Implementing accessible automation

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Revision as of 19:19, 24 October 2017 by Ultraleetj (talk | contribs) (added the latch preview mode)
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understanding automation

Automation is a very powerful feature of pretty much any DAW. It is simply the process of having the software make some changes automagically whether it is panning a sound from side to side, raising the volume of a lead vocal during a prominent section, and much more, depending of course on the effect. For more information read the relevant chapter on the reaper user guide.

Implementation using osara and NVDA

once you have a track or an item with sound you want to automate, its recommended you bind the following actions to any shortcuts you like:

  • Track: Show track envelopes dialog
  • Take: Show take envelopes dialog
  • Envelope: Toggle show all envelopes for tracks
From the track and or take envelopes dialog you can use NVDA's object navigation to arm, unarm, make visible or invisible anything from the volume to pan to any other parameter you have available, (assuming you have inserted an effect that can be automated). You can also set the
automation modes there and optionally make reaper link a parameter to a midi control message sent by a knob or a mod wheel, assuming you have a device
with those controls, or even midi notes will do it as well.
Assuming you have too a midi device set up properly. 
Alternatively you can select the track, then press control
applications on it, and then arrow up to the envelopes submenu and control the parameter status from there, but it only lets you just do volume and pan.

Quick bit on automation modes if you use an external device

  • Read/Trim is the do-nothing-we're-static mode
  • Read is the safe mode.
  • Touch is the only-stuff-you-touch mode. Reasonably safe.
  • Latch is the touch-at-your-peril mode.
  • latch preview: assign and experiment mode. Its usually a quick and intuitive way to have any effect parameter show up as an envelope.
* Write is the you are screwed mode. Destructive!.
Latch is usually a much better option when you need to actually
"write" stuff without keeping your hand on the controls. Read, Touch
and Latch is probably all most ever need.
if you still have your envelopes armed and wish to just hear the
result without anything getting accidentally changed, then set the
mode to read

OK, so I armed my envelopes, now what?

So, for this examples you armed volume and pan which are usually the most commonly automated things on a track. All you have to do then is press control plus l, and osara will move to the next armed and visible envelope, (control shift l move you to the previous one) reporting if it is armed or not. Usually when you arm an envelope without making it visible then it will become visible automagically.

You can then if you wish use the action: toggle show all envelopes for tracks to know what you have available.

You set your points after selecting the envelope, right where you feel like it, using your surface, controller, or manually by control plus shift plus I. then you move backwards or forwards through them using alt plus j and k, and then you can edit the value for every one of them first by selecting the envelope, then the point, and then
pressing alt plus shift plus e. You can edit the value, specify the curve, the attack or start of the point, ETC. and that's pretty much all. have fun, or read on for more.
oh, right. one last action you'll probably want to consider:
FX: Arm track envelope for last touched FX parameter
because you might be experimenting with some alien effect and probably won't have too much time to know what was that you just moved or to scroll 50 times to find that parameter buried on the track envelopes dialog.

what are all those shapes?

Point shapes work in the following way, and they are always valid when two or more points are set, meaning that changes will always be from point to point.

  • linear: draws a constant curve. The change will be constant throughout time from point to point.
  • Slow start/end: just as its name implies, the curve will be drawn with rounded, almost oval-shaped edges for very smooth transitions.
  • fast start: the curve will have an abrupt change as soon as this envelope point is encountered during playback.
  • fast end: the curve will have an abrupt change after passing this envelope point during playback.
  • square: this is shown as a 90 degree right angle. Its useful for on and off type parameters such as track mute, effect wet or dry, or when you need an exact, immediate transition.
  • Bezier: points using this type of curve can have a curve tension set, available right next to the type selection combo box. Having a curve tension set means that the higher the tension the less smoother the change will be.

Moving the slider after having a point type other than Bezier selected will always cause the point to be changed back to the Bezier type.

Points can move up or down or left or right. What's up with that?

Moving a point left and right will just move the point positions left or right, that is, sooner or later during playback. Moving them up or down will increase or decrease the value of the parameter that the point controls, volume for example. This will of course, affect how the curve looks on screen. so, you can use the following commands:

  • numpad 4 and 6 to move items or envelope points to the left or right.
  • numpad 8 and 2 to move points up or down.

as with anything osara related, you must select the track or the item first, then the envelope, then the points and then you can perform actions on them.

using automation items

Latest OSARA build already has the ability to navigate/select automation items and envelope points. From the osara read me: An envelope can contain one or more automation items positioned along the timeline. With OSARA, you move to automation items as follows:

  1. Select an envelope using control+l or control+shift+l (OSARA: Select next track/take envelope (depending on focus)).
  2. Now, use the normal item navigation commands; i.e. control+rightArrow and control+leftArrow (Item navigation: Select and move to next item, Item navigation: Select and move to previous item). Multiple selection is also possible using control+shift+rightArrow and control+shift+leftArrow (OSARA: Move to next item (leaving other items selected), OSARA: Move to previous item (leaving other items selected). Noncontiguous selection is done the same way described for tracks and items.
  3. The item navigation commands will revert back to moving through media items (instead of automation items) when focus is moved away from the envelope. For example, moving to another track and back again will again allow you to move through the media items on the track.

Once you move to an automation item, the commands to move between envelope points such as alt+k and alt+j (OSARA: Move to next envelope point, OSARA: Move to previous envelope point) move between the points in the automation item. The points within an automation item can only be accessed after moving to that automation item; they cannot be accessed from the underlying envelope. To return to the points in the underlying envelope, simply move focus back to the envelope by selecting it again with control+l and control+shift+l (OSARA: Select next track/take envelope (depending on focus), OSARA: Select previous track/take envelope (depending on focus)).