Nimbus instructor and audio engineer, Jeremy Patch (Colin James, Matt Webb), discusses offline volume automation to reduce leakage between tracks in Pro Tools.
Read the transcript:
Hey, this is Jeremy Patch, I’m an audio instructor here at Nimbus School of Recording & Media. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about mix automation.
What is Mix Automation?
When we’re talking about mix automation, we’re talking about a change to a parameter, usually volume, but it can be anything from panning to plugin automation that you apply to your track during playback. It can be instantaneous where the vocal will all of a sudden jump up by a certain amount of volume or it can be something that gradually fades in and fades out.
There are two ways that we can implement volume automation:
- Online Automation: Changes made while the track is playing back live, sort of like when you’re doing a fader ride.
- Offline Automation: You draw the automation or program it in and play it back afterwards.
Today we’re going to talk about offline automation.
So we have a drum track that I’ve recorded here with the full kit, with all the multi-tracks, kick snare, tom, all that stuff. If we solo some of the individual tracks, like the toms for example, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of leakage from the other drums.
Leakage (a.k.a. spill and bleed): when a mic picks up sound from a source (usually nearby) other than that which is intended.
We can hear a lot of snare in the tom tracks. What we can do to minimize that leakage, or that snare that’s leaking into the track, is volume automate by turning the tom volume down when they’re not playing and bringing it up to the volume that we want when they are playing.
How To Draw In Volume Automation:
- Go to the Track View Selector
- Switch from waveform to volume so you will see the current volume level.
- Next, enter a lower volume, maybe -12 DB (click on the fader to enter that in).
- Locate where the tom actually occurs in the track by adding in points: There are many ways to add points in. You can do free hand draw with the pencil tool. You can add a point by “Command + Clicking”, and then once you have another point, you can drag it to change the volume. You can also highlight an area by clicking the mouse and dragging it. Then when you go above the track you’ll see a bracket tool appear. With that you can click and drag and adjust the volume. Let’s go at around -3. So when they’re not playing, they’re going to be at -12 DB, when they’re going to jump up to -3 DB.
- Create a fade out so that the sustain of the tom is heard: add a point by “Command + Clicking” wherever you want, then “Option + Click” where you want it to fade out. You can add more points by “Command + Clicking” until you are happy with the curve you’ve created.
One of the really cool things that you can do is when we’re in “Volume View,” any edits that you do apply to volume instead of the audio clip itself. So if we do a copy and paste, it’s actually going to copy and paste the volume automation (not the audio). So if you highlight the volume automation and hit “Command + C” to copy, you can now jump over to the next to the next tom and simply hit “Command + V” to paste the automation.
Now you can see that we’ve reduced the leakage significantly in the toms. I might want to add a bit more of a decay, that’s a really easy thing to do, I just highlight the decay, paste and erase the section in between to smooth it out.
In the context of the track, we’re able to hear those toms nice and clearly by reducing the leakage.
And that’s how you implement offline volume automation. If you want to know more, please mention it in the comments and please subscribe to the videos!