Assignment 3: Automation practical: Logic Pro 9

Good day all,

Gary here.  For this assignment I have chosen to mess around with Automation in the DAW I use: Logic Pro.  I picked this assignment because up until this course I had no idea what most of the automation options meant or how to access them.  So I thought attempting to teach them would be a good way for me to remember.

I will discuss this under the following headings

  • Automation Types
  • Read
  • Latch
  • Touch
  • Write
  • Pencil

Let’s do this thang!!

Automation Types

I now realise that this heading is a little redundant as the next five headings kind of gave the secret away.  So in an attempt to make this section feel less useless I shall add a little definition for automation as defined by the Logic Pro user manual.

“Mix automation refers to recording, editing, and playing back the movements of faders, knobs, and switches on a mixing console—providing real-time control of volume, pan, EQ, and aux send controls, among others.”

We will focus on Volume for this post.  The types of Automation used in Logic are of course:

Read

As the name suggests this option just reads the current automation for the track you are listening to.  Moving the faders will not affect the automation of the track.

Latch

This type of automation works by latching to wherever you drag the fader.  As a piece of music is playing you grab the fader and drag according to how you want the track to sound.  It will remain where you leave it and continue to record the automation.  In the video below I demonstrate how to use latch automation.  I am using a piece of music I recorded in assignment 2.  You may begin to hate the piece as you will be listening to it a few times throughout this post.  All I can say is stick it out, maybe dance a little to take the edge off.  In this example I liked how the bass sounded at the end of the track so I wanted the listener to be able to hear it more clearly.

Touch

Touch automation is useful when you want to highlight a specific section of a track but then have it return to previous levels.  It works in a similar way to Latch but when you let go of the fader the automation snaps back to the value you had previous to touching the fader.  In the example below I wanted to bring up the last part of the guitar solo to make the end a little more dramatic.  I envision a scene where a chef is cutting vegetables and is on a time limit (for some competition), the last part of the solo shows his victory as he cuts the last of the vegetables in time with the music.

Write

I find write to be a useful function when you want to level out a track and erase all other automation values.  If you select write in Logic you must set the volume to the level you want the track and then press play.  You will see that all other automation information is replaced with the one value you set before pressing play.

In this section I wasn’t happy with how the rhythm guitar sounded so I evened out the automation.

Pencil

I’m not sure if this is the actual name for this method of automation editing but as you use a pencil to draw out automation curves I thought it was apt.  This is my favourite method of editing automation.  It offers the greatest versatility when picking how you want a piece to sound.  You can draw any shape you like and tweak as you like to get the desired sound.  If you listened to the other videos you will have noticed a clicking noise at the end of the track.  I discovered this was on the bass guitar track.  In order to get rid of this I drew a curve with the pencil tool to make the bass track ending sound more natural and get rid of that click.

I hope this has helped you understand Automation a little better.  While I used Logic for my demonstration you will find that most DAWs use similar types of Automation.  It is a great tool and you will find yourself editing automation almost as much as recording the actual music.  It can’t save a bad performance but it can tweak and really get the best out of what you have and transform your mix.  See you all in assignment 4.

Gary.

About gazztastic

This blog is another attempt at self motivation to do these four things in a year: (In order of supposed difficulty) 1). Achieve at a 75% or higher in the JLTP 二級 test. 2). Write and record a song every two months 3). Learn all the modes in guitar, learn to play at least 3 classical pieces and learn to sweep pick. 4).......lose 10 kilos Should be doable if I can make myself get up and do them!!!!
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