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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > May 2019 > DEEPER AUTOMATION

DEEPER AUTOMATION

Following our primer in our last tutorial, this time, we take a deeper dive into the nitty-gritty of automation in Cubase, with tips and methods to work around common problems and pitfalls

Last time, we looked at the basics of working with automation in Cubase, discussing lanes, curves and breakpoints. We also covered the difference between track automation and part-level MIDI CC messages, and examined the three automation punch-out modes, which have a big impact on how Cubase behaves when overwriting existing automation with new data.

Here, we’re going to look at some of the practical aspects of automation, starting with a problem that all DAWs suffer from, but one Cubase handles particularly well…

NEEDING A TRIM

The problem occurs when you’ve spent time honing and perfecting an automation curve, only to decide later that the overall level of the controlled parameter needs to be adjusted without impacting on the relative changes represented by the curve. Cubase’s offline automation edit tools can certainly come to the rescue, allowing you to scale and modify whole groups of breakpoints as one with just a few clicks of the mouse. But this can be fiddly where you want different amounts of trim at different points in the mix.

Cubase has a couple of good solutions that allow you to trim existing automation data with ease. With channel volume automation, often the best workaround is to employ VCA Fader tracks. This track type mimics the action of the VCA – or Voltage Controlled Amplifier – tracks found on some classic analogue mixing consoles, which allowed the volume faders of multiple channels to be controlled via a single VCA fader. In Cubase, this is also their main use, but because in effect, they scale the fader position of the channels under their control, any volume automation applied to those channels can be scaled by the VCA fader.

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About MusicTech

Many, many years ago, when pop music was in its infancy, artists would record at multi-purpose recording facilities that were typically designed simply to capture the live performances of the bands and artists. During the 1960s, when pop music had seized the mantle as the dominant entertainment medium in popular culture, bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys grew frustrated by the limitations imposed on them by the technology of the time. Their desire to sonically innovate (not to mention the genius-level work of the producers and engineers they worked with) spearheaded the advancement of multi-track recording technology, as well as several techniques and recording approaches that are still widely used today. In our cover feature, John Pickford examines how much of this classic technology was used – and how we can replicate those approaches today in our own home studios, using very faithful recreations of key kit from decades gone by. Elsewhere this issue, we learn more about the art of stem mastering from London’s Wired Masters; discover how an effective understanding of social media can hep you grow your audience; talk to a range of producers and engineers (including the Grammy-winning Darrell Thorp) and review all the latest hardware and software. I hope you enjoy the issue.