FL Studio tutorial explaining automation events.
In a previous tutorial (see What is automation?) I mentioned automation clips and automation events. While automation clips can exist independent of a pattern, automation events are bound to patterns and do not exist independently. In this tutorial we will have a closer look at the latter type of automation.
You already know (assuming you have read the mentioned tutorial) that you can move your controls by linking them to automation clips – which you manipulate manually. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could play our song or pattern, change the channel volume (or any other control) while the song is played and record that movement? This is where (recording) automation events come in.
Moving controls in FL studio can be done either via an external controller or with your mouse. We will keep it simple here and use our mouse, which requires no special setup. In some other tutorial I will discuss how to link external controllers to controls in FL Studio.
Let’s start with a pattern that I created. See the below screenshot of the Piano Roll view with a trance lead pattern (Nexus VST plugin):
Now, what I would like to achieve is to change the filter cutoff value while this pattern is played. See below:
Note that I use the Nexus plugin and the filter cutoff for illustration purposes only. You can choose any other control, e.g. on one of the generators that come with FL Studio. It does not have to be a plugin.
Anyway, let’s have a look at the Transport Panel below:
The Transport Panel (located in the main FL Studio interface) contains controls for playing, recording and setting song position and tempo. It is the recording we are interested in. If you right click it you will see the following menu (Recording filter menu):
Make sure that only Automation is selected. In this way we make sure that we only record automation events when we are in record mode.
Next, press the Record button. It will turn red/orange indicating that recording has now been ‘armed’. See below:
If you happen to see the following dialog:
Click the ‘x’ in the upper corner. If you were to select any of the options in the dialog we would override our previous setting in the recording filter menu (see above).
Next, make sure that you have selected the appropriate pattern and have the control you want to move in front of you. See below:
Note that I have selected pattern 1 in the Playlist view (which happens to have my note pattern) and have opened the Nexus plugin which has the filter cutoff control. I am now ready to record.
Click the Play button on the Transport Panel. After a few seconds the pattern will begin to be play - move your control now. When you are done, click the Stop button on the Transport Panel and ‘unarm’ recording by clicking the Record button again (it will turn to grey again). If all went as it should, you have now recorded the movement of the control.
So how do we check it? Well, a quick way of checking is to play your pattern again (without recording this time). You should now hear the changes that you introduced while recording. Another way is to click in the Clip Tracks area of the Playlist view (that’s the upper part of the view).
Do you see the graph behind the pattern data? This is the recorded automation event, now being an integrated part of the pattern.
Editing an Automation Event
If you want to edit the recorded automation event, select the control in the Target control menu (Piano Roll view). See below:
You will now see the Automation event in the Integrated Event Editor (where you can adjust it using the drawing tools).
Turning an Automation Event into an Automation Clip.
If you want to turn an automation event (which is integrated in the pattern) into an automation clip, then choose Edit | Turn into automation clip in the Piano Roll options (make sure the target control is set to the control for which you recorded the automation event). See below:
After selecting this option, the automation event is removed from the pattern and a new automation channel is added to the Step Sequencer. See below:
You can also see that I have placed the automation clip in the Playlist (see upper part), which is now separated from the pattern.
Personally, I prefer to work with automation clips rather than with automation events – as automation events are somewhat hidden. So, after initial recording I usually turn them into clips, zoom in and adjust where necessary.
Hope this FL Studio tutorial was helpful to you. Feel free to leave any comments. Happy composing!