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How important is automation these days?
Old 27th May 2006
  #1
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Robert O's Avatar
 

How important is automation these days?

How important is automation on a desk these days?

If you're mixing through the desk into Pro-Tools how big a difference does it make?
Old 27th May 2006
  #2
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Your question isn't very clear. I'd imagine by "mixing INTO pro tools" you mean that pro tools is your source and you're sending the tracks into the desk for mixing/summing. If this is the case you can do your automation in pro tools instead of the desk.

I personally find it very difficult and unintuitive to make moves without a control surface however.

HTH.
Old 27th May 2006
  #3
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Not to mention if your planning to insert dynamics on any channels of your console, your moves in pro tools will tamper with it.
Old 27th May 2006
  #4
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The only things that I use software automation for are are FX sends and plugins etc. Everything else (fader moves/compressors/EQ/Pans) are automated on the console - as soldier777c said, you can't really combine the two as the signal into the compressors on the console will vary, not to mention the extra confusion of keeping the two systems in mind!

I reckon console automation is still important and I prefer to work that way but it really depends on how the studio you work in is set-up.

I see your studio has a Neve 8078 - has that had automation added to it?

Tim.
Old 27th May 2006
  #5
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Robert O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riddler
The only things that I use software automation for are are FX sends and plugins etc. Everything else (fader moves/compressors/EQ/Pans) are automated on the console - as soldier777c said, you can't really combine the two as the signal into the compressors on the console will vary, not to mention the extra confusion of keeping the two systems in mind!

I reckon console automation is still important and I prefer to work that way but it really depends on how the studio you work in is set-up.

I see your studio has a Neve 8078 - has that had automation added to it?

Tim.
The 8078 didn't have automation when it was at CBS Sony in Tokyo but we're considering adding it (hence the question!) The compressor issue seems a big problem with just using Pro-Tools - is there a way round it?
Old 27th May 2006
  #6
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Sure, you can just run the outboard as an i/o insert in pro tools. If this situation were presented to me, I'd get a control surface for pro tools. Use the Neve for tracking (obviously), mix in Pro Tools with the neve as an outboard summing device.

Just my $0.02
Old 27th May 2006
  #7
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Casey's Avatar
 

As Jan said above.

I would just add that the conversion latency on the outboard inserts must be attended to. This will likely have an impact on your workflow.
Old 27th May 2006
  #8
I'd much rather have an analog fader changing the gain than any daw automation.
When I mix using a daw as the recorder, I always use my automation system, I'm also always patching in analog processors. If you've gone to the expense of owning an 8078, get the automation too.
Old 27th May 2006
  #9
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Automation is VERY important, but also risky. By using it in the wrong way it can also make a song unnatural sounding and you can lose a lot of signal. I mostly use automation to consume the sound field most efficiently throughout the whole song. But as I do that I try to do it in a balanced way. For instance if I gain background vocals through automation I typically use automation on some other track in the opposite direction to not lose signal. If I add chorus or reverb on one instrument through automation I remove the same effect from another instrument. To successfully apply automation I do it late time when the song has been balanced. A good mix should be interesting. I usually do automation to make the producer's work shine on the recording. In that way the mix is more interesting to listen to. Since the different parts of a song contain different elements the sound field should be consumed dynamically. This is an important reason for using automation. I think that DAW software that has automation curves that you can set manually is really useful...! I use that a lot...! I strongly recommend automation!
Old 28th May 2006
  #10
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lefthando's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert O
How important is automation on a desk these days?

If you're mixing through the desk into Pro-Tools how big a difference does it make?
Are you asking form the perspective of an engineer/producer or from the perspective of a commercial studio owner?
Old 28th May 2006
  #11
Well a neve without automation is like having sex with a beautiful woman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert O
How important is automation on a desk these days?

If you're mixing through the desk into Pro-Tools how big a difference does it make?
Not going to attract the old school who are unused to mixing in the box or to the box. The thing is its a frustration as most good engineers would have no problem invisaging a way of working to a stupendously high standard without the auto. Using channels for the mic amps, inserts, eq sends and if the 2" machines were in the chain SMPTE driven you could fart about with the faders till the cows come home and record endless mix passes to protools without incuring any real serious signal to noise problems. Then you are going to have the arse wipe who can't do his job without ten finger passes on the penny,s rocking around like a muppet and firing off delays with a florish of the finger and who "just can't trust a computer with audio darling". I should know I have tape opped/engineered for some of the most mullet equiped. I can give you a list and you can hire some crack addict to off them all. No loss to the planet.
Cheaper than automation. Oh get it anyway cos the old dears are such moaners.
The other thing is they drop so much coke in the faders you have to get the Servisol super ten out to put the track to PT crackle free. What about dobly then?.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
Old 28th May 2006
  #12
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ripper's Avatar
 

true re: compression feed change when autoing in PT.

but it's not that big of a deal, depending on how much and what is being auto-ed and how much compression is used.

last time i mixed a fat early sabbath sounding record on an SSL, i did the auto in tools so i could mix on the monitor faders and avoid the SSL vca's. worked great and as i tracked it on an old neve, i didn't give it that ssl vca sound i didn't want.

moving faders automation is a different story as there's no vca's. it's wonderful and expensive.

maybe because i started on vintage desks with no auto, i don't rely on it THAT much.
I usually find once i find the sweet spots for all tracks compression, eq, level and pan-wise, a LOT less auto is needed than if you start autoing from the gitgo.

and i'm prettu hooked on PT auto for the touch-ups cause it's very quick... unlike SSL auto.

but if you can get moving fader auto for your 8086 and not go broke in the process, what's not to love?!?!?
Old 28th May 2006
  #13
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Flying Faders t automation is as simple as Protools. Once you have it installed you'll use it.
Old 28th May 2006
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldier777c
Not to mention if your planning to insert dynamics on any channels of your console, your moves in pro tools will tamper with it.
This may not necessarily be a bad thing. Although I agree that it is the thing to overcome. If you are for example looking to evenout a overly dynamic vocaltrack in a dense rockmix, it might even help taking some of the burden away from the compressor.

On the other hand, if you really want to automate after the compression and use the DAW, you can do the following.
Record the processed track back into the DAW and then automate. Ofcourse you are freezing the processing, but on the other hand also freeing up that cool compressor...
Or you could basically do the same thing, but route the track in and out of your daw in realtime.
The drawback is that you are adding one additinonal DA/AD conversion.

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 28th May 2006
  #15
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Robert O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lefthando
Are you asking form the perspective of an engineer/producer or from the perspective of a commercial studio owner?
More from the latter. Our engineer is very happy mixing without it but I guess there are potential clients who will expect it/need it. We've only been open for six weeks and so far the interest in the studio has been so high that we've been fully booked but I'm thinking ahead.

Our aim is to keep the day rate at an affordable level for the current market without compromising on the sound quality or essential equipment. We believe we've now got everything required to deliver a great sound and to work efficiently but of course there's always more you can buy and it's hard to resist the siren call of one more piece of gear.

If we buy in everything that any potential client might ever need in any situation we'll go broke very quickly. If we raise the day rate to pay for more gear we could be less full because fewer clients have big budgets these days. If buy the gear but keep the day rate low we'll be full but lose money on every day we sell. On the other hand, if we hadn't bought enough of the right gear we'd be empty however low our day rate.

I suspect a lot of studios have gone under because they've got this difficult balance wrong. We obviously don't want to follow them! So, we're going to think very carefully about every potential purchase and make sure we are meeting the real needs of our clients both in terms of sound quality and value for money.

However, I'm sure we'll also let our hearts rule our heads when some nice classic gear comes up at a bargain price!

Automation is an interesting decision because it's more about a particular way of working (rather than sound quality) at at time when working practices are changing rapidly.

Is it something that will eventually be rendered obsolete by some new technology or by a new generation of engineers raised on PT?
Old 28th May 2006
  #16
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Seems to me like you are approaching it from the right angle.

What I would do is see how the studio develops. Whether it will become more of a great tracking studio or a place where people go from soup to nuts or whether you are losing potential mix work. In the latter case adding flying faders could become an option.

Good luck with your studio,
Dirk
Old 28th May 2006
  #17
Your last sentence has the nub of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert O
More from the latter. Our engineer is very happy mixing without it but I guess there are potential clients who will expect it/need it. We've only been open for six weeks and so far the interest in the studio has been so high that we've been fully booked but I'm thinking ahead.

Our aim is to keep the day rate at an affordable level for the current market without compromising on the sound quality or essential equipment. We believe we've now got everything required to deliver a great sound and to work efficiently but of course there's always more you can buy and it's hard to resist the siren call of one more piece of gear.

If we buy in everything that any potential client might ever need in any situation we'll go broke very quickly. If we raise the day rate to pay for more gear we could be less full because fewer clients have big budgets these days. If buy the gear but keep the day rate low we'll be full but lose money on every day we sell. On the other hand, if we hadn't bought enough of the right gear we'd be empty however low our day rate.

I suspect a lot of studios have gone under because they've got this difficult balance wrong. We obviously don't want to follow them! So, we're going to think very carefully about every potential purchase and make sure we are meeting the real needs of our clients both in terms of sound quality and value for money.

However, I'm sure we'll also let our hearts rule our heads when some nice classic gear comes up at a bargain price!

Automation is an interesting decision because it's more about a particular way of working (rather than sound quality) at at time when working practices are changing rapidly.

Is it something that will eventually be rendered obsolete by some new technology or by a new generation of engineers raised on PT?
Without automation, I would find it fine. so would Phil Harding but Rupert Coulson and Kit Woolven would want flying faders. Its just a way of working thing.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
PS Don't worry about unloading compressors in fades there is a very usable set of inserts in PT and a routing can be found. Whats the drum room like.
Old 28th May 2006
  #18
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Sound Chaser's Avatar
 

Can't beat digitally controlled flying faders

For music production:
For me flying fader automation is the closest thing to natural human movement and interface. It is tops in one department....you actually sit back and listen to the mix instead of being involved in it. I continually build my mix throughout the record process with every pass, not just during mixdown....where by that stage of the production I actually have the luxury of sitting back and listening.

For post audio/video:
DAW is the only choice.
Old 28th May 2006
  #19
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It's still by far the better way to mix.

at least for many of us.


I just started mixing the record I've been doing over the last few months, after we took a break and installed an automation system in the older API we've been working on.

makes a HUGE difference.




plus, in response to what someone said about using inserts in ProTools.. so if I am mixing out into a desk with say 32 or 48 outputs fomr PT to the desk... and i have all of the desk faders at '0' and I'm just using PT automation for level.... HOW do I insert say 8 or 16 compressors on channels?
how much A-D and D-A do YOU have on your system?
can you really do 64 ins and outs?
Old 29th May 2006
  #20
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lefthando's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkB
Seems to me like you are approaching it from the right angle.

What I would do is see how the studio develops. Whether it will become more of a great tracking studio or a place where people go from soup to nuts or whether you are losing potential mix work. In the latter case adding flying faders could become an option.

Good luck with your studio,
Dirk
This is good advice to a studio owner.

If you are full and your clients are happy, why change anything?

When the climate of the industry changes, adapt your gear accordingly.
Old 29th May 2006
  #21
64 I/O = PT HD 2 Not even HD 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman
It's still by far the better way to mix.

at least for many of us.


I just started mixing the record I've been doing over the last few months, after we took a break and installed an automation system in the older API we've been working on.

makes a HUGE difference.




plus, in response to what someone said about using inserts in ProTools.. so if I am mixing out into a desk with say 32 or 48 outputs fomr PT to the desk... and i have all of the desk faders at '0' and I'm just using PT automation for level.... HOW do I insert say 8 or 16 compressors on channels?
how much A-D and D-A do YOU have on your system?
can you really do 64 ins and outs?
Yes mate we got that in Orlando Fl. I can't here in England but then I mix here in the box.
I use a lot of Vintage Pre's on the ins and make do with a combination of decisive application of Vintage outbd compressors and a big DSP count for Plug ins. I used to work with flying fader Cadac at Polydor and Neve here but got burglerised big time. I just had to find another way of working. I am very happy with the system I have and if anything my best mixes have been done using a desk free PT system. As they say needs must when the Devil drives. I know the Outfield chaps my old mate Chenzo Townsend helped sort their studio in Ipswich. It used to be called Wildlife and was run by that bloke Alan my mate Pat took it over when it went bust its called Gemini now. They had the rooms done by Munroe Associates its got a fab live room. I have a great Drum Room too and a large and uncluttered control room. Its so much bigger now the desk has gone. I have room for all sorts of Video and printing stuff now plus the biggest sofa known to man.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
Old 29th May 2006
  #22
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beautiful 8078!

martinsound has been announcing a PT friendly version of FF for years but there seems to be no sign of that that happening. FF are great, but if someone comes in with a PT session with some moves they want to keep, you won't be able to do that even after having spent all the $ on FF! i probably wouldn't deal with the expense unless they release a PT version, it may be worth it then.

in the meantime, you can get feedback from clients as to what they need to keep coming back; using the inserts in PT for outboard may not be quite as sexy but it'll get the job done.
Old 29th May 2006
  #23
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ripper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmec
the biggest sofa known to man.
Regards.•:*¨¨*:•. ¸¸.•´¯`•.Mark Fairfax-Harwood, Engineer Springvale Studios
that my friend, is TRULY SLUTTISH!!!!
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