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Proper automation can make your work a lot easier and flexible, without the need to adjust the settings again and again every time you listen to the mix. When you create your final mix, you don't have to worry about adjusting the particular parameter, automation will do it for you. It will make adjusting changes and settings a piece of automated cake.
In the following tutorial, i will go through the basic functions that you can use automation for and how to use them.
Step 1: Setting the Tone
I will be using reFx's Vanguard as the synth for this tutorial. I have selected the preset "LD KraftChord MS", which is a great tone. I have switched on the trancegate function in Vanguard to give that distinct trance effect. Now we can add some chords to the track.
Step 2: Automation
Now select the track and press the "W" for write-enabling the track. You can alternatively use Alt+W to activate write-enabling for all the tracks. Now comes the fun part. Move your mouse pointer to the bottom left of the track and click on the arrow that appears. You can also select "Show Automation" from the right-click context menu of the track.
Step 3: Offline Automation
The offline method is done by manually drawing the curves on the automation tracks. This is useful where the change in the value needs to be specific or to be random. We can draw the curves as we like.
"Volume" is the parameter that comes by default when we select the automation track.In this tip, we are going to change the cutoff frequency of the tone. Click on the "Volume" parameter and select "More...", go to "Vanguard" and select "FLT f". This setting varies according to various VSTs, but there would definitely be a sensible name for the setting that you need.
Once the required parameter appears, its up to your creativity. I used the "Parabola" from the Tool buttons and drew this.
We can use any tool to draw any shape that we need. This is a graphical representation of the change in value that we are making (higher values at the top and lower values at the bottom).
Step 4: Online Automation
This is a simpler technique. It's very useful for adjusting the fader positions and mixer settings. All you have to do is to change the desired fader while playing the track and that would be recorded. It's as simple as that. The value changes will be recorded automatically onto the automation track as curves.
Make sure that the Read/Write parameters are enabled else the parameter changes won't be read.
With automation, you can now alter any parameter available for any track. It is available for audio tracks, FX channel tracks, group channel tracks, VST tracks, etc. Each parameter has its own automation track, and the visibility of each can be changed accordingly.
Remember, some parameters might have only an "On" or "Off" option , which have to be dealt accordingly. Automation opens our DAW to endless possibilities.
Hope this tutorial taught you something. Enjoy!