Burton's Realtime Automix Procedures

I had something of a breakthrough yesterday down at the studio and I promised in the past that if I ever perfected my real time automation mix process that I would detail it here. So here it goes.... Please forgive any minor inaccuracies, as I'm doing this from memory without the VS in front of me.

Once you've got the hang of real-time automation on the 880ex, it's a breeze. However, some very key information is omitted from both the manual and the application guide. So unless you happen to stumble upon it through trial and error (or read it here), you're S.O.L.

First you should complete all your regular tracking, have all the proper V-tracks selected, and set the mixer to green mixer mode. Next, here are the steps to creating and editing a real-time automated mix.

1) Press the automix button.

THIS IS KEY --- During the automix process, the track select buttons (the top row of buttons over the faders) are used to indicate the automation status of each fader. These buttons should intially be flashing green. You change the condition of these buttons by SIMULTANEOUSLY holding down the lit automix button while pressing the select button for the desired track. (Roland didn't feel like telling you that!)The track select button should cycle through the following conditions:

a) Flashing green - Automation "record" enabled. Once you begin to record your real time automation, all faders with flashing green select buttons will have their fader movements recorded. All faders should default to this status when you first press automix.
b) Solid green - Automation "read". Select this mode when you wish to playback previously recorded automation for a fader and do not wish for new fader movements to be recorded for a track.
c) no light - Automation is turned off.

For the first pass through your mix, you will most likely want to set all faders to record (flashing green).

2) Zero the counter.

3) Hold the automix button and simultaneously press the tap button to place an automix marker at the 0:00 location. I don't know why, but you have to do this...

4) Hold the automix button and simultaneously press the record button. The "condition" (upper left corner of the display screen) should now be alternating between "play" and "mix." This indicates that the automation recording is enabled and once play is pressed, all tracks with flashing green status buttons will have their automation moves recorded.

KEY CONCEPT - Be aware of the "condition" while in the automix mode. Anytime you wish to be recording your automation, the condition must be alternating between play and mix. When condition just says "play", you will be playing back your previously recorded automation.

5) Press play. You will now be recording your automated mix, and the VS will be storing your fader moves as you mix your tracks. When you have completed your mix, press stop. The screen should say something like "updating" and then "completed"

You can now zero the counter and review your mix by pressing play. Even though the select buttons will technically still be in flashing record mode, the "condition" will now be "play" so the automation won't be erased.

So now you've listened back to your automated mix, and it's pretty good. Let's assume it's almost perfect, except you screwed up the level of the vocals on the first chorus and now you want to change that.

KEY CONCEPT - Editing previously recorded automation is a lot like editing previously recorded audio tracks. You have to plan where you're going to "punch in" and "punch out" so that the edit properly matches the rest of your mix.

1) Move to the location where you wish to edit your previously recorded automation. For this example, we want to repair a chorus, so we'd move to a location just before the chorus.

2) Set the automation status for each track. Hold down the automix button while simultaneously pressing the select button for each track to change it to solid green. This will set these tracks for automation playback. Then set the select button for the track you wish to edit to flashing green.

3) Set the physical fader position for the track you wish to edit. Do this by moving to the location of the edit in the song, and then pressing play. (You won't be recording any automation at this point, and the "condition" on the display screen should just say "play") Next, move the fader for the selected track. You'll hear the track level lock to the fader position, and then you can set the level to the appropriate spot for the start of your edit.

4) Press stop and then move back to the beginning location of the automation edit.

5) Now simultaneously press the automix button and record. The condition will again flash between play and mix. You automix edit will begin as soon as you press play.

KEY CONCEPT - When you press play to begin automating, your faders are not active until they are moved. Even if the vocal track in this example is set for automation record, unless the fader is moved, the track will play back it's original automation data. Once the fader is moved, automation will record the fader position until you press stop.

6) Press play and jiggle the fader (it should already have been placed at its approximate starting position during step 3, above). Your automation is now recording. During playback, record your fader moves through the point where you wish to make corrections.

7) Press stop. The screen will again say "updating" and "complete" to indicate that your new automation is being recorded.

Go back and listen to the results and decide if your mix is correct. If not, simply repeat the above editing process as many times as you'd like and voila', you've got your completed mix.

Once you've got all this absorbed and working for you, there are lots of things you can try. You may wish to begin by only mixing a couple of tracks, and then gradually, adding in 1 track at a time while replaying the automation previously recorded for other tracks.

Also, there's no reason that automation must be used for a final mix. If you've ever gone nuts trying to submix 4 or 5 guitar parts, simply automate the submix!

Hope this helps somebody out. I know it would have done me a lot of good to have this information about 3 months ago. Let me know if anything I've written is unclear. Good luck. Once you master this process, you're VS becomes a much much more powerful machine.