Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Effective effects automation, part of Audio Mixing Master Class.
- [Instructor] Modern mixes are built around parameter automation in your digital audio workstation. We're able to automate more than ever before, which is why mixes sound slicker than ever before. Here's a couple of examples of where automation can really come in handy in your mix. The first that I want to do is add an explosion on the snare drum but only on one hit. So first of all, let's take a listen. (rock music) Now I only want it on one particular place. And let me show you where it's at. (rock music) That's pretty cool, huh? Now I can do it a couple ways.
One way is I can go to the return, and automate the return, and the return is the snare reverb. Now watch. (rock music) So what I'm going to do is I'm going to put this into touch. I'm going to put it into mute. And then unmute it in the right place. (rock music) There's a lot of problems there because we have some reverb that's hanging over and we're cutting it off prematurely when we do it like this.
Have a listen how it worked. (rock music) That really didn't give us what we wanted. Let's go back to where we were before, and actually I'm going to solo this up, and here's the best way to do it. There's several ways. This is the easiest. And what we'll do is we'll go once again into touch automation. Touch automation means it's only writing automation when we change something, if we move the fader or if we change a parameter, then it writes and as soon as we stop, then it stops writing.
Okay, let's listen. (rock drums) See, it was very very nice and blended in very nicely with the rest of the track. We didn't hear anything muting. Let's listen to how it fits. (rock music) Worked really well, huh? Okay, let's try something else here. We're going to go to the vocal, and let's say what we want is some delay at the end of each line.
I'm going to go to the beginning of the verse. Let's listen. (rock vocals) If we look at our delay over here, it's on bus 21 and 22, so here we go, bus 21 and 22. And once again, the easiest thing is to gradually bring it in and bring it out, and for that, what I'll do is I'll move the fader. But once again, in here, we'll go into touch automation. I'm only going to do it on every other phrase.
Here we go. (rock vocals) Now take notice is what I'm trying to do is just get the very last word. Let's have a listen. (rock vocals) Let's do it at the last word of every phrase.
Let's give that a try. We go on auto touch again, here we go. (rock vocals) Now the reason why this works really well is we could actually automate the mute, but this gives us a more natural feel. It allows us to bring the delay in at the right time, and it allows us to gradually bring it out at the right time as well.
Let's have a listen in the track. (rock music) Again, what's happening here is we could have the delay or reverb or whatever it is, we can have it on all the time, and sometimes we like that and sometimes it works really well, but many times, that gets in the way. It muddles up the words, or we get an effect that we really don't want.
Sometimes we just want it to carry on in the holes, so we want the effect on the very last word of a phrase and then just to carry over and fill up the hole. And that's what it does here. So to summarize the automated effects trick, first of all, find the section of the song that needs to be effected. It could be as small as a word or even a phrase, or it can be a long portion like a chorus or a verse. The next thing is to enable the send or mute automation and usually by enabling the fader automation, the send and mute automation automatically gets enabled as well.
Or if you want to automate an effect or a plugin, you have to enable that individually, usually on most workstations. Next thing is to place the automation of the channel in touch mode. And again, touch mode means as soon as you touch the enabled parameter, the automation will begin to write. When you stop touching it, it will go into read, and that's usually what we want for just automating a brief period of time. And finally, make the appropriate move that you need to automate and then you're done.
See how the pros handle the critical balance between the bass and drums. Learn where, when, why, and how EQ should be used on virtually any instrument. Become proficient in tailoring just the right effect for each particular mixing situation. And master the key to fat and punchy sounding mixes: compression. Tune in every Thursday for a new tip!
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- Secrets to a powerful and punchy mix
- Using compression like NYC pros
- Listening tips and tricks used by the world's best mixers
- How Van Halen gets their guitar sound
- Making vocals shine
- Adding excitement to boring pad tracks
- Setting up your mix to get the best results in the least amount of time
Skill Level Intermediate
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