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Fader Event: A MIDI Event Wannabe

Thursday, July 23, 2015 21:36

There have been many changes and new features regarding Automation in the update v10.1 of Logic Pro X. If you are often working in Logic''s Event List when editing your MIDI data, then you might have come across one of those new "things", an Event called "Fader" or even the "FaderM". Let''s find out what they are and what we can use them for.


MIDI Messages - MIDI Events

What happens when you record MIDI in your Project? For example, you play a series of 8 notes on your MIDI Keyboard while increasing the Modulation Wheel and on the last note, you use the Pitch Bend Wheel a little bit. Your MIDI Keyboard generates the appropriate MIDI Messages based on your performance and sends them to your MIDI Track in Logic, where Logic records them onto a MIDI Region.


Behind the Scene

Each note you play on your MIDI keyboard and each value of the Modulation or Pitch Wheel is represented by an individual MIDI Message. Those MIDI Messages are defined in the standard MIDI Specification so each device (following the MIDI standard) that sends or receives those MIDI Messages can "understand" each other.


Logic stores each incoming MIDI Message as a so-called "MIDI Event" in a MIDI Region. The available MIDI Editors let you view those MIDI Events in different ways.

For example, the Score Editor displays Note Events as standard music notation, the Piano Roll displays horizontal bars on a matrix, and the Event List just displays individual data entries on a list.

MIDI Events that represent Modulation data or Pitch Bend data can be displayed in the so-called MIDI Draw Area, that shows individual Events as Control Points (also known as "Nodes") that are connected with lines, forming a continuous Automation Curve.


Events List

The Event List window, one of the MIDI Editors in Logic, displays the MIDI Events stored in a MIDI Region as a list view. Each MIDI Event is represented in the list by an individual entry (a row ➊), divided into fields (columns ➋). The Headers  on top are showing the type of data for each field, similar to a spread sheet. These different fields display the data stored in a single MIDI Message. For example, what type of MIDI Message, what MIDI Channel, what value for that Event, etc.

Status Field

Of the, up to eight fields, let''s look at the "Status"  field first. A MIDI Message contains a so-called "Status Byte", a chunk of data that defines what type of MIDI Message this is. For example, Note, Pitch Bend, Program Change, etc. The "Status" field in the Event List displays this status for each MIDI Event.

The area  on the Event List next to the big Plus Button ➌ opens a popup menu ➍ when you click on it. It lists all the available types of MIDI Events.  Select a MIDI Event and then press the Plus Button ➌ to manually create a new MIDI Event at the current Playhead Position (must be in the range of the current MIDI Region)

Meta Events

Please note that the last Event Type on the Status Menu, "Meta Events" , is not an Event Type defined in the MIDI Specifications. It is a Logic-proprietary Event that is used for various purposes It follows the same data structure as the other MIDI Events, and therefore, can also be displayed and edited in the Event List.



Region Automation

Logic Pro X v10.1 introduced the option to store automation data inside MIDI Regions. This is called "Region Automation" and its Automation Curve can be viewed directly on a Region ➊ on the Tracks Window. We just discussed that the Event List displays the content of a MIDI Region, its individual MIDI Events ➋, so, if this type of automation data is also contained in the MIDI Region, then the question is, "can we see the automation in the Event List?". The answer is YES. Not only can we see the automation data, we can also edit the automation data directly in the Event List in the form of "Fader Events" like any other MIDI data by dragging the appropriate values up/down or by double-clicking on a value and enter a new number.


Fader Events

Similar to the Meta Events I just mentioned, Fader Events are also Logic-proprietary Events that follow the same data structure as standard MIDI Events. This makes it possible to display/edit them in the Event List next to the standard MIDI Events.

Logic will generate those Fader Events any time you move an Onscreen Control. This can be any control on the Channel Strip (Fader, Knobs, Buttons), a control on a Plugin Window, and also the Smart Controls Window. Vice versa, if you send Fader Events to a Channel Strip (by playing back the MIDI Region), then they will move the corresponding Onscreen Controls.

  • Tip: In the Environment Window, cable a Channel Strip Object to a Monitor Object and it will display the generated data when you move a control on that Channel Strip.


Fader Event Fields

Although the displayed fields in the Event List are the same for Fader Events and MIDI Events, the Fader Events "use" them slightly different. Here is a list with the explanation:

  • L: You can SMPTE Lock each individual Fader Event (Control Point) the same way as MIDI Events. A padlock ➊ is displayed for locked Control Points. The column can also display a dot ➋ to indicate that the Parameter is disabled via the Power Button on the Automation Parameter Button.
  • Position: This is the position of the Control Point that can be displayed as Musical Time (bars/beats) or Absolute Time (SMPTE). Use the local View Menu command “Event Position and Length as Time” to toggle the display mode.
  • Status: "Fader" is the type of data used for all automation data with the exception of the MIDI FX Plugins. They use the "FaderM" data type ➌.
  • Channel: The specific Automation Parameter a Control Point belongs to is determined by two values, the "Channel" and the "Number". The Channel value specifies the component (Channel Strip or Plugin) the Parameter belongs to and the Number value specifies the exact Parameter on that component.
  • Ch 1 (Channel Strip): All the main parameters of a Channel Strip (Fader, Pan, Send, etc.) have Ch1.
  • Ch 2-16 (Plugin): These numbers indicate the Plugin slot number 1-15 for the used Audio FX Plugins. Please note that an Instrument Channel Strip uses slot 1 for the Instrument Plugin and slot 2-15 for its Audio FX Plugins.
  • Number: Each number represents a specific Parameter on that Plugin or Channel Strip.
  • Value: This is the value of the Control Point. You can slide the number up/down or enter a new value numerically. However, some Parameters use values higher than 127. The higher number (used for Smart Controls Parameter) will be displayed but you cannot edit them.
  • Info: This field lists the actual name of the Parameter (the corresponding Onscreen Control).


Additional Considerations

Status Field

The Fader Events are not listed in the Status Menu I mentioned earlier. That means, you cannot create Fader Events manually in the Event List with the Plus Button like the other Event Types




Event Filter Buttons

The seven blue buttons on top of the Event List let you filter out specific Event Types from being displayed in the Event List. However, like the Meta Events, there is no Fader Event Button, and therefore, Fader Events are always displayed and cannot be hidden from the Event List

Additional Info Button

For MIDI Events, the Button "Additional Info" (part of the Event Filter Buttons) will display any interpolated Events between two Control Points of Continuous Control data (i.e. Pitch Bend, Modulation, etc.). It works the same for Fader Events. If deselected ➊, the Event List only displays the individual Automation Control Points (nodes) ➋. If selected ➌, it displays all the "invisible" nodes ➍ that form the Automation Curve ➎.

Event Float

The Event Float is a small floating window (option+E) that displays the currently selected MIDI Event as a single line, in the same data format as the Event List. It also will display a Fader Event if you select an Automation Control Point that is stored as Region Automation in a MIDI Region. You can edit the values also in that window.


Track Automation

Now that we know that we can view and edit Fader Events stored in Region Automation, what about Track Automation?

The concept of Fader Events is the same for Track Automation. However, the main difference is that they are stored in a special (hidden) Automation Region. Those Fader Events are displayed on the Track  as Automation Control Points creating the actual Automation Curve, but they cannot be displayed in the Event List window.

Instead, the Track Automation data has its own Event List ➋ that can be opened only with the Key Command "Track Automation Event List …" (shift+command+E).


Conclusion

"Fader Events" existed in Logic prior to v10.1, even before Logic 9. It was always a more advanced feature that was hidden. But now with the introduction of the Region Automation, Fader Events bubbled up to the surface and they are visible in the Event List in clear site. You don''t have to use them, but once you understand its functionality and implementation it offers you an additional tool how to work with automation.



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Thanks for your time and interest,

Edgar Rothermich