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ReaProducer - Accessible Audio Production with Reaper

Jun 21, 2018

This session steps through doing basic automation of track volume, pan and effect parameters in Reaper with OSARA.

Please note that there has been an update to the key map since this was recorded. You now arm an envelope with Alt (or Option on Mac) +L rather than the quoted Control+L.

There are a number of different ways of writing automation in Reaper and if you have a Control Surface, this will open up more.

This episode shows how to manually write in automation points, and we start with the Volume Envelope, no control surface necessary.

In case you’re not too sure what automation is, in the context of a DAW, it allows you to control a particular parameter such as the volume of a track, so that it is at different levels at different parts of the timeline. For example, if you have some music on one track, and a voice over on another track, you might wish to decrease the volume of the music whilst the voice is speaking and than raise it up again. To do this, you can write in some automation for the track volume envelope.

  1. Select the track to automate.
  2. Toggle the Volume envelope visible, with Control+Alt+V. 
  3. Select the Vol Envelope with Alt+L. If you have multiple envelopes enable for a track, this will cycle through the visible envelopes. You add the Shift key to cycle through the envelopes in reverse.
  4. Move to the point at which you wish to start adjusting the track volume and add a point with Shift+E – Insert point at current position. This will insert a point at the current edit cursor position and at the current envelope value. So in our case, since we’ve not yet adjusted the volume, the envelope value will be 0db. This is the point at which we want to start the fade of the music for our voice over. When the first point is inserted, Reaper will automatically insert another point at the very beginning of the track, so our point will actually be point two.
  5. Given we are wanting to have the Vol fade down before the voice over starts, move forward to the point just before speech starts. As we are going to want to adjust the value of this point, use the command ?Edit envelope point at cursor" bound to Alt+Shift+E. If our cursor isn’t on an envelope point, this command will first add one and than bring up a dialog to adjust it. Put in the amount by which you wish to drop the Vol, for example, negative 15db, and press enter.

You have now faded the volume of your music track. If you make no other changes, the volume will stay where you last set it until the end of the project. In the case of a voice over, you are probably going to want to raise the volume of the music track back up. So repeat these basic steps. Add another point at minus 15db, at the end of the vocals. This will hold the volume at this level until this point on the timeline, in other words you are setting the location at which you want the fade up to start. Move forward the length of the desired fade and add another point, editing it and setting the value back to 0db.

Within the dialog for an envelope point, there are a number of other values you can adjust. These include the position, and the shape of the envelope. The shape determines how the envelope will change between the selected point and the next point.

The principles above can be applied to any envelope you add to a track or item. To add a parameter of an effect, access the effect and click the Param button. This will bring up a menu, select the FX parameter list submenu and than Show track envelope, and find the parameter you want to add as an envelope.

If you have been adjusting a specific parameter of an effect and decide you want to add it as an envelope for the track, you can use the command “Show/hide track envelope for last touched FX parameter” which is mapped to Control+Alt+L.

Once you have envelopes added, use the OSARA commands, move to next or previous point below, to select and adjust or delete. Multiple points can also be selected. See the commands listed below.

The NumPad 8 and 2, can be used to adjust the value of a selected point and NumPad 4 or 6 along with the comma and period, can be used to adjust the position.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Control+Alt+V Track: Toggle track volume envelope visible
  • Control+Alt+P Track: Toggle track pan envelope visible
  • Alt+L OSARA: Select next track/take envelope (depending on focus)
  • Alt+Shift+L OSARA: Select previous track/take envelope (depending on focus)
  • Alt+J OSARA: Move to previous envelope point
  • Alt+K OSARA: Move to next envelope point
  • Alt+Shift+J OSARA: Move to previous envelope point (leaving other points selected)
  • Alt+Shift+K OSARA: Move to next envelope point (leaving other points selected)
  • Shift+E Envelope: Insert new point at current position
  • Alt+Shift+E Envelope: Edit envelope point value at cursor
  • , or NumPad4 Item edit: Move items/envelope points left
  • . or NumPad6 Item edit: Move items/envelope points right
  • NumPad8 Item edit: Move items/envelope points up one track/a bit
  • NumPad2 Item edit: Move items/envelope points down one track/a bit