Demo: Automation


Fundamentals of Mixing Rock and EDM


Lesson Info

Demo: Automation

Let's talk about automation so my theory about automation is that you wantto do a couple different things you want to diminish what gets in the way so in rock this could be pulling down guitar sustains in medium this could be one of synth you know a lot of time when you hit cynthy envelope will open up and we'll get a little over power, then you get a crackle because you're mixes to out you could pull those down and get them a little bit more in the zone so that you can keep your track nice and loud breaths from singers sometimes you can cut them out I know the deep breath ng plug in could be really, really popular, but sometimes you want a little bit of breath and natural listen there I'll pull those down s is and tease harsh sounds and a vocal when the vocal maybe sometimes the harmony got hit a little too hard and you wantto pull down that singer's harmony that could be a really good way. Basically a lot of the time I'm listening for, you know what could be just nudge down a little ...

bit better to make this performance a little bit more coherent or, you know, backing vocals that don't line up there sometimes that t just last a little longer on the harmony track, you can pull it down with the automation and just taking five to ten minutes to go through a lot of these trucks come, do it bring out things? I like a lot of time I listen for cool drum fills and pull them up delay tales that sound really cool the breath at the end of a vole coke and sometimes really helped the emotion and bringing that out, you know, a guitar riff or a bass riff where they play it cool with a lick and between a vocal or something, making sure that every little bit of that, like a note gets lost in particular will try to do that. And then the other thing is that sometimes you need a moment to hit a little harder, you know what a kick drum that was like hit but hit quite as hard. We can automate that up same thing with like a down lifter and up with during certain parts of medium song you know, you just got to bring out the tails and contour the volume I'm going through all this are some of those details that really make the difference between a good mix and a great mix. Just leaving it steady is not the way to do it with that said I do see sometimes a trend of I open up somebody's mix and they've really ruined it by over automating everything and moving the fate or constantly and just getting crazy so the other thing I'll say is I get a lot of questions about what do you need to be able to you know, mix a song as faras controllers go I started mixing and pro tools before there even was a controller and I've gotten really good with doing rides on a mouse now is that my preferred way? Absolutely not is that what I'm going to do today? Absolutely you can draw on automation riding in his far superior I'm you know personas makes a single fader for automation that could be great for those of you who can't afford an eighth grader center or something but you know in all reality there's a reason we made favours feeders are an instrument that you can play and investing and that can really really help your automation mixing but truth be told I often used my personas fader and I'll even do it from halfway across the room when I'm trying to automate something it's absolutely a great tool but yet again you can use a mouse you can draw this stuff in so with that let's go into some of the automation so I have not opened the song since last night if you weren't joining us yesterday where we left office I was mixing the song we kind of called this let's say this mix is where we're happy with it's not quite where I'm happy with and I will definitely makes it more I go home before I send it to the band, but we're going to pretend that we're at the automation point. The mix is decent enough, but not really where I'd want it. We're going to start trying to figure out what to bring out in the song, what khun stay behind and get diminished, so I tend to personally start with just making sure the drums go now why do I do with start with the drums? There's something about the emotion of the drums to me and I don't know if that's just me that I like to bring out the phils and all that stuff because it's going to also make me know if I do all of the instruments first and bring out those cool elements. I'll know what what to do with the vocal since the vocals kinds staying on top and I want to make sure I didn't squash the vocal, so if I have all the instruments done by the time I'm getting really micro and really focus on the vocal, I'm going to notice if any of the instruments got in the way of the vocal, whereas if I do the vocal first, which is also I will sometimes automate the vocal if it shouldn't be compressed. First, but I want to also always do the vocal last and give one last past the vocal because it's so important that it shines through especially in a song where like this the song is great wear vocals some well, we have to make sure that this vocal really really shines so let's get into a little bit of that so let's take a listen to these drums and see what I can find let's get it but some goes of god my well, I just think it wass guys wait so what I'm hearing so far as these filles air cutting through the mix pretty well, but because there's the's triggers are all at the same velocity, so if we get out of the volume mode you can see this is the natural snare track of the natural stair truck is hit pretty much pretty hard as is but it's not his expressions. I'd like I want to be played a little bit mohr natural, so I don't take volume automation as strictly being just moving this volume like we talked about with vocal editing a lot of time I want this stuff to hit the compressor properly too and if let's say we're on pre fader on this drum sub which were actually not I would want the drum hits to go into the compressor the same way so what I will often d'oh is I'll go in and I'll get my gain tool, or you could do this with clip game, but I'm going to do this with this because clip gain is not in every version of pro tools that everybody's using and I will go in, and I will make this drum hit a little bit softer on the trigger to be a little bit more natural. So oftentimes all started about three d b and and that just sounds to me a little bit more like how a drummer would really play that phil, when the trigger is not at the same velocity so way, same thing, you know, same phil so pretty easy, so same thing this phil just doesn't sound is expression it to me as I would like it, so I'm going to think about the way the drummer would play this, so I was a drummer and I very distant teenage past life about eighteen years ago, so I know that if I played that, phil, my right hand would come first in my left hand would come second on the left hand. Yao talks a lot about this in his drum production class to keeping these feels natural, and he really does a great job explaining if you're curious as to more of this. The left hands could be a little lighter than the right hand on the lot is fills the first hit a lot of time you could also figure this out on by the ones that are on eighth notes versus quarter notes that drummers tend to play the quarters harder than the eighths, so I'm going take down the hits they're actually on the sixteenth compared to the ace as well, basically, whatever is the lower value of ah note on a lot of this stuff, you know, sixteenth being less than in a thirty second being less than a sixteenth et cetera will make it a little bit more natural not a total rule, but something that's very common let's hear this back, that sounds a million times better to me the same thing, so so I would do the same thing let's see if we could find for example, I'd be doing the same thing to this phil on that same thing at the end of this song is this triggers just a little unnatural to me, I want to bring out the natural nous especially, you know, some songs shouldn't sound his natural is other songs, but this we want to sound like a nice role organic performance from this booth, and so the next thing I'm hearing is since we didn't concentrate on getting good tom sound these tom's air really buried at the end so what I would do here is I would just simply highlight the tom's on bringing them up andi I think we could still get a little bit more out of that so I'm often bringing tom's up in about a d b and a half of the time and then I might get a little bit more micro after that and maybe a half a d b or so great that seems like that's working well so I'm going to now focus on my symbols for the second way but some goes of god my well just money get wass guys so one of the things I might do I wasn't really hearing on this but you know at one point he opens up that high hat and I kind of like that I might take this up a little bit let's say two d b and then let that ramp down I wasn't really feeling it here but it is a great example of what you could be doing and we want that to naturally ramp down god well actually I was really like in that so I'm glad I brought that detail I think way yep same thing here on dh so you're probably thinking ok you automated up those drum hits using the game to a why use this there's something about the symbols doing that that doesn't sound the same as isolated snare triggers to me especially since the stature you're gonna bleed so getting a nice move volume ramp on this stuff just sounds a little bit more natural to me I've found over the years s so here's something he for the first time the song he now gets off the high hat here so sometimes the other symbol mike's will bring you and unwanted bleed or you could just be trying to like especially if you have a lot of time to mix you can try to make sure that you bring out, you know, there's always so much space of the mixing if you're feeling like you're mixes really dense, you can take down the symbol mike's you're not using and diminish themselves right here in this part, if I was feeling like this mix was too cluttered, I might now pulled down that high hat like a little bit and see if it helps to get me a little less clutter. So I hear that pretty much for the rest of the song he's off here, but the one thing I do hear is that he's pumping his foot so with the natural drummer sometimes you like this foot pumping sometimes you don't I'm personally not the biggest foot pumping fan because oftentimes if lambs with the snare and adds a looseness to a while the performances I'm doing I usually get the drummer do not pump his foot there's a variety of ways you can do this you know, sometimes I used to bring my monitor, my, uh, computer keyboard into the room and I put my hand on the drummers leg whenever you do it and that would make him very uncomfortable and learned to not do it, but usually I'll just call in tow the headphones and say, don't pump your foot I'm so because I don't like this I would probably diminish this in the song so I would go into here and there's a certain amount of volume that you can take this down where it doesn't affect the drum sound so much, but eventually if you pull it down all the way, it might be too apparent let's hear how just taking it down a random amount does for us so that actually sounds really good to me maybe I can get away with a little bit more on that sounds like too much so the other thing I would do is now hit undo and I would make it so that this fades out a little bit more gradual so on and I might even start to fade a little earlier so that sounds like a totally great way for me to get a little bit more room in the mix without sacrificing our drum sound so I didn't really hear anything else in the symbols I really wanted to bring out any al's class he talked a lot about pushing up a symbol when it hits and pulling down some other ones. If they're too loud, you can get all into that. I'm not really hearing that in this overhead, but he's also not, you know, going symbol crazy doesn't sound like he has eight splash symbols or anything crazy like that. So we're pretty good on these drums. So now love to move on to the base in the wait, but so as we can here, the sog, the base ends up being alone here. What I would experiment with is doesn't feel better to pull it up for down for this part where it kind takes the focus so I'm gonna tap the transient, which is this little fun button here if you don't know and I'm gonna find where this base kicks, it kicks out and I'm gonna play around with but some goes of god my well just funning wass vice way so I actually find that pulling the base down a little bit and letting it sit in the back. It's still real clear because there's nothing competing with it and it's going to get the chorus kick it a little bit more when I let it go here, so what I would probably do is I could see that the guitar crescendos in right here. I would first try this and see how this sounds is letting it fade up on that crescendo with the guitar add some dynamics that aren't really in the way form there, I think it wass wait that's feeling really good to me so I'm gonna still listen to see if I've already fills or anything cool the bassist is doing to accentuate anything he does that I don't, so I hear he didn't some cool, no transition, yeah, so I'm going to bring out that phil because I like it I love a base, phil yeah, even as one after that too, so smooth out thes automation bends a little bits that on he has another one right here or we're going to bring that out yet again on dh, which I was doing this with theaters, but this is how we do it that one sounds a little strong, so we take that down on dh so that's basically the extent of a lot of baseball nation, the one thing I also show you is that at the end, a lot of time the base is a little strong on the last ring on and sure enough, fun correct we're going to pull that down so it feeds a little way on my hero little hints of it there, and that sounds awesome to me, so at this point I'd say we're fantastic on the base so the next thing we're gonna go over is we're gonna check out these guitars so let's listen to this so I think I'm hearing here is these guitars some good but the one thing is is I'm noticing that there's a little bit of sloppiness in here so while I talked about how you shouldn't be editing by the time because that's what I would have loved to have done is if I had been uh where do you go out properly editing this? Uh like I do when I am at home I would have went in I would have polished up this transition here so instead of using automation sometimes the automation processes where you're really zoning in on instrument you can hear you know, something could be a little neater so I would go into here and I just that that a little bit I'd look where my sneer hit is and my sneer hits there I hear that this one cuts a little bit too soon on and I'm going tio nudge it over a little bit um but because I don't have a calculator, I can't do my usual shortcut for this and I'm gonna try that out I'm gonna tighten this up and so I would do this to all of them once I noticed this happen and I see that this is a little early uh I'm just nudge that over so I'm not doing this because I saw it I want to add also I really really think you should never make edits tow anything that you just see I heard this first and then I noticed that so what's your the south on that sounds a million times better to may so I would do this each time this happens in the song, but I'm going to spare you doing the same thing six times, so as you can hear there's this outro guitar that's getting a little bit lost that I think is really helpful for this I want those to be brought out, but they're getting drowned out by our thicker electric guitars, so I'm going to take those down and instead of automating those other ones up because I want the dynamic of the song to go down here, I'm gonna try to just get these as out of the way as I possibly can, so don't do that with a quick ordinations way because he's so that's pretty close already I'm going to also get this so this automation point goes down on the actual way from teo, so we're going to call that close enough I could do that all day long, I'm I want to get into a little vocal automation before we get out of this file it into another one, so this is our lead vocal our weed vocal says, ah, harmony, which I'm going to bring up with this so we can go through with some of stuff I might do to this, so I want to hear because I really like this guy's lyrics I want to hear the end of that, so I know that it's not some weird is hell with ty, I want to hear that any of the time, and I want to bring that out a little bit, and I could still get a little bit more of that at the end. Keep your son goes got my so this isa little more swallowed that I'd like so much tryto interest that up a little bit. So this is exactly what we're talking about in the first day of let your you know, I didn't set the compression so hard that it brings up all these words. I set the compression so that it was sounding good for the tone of the vocal, and I knew I had to do a little bit more work afterwards, but some goes god, my so the next thing I'm hearing is that it sounds like this. I harmony is not totally tight, so the first thing I'd do is I'd blow this way form up and make a decision about do I want to move this eye? In time or do I want a feed one of them in or out so that we get the origin I'm making the decision that this going up a little early is going to be it and yet again I'm going to make an edit while I go like we said not against the wall to make it it's but get as many of them out of the way as you possibly can before you mix got so the next thing I'm hearing is on the harmony he's a little bit longer and you can even see it on the word mind he's a little long on the harmony so normally I'd want to end it this if I was tracking this in my vocals I'd edit this down a little bit if I heard it yet again not if I saw it if I heard it but because I didn't here I'm going to pull this down a little bit and see if I can tighten this up with god on that sounds a million times clearer but the next thing I'm noticing is this breath here sounds a little allowed to may so I want to have a little bit of it in there because I wanted to sound natural I don't want this to sound like some perfected pro tools thing and so I'm going to go in and I'm gonna pull this that it down a little bit and here are this sounds still a little strong but I also want to breath at the end of it so he sounds natural just give that sounds totally natural and right now I just think it wass way so what I'm now hearing is because he started seeing this so he's saying it through on the main truck because he came into the so on the harmony track on its own he starts the s a little early so I'm gonna acts d accentuate that a bit I'm going to fade that and see how it sounds wait that's starting to be a lot better to me I think I want a little too crude with this fade on dh actually feed down so I give her the breath before that way yet again another breath I want to de accentuate and I'm liking the way that so is the harmony now something right? Wait so this is an interesting thing it's instead of fading out this breath um those as a lot of time before another part starts. So this is the transition from our verse into our pre course or r b verse we could call it I don't find the breath to some very musical, so a lot of time I'm just going to get rid of that breath whereas I usually would fade them out so I hear a little bit of wobbly missing the vocal here goes so he's got a little overbroad oh, I might hit that with a tuning thing if I wanted tio or something like that I want to hear the harmony against the league because yeah and he hits that a little bit tighter I might you when I might do here is bring this out a little bit more and then d accentuate as he comes down from this note so this is all that thing I was just talking about when I started this segment is that I'm trying to bring up what's good and take down what's bad so what's here of the sounds not perfect but you get the concept I'm taking down with uneven bring up what is even so this at doesn't sound is enunciated as I like. So what I'm hearing is I wish there was more of the middle part of that day in there not the attack of the a and that but the mid section of its own to try to see it bringing out that helps and that helps me a whole lot like I said I like these lyrics a lot I think anybody who would like this ban would like these lyrics a lot so I really want to emotionally hear them and understand every word he says and give all the help I can yet again we're at this part where it's a transition between the two parts of the song I you feel no need to keep this breath even a little bit sort of edited out, you know, just because we're in automation. I know this isn't technically automation does not mean we should really be thinking of this as accentuating, and this just helps the transition. So even though this isn't between two parts, this is yet again another one was breaths. Instead of getting written are fading it down, I would just get rid of it. There's enough space. I think it will help the song a little bit. And so I hear this is a little uneven here. I might even feed this in a little bit more cool. So that's about what I have to show for how I normally automate a song like this. We're going to get into a little bit more some of the gm techniques, but this shows what I would show for this song. I want to do it. One more example, but it's gonna take me a minute to open up this file. So, um, if we can take a question or two while this opens, that would rule and I think we have a question right here. Actually, I noticed, you know, first of all, I mean, these monitors to general ex are phenomenal. I know you you guys listening out there on the internet you may be listening to your monitors. You may not, but like things like that base fill and places where you you want to bring the vocals up, you can really it just shows the importance of of having the's monitors I'm sitting good ten feet away from jesse, and I can still hear things that I wouldn't I don't think I would be able to hear honestly on at home, but also I'm really saying you're your goal like the goal to bring the vocals up, you're like, where you even you thought initially you were going to take that, that bass solo part down and I think tonight, but I don't think talking it down and that's just like having that clear goal, I mean, it seems like it's incredibly important, it's just you know it, sometimes your goals even get contradicted by your emotional response, and I'm always letting my emotions lead me. I'm with this stuff and, uh yeah, that vocal just felt a little bit better I'm sorry that base felt a little bit better down so that we could let the pre chorus kick up a little bit. So yeah, cool, we have anything on the internet before you absolutely do okay, so question came in from liquid schwartz, who wanted to know who says I'm wondering about mary killing cutting frequencies for one instrument and boosting those in another do you think do you use this technique? Is it a conscious thing or does it just sort of happen? Okay, so this was actually something that I don't know why we I thought I put it in the outline, but I probably scribbled on a piece of paper and I didn't remember putting my notes this is awesome is I really want to address this? So to clarify the concept that I believe liquid schwartz is discussing is that a lot of people will get into the idea of that you should cut a frequency where you boost on another one, so if I'm boosting on the guitar at three point three killers, they this idea is that maybe that on the weed guitar of the base or somewhere else you then pulled down three point three killers I think this is a wonderful concept in theory, um, but I don't actually agree with it at all, so the one thing we have to remember is that program material is always different everything that's coming at you isn't like this like math fear um so let's say that is the case you pull up three point three kilohertz on guitar and then you're like I my based on my lead guitar, my vocal has to have three point three towards come down, but what if all of them are sounding good and one of some of them are even deficient at three point three kilohertz already you never know what you're getting, so I don't like this rule because aa lot of the time, you know, my vocal could use three point three kilohertz mohr to I mean there's so many songs where almost every instrument could use mohr six k and then the vocal could use less there's no like rule, and I don't think that that's a good idea. Now in the next two segments after this, we're going to get into a lot of what I do do instead, which is that often times when I'm trying to do is when I hear that the mix is too cluttered, I'm going to go in, I'm just going to find different frequencies that should get diminished. I go in and find my least favorite frequency on, you know if I hear that the song is cluttered and I'm like the synthesizers air really cluttered the guitars really cluttered I'm going to find on every one of those guitar parts one frequency to cut and get rid of if there's they're still cluttered, I'm going didn't find two frequencies airman a wide in my cues on my cues, so I'm getting rid of more of it but the idea that just because you boosted on one you need to come on the other you never know if that boost was just what this song needed for possess that rule I really, really find to be a philosophy that really contradicts the reality of each situation, which is that just some songs justcause you added more three point three the song could have just needed more three point three on those guitars it doesn't mean that there's now too much three point three in the song so I absolutely think that theory is a great thought and it's one of those ones that, like we talked about a lot of this that not all the time you're going to need these theory theories, but that's a recipe toe have in your head that sure, maybe now that if my mix is really dead because I boosted three point three, is there a place I can cut three point three? But it doesn't mean you have to do it's, not a rule it's ah idea you can keep in your head for when you need it and you're in a really, really dense mix. I did a band about two years ago, uh called thank you scientists and, you know, there's, numerous guitar tracks, a violent and horn section and a full rock bed and yeah, almost at all points there's songs were way too did so every tonight added, something are turned up something I also would have to turn it down and that's, that idea is great, but it's not a rule. So the next thing I have is I have an example of what we went through, like how you automate levels and bring out next ten things, but what? We didn't talk about automating plug ins, so as we know there's times where you want to do that cool special effect of the bridge I'm back tio patterns and waves song, moment of panic, you could find them at patterns and weii dot com if you want to check out the song and you like the way it sounds. So what I'm going to show here is in this song I decided this bridge needed like a something a little special, so let's take a listen to, like into the first into the course, so you could hear the vocal sound is one thing these air my verse vocals if we're on the pro tools screen and then this is the course will call and I decide to automate the bridge vocal, which comes up after this, so take a check, check it out so as you could hear when we got to the bridge, I was like, you know, this needed something to spice it up, so what I was doing here is on most of the vocals, you know, the vocals are pretty heavily affected obviously as it is that years that ah, you know, a lot of reverb allotted away but then when I got to this part I really felt like I needed to take it up a notch but obviously that's a little bit much for the main part of the song. So how did I do this? So what? I went over yesterday and we actually got a great tip from james murphy that I now forgot the key command for but there's a extra key command I'm gonna research for the next segment that we got a tip on how to do this even faster who is in the chat room and messaged me afterwards. But so the first thing you could see is I automated this mix on this phaser so as you saw yesterday, if I had thes three keys, I could easily do that and I can then go this mix and turn it up so that way the phasers not on when we're in this course, but that it is when we're in the bridge s so I did that on this. I also did that for the mix on this crystallize er which is right here through eyes crystallizes set to a kind of course setting that I felt needed in addition to this phaser and what I also did to get even crazier is if you're listening in stereo at home is I panned it around the stereo spectrum, so the vocals usually in the center, but then I sent it so it goes from left to right though anchoring it down is there some backup vocals so it stays a little center but totally so that it doesn't get lost on systems of somebody's got one left speaker on one side of the room and rights become the other there in their kitchen, with one speaker there's still a mano element to it, so this could be really helpful for saving plug in power, all that fun stuff. Instead, I had to put this on another track and use all these tracks that I have on the vocals a second time, so I want to make sure that you guys see how to do that there's tons of times you could do this there's tons of times that I'll make you a vocal and automate the high pass filter different points in the song to thin out the vocal you can eek you for days if you want to get rid of d s ng manually, you could go do an e q like this like this six kilohertz eat you if you're just not getting the s is out with a d s sir, you can go in you can then, once that's automated, you could draw every s by doing something like this on the s is, if that was your bad ass there's tons and tons of stuff you can do. If you automate the's plug ins, anything could be automated, approachable. So life can get really easy like that.

Class Description

While it’s easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest gear, plugins, and flashy tricks, the real key to a great mix is mastering the fundamentals. In this online class, veteran producer/engineer/mixer Jesse Cannon (The Cure, Animal Collective, Senses Fail) shows you all the essentials of mixing rock and electronic music.

In this 3-day class, you’ll learn how to set up a session the RIGHT way — including routing, gain structure, listening techniques, and other best practices. He’ll show you how to mix vocals, bass, drums, guitars, and synths. You’ll also learn how to use compression, reverb and EQ to make your mix come together, while achieving the punch and separation that takes it from good to great. The class is taught with Pro Tools, but the concepts easily translate to any DAW.

Whether you’re new to mixing, or are a seasoned pro looking for a refresher on the basics, this class will teach you how to seamlessly merge individual sounds into polished, cohesive tracks.