While Auto Mode is great at providing that synthetic hypertuned vocal sound, which, don't get me wrong, can sound great in some arrangements, I find that for my ear, most of my pitch correction gets done in Graphical Mode, where I have an array of precision tools and graphs at my disposal to get just the right amount of correction I need to strengthen the performance. Auto-Tune's Graphical Mode allows me to manually adjust a note's pitch and intonation by drawing in a target pitch curve or manipulating a note object for the incoming signal to track to.
This provides the ultimate amount of control when deciding what notes or parts of notes to tune and how to tune them. Working in Graphic Mode does however come with a price. You need to have a better grasp of pitch and key, as it relates to the melody you are working on, and it helps to understand how different vocal phrasings factor into the equation, as it is up to you to determine what pitch and note will be corrected to. But I am sure with a little practice and patience you will be tuning vocals like the pros do in no time. So for this example, I have chosen a very simple melody, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Everybody is familiar with the notes in that melody.
We can just play this back here as a tune by Graphic Mode. (Man singing: Twinkle, twinkle little star?) (Man singing: How I wonder what you are.) (Man singing: Up above?) Now, as opposed to Auto Mode, what I see here in Graphical Mode is a graph that shows time going left to right and then pitch as a piano roll going vertically.
Now, what I can see here if I zoom in on the Pitch Curve here is I have a red line, which is the tracked pitch. That represents the original signal's pitch as tracked in by Auto-Tune. Then I have a green line, which is the output or the corrected pitch. So that's what Auto-Tune is sending out, its output. Now, the blue line, if you can see the blue line here, what that represents is the target pitch curve. So when I actually manually draw in a pitch curve or I modify a pitch curve that I build from the original pitch curve, the blue line represents sort of my goal, whereas the green line is the output, because what you are going to see is I am able to actually adjust how closely the output matches my target pitch line that I draw in.
Now, at the bottom here of Graphical Mode, I see a waveform display. That's the waveform of everything that I have tracked in here and I can go and zoom in just by clicking and dragging on a specific section. I can move left to right here, to show the performance. I can zoom out, zoom in, and up or down in pitch. I can even change the size of the pitch lines. And sometimes it's nice to see, instead of a line going through the center of the pitch, to see what's called the lane.
So I can click the Show Lanes option to actually see a lot like a MIDI Matrix display would show me. So I see the actual note represented here on the piano roll and the center is just this center of that lane. Now, up at the top I have all my Graphical Mode editing tools. So I have my Clear, Undo, Redo, Snap to Note function, which would snap any changes to the next note. I have my editing tools, so I have the Line tool, the Pitch Curve tool, the Note Object tool, the Pointer, the Scissors, the Zoom tool, the Selector, and the Hand, that allows me to move around.
I have my Select All, Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons here. Now, the Graphical Mode shares a set of common preferences up at the top with Auto Mode. So I would still go ahead and choose my Input Type, my Tracking, Relaxed or Choosy. And the key here, even though we are going to draw in our pitch, the key is important, because we are actually going to use some automated tools to build our curve to start with. So the key and scale is actually fairly important, even in Graphical Mode, and I can still use my Transpose, Throat Length, and Formant controls here in this mode.
Down at the bottom of the display, I will see my Clock Position, so when it's playing back. (Man singing: Twinkle, twinkle little star?) That Timeline is linked to the Pro Tools Timeline, so you can see my Clock Source here is set to Host. In modern DAWs, I am working in Pro Tools 8, the host is always going to be able to give information to the plug-in. So you are always going to want to use Clock Source as Host, so that stays synced up. Older versions of Auto-Tune, in older DAWs, Auto-Tune would actually have to use an internal clock, because it wasn't able to sync up with the Timeline of a DAW like Pro Tools, early back in the six days and before.
Now it syncs up pretty seamlessly. You can actually track from different positions and you don't have to worry about starting from the same position every time or worrying about tracking everything in all at once. We also have our Sample Rate, the Track Pitch button, which we are going to use to actually track in the red line or the pitch curve. I have my Make Curve, Import Auto, Make Note buttons. I will talk about those later. I have my Retune Speed, very similar to the Retune Speed that we find in Auto Mode, and that allows me to retune each object as fast or as slow as I would like, and then I have my Nudge options for nudging pitch curves or objects up or down in pitch.
Now again, Graphic Mode gives you total control over the Pitch Curve, almost too much control for some, and will require a bit of practice to get the hang of. So don't give up, because it is truly the secret of how the pros are able to achieve natural and convincing corrections to an otherwise intonation challenged vocal take.
- Processing in automatic mode versus graphical mode
- Achieving the "T-Pain effect"
- Analyzing incoming pitch
- Modifying the scale
- Adding vibrato
- Working in graphical mode
- Using the note objects system
- Building harmonies
- Dealing with Auto-Tune latency