Automation?

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42low
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Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:08 am

I think i miss something by not using automation. But i don't get what.

Confronted with it time by time i dug into automation. Read a lot off it but it's mostly technical and "how to", and i can't get into the advantages off it.
Although i've tried ... i don't get the goal and possibilities of automation. :?
Please give me a push i the right direction.... (mainly for ardour)

Can anyone tell me in simple words what the benefits of automation are?
What can you do with it? What does it for you? What are the benefits off all that?
Why must i use it?? Can i do without, or not??

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Re: Automation?

Postby sysrqer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:23 am

Can anyone tell me in simple words what the benefits of automation are?
Creates movement and interest. Want to do a fade in/out? Automation. Want to pan something from one side to another? Automation.
In the old days they used to have multiple engineers at the same time moving faders etc to ride the volume and make the mix how they wanted it to be while recording to tape, automation is basically what this is. It is something that has been used in professional mixing at least since the 60s.

What can you do with it? What does it for you? What are the benefits off all that?
You can do whatever you like, your imagination is the only limit. Listen to King Tubby, that guy had 10 arms.

Why must i use it?? Can i do without, or not??
Do what you want. In most modern music it is very normal to use and pretty much essential to add interest. Your music will definitely be better for using it but no one is saying you have to.

Edit: to add to this, you can use it to make your song much more powerful. For example, you can set your verses to be panned fairly narrowly and then in the chorus make it open up and sound big and wide. Same for volume, you can automate tracks or the master bus to be slightly quieter for verses and bump it up a db or two for the chorus. This makes the song more dynamic and have more impact but it's so subtle that you wouldn't notice it necessarily. The engineers for Smells Like Teen Spirit used this method, it's partly why the choruses are so huge.

Also, your comment in another thread about seeing a school band which sounded mechanical is the equivalent not using automation in a mix. Makes it less static, less boring, less predictable. The small inconsistencies which make good performance sound human is exactly why a good mix will usually have automation. Think of the mix and the desk/mixer as an instrument and you see the parallel.

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Re: Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:40 pm

sysrqer wrote:You can do whatever you like, your imagination is the only limit.

That's exactly my problem. I can't imagine it enough to get a start with it.

What you tell me is right as what you tell me i've read everywhere, and what doesn't land on me.
I can't get a good idea about the possibilities. Tried, but still don't understand what to do with it and how.
To get a start i need some imagination, and that's why i asked for the most simple explanations i can get.

I understand that "some edits" will be easy when automated and i want to learn something about it. But i can't get it.
Normally i understand what something's about and soon or later get it done. I'm not doing childish or fooling or whatever. It's for real. This one i really can't get a grip on. I'm slightly ashamed. :oops:

Creates movement and interest.
In what kind of way? What do you mean by "movement" or "interest"?
What can and/or will "it" do with my music? And how?

Want to do a fade in/out? Automation.
Fade in and out? That's at the beginning and end and that simple that i can't imagine what should be "automated" for that?

Want to pan something from one side to another? Automation.
Ok. Pan. But is it going to be automatically automated? When? How will this be implemented and know when and were to change?
I have an autopanning plugin. How does automation do that? How must i make automation do that?

A question a play with for instance.
Can i use automation to get a track levelled in volume? You know, were a vocalist sings at -3db, but sometimes ducks to -8 or -10db?
Can i then let this all be automated normalized at -3db? And how?

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Re: Automation?

Postby lilith » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:20 pm

Code: Select all

Creates movement and interest.
In what kind of way? What do you mean by "movement" or "interest"?
What can and/or will "it" do with my music? And how?

Want to do a fade in/out? Automation.
Fade in and out? That's at the beginning and end and that simple that i can't imagine what should be "automated" for that?


For instance you can automize the cutoff freq of a synth to vary the sound exactly at the position you like. Or to cut the high freqs of synth1 at one position to make synth2 which plays in the same freq range sound more clear, etc. etc. You can automize distortion, pitch or whatever ...
Fading is not just the beginning and end as you can automize the volume by a volume envelope basically everywhere.
https://soundcloud.com/lilith_93
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Re: Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:40 pm

lilith wrote:For instance you can automize ....


Ok. But were to start? Click on automation and that what i think will happen??

Just tried that again. And then i can only activate features from on that track active plugins that are already active with those features.

I can for instance choose for panning within automation. But i can set panning within ardour also.
Like i for instance can set the EQ feature "basscut" within automation. But that basscut is already set in the EQ plugin.
Why automation if i can only automate that what's in the plugin available to set also?
What's the difference then?

Were's my imagination lacking??

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Re: Automation?

Postby lilith » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:48 pm

Last edited by lilith on Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:49 pm

I think i've discovered some of it.
If i put it up to "Play" i can set some kind of line and let a feature "float" during the timelap.
This way i can variate a feature, which with plugin can only be set for one total track.

So if i think further, i can for instance "automate" within one track more/full echo on the refrain and less/none on the couplet??

Is that what automation is about? Am i seeing some light at the end off the dark tunnel?

@lilith. Cross post. Will look at it.

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Re: Automation?

Postby lilith » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:50 pm

EXACTLY
https://soundcloud.com/lilith_93
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Re: Automation?

Postby tavasti » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:52 pm

42low wrote:Can anyone tell me in simple words what the benefits of automation are?
What can you do with it? What does it for you? What are the benefits off all that?
Why must i use it?? Can i do without, or not??

If you are using midi, with automation you can add some variation to it. Static sound with static tempo is not so nice. Instead, adjust some parameters. I would pick filter frequency, resonance and portamento, everything slighly changing all the time.

If you are playing everything with real instruments, then you don't need automation, but it might have some use even with them. Adjust volumes of some tracks, and chorus/reverb/echo to some parts.

HTH
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Hear my music at https://audiu.net/users/tawaste

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Re: Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:00 pm

I'm getting it! I'm getting it! I'm getting it! :mrgreen: Happy! Thanks!
This will create some fun new opportunities for me.

Got me a question left though.
Manual, write, touch.... but still that has to be set (by yourself, manually).
Is there some kind of way to do it automated?? :mrgreen:

It would for instance be great if in some kind of way a recorded (vocal) track would be automatically be "normalized" to track wide equal volume levels. That were a vocalist sings -8db this can be set automatically at the -3db like the rest of the recording.
Is something like this possible?

@tavasti
It can help with instrumental/vocal for sure. Not everything is always played/sung perfect. And sometimes needs some (serious) editing which would be nice and easier if those can be done automatically. :mrgreen:

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Re: Automation?

Postby lilith » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:03 pm

Got me a question left though.
Manual, write, touch.... but still that has to be set (by yourself, manually).
Is there some kind of way to do it automated??


With Write you can even turn the knobs in your synth and this will record the automation. You can also use it with a LFO for example, which automizes your automation. :D
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Re: Automation?

Postby barbouze » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:15 pm

The best would be to give us a quick overview of your workflow to set a case study.

In the mean time this is what I use automation for:
- Precision: an automation track can be edited to get the automated parameter behave exactly like you want it to change over time -> raised that filter cutoff a little late and a little too high? Just edit it to get that perfect acid rise to set the drop.
- Reliability: once a parameter is automated, it will behave always the same way as long as you don't change it -> you can focus on editing gain for a singer and then never need to look back once it is done.
- Complexity: change the behavior of anything at any time in a certain way -> you could seamlessly change an FX preset to another one during 8 bars, moving 20+ parameters at the same time.

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Re: Automation?

Postby 42low » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:34 pm

lilith wrote:You can also use it with a LFO for example, which automizes your automation. :D

Please explain!! :mrgreen: LFO?? How to automize automation??

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Re: Automation?

Postby sysrqer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:42 pm

42low wrote:
sysrqer wrote:You can do whatever you like, your imagination is the only limit.

That's exactly my problem. I can't imagine it enough to get a start with it.

What you tell me is right as what you tell me i've read everywhere, and what doesn't land on me.
I can't get a good idea about the possibilities. Tried, but still don't understand what to do with it and how.
To get a start i need some imagination, and that's why i asked for the most simple explanations i can get.

Start by automating some panning, doesn't need to be drastic but little changes in different sections of the song can make a big difference. Or have delay/chorus/phaser/reverb on a track and start with the wet at -inf and automate the wet so towards the end of the phrase or section the effect becomes louder. Again, you can do it very subtly so you don't even know it's there but it is and it creates some mood or tension or excitement. Put delays on your return/aux channels and put some filters after the delay, turn up the feedback and automate the filters, as well as automating the send levels on the tracks to make certain words or hits affected. Even just the volume fader. If your track has guitars and vocals, turn the guitars down slightly when the vocals come in, it will give them more space and attention, then turn them up afterwards so they impact more when the vocal stops.

Just experiment. Try taking a track you have mixed already and automating as many parameters as you can across all the tracks, even just a little bit. You might be surprised by the things you come up with and the depth it can create.

42low wrote:I understand that "some edits" will be easy when automated and i want to learn something about it. But i can't get it.
Normally i understand what something's about and soon or later get it done. I'm not doing childish or fooling or whatever. It's for real. This one i really can't get a grip on. I'm slightly ashamed. :oops:

Nothing to be ashamed of, everyone starts somewhere.

42low wrote:Creates movement and interest.
In what kind of way? What do you mean by "movement" or "interest"?
What can and/or will "it" do with my music? And how?

Well, I gave you an example in my previous post about how it was used in the Nirvana song. Think about a song written in quantised midi. It has very little soul or groove or feeling. If you add subtleties to it, like timing variations, velocity/volume differences, it starts to come to life more (the difference between a midi file of a piano piece and a piano player playing the same piece). This exactly how it is with mixing, if you change something the ear picks it up and it is something of interest to the brain, music generally is repetitive in nature so little changes can make all the difference. Listen to to well produced professional music and hear how things can swell in volume or all of a sudden there is more stereo depth or a verse will start quiet and before the chorus it is loud and ready.

42low wrote:Want to do a fade in/out? Automation.
Fade in and out? That's at the beginning and end and that simple that i can't imagine what should be "automated" for that?

Doing a fade in or out is automation. You set it and it does it, that's automated. It doesn't have to be confined to the start and end, and it doesn't need to be fade to zero, you can ride the levels.

42low wrote:Want to pan something from one side to another? Automation.
Ok. Pan. But is it going to be automatically automated? When? How will this be implemented and know when and were to change?
I have an autopanning plugin. How does automation do that? How must i make automation do that?

You don't have to. You can used an autopanner if that does the job but that's pretty much the same thing, just saves you some work, it is doing something to a parameter (pan) that you don't have to manually move yourself. There are times when automating it is better though, and to do that you choose the pan automation lane and draw in something. In ardour, click on the A button and choose what you want to automate, then draw on the line that is there.

42low wrote:A question a play with for instance.
Can i use automation to get a track levelled in volume? You know, were a vocalist sings at -3db, but sometimes ducks to -8 or -10db?
Can i then let this all be automated normalized at -3db? And how?

[/quote]
Yes. Today a lot of times people use compressors for that task but a few decades ago engineers would have their finger on the vocal fader for the whole song and record movements so the vocal is roughly the same level, then do the same for the next vocal track, and the same for the guitars. Some studios would have many engineers doing this live in one take (I think they did that for Dark Side of the Moon but don't quote me on that) and record the result. Now we don't have to worry about doing it all at the same time, we can automate as many things as we want.

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Re: Automation?

Postby sysrqer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:48 pm

Ardour is pretty painful to use for automation though.


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