Track Automation is quite similar to HyperDraw. But while HyperDraw works with individual Regions, Track Automation, as its name suggests, is tied to specific tracks in the Arrange window. Right now, if you don't have Track Automation enabled, all the Objects in the Arrange area look normal. With Track Automation enabled, a gray automation track appears, as you'll see in the next exercise.
Exploring Track Automation
Let's enable Track Automation and automate volume changes in the Bongo track.
Open the file named 10Begin.lso in the APTS_Logic_7 > Song Files > Lesson 10 Project Files folder or continue working on your song from the previous lesson.
From the Arrange window's local menu bar, choose View > Track Automation. If this is the first time you've enabled Track Automation for your song, the following dialog appears (if this dialog does not appear, skip the next step).
Click All Tracks.
The dialog closes, and Track Automation is turned on.
In the Arrange area, each track now has a gray area with a data line through it. This gray area is the automation track. The Track column also expands to display a few new areas, including an Automation Parameter menu and an automation fader, which displays the current setting of the parameter displayed in the Automation Parameter menu.
If the Bongo track is frozen, click its Freeze button to turn the Freeze mode off.
In the Bongo track, grab the automation fader and drag it up or down. As you drag, the pointer turns into a crosshair, and the automation track's data line moves up or down to follow the automation fader's movements. This automation fader comes in handy when you want to make "set and forget" changes to a track's volume, pan position, or other controller data, because it provides a convenient fader right in the Arrange window. However, set-and-forget changes work only when the track contains no automation data, as the next steps demonstrate.
Select the Arrow tool, and then click in the automation track to add nodes in the approximate positions shown in the next figure: The Automation Parameter menu says Volume, and indeed, volume automation has been added to the track. As you can see, adding automation nodes works exactly the same way as adding nodes to the HyperDraw area (refer to Lesson 6, "Editing MIDI in the Matrix Editor"). This includes creating, copying, deleting, and moving nodes. Of course, automation curves are also available to Logic Pro users, and they work exactly like curves in HyperDraw.
Logic Express users do not have access to automation curves. Let's play this volume automation to see what it does.
Move the SPL to the beginning of the song and start playback.
As the song plays, the Bongo track increases in volume over bars 1 to 4 and decreases in volume over the last two bars. In essence, you've just automated a fade-in and fade-out.
If you're using Logic Pro, hold down Ctrl-Option, then drag some curves into the automation track. Isn't that a great way to make a fade?
Hold down the Shift key, and rubber-band select all of the volume-automation nodes, including the one at the very beginning of the automation track.
Press the Delete key.
All the volume-automation nodes are deleted. Make sure you delete every volume-automation node. You'll know you've done it right when the automation track's data line turns from solid to dashed.
Adjust the Bongo track's volume until it plays at an appropriate level.
When to Use HyperDraw vs. Track Automation
As you've seen above, Track Automation data belongs to the track, while HyperDraw data belongs to an Object in a track. Your decision to use Track Automation or HyperDraw will depend on your situation and what you are trying to accomplish. In general, though, you'll want to use HyperDraw whenever you are programming control changes that should always affect a particular Region. Use Track Automation for programming control changes that are not necessarily tied to a specific Region, such as a volume fade or a cutoff sweep.
Switching Automation Types
The Automation Parameter menu displays the parameter you are currently editing. In the case of MIDI tracks, this menu shows all 127 MIDI controllers, just as HyperDraw does. For audio tracks and Audio Instruments, these MIDI controllers are replaced by the automation-capable plug-in parameters from the track's inserted plug-ins. And this is Track Automation's greatest virtue, because it allows you to quickly find and automate any plug-in parameter you need!
Click and hold the Bongo track's Automation Parameter menu. A hierarchical menu appears. Notice that all the plug-ins inserted into the Bongo channel are listed at the top of the menu.
Select 1 ChanEQ > Peak 2 Gain. The Automation Parameter menu changes to say Peak 2 Gain instead of Volume.
On the Arrange window channel strip, double-click the Channel EQ insert.
The Channel EQ opens.
If you are using Logic Express, your Channel EQ has four EQ bands, as opposed to the eight bands in the Logic Pro Channel EQ. Nonetheless, the Channel EQ works similarly in both programs, so you will be able to follow along with the steps in this section, even though your Channel EQ looks a bit different.
Press the spacebar to play your song.
As it plays, drag the Bongo track's automation fader up and down. Watch the Channel EQ as you drag the automation fader and listen to the sound of the Bongo track.
Enabling Extra Automation Tracks (Logic Pro Only)
Currently, only one automation track is displayed for each track. If you want to automate a different plug-in parameter, you need to select the parameter from the Automation Parameter menu and then automate. But what if you want to automate or compare the automation of two parameters at once? Logic Pro 7 does not stop you. In fact, you can open as many extra automation tracks as you need for every track in your song.
In the Track column, click the small disclosure triangle in the bottom left corner of the Bongo track.
A new automation track opens.
From the new automation track's Automation Parameter menu, choose 1 ChanEQ > Peak 2 Frequency. The automation track updates to show the automation data line for the Peak 2 filter's frequency band. You can now adjust and compare both automation parameters at the same time! Furthermore, should the need arise, you can click the disclosure triangle in the bottom left corner of Automation Track 2 to open yet another automation track, and so on.