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Volume, panning, and send automation are not the only parameters you can automate. You will find that automating plug-in parameters such as equalizer curves and compression settings can be extremely helpful in your mix. The ability to adjust plug-in parameters over time can help you keep your track counts down and give you more control over what happens on a given track throughout the timeline. First thing you will notice when you try to automate a plug-in is that their parameters don't automatically show up in the automation playlist. So let me insert an EQ plug-in into this track. So here I have my plug-in inserted and it has a lot of parameters.
If I close the plug-in box and I go to my automation playlist, I don't see any of those parameters showing up in my automation list here. You actually have to manually set your parameters to show up. So let me take this plug-in off and I want to show you one way you can do this is through the Preferences in Pro Tools. Here under the Mix tab you can set Pro Tools to say Plug-in Controls Defaults to Auto-Enabled. If you select this box and you hit OK and I re-instantiate that EQ plug-in, you'll see a number one on the plug- in every parameter has either green box around it or a green dot below any knob.
That's a visual indicator that all of these parameters are enabled to be automated. Now in the Automation playlist pulldown menu we have a section for this plug-in and we have all of our controls. So they have been automatically added as possible automation playlists. So if I wanted to automate the High Band Gain, go here and I see that line is there. The downside to doing it this way is that you have so many parameters in here it's hard to know which one that you want to actually work on.
So the alternative to this is to manually decide which parameters as you work you want to automate. So I am going to actually take this insert off and go back to that preference and uncheck this. Click OK and I am going to re- instantiate the plug-in and here again none of these parameters have green boxes or green dots. So it's back to how we started. None of these parameters are currently set to be automated. From the plug-in itself you can choose which parameters you want to automate.
You do that in this little button right below where it says Auto, Auto standing for automation. This brings up our Plug-In Automation dialog box here and here again we have a long list of all the different parameters and we can choose which ones we want to automate. You select them and then you add them one at a time. So Low-Mid Band Gain for example, and you can add several of these and when you're done-- I added High-Pass Slope, Low-Mid Band Gain and High Band Enable and if I close this plug-in-- now in the automation parameters list I see those three automations highlighted and I can automate any of those three parameters.
This could be a useful way of doing it, but you still have that problem where you're looking at this list and are wondering, which is the control I wanted to automate, again? So I have a third way of selecting the parameters you want to automate that I want to show you and that is you actually use a key command to automate. So actually let me go back into the plug-in and I am going to take these guys, hold Shift, and select all three of them and remove them. So I am back to square one. No parameters are automated. So this third way I actually use a three-button key command.
Ctrl+Option+Command on a Mac, which would be Windows+Alt+Ctrl on the PC, all three. I call it the three finger salute because you use all three of your fingers. Then you simply hold down those three keys and you click on whatever knob you want to automate and you can enable it from there. So this is a much faster way and a much more intuitive way to enable automation parameters, because you might be working with that parameter, say you are moving this up and down and you say, oh, I like that, and you just hold down all three keys, click on it.
So that's another way to enable your parameters. Let's demonstrate how that would work in the context of a scene. So I've got this motorcycle section here and I've notice that when it plays I like the sound of this High-Mid Band frequency being moved up during the course of this region. So it sounds like this. (Engine revving) So it adds like a real nice bike in there and I like the way that sounds. So again I Ctrl+Option+Command+Click on there and I have already enabled it.
I can check if I go into that list and I see okay, it's been enabled. Hit OK. Close the plug-in and now it just shows up as any other automation parameter would in my list here and I can look at that line and I can even real-time write it in if I wanted to. Just go to Touch mode and I'll write it in on during this pass. (Engine revving) So I made an actual pretty common mistake here as I tried to write the move in Touch mode, but I did not look at my Automation Parameters window and you will notice that Plug In automation was not selected.
So again if you're automating any plug- ins you have to make sure that you've enabled it in your Automation window here which you can get from hitting Command+4 or from the Window > Automation. So now that I do have it write enabled, you notice a visual difference in the actual EQ window here and that is that little green dot is now red. So that actually tells me visually that hey, we are ready to automate this guy. So let me do one more pass of that. (Engine revving) So it just kind of enhances that bite, the kind of high-end of that motorcycle as it drives off.
Another good way to use automation for plug- ins is to actually automate the bypass button. So let's take a look at this production track here. Let's say I wanted to have a specific EQ setting on this first region, but I didn't want any EQ on the second region. So I could use a similar technique. I have an EQ already inserted here and here's my specific EQ that I want to apply to the first region but not the second. So I would use the same type of technique except it won't be one of these knobs. It'll be the actual Bypass button. So again Ctrl+Option+Command, all three keys, click on the Bypass button, enable automation for that button, and it turns green.
So it's now an enabled parameter. And here I am not going to use real- time automation, but rather I am just going draw it in with my mouse. So I will go into the automation parameters, choose the Master Bypass, which I just added. We've got a line down at the bottom and that means that it's currently not bypassed. So what I am going to do is go like this. That means it is bypassed all the time. And then I am going to select just that region where I want it to be active and I am going to take theTrimmer tool and pull that down. So what we have then is that the plug- in is bypassed until it gets to that section, then it un-bypasses so that EQ curve will last for the duration of that region, and then once I get past that region over here to the next region it's once again bypassed.
So you can automate bypass just like you can automate any of these knobs and it's really useful do that on plug- ins because now I don't have to have two separate tracks. I can use the same track and I can even use the same plug-in. The automation of bypass brings up a good point here, because not all automation parameters have similar controls. Obviously, bypass is either an on or off selection. It's not like an knob or a fader where it's got much more fine control like down here. But let's say you did want to copy and automation from one automation type like volume to a plug-in parameter.
This is possible, but you have to use a special trick to do it. So let me demonstrate here if I go up to one of our dialog tracks, for example, and I am going to hit the minus key to show and hit minus key to show that this volume track has automation. So let's say I wanted to grab this automation here. This is again volume automation and I want to copy it. So hit C to copy that to my clipboard. Now I want to paste that automation move down here to this High-Mid Band Gain. So remember I'm copying volume automation to an EQ band parameter.
So if I hit V, nothing happens because Pro Tools is saying, hey, what you are trying to do? You are trying to paste this volume setting to a different parameter. But you can force Pro Tools into doing this through a special command. It's called Paste Special > To Current Automation Type and this kind of overrides Pro Tools' will to not want to paste a different automation type to your current automation type. So Volume to EQ and the key command is also Ctrl+Command+V or Windows+Ctrl+V for a PC.
So when I hit this, ' that automation is still in our clipboard and it actually lets us paste it. So it kind of bridges the gap for us and it interpolates any different information and puts it right there in the track. This won't always work if the parameters are too different. Bypass has either an on or off. So something this fine won't really work in that case, but for most parameters, if they're close, you can use Paste Special > To Current Automation Type and it will override and let you do it. So any successful mix is helped a lot by this kind of plug-in automation.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you maximize what your EQs and compressors can do for you over the course of your mix.
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