Automation in Pro Tools – a Basic Tutorial
Automation is a process when the recording engineer adjusts different aspects of a recording during the editing process. The most commonly used automation is volume automation, and a very good example is the area when the recording is fading in and out. During the recording process, the recorded sound may stay at the same volume. In order to produce a more “smooth” recording, the engineer may choose to add the volume automation at the beginning and end of a recording (fading in and out) during the post production process. Of course, volume automation can also be added in the middle of a track for a variety of acoustic reasons.
Since volume automation is easier to understand, I will talk about a slightly more challenging technique – automating inserts /plug-ins.
Please note: I am using Pro Tools MP9. If you use a different version of Pro Tools, the layout of the windows may be slightly different. (Click images to enlarge)
A window will open up for you to adjust the parameters of the insert, and there will be a button “Auto” at the top of the window that represents “automation”. In Pro Tools MP9, I need to click a small button UNDER the “auto” button, but in some other versions you simply click the “auto” button.
Step 2: the “Plug-in Automation” window will pop up, and on the left column you will see every parameter that can be automated. We will select “Master Bypass”, and then click “Add” to add it to the list of automation, and then click “ok”.
Step 3: In the Edit window, on the lower left corner of the track to be automated, there is a little arrow (originally pointing toward right). Click it and a drop down menu will expand for you to select what you want to automate. Click the Master Bypass we just set up, and an automation lane will open right below the track.
Step 4: In this image, when the smart tool is selected, we can command-click to add “dots” on the automation lane, and drag sections up or down to indicate “automation on”(master bypass on) or “automation off” (master bypass off). Within the area where the automation is on, the plug in will be in effect.
You can add extra automation lanes to the Edit view by clicking the little “+” sign next to the first automation lane. Similarly, when the “-” sign is clicked, the automation lanes will be hidden from sight (the automation will still be in effect whether they’re hidden or not)
This image shows a volume automation and plug-in automation added.
If you prefer, you can also use the pencil tool to draw the automation line.
That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed the post!