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> How Do I Make My Recording As Good As A Commercial One, Part 3 - automation and regions.
Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 24 2012, 02:02 PM
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In Part 1 I talked about how commercial track is compiled from multiple takes to capture the nuances of a focal performance. In part 2 I discussed how you might better build a mix by mixing it starting with the loudest part of the song rather than mixing it sequentially from the beginning. In both those threads people asked or mentioned automation and/or regions.

A good commercial recording consists of music that has appropriate dynamics both in a micro and macro sense. Micro dynamics applies to individual notes and short phrases; macro means tht choruses, verses, bridges, intro and outro have appropriate dynamics. A lot of the home recordings that we are sent lack these dynamics and the result is a dull and rather flat sounding recording.

Automation is very useful for affecting the micro dynamics of a mix. It allows you to set specific fader levels, turn on or off or adjust specific effects and or dynamics and so on. As such it lets you accent words or phrases or even part of a word; you can change the attack time on a compressor to make a kick drum hit at the start of a bar stand out and make the others recede; you can alter the reverb depth to move an instrument forward or back; you can use X-fades to remove plosives and de-ess a vocal, and so on.

If however you want to apply a macro change - for instance a different fader level to the backing vocals for the chorus then for the verse - it is often better to use region editing. Region editing allows you to use multiple levels and settings that are applied, and re-applied, over a longer period of time. So, for instance, you can identify all the choruses in a song as one type of region and your verses as a second, diferent region. The choruses may therefore have the same instruments levels, EQ and compression settings easily applied to them but which are different to the verses.

To put it another way regions lets you set up a lot of different settings and reuse them in dynamically similar parts of a song and is particularly great when you want to apply lots of different changes; automation is great for doing a few specific changes. What really can make a mix shine though is using both and, in particular, using automation within regions.

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 30 2012, 01:45 PM
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Very useful tips Tony. I haven't been using automation much, but it can really make a difference, specially on FX

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