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Automation : Trim volume envelope and VCAs Issue Tools
issueid=2817 08-03-2010 08:39 PM
Human being with feelings
Automation : Trim volume envelope and VCAs
Trimming saves time

Discussion thread

This request proposes DCA Master and trim volume envelope functionality, as well as possible methods to implement them.

Note: Reaper v5 is implementing VCAs and is in beta. Go check them out in the pre-release forum.

DCA Group tracks (Digitally Control Amplifier = Voltage Controlled Amplifier faders in analog consoles)

Requirements

Controlling lots of tracks in an offset-manner similar to what VCA faders in consoles do, which means not altering their volume envelopes in any way, but offsetting them during playback. This enables pre-(post-fader)send control of tracks, unlike routing tracks together to a bus, which is purely post-everything.

This kind of control is cascadable, as DCA masters, the source of this offset control can be controlling other DCA masters as well.

How is a DCA different from a group master ?

This is how a DCA master and slave relationship works.

The group system in Reaper as of v4 does not work this way. Standard group slaves do not respond to a masters automation. They only respond to direct user input, i.e. a user moving a volume fader on either the GUI or control surface.

A track with no DCA relationship looks like this

Trim Volume Envelope

This does the same thing as a DCA Master, except now another volume envelope we call the Trim Volume Envelope is now added instead (or in addition to) the volume of a DCA master.



DCA Masters trim the slaves, without affecting their volume envelopes. The envelopes of the master and slave are combined.

The volume automation on the DCA master thus trims that of the the slave.

The Master volume (=trim + envelope) which runs at the session sample rate, since it is sample accurate, is sent and added to each slave volume, which itself is composed of its own trim + envelope.


Performance Cost of DCA functionality
Per slave track, one stream of single-floats at the session rate from the master to the slave.


Options and commands
  • Automatically coalesce the DCA volume and mute envelope(if active) in to the volume and mute envelope of its slave tracks, and resetting the DCA Master envelopes, after each playback.

  • Manually coalesce the DCA volume and mute envelope(if active) in to the volume and mute envelope of its slave tracks, and resetting the DCA Master envelopes.


Why would anyone prefer DCAs to groups or busses?

A DCA never changes any envelopes on the slave tracks. It's basically a trim of a bunch of tracks without touching it. Thus, it's the only place you need to touch to change such a trim envelope. With groups, you're changing stuff and recording automation on all tracks at the same time. DCA masters are convenient that way.

DCAs work on the envelopes on the tracks themselves, not on the composite audio signal of a bus track. Therefore you're working on the volume of tracks before they're (post-fader) sent to effects. You're also capable of muting (or rather overriding any non-mutes on the slave tracks) the tracks at the source, so if you're collecting your fx send tracks on a different bus, or in the master, muting a bussed bunch of signals apart from the effect send tracks they get sent to, will leave you with the effects still going. You didn't mute the source, you muted the combined result.

And if you do collect your signals and their fx sends in one bus track, then changing the volume on that will thus affect the fx signals as well, which sounds especially icky with delay and reverb effects.


So. This is essentially a request for trims. They come in form of envelopes on the tracks themselves and as group offset and override controls.
"Trim Volume" Envelope

This is pretty much a VCA for its own track. It is an extra volume envelope layer, enabling users to smoothly trim sectin of volume automation they do not wish to re-record.

It can be written to by activating a Trim switch that is indicated on individual tracks and in a central automation control panel when globally overriding track settings.

In other words, anything that controls the volume envelope will then control the volume trim envelope when the trim switch is active on the track.

Options and commands
  • Automatically coalesce the trim envelope in to the volume envelope, resetting the trim envelope.

  • Manually coalesce the trim volume envelope to the volume envelope.
Implementing the DCA functionality GUI (a possible method within Reapers framework)
  • Designate tracks as a DCA master with an attribute in the track manager, which basically does nothing until you also give it slaves to add to its control.

    The DCA flag in a column of the track manager makes it very easy and intuitive to find.

  • The Group Matrix, or its own matrix page is used for configuring what tracks fall under any kind of control of the DCA track. In the example mockup below I've simply tacked it on below the group matrix.

  • The DCA matrix is populated by both groups that are actually doing something and all tracks.

    This might be a problem if you don't actually want to link anything except control some stuff with a DCA. Then again you can just check the tracks individually, but that'll increase management time when you want to add tracks to a DCA influence.

Please note that basic routing/group/DCA matrix improvements like swipe-setting patch points and row/column highlights as suggested in the routing matrix request will help this work more effectively.

A simple mockup :



I thought I'd combine the matrix features requests in the Routing Matrix request (see link in sig), and try to work out it could all look. The patch points of the DCA matrix require no level indicators like the send patch points of the routing matrix do.


Issue Details
Issue Type Feature Request
Project Deprecated REAPER issue tracker
Category Audio recording and playback
Status Suggested
Priority 1 - Highest
Suggested Version 3.651
Implemented Version (none)
Users who would use this feature 281
Users who would not use this feature 2
Assigned Users (none)
Tags (none)

06-22-2011 01:14 PM
Human being with feelings
 
Additionally, it would be great if these had fairly open implementations to allow for:

1.) VCA group assignments on the channel strip, next to the fader. Think of the implementation on an SSL console.

2.) Ability to configure the GUI for the VCA controls as knobs or faders in the master section. Expanding the master section's width a bit, putting the VCA group faders plus solo/mute inline with the other faders and the master over it would be great--definitely would make console mixers like me feel more at home. Knobs would be more space efficient and emulate some console trim emulators. Having small faders stacked on top of each other as their own little section like a Trident 80b or other classic split console would be nice as well.

These options would go a long way towards creating a "work how you wanna" approach in Reaper.
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06-28-2011 09:05 AM
Human being with feelings
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker
Additionally, it would be great if these had fairly open implementations to allow for:

1.) VCA group assignments on the channel strip, next to the fader. Think of the implementation on an SSL console.
There are indicators for group assignment and you can assign the colours and style they display yourself, but nothing else apart from that yet. No "a" box like Protools does. It's all colours.

Quote:
2.) Ability to configure the GUI for the VCA controls as knobs or faders in the master section. Expanding the master section's width a bit, putting the VCA group faders plus solo/mute inline with the other faders and the master over it would be great--definitely would make console mixers like me feel more at home. Knobs would be more space efficient and emulate some console trim emulators. Having small faders stacked on top of each other as their own little section like a Trident 80b or other classic split console would be nice as well.

These options would go a long way towards creating a "work how you wanna" approach in Reaper.
Part of this is possible, part of it not.

Custom layouts are part of Reaper 4. Thus you could assign a more compact or otherwise special layout to your VCA tracks and thus mark them. SWS could create a function in the extension to automatically pick a layout if you name a track a certain way as well. There are some possiblities there already.

The stacking of tracks on top of another while others are not, is not possible. Maybe they'll let you shuffle things around that way, though I wouldn't expect a lot of specialization features to appear anytime soon. Keep those ideas at hand though, because if/when we get VCA functionality for groups, this is a workflow enhancement that could be really cool.
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