Automation in Caustic 3
The Android-based Digital Audio Workstation, Caustic, provides the ability to record and edit live automation. What this means is that after you have created patterns and sequenced them, you can go back and add more details to the sound by recording events such as pitch changes, cut-off amounts, LFO rates, and so on. You can record these changes live, or insert them manually in the automation editing screens. Adding automation to your songs doesn't imply that you are going to make it more mechanical, quite the contrary. The automation is what lets you make it sound less mechanical and more interesting to the listener.
In this article, I'm going to show you how to create automation events, view them, and edit them. We will be using the same short song called, "mysong" that we created in my other Caustic-tutorial articles, starting with "Caustic for Android - Working With the Sequencer".
I'll be using Caustic 3 for this tutorial, but the general process should still apply to the previous version as well.
With the file 'mysong' open, bring up the BASSLINE2 screen. Press play, and during playback, twist the CUTOFF dial from left to right and back again, and keep doing it. Listen to how it affects the sound.
To create Automation, we'll simply record the action of twisting this dial during playback, in real time. Press the STOP button twice to end current playback and rewind (does anyone say rewind anymore?) to the beginning of the track. Press the RECORD button once. The screen will start flashing a red border to let you know that RECORD mode has been activated.
Viewing Automation in Caustic
To view this newly recorded automation, go to the SEQUENCER screen, and press the MODE button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen twice.
The automation recorded your dial twists as a series of keys, connected by a continuous line, occurring in a timeline where the horizontal axis are the measures, and the vertical axis represent possible values, from 0-100.
On the left part of the screen, a dark tab with yellow font informs you what control you are viewing the automation of. You can have as many of these for each machine as there are controls available for that machine.
The grey squares placed over the orange line are keys, or sample points, where Caustic acknowledged a change in whatever control you altered during the live recording process.
The orange line represents the current state of the control being viewed at any given point in the timeline, even if there isn't a grey square on it.
The button at the top of the screen lets you disable editing mode so that you can grab the timeline and fling it left or right with your finger, to quickly move around your composition.
In the upper-right corner are the familiar selection and editing tools.
Editing the Automation
There are a couple ways to edit automation keys in Caustic. You can move or delete a key at a time, or use the selection tools to grab more than one key.
To grab just one key, just touch it. If you have a lot of keys in a small space of time, zoom in to make selection easier. If you touch and hold your finger on the key, you can drag it around the timeline. If you just touch it once, then you can press DELETE and get rid of it.
Let's say you want to clean up the dial twisting so that Caustic can interpolate between full left and full right on its own. Use the lasso tool, and select all the keys between the lowest and highest keys on the timeline as shown below.
Then press DELETE. Do the same for the remaining rises and runs in the timeline, until your screen looks like mine.
It's looking better, but it still needs more improvement. Notice how the keys are not exactly on the start of the measures they are near? Just grab each one, and drag it over to where it should be.
The change may be subtle, but now you know how to do it.
That's it! You now can create, view & edit automation in Caustic.