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Class 1: Automation Processing Primer
The history of automation sets the stage for all the terminology, techniques and advancements that have occurred over the decades. Each revolutionary advancement uncovered new possibilities and more advanced tools and computers systems that controlled them. Today, virtually everything can be automated, but the foundational principles of automation remain the same. Understanding these principles and a tried and true process that has endured for decades will help you achieve the same professional results.

Defining Automation

History of Automation

The Tools of Automation

The Automation Process Step by Step

The Finished Mix

Class 2: Pre Mix Automation Techniques
In the past, limitations of recording technology like analog tape forced engineers to be far more mindful of setting proper levels. This included level balancing compression techniques and the manual riding of performances during the recording process to limit distortion and tape hiss in the playback. The modern DAW era offers far more dynamic range but also leaves many recorded performances with inconsistent levels. Automating these imbalances plays a huge role getting consistent and effective results from the dynamics processing that follows. Inter Processing and Post Processing automation make up for lost performance dynamics without losing the flexibility of setting static fader levels while building a mix.

Pre Mix Gain Staging Automation

Region Editing and Mutes

Pre Processing Automation

Inter Processing Automation

Post Processing Automation

Class 3: Foundational Automation Techniques
Throughout the process of mixing a song, static fader levels are used to set the general balances. At some point in the mix, it will become apparent, that static fader levels are holding up the development of the mix. This typically marks the engineer’s transition from processing work to automation. The first stage of automation is to establish the envelope of the song by setting the peak and low points. Some styles of music like EDM have very fast and dramatic shifts in dynamic while others ebb and flow more slowly. Whatever the shape and pace of change, every song will also need to establish a primary and secondary focus the the rest of the tracks respond to. This foundation sets the stage for the detailed automation that follows.

Monitoring Tips for Setting Levels

The Give/Take Automation Principle

Mapping the Song Envelope

Gain Staging Automation

Establishing the Primary and Secondary Focus

Class 4: Detailing Automation Techniques
Detailing Automation establishes the consistency, focus, and brings out the nuances of individual performances. Most of this work will focus on phrase by phrase, note by note and transitional automation to enhance the dynamics of the song for the listener. There are many techniques and methods covered in this class that help to facilitate the efficiency of this sometimes tedious process. Particular attention is paid to the transitions from note to note and section to section where the song is woven together. This helps to establish the dynamic shifts from soft to loud & loud to soft, narrow to wide & wide to narrow, so that impact of each section is felt as well as heard.

Techniques for Refining Automation

Phrase by Phrase Automation

Note by Note Automation

Automating Transitions and Fills

Pan and Width Automation

Class 5: Advanced Automation Techniques
There are many tools in that can help to enhance workflow and productivity in the mixing process. Many of the techniques covered in the 2 previous classes will be revisited here with the added benefit of live performance automation. These are the same techniques used by professionals for decades to sculpt mixes in a more natural and responsive way. Whether you have a work surface or not, this class will provide valuable insight in your approach to applying automation. I will also cover some advanced, and sometimes complicated, automation techniques for working with group automation.

Using Work Surfaces for Automation

Automation Modes and Preferences

Using Write, Touch, Latch, Snap and Glide Modes

Trim Automation

Advanced Automation Enhancements

Writing Track Group Automation

Class 6: Automation Techniques for Vocals
If the total time spent on automation in a mix was 4 hours, working with the vocal tracks could easily be 2-2.5 hours of the total process. The average listener’s experience with the subtleties and inflections of the human voice are dramatically more sensitive than any other instrument. Getting every ounce of expression from a vocal performance requires intense focus and meticulously detailed work, but is worth every ounce of energy in the end result. When applied correctly, a vocal can sound equally focussed and understood when tucked deep into a mix as it would be raised above it. This work prevents the obvious issue of a vocal performance sounding disconnected or lost in a mix when the desired overall level is established.

Vocal Automation Primer

Automation for BG Vocals

Automation for Lead Vocals

Automation for Harmonies and Doubles

Vocal Automation Plugins (Vocal Rider)

Class 7: Automation for Plugins and Effects
The DAW has allowed for automation processes that were once either impossible to achieve or could only be performed live when the mix was being printed. Today, the range of possibilities may be as simple as the bypass of a filter in the bridge section of a song or as complicated as the live performance of sweeping filters, feedback controls and pitch dives. This class covers a wide range of demonstrations and offers solutions for enhancing the production to achieve a professional sounding result.

Bypass Automation for Plugins

Functional Plugin Automation

Creative Performance Plugin Automation

Automation for Sends

Advanced Plugin Effects Automation

Class 8: Mix Buss and Mix Stem Automation
Mix Buss and Stem automation, on the surface, seems like a simple end of the mix finisher for your song. Set the output level, slam in a fade and your good to go. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many considerations that will greatly enhance your ability to create alternate versions, print stems and provide the mastering engineer with a well polished mix free of artifacts, noise and clipped starts and ends. Detailed understanding of the signal flow and it’s relationship to dynamics processing in the stems and master fader will help prevent any undesired effects to your carefully crafted mix.

Mix Buss and Stem Automation Primer

Insert Automation for Mix Buss and Stems

Mix Stem Level and Balance Automation

Master Fader Automation Techniques

Final Refinements, Tweaks and Print

Power Automation Course Wrap Up

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