Maze Rider — Explore how to generate automatic level riding curve without introducing colors or artifacts

MazeStack
MazeStack
Sep 14 · 6 min read
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Overall concept

Instead of riding automation by hand. MazeRider can do the job for us with proper settings.

MazeRider will track the envelope curve and generate a proper compensation amount to get the desired automation curve.

Look at an example below. On the left, we have the original audio sample envelope curve which we need to balance. MazeRider will need to track the envelope and decrease a bit on the heading while increasing on the tail. See the applied effect at the right.

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Concept Idea of MazeRider

The riding curve is the overlay ‘white’ curve which lowers the heading and pushing a bit high at the tail. This means the gain is decreased/increased a relative amount to the ‘white’ curve.

The orange color zone reflects the true output level. We can see in the above sample, the orange region is lower than the original envelope at the heading and higher than the envelope at the tail.

So the orange zone (output level) is dependent on the riding curve. If it is pushing high, it means the level is increased, and vice versa.

If we need to shape the orange zone (expected output level), we need to have a proper overlay ‘white curve’ ( the riding curve or equivalent automation curve if we have to draw by hand).

Now, we will learn how to have proper settings to get the desired riding curve.

HOW TO USE

Target Handle

Overall we want to output level deviated around one desired level instead of getting too high or too low.

We set this standard level by using the target handle as following:

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Demonstration for target handle

On the left, we can see the target handle is set 0.27 (max = 1). It means that we want the level going down as low as this value. While on the right we set the target to handle up high 0.91. It means that we want to level the whole sample as high as this value.

But overall we can see the heading and tailing is quite balance. They are not going up/down in an equivalent amount. Instead, they are adjusted properly based on the distance between the original envelope and the target so that the output orange zone gets balanced on the whole sample.

So, we know that the orange zone will be driven by the target handle. If the target handle is low, the orange zone will get compressed down as much as it can to get capped by the target handle. And vice versa, they will pull up high as much as it can to catch the target handle.

But somehow we don’t want the original envelope deformed too much from its original shape even the target handle is in extreme settings. We don’t want the orange zone to get driven too much by the handle. We will learn how to limit this affection in the next section.

Bound Range Handles

Bound ranges will limit the amount increased/decreased from the original envelope. See the following example:

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Demonstration of bound ranges

The target handle is set the same, but we get different outputs.

On the left case, we want the orange zone adapted strongly to the target handle. We expanded the range. The upper bound range is 12.00 dB (max range), which means that we increase as much as possible if the target is higher than the original envelope. The lower bound range is -12.00 dB, which means that decreases as much as possible if the target is lower than the original envelope. And in this sample, we see the original envelope is significantly decreased to catch the handling target.

In the right case, we want to balance the output but not too much. So we set the bound range smaller. To avoid decreasing too much.

What if we want to decrease just a bit at heading, and increasing a lot more at the tail. How do we do that?

We do it by setting the upper bound high value but lower bound with a small value. Look at the following image to see the effect:

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Lower bound vs upper bound

On the left sample, we set the upper bound very high. It means that where the original envelope is smaller than the target, it will get pulled up a lot.

See the ‘white’ riding curve at the tail where the original envelope is much smaller than the target, the riding curve is pulled up a lot.

On the right sample, we set the upper bound with a small value. At the tail, the riding curve is not getting pulled up too much.

We can see the different bumps at the tails. It is stronger on the left in comparison to the right.

Sensitivity and Smooth Controls

The riding curve (white overlay curve) is auto drawn based on the relative distance between the original envelope and the target level.

But the original level may get up/down very fast. Especially, we can see a jump at initial levels when the singer raises his voice.

We may want the riding curve to get caught up with the sudden change as fast as it can. Or we want to taper the initial levels for different usage. See the difference in the sample below:

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Sensitive control

Look at the output orange zone at the initial levels of both samples in comparison with sensitive value.

With the low value on the left, the riding curve is suddenly suppressed to adapt the target handle.

With a high value on the right, the riding curve is slowly driven to the target handle.

How about smooth control?

Sensitive controls how fast the riding curve is driven to the target handle, while smooth controls how fast the riding curve is formed up based on the original envelope.

A bit twisted, right? That’s how it creates magic.

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Smooth control

With a low smooth value, the riding curve is formed up into a shape in which it doesn’t react fast enough when the voice change and vice versa.

‘Smooth’ is an extensive tool to control how the riding curve is drawn which helps us being more flexible to design our expected automation curve.

Output gain

Output gain will increase/decrease across the audio sample with an equivalent amount regardless of positions. It just added up the same amount for all.

When do we need it?

We use all previous tools to define the riding curve to get the desired orange zone which is balanced between the head and tail. Usually, we will lower the target to cap the high-level parts and raising the low-level parts.

Then to level up all back again, we will use the output gain.

The final levels will be in the desired shape and sound.

Tips

Always keep your eyes on the output visualization (orange zone) when adjusting the controls. Do some trials and errors to learn.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy it.

Get back to us if you need anything else.

support@mazestack.com


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