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In Pro Tools you can automate just about any parameter you want. You can program Pro Tools to remember volume, pane, mute, send level, send pane, send mute, plug-in parameter data, as well as MIDI volume pane, mute, pitch bend, and continuous control of data such as modulation and sustain. In this video, I'm going to show you how to create and edit automation data in real time, while the session is playing back. Automation data is stored in automation playlists on each track. You can view the automation playlist by selecting the automation type from the Track View Selector, or you can show automation lanes on the track by clicking this little arrow here, the Show/Hide Automation Lanes arrow. To add additional automation lanes, click the plus button.
There are five automation modes in Pro Tools LE and M-Powered shown here. Auto off turns off a track's automation. The automation lane names get grayed out and become italicized like this. Auto read tells Pro Tools to read the automation data that's on that track. That's the default automation mode. There are also several modes that you can use to create automation data; touch, latch, and write. Pro Tools|HD also has touch/latch and trim modes which we won't cover here.
Auto write is used for the first time you create automation data on a track or when you want to completely write over a track's existing automation. Auto touch writes automation data only while a fader or switch is touched or clicked with the mouse. Faders and switch is returned to any previously automated position after they have been released. Auto latch writes automation data only if you touch or move a fader or switch. However, you don't need to keep touching the controls after you have moved them like with Auto touch. The Automation controls stay in the position where you have released them rather than reverting to previously saved data and I'm going to show you all of these here in a second.
First, to create automation data, go to Window > Automation, and we'll check the Automation Enable window. If all of these are lit up in red like this, that means that all of these parameters can be automated. If we click one, and it turns gray, then that means it's not armed for recording automation. Now choose the automation mode on the track that you want to write automation. In this case, I'm going to choose write. Now you press Play, not Record and move the automation controls via your mouse or control surface to write automation data. Here I'm going to automate the bass track's volume. (Music playing.) Press Stop when you are finished. You will notice that Pro Tools automatically switched over to latch mode after writing that automation, and that's because of a preference that's setup right here in the Mixing page. In the Automation section, we have After Write Pass, Switch To: Latch. We can also choose Touch or keep it in Auto write. Why do we care about this? Let me show you.
If I were to press Play right now with Auto write mode, it would write over everything that we just recorded, however, if it switches over to Latch or Touch, then we actually have to move the fader or grab the mouse to change this data, thus we won't overwrite this data by accident, but now I'm actually going to overwrite it in Latch mode and show you what that looks like. Now watch, if I let go off the mouse or control surface fader, the automation will stay at one value until I move it again. (Music playing.) Now I'll try Auto touch. Watch as the automation data reverts back to the prewritten automation data when I let go off the mouse or the control surface fader.
(Music playing.) When you create automation, you create a series of breakpoints on the automation playlist. Although the automation data may look like a line, it's actually made up of individual points that are finite values for that automation parameter. Let's zoom-in and take a look. See the individual breakpoints on the automation line here. One of the limits of Pro Tools is that all added playlists on a single audio track share the same automation data. So if we had multiple playlists of this bass track, which in fact we do, each performance shares the same automation data.
If you want to try out different automation on a track, make a duplicate track using the Track Duplicate command. Now, we have a second bass track down here and if we want to record new automation on this track, that's different than this, we can do that, and hear the difference. Creating automation data during real time playback is a lot of fun. It can add a lot of energy to your mix and actually turn the mix process into more of a performance. Definitely get to know your automation modes and how to use them.
Your mixes will sound better when you use them well.
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