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Topic: Sonar Volume Sliders Automation

  1. #1

    Sonar Volume Sliders Automation

    Riding the sliders to automate volume of an audio track.

    Working with a score created via MIDI libraries bounced to audio tracks, the next Broadway musical smash hit of two hours duration with 50 tracks or more. Then using track volume automation for performance realism, and having to manually ride the sliders for each track ..... Oooofff. (Noooo .. I'm not actually writing one .. but it feels like it at the moment.)

    So, does anyone have any tricks or devices to share to make this any easier or is it a case of taking a deep breath, diving in and set to manupulatin' them thar li'le ol' bars?
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2

    Re: Sonar Volume Sliders Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_uk View Post
    ...Riding the sliders to automate volume of an audio track...manually ride the sliders for each track...does anyone have any tricks or devices to share to make this any easier...
    Good for you, Michael! You're stepping up to the next level in your development as a home studio engineer.

    This is what I remember you admiring in a DPDAN video awhile back - You noticed and asked about all the little bouncing faders you saw in the vid, and of course it was automation playback in action.

    I have a Roland/Cakewalk A-8000 Pro keyboard that has 9 sliders for working on a mix. 8 are for instrument tracks, the 9th is for the master fader or a bus. The theory is after recording the moves on 8 tracks, you select the next 8 tracks and go to work again. It feels almost exactly like old school mixing, where the engineer would play a track over and over, making note of all the spots where he needed to make adjustments, and feeling out the balance. It would take many passes to learn the fader routine for a mix, then he'd do multiple tries at doing the real thing, which was recording the mix to a mastering 2-track deck from the multi track deck - No automation recorded, hence the need to work out and rehearse his fader moves so thoroughly before attempting a mix down.

    Automation has helped make the process easier - An entire performance of fader moves doesn't have to be performed in a single pass. But the same process of learning moves and then performing them is still involved, and is still time consuming.

    Once you get into the process, Michael, I'm sure you'll start enjoying it more, and not wanting it to be easier or faster. You'll start hearing how much more control you're getting over your music. That will be exciting and motivating.

    Some reality checks now - The keyboard I described above is like most any other controller keyboard, with the full set of sliders, knobs, buttons and transport controls that stand-alone controllers without keyboards have. Keyboard controllers and control surfaces are both widely available, and no longer terribly expensive.

    - I still often will grab my mouse and work on a single track, partly out of old habit, but also because it's really no big disadvantage. You're needing to control the fader in Sonar's Console, and you do it either by grabbing a mouse, or grabbing a slider on a control surface. There's not a huge difference. Often I'll switch back and forth just so my hand doesn't get tired being kept in the same position for hours at a time.

    Working on a single track at a time, focusing on what it's doing, is pretty much what you need to do anyway. You give each track full attention, looking for any places that could do with some adjustment. After you've given that attention to each track, then there's all the adjustments you need to do when focusing again on the sum total of the mix.

    You Must also automate your buses. That's what the latter part of the mixing process is about - All the tracks have been worked with, then you focus on just the few buses where all the tracks are grouped. I can automate the level of the entire string section in proportion with the other sections, for instance. Places where various parts of the string section needed focus have already had their automation recorded when working with the individual tracks.

    Automating that group of buses is when I use my keyboard's sliders the most. Dealing with 4 sliders at the same time is very doable.

    - It's not as if the automation data you record is going to look pretty in the track view where you can see it, and it's not going to be perfect. The best thing to do is to keep going through a track, even though you know sometimes you're going too high or low - You can easily re-record that spot again. AND you definitely will be zooming in to see the automation data, and making the fine adjustments by mouse - grabbing nodes and placing them with more precision than you could do while recording moves in real time.


    --Right click over a Sonar fader and choose Group. There's a color coded menu, with groups A through X available. Choose a color/letter, and that fader is now in the group. Choose another fader and add it to the same group. Now when you move one slider, all sliders in that same group will simultaneously move.

    --Activate Automation Write Enable on all tracks in a group.

    --As you make your pass through the project, moving one slider in the group will record automation on all the group sliders at the same time.

    --An example of when to do this is when you have two lines with the same instrument. Flute part 1, Flute part 2 for instance. You want the two lines to always be in balance with each other, so it's logical to make those two tracks a group. Same for multiple trumpet parts, horn parts, whatever.

    That way, you're breaking orchestral sections into smaller groups that work in sync with each other, and you've cut down the number of faders you need to record data for.

    So - This is why doing a detailed mix can take a week or more to perfect.-- It's worth it. Dive in!


  3. #3

    Re: Sonar Volume Sliders Automation

    Thanks for such a detailed and informative reply Randy.

    I'll re-read this a few times but .. well .. it does seem to be a case of a cup of tea, polish my glasses, roll up the sleeves and dive in there.
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

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