Logic Pro: Tips and Tricks

January 31, 2012

DAW Fundamentals, Logic Pro

Learning the Ins and Outs of any major DAW takes time, hard work and perseverance.  Over the course of time, you learn tricks that streamline your workflow and make your life in these DAW’s loads easier.

If you’re new to Logic Pro or looking to become more familiar with this program – you’re in luck.  Today, I will cover some tips that have helped me become more efficient (as a producer) and increased my production output.

Create Your Own Session Templates

Creating your own session templates is a great way to save time and can have you in action immediately.

Here’s an example of why this is an effective time saver:

As you grow, you will develop a set of go-to sounds based on the type of music your producing and the instruments or plug-ins you have access to.  So, lets say you have a set of go-to sounds that you typically start with when producing Hip Hop music.  Why reload those same virtual instruments over and over every time you start a producing a new track?

It simply doesn’t make sense when you have the ability to create your own session templates. 

Logic Pro comes with some pre-constructed templates that can help get you going.  These templates are great starting points and may be perfect for you, but I recommend that you take the time to create your own.  This will allow you to tailor these templates to your specific needs – not what Logic assumes you need.

To create your own session template pull up an empty Logic arrangement and start loading up the virtual instruments and associated sound processors you find yourself using often.  Once that is finished, scroll up, click File and then save as a template. This session template will now be available for use in the future.

Organizing A Session Arrangement

Labeling and Color-coding a session arrangement is another effective time saver.  In terms of professionalism, this is always a good indicator of where a producer is at – does he take the time to organize his sessions neatly?  It’s also one of the first things I look at when working with younger, less experienced talent because producers who are naturally discipline minded tend to organize their sessions better (although this is not always the case).

What I’ve found is that a lot of younger producers and engineers don’t take the time to organize their sessions neatly.  This is fine, until you’re knee deep in a 48-track arrangement with nothing labeled and tracks and clips scattered all over the place.  The result is a total mess and at that point I hope you have access to a big bottle of Tylenol!

With that being said, lets take a look at short video on how to quickly arrange our session so we can stay organized.

Getting the most out of Logic’s editing tools

 

Logic has many tools for editing and navigating a session.  Depending on what  you’re trying to accomplish, certain tools are more useful than others.  Knowing which tools are relevant and having instant access to them is vital in streamlining your workflow.

Aside from the session view, you also have several other editing windows within Logic that make better use of other tools.  A Good example is the Piano Roll view in which you edit MIDI data.  The tools I use the most for editing MIDI are the cursor (left click), the pencil (command+click), and the velocity tool (right click) – these tools allow you to edit MIDI info in a hurry – if you have them assigned to your mouse.

Consolidating Tracks To Manage CPU Resources

Its no secret that DAW’s and associated Plug-Ins eat up computer resources, especially in large arrangements.  If you don’t have a supped up computer on performance steroids, the latency and artifacts that result can make furthering your song tedious and aggravating.

One way to cut down on performance issues that arise from large arrangements is to consolidate tracks using Logic’s bounce in place feature.

Note:  Whenever using this feature to consolidate your work be sure to save your session with a new name beforehand (i.e. song_name_bounce_1).

Here’s why: If you convert a bunch of MIDI files to .WAV files, delete those MIDI files (to free up cpu resources) and save your session with the same name, it will overwrite your original session and your original MIDI files will be lost for good.  However, if you save the session with a new name you still have access to your previous session in the event you need to retrieve or manipulate those original files.  It’s very important you understand this whenever consolidating and bouncing files.

The cool thing about Logics ‘bounce in place’ feature is that it does it all the work for you directly in Logic, which makes bouncing down files a breeze.  However, I think this is option is only available for Logic 9 owners.

Here’s how to bounce a file (or files) in place:

Select the files you wish to bounce then hold control while you click within that space.  Then, select ‘bounce in place’ from the drop down menu.

A Bounce Regions In Place box will pop up and give you some options/ preferences for your bounce down.

Give your bounce a relevant name you will and set the Destination to New Track.

Source refers to the files you are bouncing and what you want to do with them after the bounce is completed. If you select Leave the files will remain as they are. Select Mute and they will be muted. Select Delete and they will be deleted.

If you are trying free up CPU resources you will probably choose Delete. Just remember to save as a new session before you start doing destructive editing.

The other options are fairly self-explanatory. You can choose whether or not you want to bypass effects Plug – Ins, normalize the bounce, and include or disregard volume and pan info.

Click OK when you have your settings how you want them and your bounce will be created and laid out on a track for you in Logic.

Above: New track is in blue.

 

Frequently Used Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a surefire way to make more efficient use of your time.  Learning shortcuts takes a little initiative and some conscious effort but those who learn them are highly rewarded for their effort.  A producer who makes use of important keyboard shortcuts has the ability to run circles around a producer or engineer that does not make use of them.

My advice is that you type up and print out the list of shortcuts they provide and catalogue them for yourself.  At first the list can seem a bit intimidating, but as you start to learn which ones you’re using the most, you can go through that list and highlight the relevant ones while disregarding the more obscure shortcuts.

The value of a keyboard shortcut depends on 2 things:

1)  the amount of time it would take you to accomplish that same task without the shortcut and…

2)  The rate or frequency in which you need to perform that task (how often)

Here is a brief list of shortcuts (in no particular order) that I find myself using a lot.

Instantly save your session (command+S)

Duplicate any track and its associated effects

(Click on desired track and then hit command+D)

Copy and Duplicate anything (audio, MIDI, effects etc.)

(Select desired clip, MIDI data, or object then hold Option while dragging and dropping the duplicate to desired location)

Instanly load any MIDI clip into the Piano Roll

(Simply double click on the MIDI file in your session and its MIDI data should automatically pop up in the Piano Roll editor for you)

Instant quantization of MIDI data

(Click in the Piano Roll edit window, then hit Command+A, followed by Q and all MIDI notes will quantize)

–  Command + A = select all  – Q = Quantize

Bounce Files In Place

(Select the desired file/s then control+click the file/s and choose ‘bounce in place’ from dropdown menu)

Other Shortcuts

Solo         —————————————————– S

Mute          ————————————————— M

Record      ————————————————–  R

Quantize   ————————————————– Q

Open Arrange window         ————————–– Command+1

Open Mixer Window             —————————- Command+2

Select All                       ———————————— Command+A

Open Automation Lanes     —————————- A

Single Track Enlargement         ———————– Z

Show/Hide Processors and virtual Instruments – V

Toggle Mixer      ——————————————- X

Toggle Bin            —————————————— B

I use these key shortcuts on a daily basis and if you learn them you will quickly see why.  Your ability to make functional use of these shortcuts and tools is directly tied your output efficiency.

Summary

Learning to take advantage of the tools and technologies Logic Pro provides will transform you as a producer.  Three hours worth of work will now take you less than half that amount of time.  You will have full manipulative and navigational control over your sessions and sudden inspiration will become significantly less hindered by your workflow – it may even feed off of it.  There’s nothing like being inspired by a song idea, knowing exactly what you want to do and how to do it effortlessly.

Feel free to sound off in the comments below and share any Logic Pro tips or tricks you may have.

 

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