14. Working with the Events List
      3m 20s
  6. 29m 49s
    1. Importing prerecorded audio into Logic
      4m 5s
    2. Exploring Apple Loops
      4m 40s
    3. Creating your own Apple Loop
      4m 21s
    4. Conforming tempo, region to session, or session to region
      3m 51s
    5. Using the new Flex Time feature
      5m 17s
    6. Beat mapping your project
      4m 41s
    7. Importing elements from project to project
      2m 54s
  7. 24m 15s
    1. Understanding the basic editing techniques in the Arrange window
      7m 5s
    2. Tips for editing and arranging
      3m 21s
    3. Editing and merging regions in the Arrange window
      3m 45s
    4. Mastering fades for audio region arranging
      4m 58s
    5. Fixing and morphing sound with the Sample Editor
      5m 6s
  8. 11m 12s
    1. Working with notes and composing in the Score Editor
      4m 26s
    2. Editing notes, keys, and time signatures
      3m 35s
    3. Creating scores and lead sheets for musicians
      3m 11s
  9. 9m 8s
    1. Setting up for a sync video project
      4m 50s
    2. Scoring music to video
      4m 18s
  10. 56m 32s
    1. Mixing philosophies and five tools for mixing
      3m 37s
    2. Setting up for a mix
      5m 11s
    3. Directing audio traffic with fader levels
      5m 7s
    4. Exploring Logic's panning features
      4m 37s
    5. Exploring inserts: Using EQ as a mix tool
      6m 51s
    6. Exploring inserts: Using compression as a mix tool
      5m 38s
    7. Using advanced signal flow with aux and send tracks
      3m 12s
    8. Using advanced signal flow with time-based FX to create space in your mix
      3m 44s
    9. Using automation to create dynamic mixes
      6m 22s
    10. Giving your mix life with automation
      2m 45s
    11. Optimizing performance with freeze tracks
      4m 42s
    12. Using channel strips for audio processing
      4m 46s
  11. 16m 7s
    1. Understanding surround hardware requirements
      4m 5s
    2. Building surround mixing workflows
      6m 17s
    3. Using the surround panner
      5m 45s
  12. 15m 48s
    1. Bouncing down your song
      5m 31s
    2. Understanding why alt mixes are a good idea
      2m 22s
    3. Exploring Logic's export options
      3m 37s
    4. Mastering your own Logic project
      4m 18s
  13. 37s
    1. Goodbye
      37s

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