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George Simmons

Sequencing Tips, Tricks and Secrets

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I see others (as well as myself) having “A-hah” moments frequently, when learning new software commands, or a time-saving tip, or a slick new sequencing technique. And I also see newbies frequently wandering in a daze, carrying their mostly-empty minds in brown paper bags at their sides as they search for clean-smelling repositories of tips and tricks they can use to enhance their blossoming skills as sequencers. Of course, I mean that in the nicest possible way.

So stop me if this has been tried before, but how about if we do a thread with sequencing tips? This might be a good time of year to try it since about the only people who are skulking around are newbies who are actually trying to learn how to sequence, and those of us who spend a pathologic amount of time enslaved by this pervasive disease.

So since I opened my big mouth, I’ll go first. The biggest time-saving things that have helped me personally are the Beat Wizard, learning the most common keyboard commands, and discovering paste multiple and the Repeat tool.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: I believe that newbies who learn the Beat Wizard are automatically putting themselves on the fast track to fame and glory. Hey, if you’re a music major or an old-timer who learned this craft back in the cave days when all you had was the Tapper, that’s great – go enjoy your poached eggs – you’ve earned them. But if you’re like me and don’t know the difference between a cleft, a downbeat, or a stanza (and have the reflexes of either a girl or a fifty-eight year-old to boot) then the Beat Wizard is your only hope.

Learning the most common keyboard commands probably chopped a full third off my sequencing time. (And if I could type without looking at the keys it might even be faster still.) Discovering paste multiple was practically an unforgettable experience, and is an absolute must if you’re manually sequencing CCR’s and such. And I’m still in awe of the Repeat tool that I just discovered for myself a couple of weeks ago. Whether or not it’s worthy of a woody is a discussion for another time, but if sequencing offers something better than having copy/paste/paste-multiple all in one key, someone please tell me what that better thing is.

Okay, who’s next?

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PASTE FROM FOREGROUND in the clipboard is my latest find. You can copy and paste chases right next to each other without the chase getting scrambled up. Try it. Thanks for this thread George.

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For us that are not that fast, remember the "Play at half speed" option. Easier to get the placement right for your elements. Like George stated, learn the key board shortcuts.

1.O for on

2. del for off

3. u for fade up

4.d for fade down

Thats only a few, too early to think right now.:D

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When doing leaping arches i work backwards from the end of the beat..Therefore making the leap land exactly on the beat. To control the speed of the leap i highlight the whole time frame i am leaping and delete selected timings. If you are using 8 segmate's you "insert mutiple timing" then use multipals of "8" ie..16,32 and so on. Then delete one..7 for 8 ,15 for 16..That way you start on beat and end on beat. If you don't like the speed..hit "edit" undo mutiple and try again.

Infact the edit button is my best friend !!!!

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shfr26 wrote:

For us that are not that fast, remember the "Play at half speed" option. Easier to get the placement right for your elements. Like George stated, learn the key board shortcuts.

1.O for on

2. del for off

3. u for fade up

4.d for fade down

Thats only a few, too early to think right now.:D


5. t for twinkle

6. s for shimmer

This may also be a good spot for suggestions to flood the wishlist for. My suggestion would be a box similar to intensity and fade for play speed, make it easier to toggle.

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Make multiple timing grids.Click on the timings button.I like to make every grid from 0.10 0.09 0.08 0.07 etc all the way down to 0.01. Use your zoom time in and zoom time out buttons to make your grids bigger or smaller. 0.01 is your fastest grid and 0.10 is your slowest grid.You can make slower grids for leaving your lights turned on for longer timings.0.11 0.12 0.13 1.10 5.10 etc. Use these different timing grids to make your patterns to make your timing marks come out right on the marks.I use the wave form with the different timing grids and can make the lights match up to the beats.

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Guest Don Gillespie

I like to insert extra beat channels into my sequences click on a channel add a channel above or below copy and paste the beat into those channels makes sequencing easier and faster by not having to scroll up or down to find the beat

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"Whats this "Milk & Cookies are so 1990's Give Santa a beer"? That is just what we need more drunk drivers.

Anyhow, the beat wizard is a good thing but that "view wave form" is another good friend to have around. Sure helps with voice. You take that scope hair and you follow the view wave form and when you hear a word stop the screen with the space bar.

I can get the words right on these days, however some songs have a crap load of words and there are back ground singers too. Be prepared to spend time if you do words.

I also take say a loud cymbal sound and add that into my timing marks, and other such things.

I have about 10 "dead channel slots" for various timing marks........I may spend time doing timing marks but the sequencing is very fast after that.

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Guest Don Gillespie

lightzilla wrote:

"Whats this "Milk & Cookies are so 1990's Give Santa a beer"? That is just what we need to continue sequencing the way we do. :P

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Guest guest

So this thread is great, but even better would be a doc we could permanently post somewhere on the forum..maybe a newbie section sticky at minimum..

I've already said "oh cool..didn't know that.." multiple times as I read this one.

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If you have items like arches and spinners that sometimes are in sync and sometimes opposite each other, copy them into another track but reverse the order of them. Then when you want them to mirror each other you can just copy and paste to the reverse ordered one instead of building a reverse ordered sweep.

Track 1

Arch A 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Arch B 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Tree or spinner

A 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 B 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

Track 2

Arch A 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Arch B 7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Tree or spinner

A 12,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 B 12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

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DonFL wrote:

So this thread is great, but even better would be a doc we could permanently post somewhere on the forum..maybe a newbie section sticky at minimum..

I've already said "oh cool..didn't know that.." multiple times as I read this one.


Sounds like you just volunteered for a project. If you want to do some cutting and pasting to put a primer together in a word processing program, I'll volunteer to give you a hand organizing it. I'll even volunteer to post it on my website. I'm guessing there might be a few other people too who'd also want to post it on their site.

Here's something that was described by whoever posted it a couple years ago when I first read it as "magic": Select a range of a couple sweeps in a chase you have - arches, mega, mini, whatever... push the Foreground button, push the Fade Down button, and then press Enter. Presto! The perfect tool for when you want to maintain motion with a fade-out at the end of a song.

And if you're wondering what you'd ever use the BackGround button for, try this: Set the intensity tool to 30%. Select the same range for a couple of chase sweeps as you did above. Press the Background button, press the Intensity button, and then press Enter. Isn't that a lot quicker than doing it piece by piece? (And if we get an adjustable speed shimmer I see potential for some killer effects using the custom shimmer as background.)

Note: After completing either type of maneuver described above, make sure you immediately un-press either the foreground or background button before trying to resume normal sequencing.

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George Simmons wrote:

DonFL wrote:
So this thread is great, but even better would be a doc we could permanently post somewhere on the forum..maybe a newbie section sticky at minimum..

I've already said "oh cool..didn't know that.." multiple times as I read this one.


Sounds like you just volunteered for a project. If you want to do some cutting and pasting to put a primer together in a word processing program, I'll volunteer to give you a hand organizing it. I'll even volunteer to post it on my website. I'm guessing there might be a few other people too who'd also want to post it on their site.

Here's something that was described by whoever posted it a couple years ago when I first read it as "magic": Select a range of a couple sweeps in a chase you have - arches, mega, mini, whatever... push the Foreground button, push the Fade Down button, and then press Enter. Presto! The perfect tool for when you want to maintain motion with a fade-out at the end of a song.

And if you're wondering what you'd ever use the BackGround button for, try this: Set the intensity tool to 30%. Select the same range for a couple of chase sweeps as you did above. Press the Background button, press the Intensity button, and then press Enter. Isn't that a lot quicker than doing it piece by piece? (And if we get an adjustable speed shimmer I see potential for some killer effects using the custom shimmer as background.)

Note: After completing either type of maneuver described above, make sure you immediately un-press either the foreground or background button before trying to resume normal sequencing.

I need to get sequencing and trying all these new features I am learning. Thanks to all for your good information. You guys are awesome!

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George Simmons wrote:

DonFL wrote:
So this thread is great, but even better would be a doc we could permanently post somewhere on the forum..maybe a newbie section sticky at minimum..

I've already said "oh cool..didn't know that.." multiple times as I read this one.


Sounds like you just volunteered for a project. If you want to do some cutting and pasting to put a primer together in a word processing program, I'll volunteer to give you a hand organizing it. I'll even volunteer to post it on my website. I'm guessing there might be a few other people too who'd also want to post it on their site.

Here's something that was described by whoever posted it a couple years ago when I first read it as "magic": Select a range of a couple sweeps in a chase you have - arches, mega, mini, whatever... push the Foreground button, push the Fade Down button, and then press Enter. Presto! The perfect tool for when you want to maintain motion with a fade-out at the end of a song.

And if you're wondering what you'd ever use the BackGround button for, try this: Set the intensity tool to 30%. Select the same range for a couple of chase sweeps as you did above. Press the Background button, press the Intensity button, and then press Enter. Isn't that a lot quicker than doing it piece by piece? (And if we get an adjustable speed shimmer I see potential for some killer effects using the custom shimmer as background.)

Note: After completing either type of maneuver described above, make sure you immediately un-press either the foreground or background button before trying to resume normal sequencing.

Geez, if I had the time....well, sleep is overrated anyway...:P

I'll volunteer to put it together in a powerpoint or word doc, but I'd need to lean on the contributors to provide their "hint" in either of those formats...probably word is best..thinking a doc would work better than a ppt.

If I can get everyone to do that...screenshots, etc..I'll do the compiling and work with george (need his expert eyes and experience as a proof reader)...just need to be patient with the processing time..;)

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I echo what other folks have said. One thing I did not see mentioned - the clipboards.

They are a huge time saver for me. I have sequenced items stored in them (have a about 2 dozen). For example - different type of fades, chases, and patterns for my megatree, my arches, and other display items.

I just click on the desired effect, and control V (or mouse click paste) it into the sequence.

If it doesn't exactly line up I create a new timing grid to allow it to do so (I have a 64 channel megatree, so if doing a chase I need to shorten my timings significantly via an appropriate new timing grid, or by subdividing the timing grid I have in that section of the sequence.

Greg

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Guest Don Gillespie

Need I mention that the most important trick to remember is to back up all of your work as soon as you are done working with it, to many hours have gone to waste by not backing up your work. :P

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DonFL wrote:

George Simmons wrote:
DonFL wrote:
So this thread is great, but even better would be a doc we could permanently post somewhere on the forum..maybe a newbie section sticky at minimum..

I've already said "oh cool..didn't know that.." multiple times as I read this one.


Sounds like you just volunteered for a project. If you want to do some cutting and pasting to put a primer together in a word processing program, I'll volunteer to give you a hand organizing it. I'll even volunteer to post it on my website. I'm guessing there might be a few other people too who'd also want to post it on their site.

Here's something that was described by whoever posted it a couple years ago when I first read it as "magic": Select a range of a couple sweeps in a chase you have - arches, mega, mini, whatever... push the Foreground button, push the Fade Down button, and then press Enter. Presto! The perfect tool for when you want to maintain motion with a fade-out at the end of a song.

And if you're wondering what you'd ever use the BackGround button for, try this: Set the intensity tool to 30%. Select the same range for a couple of chase sweeps as you did above. Press the Background button, press the Intensity button, and then press Enter. Isn't that a lot quicker than doing it piece by piece? (And if we get an adjustable speed shimmer I see potential for some killer effects using the custom shimmer as background.)

Note: After completing either type of maneuver described above, make sure you immediately un-press either the foreground or background button before trying to resume normal sequencing.

Geez, if I had the time....well, sleep is overrated anyway...:P

I'll volunteer to put it together in a powerpoint or word doc, but I'd need to lean on the contributors to provide their "hint" in either of those formats...probably word is best..thinking a doc would work better than a ppt.

If I can get everyone to do that...screenshots, etc..I'll do the compiling and work with george (need his expert eyes and experience as a proof reader)...just need to be patient with the processing time..:D

I can't wait. That will be a very awesome and useful document. Thanks, all of you!

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So as soon as I get the "authors" of the hints to detail theirs as described previously, I'll start compiling. I'm still very much a sequencing newbie, so time, and more importantly, expertise, prevents me from taking these hints and transforming them into a tutorial; I'll compile and edit, but cannot author them. Besides, they are best coming from the person who posted them. And the more screenshots, the better.

PM me for a personal email address for sending docs.

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Don Gillespie wrote:

Need I mention that the most important trick to remember is to back up all of your work :)

This scheme works well for me: I do some sequencing in my spare time at work. About every day during the season, I save my sequences on a CD-R disc. I have about 3 discs for the year, and I cycle them. Every time I put new sequences on a disc, I put it in a folder named by the day, such as 2010-11-20. I write all sequences that have been modified since the last date on that disc.

I don't do any sequencing on the show computer, but copy the latest sequences from the discs. I also have a separate computer at home that I also use for sequencing, so I copy the latest sequences on that one as well.

With this scheme, I not only have all my sequences on 3 different computers in 2 different locations, but I have a history of every version of every sequence on each CD-R. Did I mention that a CD-R disc costs about 15¢?

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George Simmons wrote:

So since I opened my big mouth, I’ll go first. The biggest time-saving things that have helped me personally are the Beat Wizard, learning the most common keyboard commands, and discovering paste multiple and the Repeat tool.


Can you direct us some where that has a "How to use the beat wizard".

I have tried and don't think I am using it to it's full potential.

Thanks,

Dave
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DonFL wrote:

I'll volunteer to put it together in a powerpoint or word doc, but I'd need to lean on the contributors to provide their "hint" in either of those formats...probably word is best..thinking a doc would work better than a ppt.

If I can get everyone to do that...screenshots, etc..I'll do the compiling and work with george (need his expert eyes and experience as a proof reader)...just need to be patient with the processing time..:)

Can I suggest maybe posting it as a pdf file.

Some people may not have word but most people have pdf readers or can download it for free. There are also free drivers that will allow you to print to a pdf file from within word ... may be stating the already known.

Dave

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OK, so I just discovered this one, so thought I'd add it for those that aren't already in the know...

For any given timing grid that you're working on, you can open the tapper wizard and tell it a section of a song (by time) you want to update. Select the timing grid you want to update, run the wizard to add the timing "taps", click "apply and exit" and you'll have updated the selected timing grid. Your old timing marks will remain intact and your new ones will show up along with the old.

Before I tried this, I thought that any new tapper-created grid just overwrote the selected timing grid, but it's acutally additive.

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RaceMedic wrote:

DonFL wrote:
I'll volunteer to put it together in a powerpoint or word doc, but I'd need to lean on the contributors to provide their "hint" in either of those formats...probably word is best..thinking a doc would work better than a ppt.

If I can get everyone to do that...screenshots, etc..I'll do the compiling and work with george (need his expert eyes and experience as a proof reader)...just need to be patient with the processing time..:)

Can I suggest maybe posting it as a pdf file.

Some people may not have word but most people have pdf readers or can download it for free. There are also free drivers that will allow you to print to a pdf file from within word ... may be stating the already known.

Dave

Easily done; can convert word to pdf easily..as soon as I have something (from anyone) to work with...:)

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I know a Beat Wizard tutorial (and probably more than one) has been done before but I don’t remember by whom. So until someone posts a link to that which I can’t recall, I’ll share what I know and how I personally use the Beat Wizard. YMMV. I am a music moron who knows how to use a software feature, and pretend to be nothing more than that. So if you’re gonna bust my chops for whatever terms I might misuse in this dissertation, that’s fine. Just be sure to accompany your criticism with your own tutorial so I can learn something. Opinions expressed are my own, if you find an error I regret including it, and if my methods don’t work for you then try something else.

First of all, from my perspective, the basic purpose of the Beat Wizard (hereinafter BW) is to create a beat-based timing grid that’s more accurate than anything I can do manually. The BW isn’t perfect, as some are quick to point out. But it’s about a hundred times better than I am. Most of the people who see my display think that the synchronization is pretty much dead-on. If you agree, then score it point, set, and match for the BW.

The BW works best with songs that have a strong, steady beat. Occasionally, especially with songs that change tempo after the first couple of verses (or stanzas or whatever the hell they are), the timing marks that the BW places during the first half-minute or so of the song might need to be moved slightly to line up better with the waveform. In freeform timing grids, which I think are the only ones you can make with the BW, you can move timing marks whenever you want to. (Go to: EDIT > TIMINGS > LOCK TIMINGS and either check or uncheck this option. If it was initially locked, be sure to relock it after you’re finished so you don’t wind up dragging timing marks to places where you don’t want them.)

Let’s go down the BW dialog box from top to bottom.

Time range is pretty self-explanatory. It defaults to the entire song. [usually, this is what I use.] With a song that changes tempo often, like A Mad Russian’s Christmas for instance, that’s when you’ll want to do just a part of the song at a time for maximum accuracy. Use the wave form to help find the exact time to begin and/or end each or whatever part of the song that you want the BW to evaluate. [With this type of song I create a separate track with just one channel and this is where I run the BW initially. This is my master timing channel and I never touch this again except to use it to copy into other tracks.]

Tempo is where you decide how frequently you want the BW to place timing marks. The default is to use the detected tempo. You can also choose to use faster and/or slower tempos than the detected beat. I’ll cover more about using faster tempos a bit later, but I don’t have any ideas what to do with slower tempos or offsets.

Preview is pretty much as advertised. Push “start” to begin and “stop” to end. It's cool to play with but after a while you'll get so you ignore this.

What To Do With Beats Here’s where you tell the BW what you want it to do with the beats that it’s identified. If you’re using multiple tracks, select the one in which track you want the timing grid applied. (Since you can use different grids this really doesn’t matter so just set it for wherever you’re going to work next.) I really don’t know what the next box is for because I’ve never used it. The Fixed Grid button is here I think only because they couldn’t come up with any other place to put it. A fixed grid has nothing to do with beats, so don’t bother pushing this button unless you have nothing better to do. Freeform grids are what you create with the BW. If you want to give your grid a name, push the Freeform button.

The next choice is: do you want a timing mark inserted for each beat? The default option is yes and I’ve never spent much time thinking of a reason not to do that because that’s specifically what I come to the BW for.

Next up is do you want the BW to turn on one or more channels every so many beats? If so, go ahead and play around with this for as long as it takes for you to get bored. For me, there’s nothing that I know it does that I can’t do faster manually, so I’m not going to get into it at all.

Last choice is: apply, exit, or apply and exit. You have to apply your choices in order to save the timing grid. When you choose to exit and get to work on the sequence is a personal decision only you can make.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

I work with a lot of elements that have different counts. Spinners with 6 spokes, pinwheels with 12, arches with 7 segments, poles with nine, Robin wheel with 8 spokes, beat trees with 4 segments, etc., etc... When I create new sequences I also create a number of new Freeform grids at faster tempos. In my case I do all of them from 2x up to 9x. Takes about 3 minutes and then I’ve got it covered. (For clients with fewer display elements I’ll do whatever fits.) Then I can easily have anything and everything I want to start and/or finish their sweeps or rotations at exactly the same moment.

In the Tempo section of the BW dialog box select use a faster tempo and then choose the speed. Then go down and press the New Freeform Grid button and enter a name. For instance, for 2 times faster, I enter “Beat x 2”. You need to make sure you press Apply each time. (Whatever track you have selected, the timing grid will appear and then disappear each time you create a new grid. Don’t worry – when you get all finished you can switch back and forth from one timing grid to another any time you want. And unless you’ve screwed around with the “snap effects to timings option” at the bottom of the BW dialog box (which I seriously hope you haven’t done) any and all effects you program in will be completely unchanged and unaffected by different timing grids. No matter where the timing lines fall, programmed events will still occur exactly when they were initially programmed to.

Hope it helps.

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