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7.5.4. Make Further Adjustments with an Automation Track

So far, we've been crudely adjusting the fader and panner settings manually. This won't work if you want to change the settings while a session is playing; you would have to change all of the settings by yourself, every time you play the session. This quickly becomes complicated - not to mention difficult to remember. "Automation" allows effects (like the panner and fader) to be moved automatically during session playback. An automation track is simply a track that contains no audio, but rather instructions to adjust a particular effect. Automation tracks usually resemble audio tracks, but they hold lines and points, to show the settings changes. Automation tracks can, in effect, be "recorded," but we're going to use a more basic editing method. Automation tracks can be assigned to busses and tracks.
Here's how to create an automation track, and fill it in. We're going to adjust the fader on the lower marimba, so that it is louder in the introduction, and becomes quieter as the higher marimba and solo vocalist join in.
  1. In the canvas area, click the 'a' button on the "Bus-marimba1" bus' control box, to open the "automation" menu.
  2. Click 'Fader' in the automation menu.
  3. An automation track, which controls the fader, will appear underneath the bus.
  4. If you click in the automation track, a point will appear. Each point represents an absolute setting for the control. After the point appears, if you click-and-drag it, the yellow numbers by the cursor will tell you the fader's setting at that point.
  5. If there are two or more points in the automation track, lines will appear to connect them. The fader will be moved gradually between absolute settings, as shown by the line connecting the points.
  6. If you make a mistake and want to start over, you can press the 'clear' button on the automation track's control box. Unfortunately, you can't remove a single point. This isn't really necessary anyway; if you accidentally add too many points, simply use the extra one to keep a setting constant.
  7. Add one point to the beginning of the automation track, with a setting of 0.0 dB
  8. Add one point at about 00:00:15.000, with a setting of 0.0 dB
  9. Add one point at about 00:00:16.500 (where the singer starts), with a setting of -10.0 dB, or whatever you set earlier.
  10. Now you've set up an automation plan, but the fader is still in "Manual" mode, so the automation track will have no effect. Change the automation track's setting by clicking on the mode button in the track's control box. The button currently says "Manual."
  11. From the menu, select "Play," which will cause the automation settings to be played. In "Manual" mode, you have to adjust all settings manually. In "Write" mode, changes that you make as the session plays will be recorded into the automation track, over-writing previous settings. In "Touch" mode, changes that you make as the session plays will be incorporated into the pre-existing automation settings.
  12. Finally, listen to confirm that you like the automated panner change. If you don't, you can always adjust it now or later.
Now - here's the difficult part! Use automation to change the fader and panner settings throughout the session. In particular, ensure that the voice tracks are consistent.