Very often I have clients bring projects they have started on their own into my studio to complete. It’s always interesting to see how other Logic Pro users work since we all have slightly different habits and workflows.
V is for Volume
The other day a client brought in a project with some volume automation. This client is a composer used to working primarily with MIDI and likes drawing in volume automation to get sequenced orchestral parts to blend the way he wants. Expression is generally good for this sort of thing, since it leaves volume automation available for blending levels at the meta level (the mixing stage). But this project used volume automation.
Various changes to automation have been made since Apple released Logic Pro X over three years ago. And as we all know, there are lots of different ways of creating and working with volume in Logic Pro. Basically, there are three approaches to volume automation:
- Track automation,
- Region automation,
- And MIDI Draw.
To further complicate things, MIDI Draw is available not only in the MIDI editors but in the Tracks Area as well. Visually, when zoomed in on the Tracks Area, his automation at first looked to me like garden variety Track Automation.
Visually it may have looked like that, but it wasn’t. Seeing the 1, 7 indications on audio regions had me puzzled at first.
On closer inspection, I realized my client had used MIDI Draw directly on the regions in the Main Window. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach; I just hadn’t seen it in years and had abandoned working this way myself long ago. It didn’t fit with my current workflow, which I naturally wanted to work with for this edit/mix project he brought to me. It was a big arrangement, and I didn’t want to simply delete the automation he had put a lot of hard work into.
Visible automation can be copied and/or converted to other automation parameters by holding down the Command key and switching to another parameter from the automation parameter list in the Track Header. The problem is, this only works with Track or Region based automation. Not the older MIDI Draw (called Hyperdraw in the old days). So, this didn’t seem to be an option.
There is, however, a link, a bridge to the past if you will, that allows the two generations of automation (MIDI CC events and Fader events) to speak to each other.
Values that have been drawn in via MIDI Draw can be accessed by engaging Region Automation. The automation nodes will disappear at first when you press the key command A to engage Track Automation view. But when switching to Region Automation mode, voila, the MIDI Draw data is there.
Various options were available to me at this point. I could hold down the Command key and select CC 11 to convert it to Expression data. Or I could hold the Command key and select Volume, to convert it to Fader events for use as Region Automation.
Viewing the project as a larger whole, I decided to convert it to Fader data automation instead of MIDI Expression. The nature of the arrangement was such that the automation values worked well as they were, and Track Automation would be the least complicated way to proceed. It would keep the whole thing simpler. The last step in transforming this automation was to convert it from Region Automation to Track Automation. This is accomplished from the global Mix menu on the main menu bar.
Varied as these automation options are, they do offer flexibility in accommodating different workflows. There is one important footnote to be aware of with all of this, though. When working with (summing) Track Stacks, MIDI Draw automation does not appear in the Region Automation parameter list. I doubt this is a deliberate omission.
Hopefully, it is merely an oversight that a bug report can help solve.