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  • Creating a powerful magic spell sound effect

    Following Randy Thom's instructions. Hey there,I’d like to talk to you about 2 things - Power and magic in films and video games. I came across an interesting question in the sound design group on FB: So what’s interesting here is that Randy Thom replied. Randy Thom is the director of Sound design at Skywalker Sound. Skywalker Sound is one of the leading audio post production studios in the world. Randy thom has started his career working on ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’, which is pretty amazing, and later worked on blockbusters like ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’, ‘Cast Away’, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, and lots of other hollywood movies we’ve all seen. So, you can be sure he really knows what he is talking about. I’m not a millennial, and I didn’t reach my 30’s either, but I really think it is mind blowing that you can just post a question and someone at the level of Randy Thom replies and gives you advice on how you can improve your work. So let’s read his answer: So what we are going to do is to try and create a sound of a powerful magic spell, following Randy’s instructions. The first thing would be to create the sound of a big transformer hum. I started by recording my guitar amp, and just by touching the PL plug with my finger, it gave me this nice buzz sound that I can use as a basic layer for my transformer hum sound. I used an Orange amp and a Rode Ntg4+ mic, but you can really use any amp and mic you want. Then I duplicated the sound, and by layering it and changing the layers Eq , and adding Distortion, and Reverb, I managed to have a more full and rich sound. It was quite good but I was missing the sound of electricity sparkles, like a big transformer would have (I guess). So I used Massive for that. But this still wasn’t electrical enough. So I researched online and found that you can also make the sound of electricity with a duct tape. I didn’t really know what to do with it so I started using tools that I would usually use to make a sound more electrical like ‘Voice Designer’ and ‘Distroyer’, Which are Nuendo Plugins. Then, I used a high pass filter and a very high notch to make the highs stand out. This is the result: Now, it sounds like a nice electrical hum. When Randy talked about power, he mentioned Thunder rumble, to add a feeling of power in the sound. I could just go into my soundly application, write “Thunder” and just drag it into my session but I wanted something original I didn’t want to waste precious time trying to create a thunder rumble sound from scratch or waiting for the next thunderstorm to record it, so I just tried to use what I’ve just recorded to create a low rumble sound. I took the duct tape recording, changed its algorithm, and stretched it drastically. And that was it. I had a nice low rumble that I can use as an additional layer. Let’s continue to the next part, the magical sound. Randy suggested using a glass wind chime sound. I searched online for this and I wasn’t really able to find this specific item easily and quickly, so I decided to use synthesis instead. Nuendo and cubase have this amazing media searching tool where you can just write a term and it will give you all the relevant presets of different instruments and samples that are related to your search tags. So I searched for wind bells and found two presets that was quite good for a magical sound layer: There was still something missing. I needed that power filling that an Impact could give me. So I went to my library of impact sounds that I created for (Link in the description), and added 2 impacts sounds. Check out my Impact Library at With those two additional layers, it suddenly had the right feel, the sound I wanted all along. So let’s play all the layers together: Conclusion: Using your imagination is always useful when trying to create a new sound from scratch. Try using regular items and tools that you have around the house, record them and test different plugins you've never used before. Using DAW plugins can be an excellent way of getting familiar with new plugin effects you've never used before. remember, you don't need expensive high end equipment to create some really cool and interesting sounds. You just need a basic equipment (I used my Rode NTG4+, which costs around 370$), imagination, and lots of trial and error till you get the right sound.

  • Quick audio noise removal guide for video editors

    Our industry is a psychotic technology marathon where video editors must be multidisciplinary and know how to do far beyond their primary occupation. Clients today often expect video editors to have basic sound editing skills in a world where everyone has a simple microphone in their pocket and hundreds of cheap recording devices available for purchase online; you will often need to use technology to reduce recording noise and enhance poorly recorded dialogue. Luckily, there are quite a few tools on the market that can help you improve the sound of the project you're working on. How does It work? In general, noise reduction tools work in such a way that they "learn" the noise: at this stage, you should select a piece of audio without dialogue, just background noise, so that the algorithm can sample it. Then start playing with the parameters while listening carefully - the more noise you reduce, the more the dialogue will be affected accordingly. Be careful not to exaggerate! If you get to the point where the noise is completely removed, your dialogue will likely sound dull and strange. Because the human ear is very sensitive to the human voice, noise reduction is about finding the delicate balance between removing the noise and maintaining a clear and natural dialogue. Tip - always do A/B testing: once you finish cleaning the noise, switch between the original sound and the processed sound a few times to maintain perspective. I always prefer a bright-noisy dialogue to a muffled-quiet one. Premier Premier has a nice in-the-box set of tools for audio repairing. Make sure your clip is selected, go to the ‘Audio’ tab, and choose ‘Dialogue’ under ‘Essential Sound’ (right side of your screen). You can find a deep explanation about this in the manual and also here. We will focus on the ‘Repair’ and ‘Clarity’ tabs: Repair Reduce noise - Obviously, this determines how much noise will be reduced. Keep the dialogue's clarity in mind! Reduce Rumble - Can help you get rid of low-frequency rumbles (from a distant train or low wind noise, for example). DeHum -Reduce noises from electrical interference of a single frequency in the 50-60Hz range. DeEss - Very helpful! Cheap recording gear can sometimes produce a high frequency, very annoying noise called ‘Ess,’ which is an excessive prominence of sibilant consonants. Reduce Reverb - Use it when dealing with dialogue recorded in a big hall or an empty room, where the echo is noticeable and exaggerated. Clarity Dynamics - This is a compressor. It will enhance the overall level of the clip. You can use it if the volume level is too low. Keep in mind that a compressor function is to reduce the dynamic range, meaning that it will probably increase the noise level compared to the speech (That’s why you should record at a ‘healthy’ level - not too low, not too high). EQ - To increase the dialogue's clearance, choose ‘Vocal Presence’ from the dropdown menu and start increasing it. Don’t over-process it, or it will sound small and thin. Enhance Speech - You can choose the type of voice (Male or Female), and the algorithm will enhance the correct frequencies. Audition If you have Audition installed, you can use its advanced Noise Reduction tool to reduce background noises. We mentioned the need to "sample" the noise so the algorithm will know what exactly to reduce: Left-click on the audio clip and click ‘Edit clip in adobe Audition.’ Once Audition opens, select a part with no dialogue in it. Go to ‘Effects>Noise Reduction/Restoration>Capture Noise Print’ (Shortcut: Shift + P). Now, click anywhere on the timeline, then go back up to  ‘Effects>NoiseReduction/Restoration, and hit Noise Reduction(process)’ (Shortcut: Shift + Command/Control + P). The Noise reduction effect will open up. Start playing with the ‘Noise reduction’ and ‘Reduce by’ parameters and listen to the sound changes. Be careful not to over-process it! Once you think the sound is good enough, click ‘Apply’ and then press Command+S to bring the clip back to the Premiere timeline. Advanced options: I won’t go into an in-depth and detailed explanation about this here, but you could achieve a better result by exploring two things: 1) The ‘Advanced’ tab (in the Noise Reduction effect window) 2) Clicking on the ‘Spectral Frequencies Display’ (Shift+D) will open a display where you can select different parts of the sound, repair and eliminate noisy elements if necessary. Audacity You’ll first need to have Audacity installed on your computer. You can download it for free from here. Once installed and opened, import your clip into Audacity. Then, find a part in the clip that doesn’t feature any dialogue and select it, where you can hear only the background noise. The algorithm will learn the noise pattern and then know what frequencies to decrease in your audio clip. Go to Effect >> Noise Reduction... Click on “Get Noise Profile”: Click Command (Control for PC users) + 'A' to select the whole clip, and re-open ‘Noise Reduction. First click ‘Preview’ with the given parameters. ‘Preview’ will play the audio file with the noise reduction effect but won’t apply it yet. Listen to it, and decide what to do next. If there is still a significant amount of noise, start tweaking the parameters under Step 2. My suggestion is to change ‘Noise reduction (dB)’  - this number signifies the amount of reduction that will take effect, and ‘Sensitivity’ - Controls how much of the audio will be considered noise. Once you’re satisfied, click ‘OK,’ and the noise reduction effect will be applied to your audio file. Finally, export the file to your computer (File>Export>Export as WAV/Mp3). Mask the noisy audio with music Sometimes, the only way to reduce the damage is to mask the audio issues with a background track from music libraries like Premium Beat, Artlist, Audio-Jungle, etc. Try to do as much as you can with the noise reduction tools available to you, and then add a background track. Use volume automation to make the dialogue stand out when needed, and most importantly - Use your ears! You can even get more creative and try to use sound effects to mask specific noises. For example, if you have to deal with dialogue from a busy street, and suddenly someone is shouting in the background, you can add a honk sample to mask the shout. Find tones of free professional sound effects here. Hire a sound editor Sometimes you’ll find out that it is not that easy to remove noise without destroying the dialogue. If you have the budget, it’s worth outsourcing the work to a professional sound editor who can make a chirurgical removal of all the little sounds that make the dialogue noisy and use the advanced tools that are available for sound editors, like Izotope RX, for example. We sound editors also use EQ, Compression, and volume automation with advanced accuracy that allows us to be extremely precise when cleaning and editing dialogue. Contact us for more information. Buy an advanced noise reduction plugin. If you can invest some money and use more advanced tools, there are easy-to-use plugins for premiere pro like SoundSoap 5 and Accusonus ERA that can make your life easier.

  • [Video Content] 4 ways to make your mixes sound better

    I was asked to work on an interesting project that required a lot of sound design and Foley work, so i couldn't help myself from screen recording the entire workflow, and sharing my views and ideas. Here are a few tips that will enhance realism and speed up the workflow in your post production sound design and mixing: 1) Use reverb for bigger, majestic and god-like VO Depending on the style of the video and voice over, sometimes you'll need to make it sound HUGE, like god is speaking from the heavens. I used Valhalla room reverb to achieve that sound: 2) Use playlists for foley recordings: When doing Foley recordings you'll want to use Playlist Comping Features - a relatively new Pro Tools feature that allows you to easily record, choose best takes and edit them. Use those shortcuts to speed up your workflow: Step through Playlists - Shift+Up/Down Arrow Show Target Playlist - Shift+Right Arrow Toggle current/previous playlist - Shift+Left Arrow Copy to Target Playlist - Option+Shift+Up Arrow or Control/Start+Option/Alt+V Move to Target Playlist - Option/Alt+Shift+T 3) Telephone Effect Combine Drive and Eq in your process to receive a more realistic phone effect when dealing with phone conversations: 4) Layering Use lots of layers to create realistic and powerful sounds that will bring the picture to life: Watch the full session:

  • Creating your first FREE sound effects library

    Disclaimer: All sounds, free of charge or otherwise, are currently held under different licensing agreements. Be sure to check the full legal document for each library before downloading it. Licenses for each library must be suitable for individual productions and broadcast magnitudes. The author of this article is in no way responsible for any legal violations that may occur due to incorrect usage of the sounds available in this article. Who is this article for? Video editors - Searching to spice up their videos. YouTubers - Who wants to take their videos to the next level by adding sound effects Sound Designers - Searching for free ways to diversify the sound libraries. Free sounds websites: You should probably first check out these 3 links: These websites provide a wide range of royalty-free sound effects. These are completely free, so the chances are that some of them are low quality or noisy, but if you search well enough, you'll probably find the sounds you need. YouTube: Another great place to download free sound effects is directly from youtube. This is a designated page where you can search, rate, and download sound effects to use in your videos: BBC This library contains 16,000 sound effects and field recordings from the BBC archive. You can find there all kinds of sounds: Animals, ambiances, foley recordings, etc. *They were released under the RemArc license so that they can be used only for “personal, educational or research purposes.” If you need them for commercial use, you can buy them from Epic Sound Effect Epic Sound Effects have created a whole free section with really great sound. Check out this link. Sounds Crate is awesome. They provide a vast pool of sound effects. By registering for the free plan, you can download up to 5 sound effects per day - for free. PremiumBeat is a royalty-free music stock. It has an interesting blog that, among other things, provides sound effect freebies. You can find there SCI-FI UI sounds, footsteps, and other useful sounds: SoundSnap There are some free sounds in the Soundsnap Blog. “These free sound packs rotate every couple months,” according to the Soundsnap management. Boom Library is a professional royalty-free sound effects stock and gets mentioned a lot by pros. These sample packs are not free, but they do have 2 free sample packs. Also, by joining the newsletter, you can benefit from “Monthly FREE SOUNDS delivered directly to your inbox (commercial use allowed).” Accusonus Accusonus gives you great impact sounds for free! free impacts link A Sound Effect You can register to the 'A Sound Effect' Newsletter and get free sounds with every issue. Soundmorph Over 1GB of robotic sounds, UI (User Interface) sounds, and more! Sound Bits provides all kinds of professional sample packs, and they also have an interesting blog regarding sound design. They also have a few sample packs that you can download for free from their website. 344 Audio By Subscribing to you get 1.2 GB of free sound effects! Soundofessen At you'll find tones of high-quality recordings of ambiances from Europe! Articulated Sounds is an ever-growing great source of sound effects packs, and they also provide 3 free sound packs. In FREESFX You can Find up to 500K completely free sound effects. All you have to do is sign up, search, choose, and download! NASA Nasa, apparently, "... has been making historic sounds for over 50 years”, and these sounds are now open for public use: Record sounds yourself! You don’t need a huge foley stage to record sounds. These days, you can buy relatively cheap handy recorders like the Zoom H1 and go out there and record what you need. It might be time-consuming, but it’s fun! And once you buy your recorder, the sounds are free, authentic and they are YOURS! Conclusion As you can see, most of the royalty sound effects stocks provide a few samples or even whole sample packs for free. If you still didn't find what you're looking for and want to try all the free possibilities, I suggest you search over the net for other companies that create sound effects packs and check if they have a "Free" section. Another way would be to get in touch with freelancers who record Foley, ambiance, and sound effects and try to make a barter deal. GOOD LUCK!

  • 7 steps to get your first 10 customers as a freelancer

    1. Define your ideal customer Today, sound is needed in various industries. In order to define your ideal customer, you first have to define the ideal industry for you to be part of. Is it gaming? Advertising? Cinema? TV? Be Specific! If you want to work in the advertising world for example, your ideal customer could be “a company that creates animated, web broadcasted videos for high tech companies, with 2-8 employees. They should be located in ______”. OR “my ideal customer is a mobile gaming company that has an animation department and created its own content”. 2. Know your industry Once you are focused on one industry, you should make sure you're informed and aware of the different jobs and titles in it. This will allow you to know who are the main key factors to address to when offering your services, who makes the decisions regarding the employment of freelancers. If you work with production companies for example, chances are that the producer will be the one to talk to when trying to get that gig. Second, you should know which are the main players in your industry; Who are the best freelancers that do what you do? Who are your direct competitors? What are the biggest companies in your area? 3. Build a portfolio Now that you know who to address to and that you acquired some knowledge about the titles and roles in the companies that are potential customers of yours, you have to be able to show them what you can do for them. A website is the best way to do that. A good looking, simple and clean website can make the decision makers choose you instead of the next sound expert. The idea is that you put your greatest works in your website, and  just send the link by mail. Update your website every time you finish a new interesting project. Your website should be industry oriented. This means that if you want to reach out to TV show producers, don’t send them a website full of mobile games that you’ve worked on - They just don’t care. And no, the fact that you are an excellent sound designer for video games, doesn’t mean you can mix a TV show. If they hire you, it’s because they are 100% sure you have the knowledge and experience in their specific area. TIP - Use site builders like or to build your first website. It’s easy and cheap. 4. Know your rates You are one step before starting engaging your customers! Once they see your website, they’ll probably start asking about your rates. To know your rates you’ll have to know first what are the entry level rates, Union rates in your country and top specialists rates. To know the different rates you can simply ask. There are plenty of Facebook groups where you can ask for the standard rates in different industries. The next step is to place yourself somewhere in that spectrum depending on your experience, tools available and location. If you’re a total beginner and only have some experience as an intern for example, you should start with entry level rates. If you have some/lots of experience as an employee but never worked as a freelancer before, you could search for the the Union rates, if you have one in your country, and start by charging 60-80% of those rates. In either case, you should make a research by asking people from your industry. Don’t forget to start raising your rates as soon as you start working with more clients. 5. Sales: Build a customer database and start making calls Well, this is the hardcore part you never thought you’d have to deal with when you finished sound school. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. You either love it or hate it, but if you want to thrive in the jungle, you’ll have to love the hustle, and do it with passion. Start by building a database of the companies that could be potential customers. Use a simple Google Sheets page to start with. It should look like that: Then, you can start making calls and introduce yourself. It doesn’t have to be long. Keep it simple: “Hi, I’m dan, how are you? I’m a sound editor for TV shows, I worked with ___ and ____. I saw some of your great projects on your website and I’ll be happy to work with you.” Then they will probably ask you to send them an email with your details. That’s where you drop the bomb - your awesome website! Do this 30 -60 times a day, and you’ll probably start having some of them calling you back and start working with you in no time. TIP - Have some kind of speech ready that helps you convey important information like what you do and who you’ve worked with in a few short sentences. Chances are that most of the people you’ll speak with won’t have more than 3 minutes to spend with you. TIP 2 - Don’t be shy! Your 10-20 first calls will probably be a total disaster. But, you’ll improve over time, refining your speech and carisma over the phone, and slowly build confidence. After a few days making calls, you’ll make the wolf of wall street look like a call center grandma. 6. Follow up Chances are, most of the companies you’ll call and send emails to, will forget about you right after. That’s why you have to remind them! The best way to do that without coming across as annoying, is by a follow Up routine. Following up means that when you finished your first engagement with a potential customer, you can set a reminder (to yourself) to send them another mail 3 months later, informing them about new cool project that you were part of. You can also call them again every 6 months. This will probably make you stick in their heads. Some of them will even appreciate the effort and devoutness. In any case, Follow Up routines work like magic. You can get new customers without searching for them. You’ve already initiated first engagement, so you just have to remind them of your existence every now and then. 7. Last tip - Be professional Always provide on time - Your word is everything. If the deadline is 4pm, you better make sure the mix is already in the client’s mailbox by 3pm. Be available - If you’re planning on working 9AM to 5PM - Forget about being a freelancer. Your customers want you available every minute of your waking hours. Keep your head down -The customer’s always right. If they want you to change that awesome sound effect you’ve created, to this shitty sound downloaded from YouTube - Do it! with pleasure. Be nice - Always sound like you’re happy to hear and talk to your customers, and always be willing to help (as long you’re not being exploited). Don’t wait too much to answer text messages and mail - people are impatient. Always raise rates - Don’t be afraid to raise your rates every now and then. Your customers will respect you for doing that, and those who don’t - you’re better off without them.

  • Synthesize that Whoosh to the max!

    As Frank Serafine, one of top hollywood sound engineers used to say when working on the sound of Star Trek : “I learned how to manipulate those synthesizers to the max!” (Source). I’ve created a preset in Native Instruments’ Massive, that generates the famous windy ‘airplane passing’ whoosh that is so often being used in commercials and promos. This articles will lead you step by step through the relevant Massive controls, in order to reproduce it. The intensity and length of the sound is controlled with the modulation wheel, that way you can actually look at the video on your project while moving the mod wheel, following the movement of the transition. Synthesizers are awesome! Synthesizers give us the flexibility and freedom to create those crazy sounds, that just doesn’t exist when working with sample libraries. There’s a limit to how much you can stretch your audio sample and change its pitch before it completely loses its natural texture. That’s why it’s important for us, sound designers, to understand the world of synthesis and try to get our own special sound. There are also other advantages to using synths in your sound design work: You don’t have to search for it in a library and pull it into your session, and then edit it. You just Record-Enable the track and play it as you go, using the keyboard to generate the sound, and the modulation wheel to control its intensity and texture. It should sound and look like that: I’ll go through every step in the process so you can mimic the controls’ positions and achieve the exact same sound. Fresh start First of all, open an instrument track with Massive. Then, go to the File menu, and click ‘New Sound’. It will reset all parameters: Next, turn off OSC 1. We won’t be needing it: Now let’s focus on the part that actually generate the sound - The noise section. The Idea is that you can adapt the ‘whoosh’ sound to the visual movement using the mod wheel. Let’s assign the mod wheel to one of the Macro Controls. Just right-click on one of them, and choose ‘Midi Learn’. Move the mod wheel and make sure you see the Macro moving accordingly. The mod wheel will control all the parameters that needs to change in order to produce the sound. Drag the Macro Control to the modulation slots (the small rectangles below the knobs) in each section: Noise ,Filter 1 and FX 1, as is shown in the image below: Having made these assignments, let’s go section by section and change the controls and Macro Control ranges (the yellow rings surrounding the knobs are representing the range of influence of the Macro Control over the control. Click and drag up/down the modulation slots under the controls to change the range). Make sure that your controls look the same as in the images: Change the type of Filter 1 to ‘Lowpass 2’: Choose ‘Flanger - ‘ in the FX 1 section: That’s it! Now you can go through these last few steps to enhance the presence of the sound in the mix: Add some reverb in the FX 2 section, or send it from the instrument track (to an FX track/aux in your DAW). Try adding some compression in your channels inserts. Insert an EQ plugin and add mid-low range frequencies to give a little more thickness to it.

  • Nuendo: Speed up your dialogue editing with 2 macros

    The audio post production work, and especially dialogue editing, is mostly about searching for the right automation values for whole events and scenes. Editing Dialogue - Long Story Short When editing dialogue, I always use the Preview mode in the automation panel. Ones I’ve made all the manual editing for a specific part, I select all the dialogue events I want to clean and clarify in that part, and set the locators it. Then, I activate Cycle mode and play it to hear the dialogue. Finally, I start tweaking the different plugins in the inserts: EQ, De-Noiser, De-Esser etc. When i feel that i’ve reach the desirable result for that part, and the dialogue is clear and clean, it’s time to apply the changes i’ve made in preview mode to the entire area between the locators. I activate Loop mode in the automation panel, to make sure that the changes will be applied between the locators. Then I click ‘Punch’ to apply the new values. At this point i’m done with that part, and I deactivate Write Enable and Cycle mode to continue Working. I need to do this each time I want to edit a specific part with the same values.Therefore, I’ve created two macro controls that I use every time I need to search for the right automations values for a whole section in the dialogue: First macro -  Its’ purpose is to activate, in one touch, all the modes you need in order to start tweaking the plugins’ parameters and find the right set of values for a selected area: Set the locators to the events you selects Write enable the selected track Activate Preview mode in the automation panel Activate Loop mode in the automation panel Activate Cycle mode Now, after activating the first macro, is the time to make the changes in EQ, De-Noiser etc, to reach the right balance. Ones you’re done, it’s time to activate the second macro: Second macro - The second one punches the new values to the area between the locators, and  deactivates ‘Cycle’ and ‘Write Enable’. The automation panel modes ‘Preview’ and ‘loop’ are deactivated automatically ones the playback stops (press the spacebar after you’re done). Below is a list of commands that put together the two macros needed for those actions. For this to work properly, the relevant events must be selected , and the modes ‘Write Enable’, ‘Cycle’, ‘Loop’ and ‘Preview’ must be deactivated - make sure that  ‘Loop’ and ‘Preview’ modes are not locked (automation panel). Search for the bold phrases below in the key command window when creating the macro controls. Macro #1 - Write Preview: Transport - Locators to selection Automation - Write automation for selected track On/Off Automation - Preview mode Automation - Fill loop Transport - Cycle Macro #2 - Undo Write Preview: Automation - Punch preview Automation - Write automation for selected track On/Off Transport - Cycle The following video illustrates the use of the two macros:

  • Cubase & Nuendo: The Automation Panel

    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” This article is about sharpening your axe. I started using Nuendo after years working on Pro Tools. I found it extremely flexible and very friendly, and at the same time it gave me all the possibilities that are needed in a complex, commercial post-production sound work. When I tried to get my head around the Nuendo automation panel i couldn’t find any deep explanation online about it. Even the Manual was poorly phrased and difficult to understand. Therefore, I’ve decided to create this all-in-one guide that will allow sound designer to spend a few hours understanding the automation panel, and SAVE TONS OF HOURS LATER while working on new projects. Who is this article for: Anyone who uses Cubase or Nuendo. This article is written from a post production point of view, but every musician and producer who creates his music with Cubase should read it as well. This will save you a tone of time and energy trying to create your sound. How you should use this article: If you are just interested in understanding a specific option/setting/mode, you can search for it here (Cntrl\Command + F), and you’ll find a clarify, deep explanation. For those of you who want to jump into a deep learning of all the automations modes that Cubase or Nuendo have to offer, I recommend you to open a new project, insert a track that you love, open the automation panel (F6), and try for yourself every mode, option and setting that will be discussed. The Automation Panel: The Automation Panel is a wonderful tool that allows you to have maximum flexibility and possibilities regarding automations writing. As every sound designer/editor who’s already involved in the post production industry knows, the options that are given regarding automations, have a huge impact on the workflow speed and ease. I’ll start with the modes and settings that that are in both Cubase and Nuendo. Then, I’ll move on to the Nuendo only options. First of all, let’s define a few terms: Punch in - Start writing - You punch in when you are in Write mode and you start moving faders (by clicking on the virtual mixer or by touching a controller), knobs, plugins’ buttons and anything that can be automated. Punch out - Stop writing - releasing the controllers/virtual mixer fader, stopping the playback. Fader - In this article I will be talking about touching, moving, changing or releasing “the fader” - but I really mean any button/knob/parameter, real or virtual, that can be automated. Automation Pass - An automation pass is created when you write an automation, from the moment you start writing till the moment you stop, ether by stopping the playback, or simply by releasing the mouse or controller. Cubase & Nuendo automation modes Fill - The modes in this column are all about filling an entire area with a fixed value. To Punch - In this mode you punch-in when you touch the fader, and you punch out when you release it. It allows you to search for the right value without saving the values written while moving the fader. Ones you found the right value, it is set from the point of punch-in, to where you punched out. The curve that was written in this area will be deleted. To Start - When you activate ‘To Start’, it will apply the last value written before stopping the playback, from the punch-out point to the start of the project. To End - Same as ‘to start’, only that the last value that was written will be applied from the point of ‘punch out’ - to the end of the project Loop - This mode is very handy! I use it all the time. It affects the area between the two locators. You first need to set the locators where you want the automation chang to happen. Then, you can start changing the fader till you find the right value, and when you release the fader, the last value that was changed is now set to the entire area between the two locators. TIP - when using Loop Mode, make sure to be in Cycle Mode as well (‘/’ key). Gaps - This mode is relevant when ‘Use virgin territory’ is enabled (in the settings). We will elaborate on this later in this article, but basically when ‘Use virgin territory’ is enabled, there will be areas in the automation lane that won’t have any curve whatsoever, unless we actually write one. When you activate Gaps, it fills these empty areas with the first next value that exists after the gap. Suspend Read - when you activate one of these boxes, the program will ignore all the equivalent automation-channels on all tracks, and will play them with their current values, relative to the position of the cursor. It means that you can tell the program to stop reading specific automations and, if necessary, change these automations ‘temporarily’ without the need to change the current written values. Suspend write - Same as Suspend Read, but will ignore Write enable. Show - Very handy! When you click on one of the boxes under the Show column, the equivalent automation channel will appear under all the tracks. If you want to see only automations that have actually been changed, you can click on ‘used only’, and then click again on the boxes with the automations that you want to see. TIP - You can search for “Show used automations (selected track)” and “Hide automation” in the ‘Key Commands’ window (File >> Key Commands) and assign them to shortcuts of your choice. That way you can just type your shortcut and all the written automations will appear (for the selected track). Once you’re done editing, you just type the second shortcut and the automations are hidden. In the Upper area you have : R R W W - ‘Activate \ Deactivate read and write for all tracks’ - It basically speaks for itself. My recommendation is to NEVER use them. Why is that? If you have 50 tracks, and some of them are read enable and others aren’t, by clicking on one of the ‘R’ buttons, it will make all of them read enable or not read enable, and then you will have no way of undoing it, besides going to every one of the tracks and changing it manually. Cntrl/command Z won’t reverse this. The only one of those options that can come handy is the last one - “Deactivate write for all tracks” - that way, even if you’re just done writing, you just click ‘W’ and you can be sure to not write something by accident later. TIP - If you want to use ‘Deactivate write for all tracks’, but you also want to avoid the fatal mistake of clicking on ‘Activate \ Deactivate read for all tracks’, you can turn the ‘Deactivate write for all tracks’ action into key command.That way, you won’t even have to click in that area. Just go to the key command window, search for ‘Deactivate write for all tracks’ and assign to it a shortcut of your choice. Now we’ll talk about the automation modes. They basically determine what happens while writing. Touch - In this mode, automation data is written for as long as you hold the fader. It will punch-out as soon as you release it. Auto Latch - When you release the control, it will continue to write the last value till you stop the playback. Crossover - This one is a little tricky. It’s purpose is to write over an already written section, while being able to come back to the original curve after you are finished writing (like the Touch mode) but without the necessity of holding the fader down in order to keep writing (like in Latch mode). Punch-in strats when you touch the fader for first time. Punch-out happen after you touched it for the 2nd time AND crossed over an existing automation curve. That way, the program know your done editing a specific part. I myself never use it, and i recommend to work in touch or latch mode. Trim - It is similar to a VCA fader, but for automation curves. If you have written an automation pass, and you find out that the whole part is too low relatively to the other channels, then you can use Trim to change all the values together. This way you will not affect the relative changes inside this specific automation curve. The colored area represents the summed value that will be read while playback is running. Settings: If you click on the little gear sign (bottom left), the settings window pops up. There are two settings that are for Nuendo only. We will discuss them later in this article. For now let’s talk only about the options that are in both programs: Show data on tracks - If you enable it, you will be able to see the waveforms on the automation tracks. It can make the work more precise, but it also makes the project much more loaded visually, and it also consumes more resources from your computer. In my opinion it’s a little to much. Use virgin territory - When you enable it, as default, no automation curve is displayed on the automation track, and you find automation data only where you have actually written an automation pass. The empty spaces are called ‘Gaps’ and you can fill them by clicking the ‘Fill gaps on selected track’ function (under Function menu), or with the ‘Gaps’ mode we discussed about earlier, in the Fill column. Continue Writing - If you’re in cycle mode, and you are in the middle of writing an automation pass, this setting will determine what happens ones the cursor reaches the end of the range (the right locator) and comes back to the beginning of the cycle (right locator). If it’s activated, you will be able to keep writing as long as you don’t release the mouse/controller. If it’s deactivated, you won’t be able to continue writing ones the cursor reaches the cycle end, and you’ll have to release the mouse button and click it again. *It works in the same way for when the arranger tool is activated and edited in a way that makes the cursor jumps between different areas throughout the project. Reveal Parameter on Write - This one is very useful. As soon as you start writing an automation, the relevant automation track will appear automatically. Return time -Determines how fast the fader will return to its’ original value after you release it. If you’re in Touch mode, and you’ve just released the fader after writing an automation pass, you’ll see the curve slides back to the original value. The ‘Return Time’ determines the length of the slop: Reduction level -If you find that there are too much breaking points in your writing (like in the previous picture for example), you can click on “Reduce automation events’ in the function menu (click on the Function button in the upper right corner). The number next to the ‘Reduction Level’ setting represents how many points will be removed, in percentage. Spike detection range - Sometimes, when you write automations, spikes will be created along the curve. That’s a big no-no for us sound adicts because it might cause for clicks and crackles. Therefore, Steinberg have created a function that you can access in the Function menu - ‘Delete automation spikes’. The number in the ‘Spike detection range’ box determines what is considered a spike. What do I mean by that? A spike is actually a triangle with 2 base points on the automation line: The number next to ‘Spike detection range’  represents, in milliseconds, the length between the 2 base points of the spike. That way the program knows how much pointed the triangle has to be in order to recognize it as a spike, and remove the top point - eliminating the spike. Freeze trim -This regardes the Trim mode. Ones you activated Trim and you made your changes, it is possible to “commit” to these changes, and apply them to the original automation curve. This is called the ‘Freeze’ action. By doing that, the Trim line will go back to zero. You have 3 ways of freezing Trim mode: ‘Manually’, which means you have to go to the Function menu and choose ‘Freeze all trim automation in project’ or ‘ selected track’. ‘On pass end’, meaning that when you are writing in Trim mode, the freeze action will happen automatically ones you punch-out. ‘On leaving trim mode’ - when you deactivate the Trim mode (by clicking on it again), it will freeze. Nuendo exclusive automation modes and options: Still here? Great! That probably means that you took it to the next level and purchased Nuendo to have a much easier, professional post-production workflow. From now on all the options and function that we are going to discuss will be for Nuendo users only. Join: The Join column exists to help us continue writing the same values after punch-out (works in Auto-Latch or Cross-Over mode only): Join Now - Allows you to resume the last automation values that have been changed before you punched-out. If you just finished writing an automation pass, and you want to continue with the same values elsewhere, Just click it while the playback is running anywhere you want on the timeline, and the values will change accordingly. Auto join - when clicked, it will automatically continue writing the last automations that were changed, from the point you punched-out. Why do you need that? Well, let’s say that you started changing automations manually, and for some reason you stopped the playback. Now you want to continue from the point you stopped, with the same values. You can do that by clicking on the ‘Auto Join’ button. Then, position the cursor before the point you stopped (the timecode ‘Auto Join Time’ tells you where that is) and the values will continue to write automatically from the same exact point. Now you can just keep changing the values as you see fit. ‘Auto Join Time’ - This time-code indicates the last point on the timeline where you punched-out. It is handy if you want to know exactly at which position the ‘Auto join’ will take effect. It also tells you the point where the last values were saved for the ‘Join Now’ mode. Preview - Let’s move on and talk about the preview mode. For me, this is the most important part of the automation panel in regards to post production. With the Preview, ‘Suspend’ and ‘Punch’ actions, you’ll be able to change the automations as much as you need, without writing anything, until you are fully satisfied with the result: Preview - Lets you change automations and hear the changes without committing to it. It is actually a test mode, where you can change the automations without writing them. Suspend - Allow you to make AB Testing between the existing automations, and the ones that you changed in preview mode. Punch - After you are satisfied with the changes you made in Preview mode, and you want to write them, you just click Punch, and the automations in the Preview mode will be applied. You can activate different modes in the Fill column to apply these changes to different areas in the project. TIP - ‘Loop’ mode the most useful mode to work with the Preview mode. If you want to make changes in a given area, you can set the locators to it, and activate Loop mode in the automation panel. Click the Preview mode, and start changing the automations till you reach the result you want. At this point, you can A-B test by clicking on Suspend, to hear the difference between the old automations values and the new ones. Finally, you click Punch, and the changes will be applied to the entire area between the locators. I use this option all the time, and I even created a macro control for that. Punch on play - Applies the changes made in the Preview mode from the moment you start the playback to the moment you stop it. Auto Punch - In this mode, Nuendo will write automatically what’s in preview mode, between the locators, while playback in running. To use it, you would have to make changes in preview mode, and and set the locators where you want the changes to happen. Then, put the cursor before the left locator and start the playback . Ones the cursor crosses the left locator it will punch-in automatically, and when it crosses the right locator it will punch-out. Touch Assist - This one is very useful when you need to copy entire groups of plugins automations from one scene to another. When Preview mode is activated, any parameter you touch and change is stored temporarily and can be copied to another area using the Punch button. Touch Assist allows you to catch whole groups of parameters in Preview mode, in one touch. Those groups are: Inserts, EQ parameters and Sends. Let’s say that you finished working on the dialog of a scene that happened in a specific room. You changed the EQ, added a Denoiser and some compression. Later in the video, the same character find himself speaking again in that same room. Now you have to achieve the same sound that you did before. Without the Touch Assist mode, you would have to activate the Preview mode, and touch each and every EQ settings, and every parameter that has been changed in every insert in the first scene, before going to the new scene and punch it there in order to copy it. With Touch Assist, you can touch only one control in each group (Inserts, EQ, Sends), and it will store all of the parameters that have been changed in that group. If you want to catch the entire EQ settings, just touch one of the settings. All of them will be stored in the Preview mode, and will be ready to be punched, and therefore copied, to the new scene. To catch all the insert settings, just touch one of the parameters in one of the plugins. Ones everything is  caught in the preview mode, go to the other area, and punch it there. Don’t forget that Preview mode has to be activated in order to do that. Punch log: The Punch Log column contains the history of the punches you’ve made throughout the project. Let’s say you have changed an automation punched it. This change will be saved as a new box in the Punch Log column. Now you can to apply the same automations to another part of the project. Just set the locators to  the area you want to change, click loop to make sure that the automations are punched to the entire area between the locators. Now click on the punch log you need and load it. You will see the automation change accordingly (in Preview mode). Now you can punch it anywhere you want. You can also add previous punch loges, if I needed , and even load punch logs and punch them one after another in the same area. Settings (Nuendo Only): Use undo branches - Enables automation branches (see section 15 for the full explanation.) Max. punch logs - Determines how much punch logs are saved. Passes: The passes contains the history of the automations you’ve made. To use it, you’ll need to enable ‘use undo branches’ in the settings, and activate the power button, left to the ‘Passes’ button at the top right corner. If you click on the , the ‘Passes’ button, the automation passes window pops up: Each line  represent an action, and you can undo and redo your actions by clicking under and above the lines, or just by pressing Command/Ctrl+Z. Now for the interesting part: The numbered boxes in the right side are the steps you’ve made in each branch. When you first activated Passes there won't be any boxes yet, but ones you start writing, you’ll see that the boxes appear after each punch. If you undo, and write another automation instead, the last box will turn gray, and a new branch will be created instead. Then you’ll be able to switch between different punches, undo and write other automations, without losing any data. Last recommandation: Keep this article in your favorites. You’ll have it as a guide for every time you come across an option that you are not familiar with. #Automation #Nuendo #Cubase

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