Region-based Parametric EQ Envelopes

I know that the mere title suggests massive changes to the GUI. Here I only want to express, justify and limit the scope of this need in my case, since it might resonate on other users that might not even come to read this.
Film/Video soundtracks are composed by dozens of regions, each normally corresponding to a scene or image sequence. Most of them ambient sounds. Since preamps/mics are often quite bad, or badly used, those regions must be almost always equalized. Hiss removal, bass attenuation, band-pass emphasis, etc. Everything that Robin’s X42 so effectively does.
Often, only a section of the region is usable and, blended with other regions, it slowly becomes a longer ambient track. This process is very dynamic and implies regions constantly moving their position, along the horizontal timeline and sometimes also vertically from one track to another for the sake of better fades and organization. Since plugins and automation here are exclusively track based, each time a region has to move fast you start bleeding.
It could be argued that equalization must be done when all regions are fixed to a position, in a normal workflow. But it is very hard, or almost impossible and very unpleasant, to predict the potential (and work with) bad sounding unfiltered regions until the end. Track EQ is, in my view, mostly useful when everything already sounds good, but can sound better.
Gain and EQ is all needed to sketch a soundtrack actually. Region gain envelopes are already there and I use them a lot. In a perfect world EQ would also be somehow there and, in heaven, both would admit automation with a normal midi controller, which commercial products don’t allow AFAIK.

Alternative methods I’ve tried:

  1. Having many EQ plugins for each tracks, automating enable/disable each plugin before and after each corresponding region. Still, this doesn’t allow moving regions vertically, from one track to another. This can also be very demanding for the DSP apparently and automation parameters are extremely difficult to access when having multiple plugins. It occurred to me that ‘Inline controls’ for plugins could open their corresponding automation in the timeline once double-clicking on them, or so, to facilitate this approach.

  2. Having an EQ dedicated track to pass regions through it and bouncing them. This is very resource friendly but destructive. EQ parameters in the bounced file are obviously lost and, unless written down on paper, they couldn’t be replicated on a similar region.

Maybe there is another way to do this that I’m missing, or smaller improvements that can make a difference. I’m here to receive and support new ideas in this regard.

–Domingo

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Why stop at EQ. How about region level effects? I use this kind of feature in kdenlive (video editor). Very useful.

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Some daws have this features…

I can imagine FX buttons on the toolbar when in draw mode. In my opinion, the most essential effects for sketching out are LOW/HIGH pass filters. Say, if you have a subwoofer, neighbors downstairs and you are dealing with wind, an airplane take, or some deep tomtom drum recording. Or having to endure the high pitch of a field recorder’s self-noise on headphones, or tame down a high-hat a bit.
Shelf filters are enough to do this and conveniently would require two automation lanes only. So, two horizontal lines on top of the selected region. Just fantasizing here.

IMHO, that would be best implemented as a plugin.

Something that would be very helpful maybe is a settings option to automatically add keyframes at the end/beginning of every region, each time an automation lane is added. Then moving a region along the timeline would effectively move all its corresponding automation as well.

I’m doing this manually. Each time I automate a track, I manually add points at the region boundaries. “Move relevant automation when audio regions are moved” is checked, but it only binds automation to regions if boundary keyframes are there.

Any LUA master knows if this process can be automated? It seems that there are no editor commands to add keyframes, so it doesn’t seem to be doable, right?

If you have a region selected then you can use a script to add automation points just before and just after its ends. I’ve done this in a few of my scripts.

I think this one does it (I can’t remember) ardour-scripts/autotune automation.lua at master · davidhealey/ardour-scripts · GitHub

Nice! @DHealey.
I’m trying to adapt the script for the x42-eq, but I’m quite lost in the code–I lack basic knowledge on C. I changed the name of the plugin from “x42-Autotune” to “x42-eq - Parametric Equalizer Stereo” in the code; it shows the dialog to set point corrections (so it detects the plugin), but no envelope points are added.
The correction dialog is not needed in this case, since automation points should simply insert at the beginning/end of all existing automation lanes (for a given selected region). Or at least all automation related to the track volume fader and eq-X42.

Any guidance to adapt the code will be helpful.

Hi,

It’s Lua not C so a bit easier :slight_smile:

I haven’t done any Ardour scripting for ages so I’m pretty rusty on it. Also that script was written for Ardour 6 and the timebase system changed with Ardour 7 so that script probably won’t work in A7. I converted some of my scripts for Ardour 7 but not that one because I haven’t been using it for a long time.

I don’t have time at the moment to get back into the Ardour Lua world. I recommend reading through the official documentation and going through the example scripts (and the scripts in my repo).

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