|AudioMulch Help > Automating AudioMulch
The Automation Pane allows you to define the way selected parameters change over time. Automation can be applied to most contraption parameters including the values of knobs, sliders (both single-value sliders and Range Sliders), check boxes and Contraption Presets. Automation can also be applied to some global parameters such as clock tempo and Metasurface location.
The Automation Pane can be shown or hidden (like the Patcher and Parameter Panes) from the View menu or by clicking the icon on the View toolbar.
This screenshot of the Automation Pane shows automated parameters from Bassline and BubbleBlower contraptions.
This page covers automating parameters and working with the Automation Pane. The next page, Editing an Automation Sequence, describes how to select, cut and paste, delete and insert time regions of automation to support such tasks as duplicating and reorder automation segments.
Setting up Parameter Automation
There are two ways to automate a parameter:
- Right-click on a knob, slider, checkbox or other on-screen control in a contraption's Parameter Editor and choose Automate from the pop-up context menu. The selected parameter will be added to the Automation Pane.
- Select the desired parameter in the Parameter Control dialog box's Parameters tree. Check the Automate checkbox and the selected parameter will appear in the Automation Pane. You can open the Parameter Control dialog box by selecting it from the View menu or by pressing F3. Alternatively you can jump straight to a specified contraption or parameter in the Parameter Control dialog box by right-clicking in the background of a contraption's Parameter Editor or on a specific on-screen control and choosing Parameter Control... from the pop-up context menu, or Ctrl-double-clicking on an on-screen control.
To remove a parameter from the Automation Pane, you can right-click within the Automation channel and select Unautomate. Alternatively, you can open the Parameter Control dialog box via the context menu or the View menu, locate the parameter in question and uncheck the Automate check box.
You can also temporarily deactivate an Automation channel by depressing the Mute button at the left hand side of that channel.
To hear the results of changes made in the Automation Pane, you must start the clock by pressing the Play button on the Transport toolbar. This is because the Automation feature is time-based.
Working in the Automation Pane
The Time Ruler
The Time Ruler at the top of the Automation Pane displays time in bars and beats. There is a moving cursor (called a Playback Location Indicator) that indicates the current time position. Clicking and dragging on the Playback Location Indicator allows you to reposition the current playback position.
At the left end of the Ruler is the Scroll to Follow Playback icon . By clicking this icon the entire Automation Pane will automatically scroll in synchronization with the clock. You can also activate this feature by selecting Scroll Automation With Playback from the View menu. To disable this feature, click on the Scroll to Follow Playback icon again, or click anywhere within the Automation Pane. This will stop the scrolling but will not stop the clock or disable the audio output. Clicking once more on the Scroll to Follow Playback icon will cause the Automation pane to quickly scroll to the current playback location and continue scrolling from there.
The Time Signature Channel
Above the Time Ruler is a time signature channel, which lets you select and insert time signature changes. Click on the horizontal line in the time signature channel to insert new time signatures. To change a time signature, click on it, and select a new one from the drop down list, or create your own by selecting Other... You can move time signatures by clicking and dragging the heavy vertical bar line at the left of each time signature change. Drag a time signature vertically outside the channel to delete it. Go to the Time Signatures and Rhythmic Units and Editing Rhythmic Patterns pages of this Help File for more information.
Zooming the Time Axis
There are three ways to zoom in and out along the time axis:
- Use the zoom in and zoom out buttons located at the bottom of the Automation Pane, on the right side of the horizontal scroll bar.
- Click on the thin button located between the zoom in and zoom out buttons and drag the mouse horizontally (left and right) while holding the mouse button down to zoom in and out.
- The horizontal scroll bar thumb has a small indentation at either end. Click one of these indentations with the mouse and drag horizontally (left and right) while holding the mouse button down to zoom in and out.
The Automation Channel Panels
The Automation Pane displays each parameter in an Automation Channel Panel.
To the left of each Channel Panel there is a small control panel with Mute and Record buttons and handles for resizing the height of the Channel Panel.
- The Mute button disables the automation in the Channel Panel. Toggling the button will re-enable the automation.
- The Record button enables you to record the Automation in that particular channel. Toggling the button will enable or disable Automation recording for that channel (see below for more information about Automation recording).
- Dragging on the handle on the lower edge of a channel panel (or the line between channel panels) will vertically resize the Channel Panel. This only applies to single and range value panels, not preset, check-box or trigger panels. (See below for definitions of these types of panels).
- Dragging on the body of the control panel allows you to reorder the Channel Panels in the Automation Pane.
There are different types of Channel Panels for displaying different types of parameters. The five types of Channel Panels allow you to automate:
- Single value parameters - knobs and single-value sliders.
- Range value parameters - Range Sliders.
- Contraption Preset parameters.
- Checkbox parameters.
- Triggers - buttons.
Each of these types of Channel Panels has its own characteristics and set of controls:
Single Value Channel Panels
- To add a point on the graph, click anywhere on the value line.
- To delete a point, grab it with the mouse and drag it up or down out of the Channel Panel.
Range Value Channel Panels
- To add a point, click on the upper or lower lines. These indicate the maximum and minimum values of the range.
- To move both values simultaneously, Shift-Drag on either point.
- To move the opposite point to the one you're currently working with, use the Alt key.
- To move both values simultaneously in opposite directions, Alt-Shift-Drag on either point.
- To delete a point, grab it with the mouse and drag it out of the Channel Panel.
Contraption Preset Channel Panels
- To add a preset change, click on the horizontal line near the bottom of the Channel Panel. This creates a preset change marker on the line.
- To move the preset change in time, grab the drag handle at the left hand side of the marker and drag horizontally.
- Clicking the rollover preset number indicator on the preset change marker opens a popup menu. Choose the appropriate preset from this list.
- To delete a preset change, grab it with the mouse and drag it out of the Channel Panel.
Checkbox Channel Panels
- To add a checkbox parameter, click on the horizontal line near the bottom of the Channel Panel. This creates a checkbox marker on the line.
- To move the checkbox marker in time, grab the drag handle at the left hand side of the marker and drag horizontally.
- Click the checkbox marker to enable or disable the parameter.
- To delete a checkbox marker, grab it with the mouse and drag it out of the Channel Panel.
Trigger Channel Panels
- To add a trigger parameter, click on the horizontal line near the bottom of the Channel Panel. This creates a trigger marker on the line.
- To move the trigger marker in time, grab the drag handle at the left hand side of the marker and drag horizontally.
- To delete a trigger marker, grab it with the mouse and drag it out of the Channel Panel.
As in Contraption Editors the Ctrl key can be used to make fine adjustments to all automation points and markers. For more information about this see the Making Fine Adjustments to Parameter Values page of this Help File.
A pop-up value display is revealed whenever the mouse pointer rolls over an automation point or marker. These pop-ups contain information regarding both the time position and parameter value of the point or marker.
In addition to the time markings in the Ruler at the top of the Automation pane, a time Grid can be displayed in all the automation channels. The grid can be shown or hidden by checking or unchecking Show Automation Grid in the View menu. This grid is a guide that facilitates a higher degree of rhythmic precision when editing Automation channels. The Automation Grid updates as you zoom in, providing a detailed representation of rhythmic time at any resolution.
Snap provides the most exact approach to beat-based mouse editing within Automation channels. It can be enabled/disabled for each channel individually by right-clicking within the empty space of an Automation channel and selecting Snap. Unlike the Automation Grid itself, Snap is not a global setting as it may only be appropriate for the control of certain parameters. The resolution of snapping is variable and can be changed using the Automation Snap Resolution item of the Edit menu. If Visible grid lines is selected, all points will snap to the nearest visible grid line when editing. You can also snap to Bars, Beats, or a specified rhythmic unit, which you select from the drop down list. By default, Beats are divided into 48 subdivisions, which allows for fine-grained grid snapping. You can also create your own custom rhythmic units by selecting Other... from the drop down list. If one of the Automation Snap Resolution values is selected, points will snap to the nearest relevant value. Snap will function whether the Automation Grid is displayed or hidden.
Note: pressing and holding down the Alt key while editing points or markers will cause the edit to behave contrary to the current Snap mode (i.e. if Snap is enabled, Alt click will edit the point without Snapping). This modifier applies to all but Range values.
Another feature of Automation is the ability to loop a section of automation over and over again. This feature is particularly useful for refining an automated section within a larger piece but can also be used in performance to define a repeating section of automation that can be modified as the performance progresses.
To enable Looping, click on the Loop icon within the Transport Toolbar or double-click in the area above the text on the Automation Ruler. This displays a Loop point marker on the upper edge of the Automation ruler. By grabbing the handles at either end of the marker with the mouse you can define the length and position of the looped section. By grabbing the centre of the loop it is possible to move the entire marker to a different position within the composition. When moving either the handles or the entire loop the marker will Snap to the current Automation Snap Resolution setting. The loop can be disabled by re-clicking the Loop button on the toolbar or by double clicking the loop point markers on the Automation Ruler.
Note: when Automation looping is disabled and then re-enabled by clicking the Loop icon, the Loop point markers reappear in the position they last occupied.
It is possible to record parameter changes directly into Automation channels from MIDI and on-screen controls (knobs, sliders etc.). To record parameter changes, set up automation for the desired parameters and enable recording for their Automation Channel Panels by pressing the Record Enable button on the left of each Channel Panel. The master record button on the Transport tool bar must also be enabled for Automation recording to occur. When the Play button is pressed the Automation channel will start recording. By pressing Ctrl-R on the keyboard the master record can be toggled on and off at any time, allowing you to drop in and out of Automation record in one or multiple channels. When more than one Automation channel is recording you can drop in and out of record more selectively by using each channel's individual record button.
Note: you cannot Undo a recorded Automation sequence.