Ridiculously Garrett

Automation

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I know this is gonna sound like I'm ignorant xD but in the process of teaching myself production, I'm ready to step further out of my comfort zone and ask, what IS automation? I looked it up and I still don't get it. What does it do?

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Automation is a process, so the term doesn't do anything, it's what you automate that does something.

Say you want to fade out a track, you pick a point in which you want to start the fade, then as the track plays you move a slider or turn a knob until the track goes silent, then you stop.

Automation is exactly that, but instead of you doing it manually you're telling a program to do it for you. 

Zubaru and Uffe von Lauterbach like this

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Pretty much what @Skrypnyk said. Automation is a convenient way to turn knobs and move sliders in a pre-programmed fashion. The great thing about automation is that you can pull off tricks you can't do in a real studio (unless you had like 5 people working your mixer at the same time), making production on a DAW that much more powerful.

For instance...

  • You could automate the EQ bands in an EQ plugin so that the mids are scooped for a certain section of your song with particularly thick textures, but only for that section, for your chosen instrument(s).
  • You could extend the range of LFOs (a tool that basically wiggles a knob or slider back and forth at a certain rate and slope) within a synth. Some (most?) synths have a limit to how slow the LFO can be. Sometimes you may want to assign an LFO but make it last like 20 seconds for half a cycle. Well, with automation, you could just construct an envelope that imitates a really slow LFO, in your DAW, by assigning the automation to the parameter of your choice in the synth.
  • You could gate your sounds manually, if you don't have an algorithmic way of doing it (simply automate the mixer track slider down to 0 and back up to how it was).
  • All of the above at once?

and so on. This video may be a good exposure to production talk:

The blue, purple, and yellow playlist elements are examples of automation clips.

Zubaru, ShadowRaz and Necrox like this

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Cool info already given. I want to add my point of view also 

Automation allows basically the sounds you have designed and/or have used on the project, to change on the go. As timaeus222 pointed out, mostly it's just turning knobs, and that is done by "drawing" the wanted automation lines from 0% to 100%.. From bottom to the top of the field you can draw the automation lines on. can also be seen and used from negative -1 to normal zero (the init central position of the knob which is basically 50%) and then to +1, 100% (Pan, stereo left or right playing of the sound is common in this category for example). Or you can even automate tempo as i have automated often. which is whole another category with the drawing line position of the automation field. You can basically automate anything. It's just changing something from it's original position to another, the knobs you are turning on the go whilst the sounds are playing on the playlist. Then the automation of the sounds appears on the final render of the audio file that is from within the project you have exported from, unless you have deleted it or turned it off.

The plug-in you have used to design your sounds or have even used a presets on, has way many knobs to change the sound a.k.a automate. As does many virtual instruments on Kontakt 5 for example. And then you can also add basically unlimited amount of effects and shit to automate through mixer, so you can tweak the knobs you want from external effects also. Changing volume or filters (fade some sounds in or out) is common to me personally, as is EQ automation for some growls and leads on mixer. Also making melody or bass to "side-chain" or otherwise change via automation is common.

Within the plugin you are using on the other hand, there are often macros, which are knobs you can link several other knobs on (usually though, not always depending on what you use) such as wavetable position, bend or filters and effects of many sorts. You can also automate all individually but that shit takes too much space, effort and time in my opinion so it's easier often to link so much stuff to only one envelope in order to automate them all simeltaniously. However do not link too much stuff if you want to modify things individually WAY different from each other.

One really common automation for example nowadays is vibration a.k.a note pitch slightly going up and down in a faster rate, you might not want the sound (mostly a lead often is it not?) to vibrate all the time (which can also be cool all the time on some sounds so do not try to automate forcefully) so you make an automation for it to vibrate at longer notes towards the end, or maybe even at the beginning of some lead or a melody.... shiit.. i dunno man... you can do whatever you want, as you should do with automation... No other restrictions 4 automation, than some things you think of but can't do because there isn't a thing/knob designed for it to change. Even then there might be some workarounds for some situations, so think outside the box.

Automation is the key for making sounds change whilst the track is processing forward so it is extremely vital in my opinion for productions. Google the name of the daw u r using, and then add preferred specific terms for more specific results, and for one of these words in this case is automation obviously. That should come up with tons of results as it is a quite common among us producers. 

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Haha alright, thanks for all the info! I'm probably gonna start diving right into automation and see what I can do with it. (I have midterms next week but to be honest I think I'll just remix all weekend).

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I don't know which program you use, but if you use FL Studio, there are some things that can't easily be automated from a simple right click on a knob. This is usually with some 3rd party VSTs. So you'd grab the knob and move it wherever, then go up to Tools > Last tweaked > Create automation clip. There are some VSTs that don't even allow that. If you don't have FL Studio, then this info might be useful for someone who does and doesn't know.

timaeus222 likes this

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