Old 08-03-2010, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default Automation : Trim envelopes and VCAs

This is the discussion thread for the feature request

"Automation - Trim Volume Envelope and VCAs"

How does it work

In a group, one of the tracks is designated a VCA master. That VCA master cannot perform any other duties.

Here is an illustration of how this works. First you see how normal groups work, and second how a VCA master works on a group.



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Old 08-03-2010, 10:32 PM   #2
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Nice approach to VCAs airon

I use folders a lot and I always find myself in the same predicament when I need to lower the volume of a section. Children's sends won't be affected by this operation. What if we could control children's sends proportionally when automating/changing folders parameters? Maybe an option in Preferences. Would this help somehow to solve your problem?
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:33 AM   #3
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No. The VCA tracks can and should not be tied to specific locations. A lot of the time I'll keep those faders together when doing a final mix on a show. Them being folder track faders, and me needing to still access the tracks with the audio content would lower my productivity by cluttering up my mixing desk, as I search through dozens of tracks for my VCA faders.

And making the kind of connection necessary to link the sends together on child tracks will probably complicate matters even further. Folder tracks are simply too limited that way. Nice try though.

If an idea better than the VCAs I described comes along, it'll get my vote.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airon View Post
And making the kind of connection necessary to link the sends together on child tracks will probably complicate matters even further.
Complicate things further? Please show me an scenerio where this will complicate things further.

Btw, you can 'group' folder tracks with "Gorup folders to the left" if you need them all together.
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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But why limit this to folder tracks ? If you're going to provide the functionality of a trim fader, why be bound by the limits of a folder track at all ?

It may be tidy to fit this in to a folder track, but it is a limit, and it's outside the group functionality. A trim track isn't supposed to pass any audio either, which folder tracks inevitably do with their child tracks, or would you like to require the user to switch the master/parent switch off too, so the audio doesn't get hit by two volume envelopes instead of one ?

Too many cons for me. I'll go with the more flexible and unbound master VCA switch that turns a track in to a group master trim that passes audio only if the user wants it to. Independent in all regards and not impairing any folder track behaviour either .
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Old 08-04-2010, 02:21 PM   #6
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Default more general? (VCA -> CV)

I'd totally love this. However, if we are to have some sort of (virtual) 'voltage control', let's have it *everywhere* and for *everything*, not just track volume faders... Would it hurt this FR to drop the "A" (= Amplification), and maybe switch the VC into CV (control voltage, as in old school CV/gate terminology) and talk more generally about improving modulation/automation of any parameter (whatever semantics we use... ) ? I think there is some overlap with what people have been discussing / asking for under the heading of 'automation items' as well.

Fwiw, Numerology has exactly the type of CV system as suits my needs; it is incredibly simple to 'trim' (mix/offset/multiply - whatever terms suits best) any other parameter modulation, no matter how many layers of modulation (envelopes, LFO's, etc.) have already been applied. The use case of having a single 'master VCA' envelope that 'trims' the output of a bunch of other CV envelopes that 'automate' (i.e. modulate some parameters that affect) the volumes of some individual audio files (/ tracks) is a very simple one - including the case where every single one of those parameters can be remotely controlled (using MIDI or, for much better resolution, OSC; including parameter feedback to remote controllers). It is in fact so simple that I consider it to still be in the "everything else takes longer" category. Like Airon says, I don't want to be tied to a location; well, I don't want to be tied to a fixed timeline either (so I rather use a bunch of real-time controls for morphing a bunch of 'master' parameters between 'scenes' that I can edit on the fly. Seriously, after setting up, everything that is not usable *live* because it still needs some sort of non-realtime manual editing falls into the "everything else takes longer" category imho...). A direct comparison may not be straightforward, as it is more of a modular sequencing app, not a linear, audio-file/track based DAW like Reaper. However, it's already stunning capabilities are steadily improving. I'd certainly recommend it more than any other app to complement (not substitute) a DAW like Reaper. But, to return to the point of this discussion, I really do checking it out if only to see how fantastically well a (virtual) 'control voltage system' can work for a music app in practice. I'd love to see something similar in Reaper.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:36 PM   #7
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They sort of pull off that CV thing with the JS plugins VCA_master and VCA_slave already.

VCA_Master sends out a control signal that the VCA_Slave plugin listens to. The VCA_Slave plugin then controls the audio signal passing through it via that control signal. Pretty nifty, but of course no substitute for the real thing. You could use Parameter Modulation to control just about anything that way and the VCA_Master plugin or a modified version if you like will do just fine for that, but it won't be super comfortable.

I've attached a demo project with an OGG loop inside. Push around the VCA Master track to see how it works.

Adding other parameters as a VCA control and slave source can become complicated. If you can design an implementation that gets you this functionality while still being usable(i.e. not slow and cumbersome), I'd be all for it.

This request of mine is kind of the basic functionality. It mimicks what Protools does, and that is the DAW that features this functionality is such an elegant fashion. The request is designed to make this fit in to the Reaper world seamlessly, and I'm pretty sure Reaper could take it much further, and your ideas may contribute to that.
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airon View Post
But why limit this to folder tracks ? If you're going to provide the functionality of a trim fader, why be bound by the limits of a folder track at all ?

It may be tidy to fit this in to a folder track, but it is a limit, and it's outside the group functionality. A trim track isn't supposed to pass any audio either, which folder tracks inevitably do with their child tracks, or would you like to require the user to switch the master/parent switch off too, so the audio doesn't get hit by two volume envelopes instead of one ?

Too many cons for me. I'll go with the more flexible and unbound master VCA switch that turns a track in to a group master trim that passes audio only if the user wants it to. Independent in all regards and not impairing any folder track behaviour either .
No, don't take me wrong, I wouldn't like to see this limited to folders. I agree with your idea/suggestion 100%. I'm just suggesting that folder tracks could have part of this VCA functionality during this implementation.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:21 PM   #9
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Oh yeah. That would be cool. That flexibility is what Reaper is all about.

Imagine controlling not only the folder track but any other tracks volume with it. An interesting set of relationships could be made. Going crazy, you could even control the folder track from one of the child tracks.

I truly hope Cockos does this, because we can do really cool things with it.

Since we don't have send slots it may get hard to connect them across tracks. They'd have to be sending to the same track, else it'll get complicated with linking stuff.

I'm all for it though, I'm just not sure what an implementation of this could look like.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airon View Post
Oh yeah. That would be cool. That flexibility is what Reaper is all about.

Imagine controlling not only the folder track but any other tracks volume with it. An interesting set of relationships could be made. Going crazy, you could even control the folder track from one of the child tracks.

I truly hope Cockos does this, because we can do really cool things with it.
Absolutely, it'd be a whole new world of possibilities Mixing with VCAs would be a godsend with large and complex mixes where we need to 'control' multiple parameters in the easiest possible way to avoid 'messing something up'. You know what you've done in a mix once it's done but 1 week later, when a client calls to tweak a few things here and there, it isn't that easy to remember everything fast enough.

Again, +10

Quote:
Originally Posted by airon View Post
Since we don't have send slots it may get hard to connect them across tracks. They'd have to be sending to the same track, else it'll get complicated with linking stuff.

I'm all for it though, I'm just not sure what an implementation of this could look like.
I'll think about it
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:05 AM   #11
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Bumping.

All the live mixers among us will certainly appreciate the need for trims and vca faders. And then there's any post production mixer out there who has ever touched a console.

Some consoles call VCAs group faders. Get voting and put down some words here if you're interested in getting this functionality. Then again, maybe most of the mixers aren't showing up here yet before this functionality is in place.
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Old 08-11-2010, 05:41 PM   #12
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Bumping.
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:38 PM   #13
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Bumped.

49 votes so far.

Trim envelopes and a VCA switch in the grouping section to make masters function as offsets for the slave tracks on the volume envelope, and override switches for the mute, solo and arm buttons.

Is there anything missing ?
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:31 AM   #14
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Edited the feature request in the issue tracker for clarity with a better layout and the odd edit here or there.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:36 PM   #15
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54 votes.

Let's hear it for flexible trim-volume envelopes and VCA functionality embedded in to the grouping features of Reaper.

Let's get serious about this and vote, discuss and comment. It's all welcome here.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:47 PM   #16
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60 votes. Nice one ladies and gents.

Keep 'em coming, and if you have the time, please do tell who you are and what you do, and how much this would help you.
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Old 12-27-2010, 02:31 PM   #17
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We're at 77 votes now. Time to bump this and provide some more arguments for why this brand of group volume control is such a great thing. Since the VCA groups are basically modelled on what Protools 7.2 and higher does, here are some compelling arguments for that feature.

Mike Thornton’s workshop from September 2008
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep0.../vcagroups.htm


Simon Sherbourne’s preview of Pro Tools HD 7.2
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep0...protools72.htm

These links appeared in SOS's review of Protool 9 btw.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:10 AM   #18
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i was quite shocked to learn that you can't group envelopes across different tracks. i am not sure if i care too much about the trim envelopes though. perhaps it would make sense to decouple these into two different F/Rs? Or are they linked ?

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Old 01-05-2011, 05:46 PM   #19
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Yeah, they're quite similar, as the VCA volume fader is pretty much a second trim layer on top of its slave tracks.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:25 PM   #20
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Recently got a controller, and what I wanted to have is a few "dummy" tracks on top of the session to control key elements of my mix.
Tried grouping tracks, but found that while faders are grouped, the automation does not link.
So proposed VCAs seems to be solution to this.
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:45 PM   #21
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That is precisely what VCAs are for, in both DAWs and on live mixing boards. An added layer of control that's easy to create, remove and revise.
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Old 05-13-2011, 11:01 AM   #22
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I like JS VCA
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:34 AM   #23
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100 votes.

Looks like a total winner to me.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:08 AM   #24
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114. Keep your ideas coming, and if possible, post them here, not in the actual request thread in the issue tracker.

Here's a copy of the latest post, including my answers.

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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Old 07-25-2011, 04:39 PM   #25
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120 votes. Keep 'em coming.

And post your ideas please.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:21 PM   #26
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Please add the capability of assigning a VCA over one or more other VCA's (no cyclic assignments though - that should be obvious).

Also have a capability however off the shelf as it may seem, to assign VCA control of a given channel to two or more VCA's. Flexibility is nice, as long as it remains simple to use. 0dB at both VCA's have no effect on the target channel. -3dB on one VCA affects the target channel by -3dB. +3dB on the 2nd VCA affects the target channel by +3dB, as far as implementation. Keeping it simple but flexible.

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Old 08-15-2011, 03:51 PM   #27
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That shouldn't be much of a problem, since the idea is to use the group system that is already in place in Reaper, much like Protools does this.

A track is declared a VCA master of a group. The group matrix let's you cross-polinate members in to other groups and even cascade them already.

Hopefully we'll see this happen in the coming months.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:46 PM   #28
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This is definitely something that needs to be built into REAPER by default.

I was pretty amazed when I saw the original JS-VCA thread where Justin created the JS plugins within 30 mins of it being posted.
However, it's a very cumbersome implementation.

Also, I would love to be able to switch a folder track between a submix and VCA (and of course set the default behaviour).
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:33 AM   #29
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Time for a bump.

I did add this signal workflow graph to the request.

Vote for this request here if you're interested in using this.

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Old 12-12-2011, 06:12 AM   #30
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Bump up.

So far I'm thinking that VCAs would simply be another Group feature.
  • One track is designated to be a VCA master

  • There can be only one VCA master per group

  • The VCA master cannot perform any other group functions.

  • A VCA master can be a slave to another VCA master

    One example of this are to have a VCA master for groups of similar instruments, and then have another VCA master that controls the VCA masters of the instrument groups, so you have one fader to adjust all instruments for example.

    Or a VCA each for Main vocals, Background Vocals Verse, Background Vocals Chorus. Then you create a group with those VCAs as slaves and a new track to be a VCA master, and you've got a non-bussing, indenendapt fader to dip the vocals over the entire session without having to mess about with any of the automation on the slave tracks.
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:51 PM   #31
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Yes, yes, YES! VCAs FTW!
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:18 AM   #32
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BUMP

Magix Sequoia 12 has this now ... it's reaper's turn.
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:37 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timlloyd View Post
BUMP

Magix Sequoia 12 has this now ... it's reaper's turn.
If only sequoia wasn't so insanely expensive... I tried the Samplitude trial a while ago and really liked the idea of revolver tracks (too bad it doesn't support 4-point edits like sequoia... although I guess better for cockos )

Oh, and yeah, already voted for vcas ages ago
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Old 03-08-2012, 03:09 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timlloyd View Post
BUMP

Magix Sequoia 12 has this now ... it's reaper's turn.
Hah. During development we brought up that PT has had this forever and that good quality hardware desks have this too. There was much arguement that VCAs are not needed when you have submixes/group channels... *slaps forehead*
It was obvious there were no professional engineers making the decisions...
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Old 03-08-2012, 03:59 PM   #35
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Quote:
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although I guess better for cockos
Absolutely - I just hope they realise ...

Full area selection, VCAs, EBU R128 stuff, automation upgrades, 4-point editing (in some form or another) ... wOw ... if only

One day probably, just hopefully not too far in the future.
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Old 03-08-2012, 04:15 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timlloyd View Post
Absolutely - I just hope they realise ...

Full area selection, VCAs, EBU R128 stuff, automation upgrades, 4-point editing (in some form or another) ... wOw ... if only

One day probably, just hopefully not too far in the future.
And better volume envelope scaling for automation...
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Old 03-08-2012, 04:16 PM   #37
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Oop ... of course!

And ... VCAs again (just to be on topic )
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Old 03-08-2012, 04:47 PM   #38
Lawrence
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That "Ghost Fader Cap" thing in Sequoia's VCA function is pretty clever... kills 2 bird with one stone. Allows you very easily see which faders are part of VCA group while also showing the relative trim.

Clever indeed.
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Old 03-08-2012, 05:54 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence View Post
That "Ghost Fader Cap" thing in Sequoia's VCA function is pretty clever... kills 2 bird with one stone.
Yes, it's genius.
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:37 PM   #40
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And LUFS metering. Yeah that request is just 11 months old and impossible to do(*grind*). But better than what Sequoia would be functions to loudness-normalize items and time selection scan of the master output, as well as a timecode-bound loudness history graph, so we can go back and fix an area and have a selection of the history be updated either automatically during live playback or time-seleciton-scan style.

Nice illustration of VCA influence in Sequoia. Thanks for the headsup fellas.
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