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Slow Tools automation
Old 23rd November 2002
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Slow Tools automation

I've spent the last week or so mixing a record that was recorded in PT version 5.something (I'd have to fire up the system and look). I have 4 songs done and 7 more to go before it heads out for mastering. So far life isn't too bad, I'm doing some submixing in the box and taking 16-18 outputs to the console (Trident) to mix. But, rather then using the console automation I'm using the automation in PT and it's driving me up a wall at times.

Are the fader moves always really slow? There have been times when I'm trying to bring up one word of a vocal or a whole line and the fader is still moving down when the move I made had it down where I wanted it. And it's not just that the picture of the fader is moving slower, my ears and the meters are hearing it the same way too. So what gives? I'm using a mouse to make the moves, is there any way to speed them up and make the thing react the way it should? Or do I need to keep wasting time by going back to the waveform and dragging the points around?
Old 23rd November 2002
  #2
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by Jay Kahrs:
Are the fader moves always really slow? There have been times when I'm trying to bring up one word of a vocal or a whole line and the fader is still moving down when the move I made had it down where I wanted it.
Nope. That's not right. Shouldn't behave that way at all.

•Make sure you don't have anything running in the background while PT is on. Like Sherlock has this thing called Find By Content Indexing or something like that, which can initiate itself without your even knowing...find it and turn it off. That's the #1 cause of what you're experiencing. Also: energy saver, screen savers, etc...turn all that stuff off and make a new extensions set. Make sure Appletalk is inactive. Re-boot to the new extensions set.

Other things that might help:

•Allocate more memory to DAE.

•Choose Setups > Hardware - make sure the hardware buffer is set to 1024 samples, the CPU usage limit is high (75-85%), and sync is set to either internal or S/PDIF.

•Turn off Low Latency Monitoring.

•Print any CPU-hogging plugin FX.

•Set your monitor to 256 colors.

Apologies if you knew all this already.

PS: Drawing volume automation in the edit window is a technique which, once mastered, you will come to vastly prefer to moving the little virtual faders with the mouse.

Let us know how you do.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #3
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

is it playing back slower, or is the ramp time set too slow?

Can you 'draw" in some auto to make sure that this is what is happening?


and everything that Eric said..
Old 23rd November 2002
  #4
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
#1 It's not my rig, it's a clients so I'm not about to make any changes to the system. He was over today and noticed it too so it's not just in my head. He's actually running on PC with no screen savers or other junk going on. It's a dedicated system running Windows NT. I'm mixing on the console so there are very few plug-ins. Mostly the Focusrite EQ, a gate here or there, BF 1176 (it's ok, I like my pair of real ones much better) and the Metric Halo Channel Strip, no reverbs, delays or effects. Those are all hardware outside the box. If I have a half-dozen plug-ins running across the 24-30 tracks it's a lot.

Still, the automation shouldn't be THAT slow to respond should it? I mean, it's the digital age and not the first version of the software so the **** should work right? Let's say I have my vocal fader at unity for most of the song, there might be one line or sustained word that needs to be ridden down to say -3.5dB and brought back up immediatly. I'll write the move in with the mouse that fast and it's fine. But, when I play it back the fader will have just finished getting down to -3.5 when it should be (and I told the ****ing thing) to be back at unity. Then it start's crawling back up to unity and finally gets there about halfway through the next line. What the ****? How would I change the ramp time? Is that in preferences? And why would the ramp time affect the moves I write in with the mouse? If I draw the automation in by hand it's fine but takes a lot more time to do and basicly sucks hampster dick.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #5
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by Jay Kahrs:
It's a dedicated system running Windows NT
Ouch. I wuz kinda afraid you were gonna come back with something like that. Sorry, don't have much experience with Windoze, for many good reasons.

I have heard about cats who've hand-built some kickass PC's, but it sounds like you didn't get lucky in that department.

Quote:
I'm mixing on the console so there are very few plug-ins. Mostly the Focusrite EQ, a gate here or there, BF 1176 (it's ok, I like my pair of real ones much better)
Double-ouch. The BF 1176 in particular is a serious CPU hog. Try to get a hold of your "real" ones and use them instead on sends.

Quote:
If I have a half-dozen plug-ins running across the 24-30 tracks it's a lot.
For Windoze, yeah, that IS a lot.

Quote:
Still, the automation shouldn't be THAT slow to respond should it? I mean, it's the digital age and not the first version of the software so the **** should work right?
Mos def, on a Mac G3 or G4, yes. On a PC? Uhhh...that depends. For the system you're using it looks like it doesn't depend. It just doesn't.

Quote:
Let's say I have my vocal fader at unity for most of the song, there might be one line or sustained word that needs to be ridden down to say -3.5dB and brought back up immediatly. I'll write the move in with the mouse that fast and it's fine. But, when I play it back the fader will have just finished getting down to -3.5 when it should be (and I told the ****ing thing) to be back at unity. Then it start's crawling back up to unity and finally gets there about halfway through the next line. What the ****?
WTF, indeed. That's not Pro Tools, son. That's a slow-assed computer that's ruining your day.

Quote:
If I draw the automation in by hand it's fine but takes a lot more time to do and basicly sucks hampster dick.
Until your client springs for an acceptable rig, that's your only recourse for now, so suck away, and learn to love that edit window.

Take my word: It's mos def NOT a PT problem. I'm using PT with a 350Mhz processor, which is considered Barney Rubble to the max by the DUC cognescenti, and I'm having nothing like the problems you're having. But it's a Mac 350 processor.

Peeps use PT with Mac for reasons, and you're getting an education as to why.

Vaya con Dios...
Old 23rd November 2002
  #6
Gear Head
 

16 to 18 outputs sound slike your using an LE systemw hich is gonna drag the CPU down as well ruinning Pro Tools on a PC is a joke compared to a Mac. I have used both systems numerous times and I dont care how ts configured its never right. Plus I be t you are in a very high latency mode and misconstruing and seeong the fader move later/setting it wrong cause of the latency. A well run TDM system would never have this problem.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #7
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
It's a TDM system, I'm using an Adat Bridge to feed one of my Adats and a Lucid ADA8824. I'm only using 16 outputs because that's all I have available to me. Well, there is an 882 but we're short on cabling (snakes need to be about 5 feet longer) so it's getting the extra outputs on guitar cables. This isn't a 001, it's the real deal and it's suckin. The PC is a PIII 450 with 256 megs of RAM. And since it's not a native system I shouldn't be running into slowness and related junk right?

FWIW, on this last mix I had 43 tracks of audio with 9 plug-ins. Two Focusrite EQ's, 2 Channel Strips, 4 Digirack Expander/Gates and Amp Farm on a vocal scream. That doesn't seem like a lot to me. Hell, I did mix consulting last year for a guy running Cakewalk with more tracks and more plug-ins on a similar computer and that was fine.

So come on, it's a TDM system, it's running on a PC without a glitch except for the automation. The metering is fine, if it was slow and jerky I might accept that the processor is running out of juice but the metering is fine. So what's the deal? Why is the automation sucking so badly? If I need to change a preference or something I'll do it because I'm about to go back to doing moves by hand.

Cannon, if you want to stop by and take a look at the thing let me know. I'll also send a link for this thread to the systems owner and see if he can shed some light on it.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #8
Bummer! I've never seen that before, perhaps its a PC spesific PT bug...

I wonder if it it a 'screen re-draw' issue? Answer this please - Are the level meters above the faders all slowed down? Or are the 'visual balistics' in good order?

You said you dont want to mess with this clients rig, but the thing is, that you ofthen DO have to tweak settings between tracking & mixing - spesifically. Messing with - 'buffer settings'

There IS some function called 'smoothing' to do with zipper efect of fader moves on really busy mixes, but I have never had to envoke it on 64 track large move mixes. There is a faint possibility this is set to some weird setting..

Finaly - DONT have an idle CD spinning in the computer drive when running PT.


Old 23rd November 2002
  #9
FX smörgåsbord user
 
Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Jay,

This is an odd problem. I've never experienced it, but a few thoughts + questions come to mind:
  • Do some testing. Look at the volume automation + compare it to what you are doing when you move the fader with the mouse. For example, what does the automation look like on the vocal example you mentioned above? Does the graphic representation of the automation go down where you want it to and come back up when you want it to? Or does it more closely represent what you are hearing with your ears?
  • During playback, is the fader movement in time with the graphic representation of the volume automation? If not this means the CPU is being pushed to its limits and is not graphically updating the faders.
  • Since the CPU handles the automation, try to eliminate as many things as you can that can slow it down. Switch RTAS plugs (if any) to TDM. There is a preference for updating faders on the screen during playback—turn it off. (I know this would kinda make it hard to use faders w/ a mouse). Turn off Auto Scrolling. Eliminate any applications running in the background. And anything else you can think of that eats CPU cycles.
  • Going along with the above, the fewer automation breakpoints, the easier it's for the CPU to keep up. There is a preference for automation thinning. If it is turned off, when you are using the mouse with a fader to write automation, it is creating a lot of breakpoints, way more than you probably need. Make sure the checkbox in the Automation Preferences for Smooth and Thin Data After Pass is checked. And then set the Degree of Thinning to Little or Some. The resulting automation is still very accurate without eating up as much CPU power.
I hope some of this helps.
Old 23rd November 2002
  #10
Gear Head
 
John Sayers's Avatar
 

Sounds like you have a virus!! Bugbear maybe?? ctrl/alt/delete and check what's running as well, bet you find somne extra exes running.

cheers
John
Old 24th November 2002
  #11
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

It is def NOT a PT on PC issue, ( the specific machiene maybe) I had a Mix3 system on 500Mhz Pentium with 512 meg of RAM for two years before coming out of the darkness into the light ( this summer ent to a G4 933 with over a gig of RAm.. performance boost anyone? ) and I NEVER experenced this.... sorry to not have any real solutions, but I can def verify that this is not normal for a PC pro Tools system.


Checking what other hidden apps are running ( as John said ) is a very good idea as well.
Old 24th November 2002
  #12
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jules
[B]
Are the level meters above the faders all slowed down? Or are the 'visual balistics' in good order?

** Metering looks fine, it's not slowed at all.

Finaly - DONT have an idle CD spinning in the computer drive when running PT.

** There are no CD's in the drives and nothing running in the backgroud that doesn't need to be. Next!
Old 24th November 2002
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Charles Dye
[B]Jay,

This is an odd problem. I've never experienced it, but a few thoughts + questions come to mind:[list][*]Do some testing. Look at the volume automation + compare it to what you are doing when you move the fader with the mouse. For example, what does the automation look like on the vocal example you mentioned above? Does the graphic representation of the automation go down where you want it to and come back up when you want it to? Or does it more closely represent what you are hearing with your ears?

** Neither the fader, graph or metering (VU's on console) are showing the moves I write in. UNLESS I go back to the edit window and drag the points around. The mutes that I write in are fine, it's only the faders that ramp too slow on playback. And it's definatly the way it's written in. It's not writing what I do.


During playback, is the fader movement in time with the graphic representation of the volume automation?

** Yesseriee bob.

Since the CPU handles the automation, try to eliminate as many things as you can that can slow it down. Switch RTAS plugs (if any) to TDM. There is a preference for updating faders on the screen during playback—turn it off. (I know this would kinda make it hard to use faders w/ a mouse). Turn off Auto Scrolling. Eliminate any applications running in the background. And anything else you can think of that eats CPU cycles.

** There's nothing running but the bare-bones Windows stuff and PT. Autoscrolling is off. It's never been connected to the net AFAIK so that really eliminates the possibilty of a virus.

Going along with the above, the fewer automation breakpoints, the easier it's for the CPU to keep up. There is a preference for automation thinning. If it is turned off, when you are using the mouse with a fader to write automation, it is creating a lot of breakpoints, way more than you probably need.

** Not really. When I look at the automation values in the edit window there aren't a lot of breakpoints. What I've been doing is writing the moves in with the mouse and then fine-tuning them which is taking way longer then it should. Most people who know me well know that I'm not an automation freak who goes word by word. If I was doing that I'd install the drivers for my Midi Timepiece on his machine and use that to drive my console automation.

Here's the thing that really pisses me off. There's no excuse for it playing back the fader moves I write in with a mouse the same way I wrote them. This isn't the first version of the software and it's not some crusty old ass tape based automation. I mean, ****, I've used CAD Megamix which will run on a Mac Classic and wrote lots of moves in with a mouse and I never had to tweak them off-line unless I was trying to get a lip-smack out in the middle of a line or something. Same thing with Logic which I have on my DAW. How many people have used Uptown? If your in auto-update as soon as you release a fader it snaps right back to where it was. Not the case with PT, and Uptown runs on a PC with DOS! I've also used Amek Supertrue, the Wackie Ultramix, SSL etc. and I've never run into this problem before.

Since it's just not writing what I'm doing it's got to be a system specific thing right? This is the first time I've ever spent an extended period of time mixing from a TDM system so if it's always like this maybe the **** just sucks. I dunno... I'd like to think that Digi can at least get the automation right.

Someone help me before I pull out the rest of my hair...
Old 24th November 2002
  #14
Gear Head
 
kushan_ku's Avatar
 

Jay, if you haven't already done so or figured out the problem, you should copy this post over to the digidesign user conference as well.
Old 24th November 2002
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Jay

so I don't check the forum for a few hours and there's about 20 posts regarding the problem that your having with my PT rig for mixdown!

in the 2+ years that I have been running that system i haven't experienced any problem with the volume automation. can you look at the volume automation that was written after you did the fader moves? i thought that when we looked at it yesterday it looked like the fader move was very gradual rather that snapping to a specific level and then back. i thought when we 'smoothed' out the unnecessary breakpoints, it performed fine. (the fader jump we did in the last song - on the word "to" - seemed to come out fine. and that was a very quick fader move). give me a call and maybe we can walk through it over the phone.

curve - please don't turn this into a mac vs. pc thing! the platform i have has been extremely stable for the entire time that i have owned it. unless you wrote the code for PT on both the mac and windows platforms, how can you be certain that the problems that we are running into are due to the operating system?

"Until your client springs for an acceptable rig, that's your only recourse for now, so suck away, and learn to love that edit window."

eric - i think that i do have an acceptable rig.


- neil
Old 24th November 2002
  #16
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Jay, have you tried defragging the system drive? If there's another drive with enough free space hooked up to the PC, copy everything PT related from the system drive onto it. Then delete all that same stuff off of the system drive, and copy it back from the other drive. This is the fastest way I know of to defrag and it might clear up the problem. Nothing else appears to be working so why not?
Old 24th November 2002
  #17
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by nodell
[B]Jay

so I don't check the forum for a few hours and there's about 20 posts regarding the problem that your having with my PT rig for mixdown!

** Ha!!!

in the 2+ years that I have been running that system i haven't experienced any problem with the volume automation. can you look at the volume automation that was written after you did the fader moves? i thought that when we looked at it yesterday it looked like the fader move was very gradual rather that snapping to a specific level and then back. i thought when we 'smoothed' out the unnecessary breakpoints, it performed fine. (the fader jump we did in the last song - on the word "to" - seemed to come out fine. and that was a very quick fader move). give me a call and maybe we can walk through it over the phone.

** Yeah, it was fine but remember I did it with the mouse and we still had to go back and trim it by hand? The ramp wasn't what I wrote and we pulled the crest of that move up another 2dB or whatever and brought the "ends" closer together. Which, gave us what I told (asked?) it to do in the first place. And that's the whole point of the problem. It's not doing what I told it to do in the first place. I shouldn't have to go back in and retouch automation on a $10K rig should I? Or are my expectations too high? I could probably even accept someone telling me that this always happens with a mouse and I should be using a control surface or fader pack.

No, I haven't tried defragging the drive. Remember, it's not my rig. I'm just mixing, not playing tech. And I don't even see how that would help in this case. Maybe if I was having problems playing back audio but that's fine. I was honestly hoping someone would say "open this, go to that menu, bring up these options and then check that box". I guess it ain't that easy.
Old 24th November 2002
  #18
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Aawww, I'm sorry Neil. Jeez dude, I didn't mean to insult your rig. Just trying to help a brother out. I've never seen nor heard of this problem before so I just (wrongly) jumped to the (seemingly logical) conclusion that it was due to the (well-known) fact that WINDOZE SUCKS!!!

JOKE! KIDDING NEIL!!! SIMMA DOWN NOW...

You gotta admit, this one has stumped the class. The suggestion to go to the DUC and ask the Windows contingent for advice seemed like a good idea.

PIII 450 w/ 256MRAM is not optimal for PT. I'm not saying it sucks! Just not optimal. I'll shut the fook up now.
Old 24th November 2002
  #19
Here for the gear
 

eric - apology accepted.

in fact i have a brand new g4 waiting to accept my pt tdm system once this project is over. i'm not switching because windows sucks, there just happens to be more plug-ins available on the mac platform and that was what prompted me to want to switch.

this system has been rock solid for me (and the many PT windows user on the digi boards have made similar statements). it may be different for an LE system or a digi 001, but for a tdm system windows runs just fine.

- neil
Old 24th November 2002
  #20
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 

Naah, one of the guys that works with me runs a 001/le on a similar PC with a bit more RAM and he can mix pretty complex sessions with tons of plug-ins on his rig without much problems. This is just plain weird.

What is the buffer size set to? Also, I had my rig behaving weirdly after I rented the studio to someone once. After some research I found the source of my problems was because the guy mixing had installed some (damn him!) dfegad krack'ed plugins that wrecked havoc with dsp manager. tut After dutifully cleaning my system myself I got rid of those problems. Luckily I very rarely have outside engineers coming to my place and I told my assistant to play watchdog over the system when I do. Did you check with Digi's tech support yet or posted on the dfegad DUC...

Good luck man that sure sucks! Hey you're entitled to slag PT on the other thread to alleviate your anger!
Old 24th November 2002
  #21
FX smörgåsbord user
 
Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Jay,

"How many people have used Uptown? If your in auto-update as soon as you release a fader it snaps right back to where it was. Not the case with PT, and Uptown runs on a PC with DOS!"

I just want to make sure I understand you better. Are you saying that after you make a fader move when release the fader and it does not instantly "snap" back to its previous level? Is this your entire problem or are there more aspects to it?
Old 24th November 2002
  #22
Are you working in 'Auto Touch' mode?

Is 'volume' in fact enabled as a paramiter to auomate?

Are the faders 'gold colored'

Are you in trim?

Do you have a PT manual to hand?

I recomend Auto Touch mode, when you grab the fader you are taking over in TOTAL WRITE mode, when you let go -i t snaps back to where you were. (perhaps this snap back mode has WAY to high a number in it's preferences by accident)

Jay get on the phone and call me!

Find the automation enable window & have it on the screen - that will show you WHAT exatctly on the mixer is selected to remember moves..

I am mixing (with PT in the studio today) so can advise with PT in front of me.

Remember, with computers nearly all the problems are ....... operator error!
Old 24th November 2002
  #23
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Dye
I just want to make sure I understand you better. Are you saying that after you make a fader move when release the fader and it does not instantly "snap" back to its previous level? Is this your entire problem or are there more aspects to it?
That's part of the problem. Rather then snapping back instantly it ramps back. So if I'm trying to get one half of a line up and the second half down, part of the second half is louder then it should be. Same thing when I move a fader up, rather then instantly snapping up 2dB or whatever I want it ramps up and ramps back over a few seconds rather then the 1/2 second like I wanted. That's why I'm calling it Slow Tools. That and having to go back in and retouch the automation data is slowing me down a bit.
Old 24th November 2002
  #24
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jules
[B]Are you working in 'Auto Touch' mode?

** Either Auto Write or Touch/Update whatever it's called depending on what I want to do. If I'm doing a whole verse it's auto write. If it's a word or line it's update.

Is 'volume' in fact enabled as a paramiter to auomate?

** Yes. It's writing the changes, but not as fast as I tell it to.

Are the faders 'gold colored'

** NO!!!! Explain...

Are you in trim?

** I don't think so because I've never selected "trim" as a mode. Seemed a bit scary to me.

Do you have a PT manual to hand?

** Yup.

I recomend Auto Touch mode, when you grab the fader you are taking over in TOTAL WRITE mode, when you let go -i t snaps back to where you were. (perhaps this snap back mode has WAY to high a number in it's preferences by accident)

** Possibly. When it snaps back rather then taking a 1/2 second or quicker it's takes quite a bit longer depending on much I raised or lowered the volume for that move. Where would I go in the preferences menu? What am I looking for? Or is it going to be obvious, damn, I wish I had the rig in front of me right now.


Jay get on the phone and call me!

Find the automation enable window & have it on the screen - that will show you WHAT exatctly on the mixer is selected to remember moves..

** I'd call you but I won't be in the studio. Maybe tomorrow but my plate is pretty full. Also, Cannon is a PT guy and he offered to stop over. If we can get our schedules to work out it'll be great.


Remember, with computers nearly all the problems are ....... operator error!

** I don't doubt it. I'm surprised the thread is this long already.
Old 24th November 2002
  #25
FX smörgåsbord user
 
Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Jay,

"Where would I go in the preferences menu? What am I looking for?"

Select Preferences... from the Setup menu, click on the Automation tab (fourth one), and look 2/3's of the way down in the center for AutoMatch Time. What is it set to?
Old 24th November 2002
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
dynamike's Avatar
couldn't you always just cut out the word(s) you want to automate and raise or lower the gain using the audiosuite 'plug-in' called Gain?

that doesn't really solve the problem, but it would get the job done.
Old 25th November 2002
  #27
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Damn, this isn't solved yet?

Another thing came to mind:

Are you making your volume changes in the Mix or Edit window? In the Mix window you can only grab the faders. In the Edit window you can draw in breakpoints with a volume automation line and this way is much more precise than trying to approximate your moves with a mouse.

Might not help at all but it's a possibility.
Old 25th November 2002
  #28
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

If the faders are yellow, you are in trim.. god that brings back a horrible memory about the first time I mixes a record fully in PT.. I didn't realize I was in trum, and was trying to re-write a fade into a volume increase... that was frustrating :(
Old 25th November 2002
  #29
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Dye
Select Preferences... from the Setup menu, click on the Automation tab (fourth one), and look 2/3's of the way down in the center for AutoMatch Time. What is it set to?
1000ms. All the boxes are checked, degree of thinning is "some", 200K on the automation recording and 1000ms on Touch Timeout. What next? Should I change automatch to 200ms or something? I'm guessing that that's the amount of time it takes for the fader to return to where it was right?

I'm doing the moves with the mouse from the mix window and retouching them in the edit. I'd rather not have to retouch them at all since I can do what I want with the mouse. Spending twice as long doing something isn't progress. Also, as a side note I've always been a bit upset with only one level of undo, but that's the breaks. Even Sound Forge has had multiple levels since at least version 4. in '97 or whatever it was.

Jax, I was hoping it would be solved by now. I want to finish mixing and get this baby off to Brad so he can work his magic on the 1/4" and make me sound like I have a clue!
Old 25th November 2002
  #30
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

the newer versions of PT have mult levels of undo.. def lower the match time, that is the amount of time the fader takes to go back to it;s previous setting, and you are at 1000Ms? right? I would go way waay lower, start at like 50 ms and see if it is too fast, I use super quick settings if i am grabbing letters of words and the like
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