Learn about the types of parameters that can be automated in Pro Tools, types of automation playlists, and differences between audio automation and MIDI continuous controller data.
- [Instructor] As you prepare your session's final mix, you may need to make dynamic changes for the levels, panning, and effects on your tracks. Using automation, you can record these changes and fine-tune them as needed. To get started, it's important to understand how automation can be used on the various tracks in your session. Pro Tools lets you automate many track and plug-in parameters in real time during session playback. Before writing automation, you need to enable the parameters you'd like to use from the automation window.
Now I'm using Pro Tools HD at the moment. When you're using standard Pro Tools, your automation window will look a bit different. It'll only include the top portion of the window shown here, but everything I'm discussing in this video will still apply. The track control options available in the automation window include track volume, track pan, and track mute controls. The available send control options include send volume, send pan, and send mute.
You can also enable automation for plug-in controls using the button here at the top. These parameters are enabled when the buttons are highlighted in red. Now for plug-ins, the available options will vary by plug-in type, and the parameters will each need to be enabled in the plug-in window itself, in addition to enabling the plug-in option here. So there are a few considerations to take into account for working with automation. For audio tracks, be aware that you only have a single automation graph for each automatable control.
That means if you use multiple edit playlists, you'll have only a single automation playlist for each parameter, which will apply to all the edit playlists on the track. Edit playlists go beyond the scope of this course, but you can easily find information on them in other available Pro Tools courses. When it comes to automating MIDI tracks, all dynamic changes are recorded using MIDI continuous controller data. MIDI continuous controller data is stored in the associated MIDI clips on the track. For MIDI, that means that different edit playlists can each have their own continuous controller automation.
Now, MIDI continuous controller data uses a resolution of 127 steps across the range of the control, making it less precise than audio automation. I'll show you an example here. On this piano track, I'd like to create a volume ramp in the lead-up to chorus two, so I'll display the volume automation graph underneath the track, and I'll resize it here to make it easier to see. Now I'm going to use the pencil tool in line mode to create a straight line ramp across the beginning of this selection.
And you can see that I ended up with a stair step pattern, rather than a smooth straight line as I would normally have with volume automation, so that's because this MIDI track is using MIDI continuous controller automation. When you're working with instrument tracks, you can use MIDI continuous controller data for automation, or you can also use audio automation for certain parameters. So for example, on the Drums VI track here, we have MIDI volume, MIDI mute, and MIDI pan controls, but we also have audio volume, audio mute, and audio panning for left and right.
The audio automation has much higher resolution, so I recommend using audio automation on instrument tracks for greater control and precision. So that's a quick overview of automation for various track types in Pro Tools. Use the automation window to enable the automation parameters you wish to work with. When automating plug-ins, also enable their individual parameters within the plug-in window. And where you have the choice, use audio automation rather than MIDI continuous controller automation for greater precision and control.
- Starting a new session
- Customizing settings
- Optimizing the performance of Pro Tools
- Importing loops and tracks
- Working with meter changes
- Recording multiple takes
- Changing the track timebase
- Editing MIDI clips
- Warping sound and tightening rhythm with Elastic Audio
- Using the Smart Tool
- Color coding tracks
- Editing on the grid
- Working with AudioSuite plug-ins
- Working with sends, plug-ins, and master faders
- Working with track subsets
- Finalizing and exporting media