Sytrus Plugin and Automation Intro
Since the Sytrus plugin is a heavy investment and has about 400 presets to investigate before you even start knob twiddling, I thought I better get a basic template for studying this thing, as I am bound to keep needing to come back to it to find sounds to either fit to a track or use to start writing one. In fact, the latter is just what happened because of this.
A basic Template was set up as below – there should be enough info for you in the picture to know what was done by now – 1 C note for the main backing (Sequonitron – lovely!), and an alternate C/G bar to see envelope change for other presets when stepping through them to try them out. There is basic rhythm from kick, snare and hh, all EQ’d with the Fruity Parametric 2.
The Sequonitron patch has some nice shifting harmonics over the whole envelope, is rhythmic but quite smooth. It is then just a case of laboriously clicking through the presets using the top right <> buttons in the plugin window.
Although tedious, it has to be done to get an idea of the type of sounds this plugin produces and get a feel for its range of frequencies, resonances, modulation and general versatility.
At this point, it would be good to know how, if possible, to automate preset changes every bar then just sit back and listen to the sequencer automatically stepping through the 400 or so presets to listen to what works…any help anyone?
The Sequonitron preset with Echo Bass in a second Channel sounds like this for example – very nice:
I like this a lot, so kept these two as a constant rhythm, and cloned another Sytrus Channel to step through the presets with.
This started to develop into a possible Track I liked it so much, so I had to think about Automation.
I want to bring each preset I like into the sequence every 4 bars, bang on. I could achieve what I wanted just by manually clicking the mixer or Channel LED at the start of each bar of course, but could I Automate this process somehow? Well – it’s FLS – of course you can…but how best?
Checking the Manual for Automation Clip info:
There are several ways to create an Automation Clip:
- Native FL Studio controls – Native controls, those on the FL Studio interface and Image-Line plugins, can be Right-clicked to show a popup menu. Select ‘Create automation clip‘. A clip will be added to the Playlist Clip-Track area (as shown above). See Notes below.
- VST plugin controls – Move (tweak) the target control on the VST using your mouse, then, from the Tools Menu select ‘Last tweaked > Create automation clip‘. This will create an Automation Clip and place it in the Playlist for further editing. See Note below. For more information on linking targets in FL Studio and plugins see the sections on Linking internal controllers and Linking hardware controllers.
- Add a Channel – Add an Automation Clip to a channel from the Channels > Add One > Automation Clip dialog. In this case an Automation Clip display won’t automatically show in the Playlist.
- Convert from Event Data – All recorded automation is saved as Event Data. Convert Event Data to an Automation Clip from the ‘Edit > Turn into automation clip‘ command in the Event Editor menu.
- Audio Clips – FL Studio also provides you with a quick way to automate the volume/pan of an Audio Clip. Open the clip menu and select either Automate > Panning or Automate > Volume. The new Automation Clip will be placed over the target Audio Clip.
Ok, I can’t Rclick the LEDs for a menu as that already serves an on/off function – it is not a controller in the sense above, so another way is to turn the mixer fader instantly “up”. This can be automated, and you can RClick it and choose “Create automation clip”
This creates a volume curve Clip in the Playlist which can then be set to various preset curves by Rclicking for the menu, or dragged by setting control points (Lclick) and moving them around:
As I want an instantaneous step from 0 to say 75% volume, for each of the 3 different Sytrus Channel presets I chose, every 4 bars, the “Hold” option achieves this.
To add an Automation Clip, step by step, because this is a fiddly pain in the arse if you don’t get it right asap, as it creates Automation Tracks in the sequencer window that don’t delete if you delete the Auto Clip in the Playlist (first fault in FLS?), so you can end up with a load of Channels named the same if you delete the Clips, on errors:
- Set the Mixer fader for the chosen Channel to 0, Rclick the fader and choose ‘Create Auto Clip’. In the Playlist you get:
- Rclick the volume line at VERY END OF THE CLIP and drag it to the point you want the fade to start e.g. bar 8
- Rclick that point again and choose ‘Hold’ from the menu
- Rclick that point again and drag it up to the volume level you want
- You can now drag the Clip length end by the top bar, as far along as you want for clarity, but without seeing the volume line for the whole length of the Clip. (You may want that, for example to drop the track volume again later – I did – so you don’t do step 1). If you want to see the volume curve just Lclick the vertical part to create another point and drag it to where you want:
Now you can watch each fader slide up/down in real time at the fade points:
So far it sounds like this:
Just a tip, noticing the delays get cut off in these mp3 examples – that can be stopped by setting a time marker at the Track end, from the Manual:
Song Loop – Right-click a Time Marker and select the option ‘Song loop‘ See (11) for more information on adding Time Markers. The ‘Song loop’ marker (note the down facing arrow) defines the repeat point for a playing project, repeats are not played when a song is rendered although the marker can be used to define render length. TIP: The Repeat Marker is ignored during rendering except for the special case where the marker is set beyond the end of the last Playlist data. This will force the project to be rendered to the point set by the marker, useful for ensuring decaying effect sounds are captured. LIVE: The song markers can also be used to control live playback & performance.
Make sure you leave enough time for the last delay or decay at the Track end:
A handy Tool in the Piano Roll drop menu is Chop, which chops a long note into smaller ones dictated by the Snap setting:
These can then be re-arranged to create fast arpeggios, chords or melodies from set Templates, similar to the Quantize templates in a prior Post, by clicking the Default folder icon, before you commit to a pattern:
You get to see where the notes will go, for each Template.
I have developed this Track to the point below, and am already starting to get CPU overload crackles just from this small amount of Data in this window, combined with whatever extra load the Sytrus plugin is causing playing only 4 different, but complex polyphonic presets.
A probable main cause is my driver settings, and relatively underpowered laptop at only 2GB RAM, and an AMD Athlon Dual Core 64 bit CPU running Win7 64. I have Word and Paint open also.
I’ll try to get the ASIO4ALL working…
I did! Mega performance increase! I’ll put it in a separate Post…here:
Ok, I spent 2 days developing this Track instead of studying the Systrus plugin from a technical point of view, as just looking at its control menus – 6 operators, 3 filters, and FX arranged in an 81 knob matrix, with Frequency Modulation and Ring Modulation – gave me a migraine…
Complex to say the least!
I learned a lot about Track planning and structuring instead, and keeping tidy as you go, else you will end up in a mess, and I have a new Track at the end of this, so it was certainly a beneficial study so far, even if I didn’t look at tweaking this plugin. For the time being, with 400 presets to look at, knowing that Gol and the other developers and programmers would have spent time building nice presets already, it is unlikely you would stumble across better sounds by knob twiddling than they already have made.
The main lesson is the importance of building solid foundations right from the start with FLS or life will just be a lot more difficult later if you don’t.
This track may not have flashy Playlist techniques, complex drum programming, or mass melodic content, but it has enough space to hear the sheer sound quality of each preset over the course of their envelope, it has a relaxed but driving, solid rhythm and a particular “feel” often lacking in purely programmed music.
It may be re-mixed/altered in future, but for now I regard it as my first “proper” Track created in FLS.
Hope you like it…