Logic Pro X 10.0.7 has so many great enhancements it’s easy to overlook the powerful addition of snapshot automation. They don’t label it as such, but it is present by way of four new, very useful, key commands. I’m dating myself here, but for those of us old enough to remember, the only way to accomplish snapshot style automation previously was by cabling up channel splitters, tracks, and ports in the Environment. It was so obtuse, it was rarely used.
What is Snapshot Automation and Why Should I Care about It?
In Logic Pro automation has been traditionally either track based or region based (now called MIDI Draw). One can either pencil it in with a mouse or capture parameter movements in real time. We’ve all learned to work this way, and it’s generally pretty efficient. But often all that is needed are static parameter changes. And this is where the new automation key commands are so useful.
Let me give you an example. Say you’re mixing a pop tune. You have everything sitting nicely where you want it and the mix is sounding good. Now the chorus comes in and you want to bump the rhythm guitar part up 2 db, pan it to about 10:00 o’clock, and send a bit less to the reverb bus. You want this to happen right on the downbeat of the chorus.
Position your playhead there. Adjust your channel strip parameters accordingly, and hit the new key command for “Create 2 Automation Points each for Volume, Pan, Sends”. I’ve assigned mine to. Bang! Automation nodes for all those changes are created. Now position the playhead to the end of the chorus. Move your channel strip parameters back to where you want them for the next section. Hit the key command again. Done. Static automation points are created for the new settings.
Now, lets say I don’t know the exact parameter changes I want when that chorus comes. Maybe I want to try a 3 db or 4 db volume change to hear what will work better. No prob. Enable a cycle range that encompasses the downbeat of the new section as well as a few bars before it and after it. Position the playhead, set the parameters, invoke the new key command, and hit play to audition the effect. To audition different values, stop playback, place the play head where the change is, re-adjust the parameters, hit the key command again, and hit play. All this while leaving the cycle range intact so you hear the same area each time you try different parameter values.
One really significant change to workflow that this allows is, what I like to refer to as “working blind”. I find that when I am mixing, my editing is usually more or less done. I am focused on the mixer (and plug-ins) and less on the Tracks Area. Creating automation used to require me to switch views, open automation lanes, and pencil in what I need. Then inevitably edit the parameters if I entered them inaccurately. I know I can enable one of the write modes and mouse in the parameters directly from the mixer, but that always requires significant clean up after. Especially when I don’t want/need a parameter value to ramp up/down, but really only want a static change. With this new function, it will be easy to stay in the mixer and not have to be distracted by moving around Logic Pro’s GUI. Move the parameters where I want, hit the key commands, and move on. No need to actually view the automation data, or even the Tracks Area, while working.
The new function works wonderfully for volume, pan, and sends, as you can see in the short video below. The “visible parameter” command is great for plug-in automation. But for basic bread and butter mixing, this new volume-pan-sends key command will sure make these types of static changes a heck of a lot easier to implement and experiment with.
Watch the video:
Author: Eli Krantzberg