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Jul 27, 2013

GarageBand tutorial: How to use GarageBand’s automation tool

by Freddie Harrison

Find out how to use GarageBand’s automation tool to automatically adjust volume, panning and effects as your project plays out with our quick and easy tutorial.

GarageBand - Master Automation - FeaturedGarageBand - Master Automation - SidebarThe amazing thing about GarageBand is the sheer breadth of features that lie dormant beneath its unassuming surface, not least of which is the ability to automate almost every parameter of every Software Instrument and effect plug-in it contains. With this it’s possible to draw control points on automation curves to set certain levels at specific points of the song that dynamically alter the value of their assigned parameters. This means that you can gradually increase the level of the reverb on a snare pattern, change the speed of the tremolo effect on an organ part, create a sweeping band-pass filter effect or program almost any other dynamically evolving effect you can think of. Here’s how to set it up.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step-by-Step

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 1

Step 1: Choose your target

In your project, choose the track containing the plug-in whose settings you wish to automate. We’re going to use the AU Bandpass filter plug-in.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 2

Step 2: Lane disclosure

Click the triangle button in the track’s header to reveal its automation lane. Each track already contains curves, but adding your own is easy.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 3

Step 3: Add automation

Select Add Automation from the drop-down menu. This brings up a panel containing a list of the plug- ins currently assigned to that track.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 4

Step 4: Check please

Click the triangles to reveal the checkboxes for all available automation parameters. Tick the box next to the parameter you want to automate.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 5

Step 5: Reveal your curves

You can add as many parameters as you like. When done, click OK, then choose the parameter you just added to display its automation curve.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 6

Step 6: Get the point

Click on the line to add control points. Start by adding an anchor point either side of the current value to avoid accidental changes elsewhere in the song.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 7

Step 7: Reshape the curve

Move new control points vertically to alter the parameter’s value at that point. You can also reshape the curve by moving points horizontally.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 8

Step 8: Copy and move

To move a set of points, draw a selection window around them, then drag the points off to the side. Holding down Option while dragging makes a copy.

GarageBand - Master Automation - Step 9

Step 9: Link curve with region

Alternatively, choose ‘Lock Automation Curve to Regions’ from the Control menu. If you now copy a region, its automation data moves with it.

(Click on the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

GarageBand - Master Automation - Annotated

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    • http://www.yaronguez.com Yaron Guez

      Any trick for clicking on an existing automation point without GarageBand thinking you’re trying to create a new one? This occurrence is the bane of my existence.