Fixing the Timing and Velocity of a Software Region


Fixing the Timing and Velocity of a Software Region

The next step toward creating the final mix is to fix any problems in the recordings or tracks. Now that you've mixed the volume and pan levels for the song, it'll be easier to hear any mistakes and take care of them.

There are no glaring mistakes, but when I listen to the song, I notice that the timing of some of the notes in the Strings track seems a little off.

These notes are off because that's how I recorded them. Fortunately, you can fix the timing of the notes in any Software Instrument region.

Evaluating Timing in the Editor

To appreciate timing that is not right, it's a good idea to look at an example of timing that is perfect.

Let's examine one of the drum regions in the editor. This is a prerecorded Apple Loop, and it has perfect timing. Then we'll take a look at a Hollywood Strings region where the timing is a little off.

1.

Double-click the first region in the first Electric Bass track to open it in the editor.

Now, let's resize the editor for a larger view of the Southern Rock Drums region. You can resize the editor the same way you resize the Loop Browser.

2.

Drag the dark gray area to the left of the Record button upward to make the editor larger.

3.

If needed, drag the vertical scroller to move the note events into view. Then, drag the editor's Zoom slider to the right to zoom in on the region.

The note events in the editor move farther apart as you zoom in on the region. The beginning of each MIDI note event in the editor is perfectly aligned to the grid, which means that each note is perfectly in time with the grid and the song.

Let's take a closer look at the grid.

4.

Locate the Fix Timing button in the Advanced section of the editor.

The ruler and grid are currently set at 1/32 notes. Notice how detailed the grid is at that level, and how many lines there are in the Beat Ruler for one measure.

5.

Drag the editor's Zoom slider to the left until the Fix Timing button changes to ¼ notes.

When you have zoomed out of the editor, the Fix Timing button will indicate that the ruler grid is now showing ¼ notes.

Note

Zooming in and out of the editor doesn't change the timing of the existing notes. However, it modifies the detail of the grid and how far the notes will move if you automatically fix the timing.

Now let's evaluate the timing of the first Hollywood Strings region.

6.

In the Hollywood Strings track, click the Hollywood Strings region to open it in the editor.

7.

Drag the horizontal scroller to view the note at the beginning of the 9th measure.

The timing looks OK when you are zoomed out of the editor. Now let's zoom in to see how well aligned it really is.

8.

Drag the editor's Zoom slider to the right until the grid is set to 1/32 notes. Then move the scroller to view the note at the beginning of the 9th measure.

Note

You can zoom in as far as 1/64 notes for the finest detail, but 1/32 is plenty for this exercise.

Notice that the note doesn't start exactly on the grid line.

Note

If you use the scroller to view some of the other notes in the region, you notice the same thing. Many of them are close to the grid lines, but most of them are slightly off.

Fixing the Timing of a Note

Now that you know how to use the editor to tell if the timing is off, it's time to fix it. To fix the timing of a note, all you need to do is drag the note to the nearest grid line. Let's fix the note at the beginning of the 9th measure.

1.

Move your playhead to the beginning of the 9th measure to use as a guide for aligning the note.

2.

Drag the note event to the right so it lines up with the playhead and the grid line at the start of the 9th measure.

As you can see, to adjust the timing of a single note in a Software Instrument region, all you have to do is move the note.

Fixing the Timing of an Entire Region

Instead of manually adjusting every note in the Hollywood Strings region, wouldn't it be nice if you could do it all automatically? Well, you can.

Keep in mind that very few people (if any) can play an instrument in perfect time. So you probably wouldn't want to do this on a lead guitar region or on an instrument that was played with feeling. The music will sound like it was performed by a computer.

If you want to fix the timing of all the notes in a track, click the track header to select it. If you want to fix the timing of all the notes in a region, click the region in the Timeline (not in the editor) to select it. Shift-select or drag-select to add more regions in the track to the selection.

1.

Open the editor, if it's not already open. Click the Hollywood Strings region to load it into the editor.

2.

Check the Fix Timing button to make sure the grid is set to 1⁄32 notes.

Note

Remember to select the region in the Timeline to load it into the editor. If you select the region in the editor, the Fix Timing button will be dimmed.

3.

Drag the scroller in the editor to the right to view the 14th measure.

Notice that the note at the beginning of the 14th measure is not aligned with the grid. The note at the beginning of the 15th measure is off as well.

4.

Click the Fix Timing button to fix all of the notes in the entire region.

Notice that the notes at the beginning of the 14th and 15th measures are now both aligned to the grid.

The Fix Timing button will align the beginning of every note in the region to the nearest grid line. When you set up the grid to 64th notes, the grid is at the finest level of detail, with the most lines per measure, and the notes will move the shortest distance to the nearest grid line. If you moved to the nearest 8th note, the notes that are off would have to move farther to a grid line. This, in turn, would move them farther from the original place in the song at which you wanted them to play.

The moral here is that you need to be careful when you use the Fix Timing button. If you move the notes too far when you are adjusting the timing, they will play at the wrong time in the song, and it will sound terrible even if they are aligned to the grid.

Changing Velocity for an Entire Region

Now that the timing is right for the Hollywood Strings region, I noticed that the notes are a very light shade of gray. You can gauge the velocity (loudness) of a note by the shade of gray. The darker the shade, the louder the note was originally played. The notes in the Hollywood Strings region were recorded at a very low velocity. Just as you adjust the timing of note events, you can change the velocity for one note or all of them at once.

To change all of the notes at once, you first need to select them all.

1.

Move the scroller in the editor until you can see the 15th measure.

Notice that the different note events are different shades of gray.

2.

Click the first note event in the 15th measure to hear it, and check the velocity in the Note Velocity field in the editor.

The velocity of the note is 16. That's pretty low considering that 0 is the lowest and 127 is the highest.

3.

Click the 2nd note in the 15th measure to check the velocity.

The velocity is 41. This note is definitely played with more intensity than the first note, but it's still relatively low.

Let's raise the velocity for all of the notes in this region simultaneously.

4.

Press Cmd-A to select all the notes in the region.

All the notes turn green to indicate that they have been selected.

The Note Velocity field shows the level of the last note you selected. That level is 41. With all of the note events selected, you will raise the velocity of each note by the same amount. Let's raise the velocity from 41 to 61. This will also raise the velocity of every note in the region by the same amount (in this case, 20).

5.

Type 61 in the Note Velocity field and press Return.

The velocity of each note in the region has been raised by 20.

6.

Click the empty track space above a note in the editor to deselect all of the notes.

7.

Click the 2nd note in the 15th measure.

The velocity of this note had been 41 and was raised by 20. The velocity is now 61.

8.

Click the 1st note in the 15th measure.

The velocity was originally 16 and now reads 36, which means it was also raised by 20.

9.

Press Cmd-E to close the editor, then press Cmd-S to save the project.

10.

Listen to the first half of the song to hear the new and improved Hollywood Strings in the mix.

You've fixed various problems in the timing and note velocity for the song, and in doing so, you have just completed the third step in the mixing process. Now you can move on to the next stepadding effects.