Reason: Automating Instrument and Effect Parameters

Automation is the process of changing parameter values — filter cutoffs, LFO frequencies, delay times — during the course of a sequence. The changes can be instantaneous, gradual, or somewhere in between.

In a sequencer, there are two ways to automate a parameter: recording and drawing. In Reason, the process is the same, regardless of whether you’re automating a parameter in an Instrument or an Effect.

Recording Automation

To quickly create automation data, it is sometimes easiest to record your knob-turning or slider-dragging action in real time. You can fine-tune this data later. This is a good way of doing it, because you can try out your moves while playing the sequence to hear the effect of the changes before recording them.

The steps below show how to automate a slider in the SubTractor instrument, but the procedure is the same for any control (knob or slider) in any of the Instrument or Effect devices.

  1. Create an instance of the SubTractor instrument in your rack.
  2. Right-click directly on the Filter 1 Freq slider in SubTractor, and choose Edit Automation from the context menu.

    This creates, in the SubTractor sequencer track, a lane for the Filter Freq parameter, shown in the image below.

    When recording automation, be sure to select the track for the appropriate device, so that your automation changes will go into that track.

  3. Set the Position Pointer in the Sequencer to an appropriate place, and press Record.
  4. Drag the Filter 1 Freq slider up and down. These changes in filter cutoff frequency will appear in a new automation clip in the lane created in step 1.
  5. That’s it! When you play this part of the sequence, you’ll see the slider move by itself.

Notice that the automation lane has an M button (circled in red below). You can use this to mute automation playback temporarily. If you click the M button so that it turns red and white, the automation will not play back. Every track has a Record Enable Parameter Automation button (circled in blue below). This must be on (red) before you can record automation into the track.

Drawing Automation

If you simply want to draw some data without recording it, you can do that in the Sequencer.

  1. Right-click directly on the control you want to automate, and choose Edit Automation from the context menu.
  2. Using the pencil tool, click in the newly-created automation lane in the Sequencer, and drag out a box. This is an empty clip that will contain your automation.
  3. With the arrow tool, double-click this clip to open it for editing.

    Remember that holding down the command key lets you switch quickly between the arrow and pencil tools.

  4. Use the pencil tool to draw a curve into the clip. If you draw past the edge of the clip, the clip will expand to contain the shape you draw.

Editing Automation Data

Here are some tips for editing automation data in the Sequencer.

Copyright ©2013 John Gibson