Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Tutorial

Vocal Rider and Automation Writer with Bitwig

Tutorial | Mar 08, 2024

In this video, I show you how to build a vocal rider plug-in using the Bitwig envelope follower. To record the modulator as automation data for future editing, you need to use a separate track. Bitwig Studio allows for customization and modification of the algorithm, giving you the flexibility to create your own unique vocal rider.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

To create a vocal rider plugin in Bitwig using the envelope follower for recording modulator to automation lane, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare Vocals: Use the raw vocal recording without sidechain processing.
  2. Utilize a Separate Track: Bitwig does not allow recording automation data from modulators or within the grid on the same track, so use a second track.
  3. Set Up FX Grid:
    • Ensure FX grid is set to mono.
    • Add an envelope follower, adjusting settings based on how closely you want to follow the signal (consider switching to RMS).
    • Output the envelope follower data as CC data (e.g., CC 30) to a MIDI channel.
  4. Use Tool Device and CC Modulator:
    • After the FX grid, add a tool device followed by a CC or MIDI modulator using the same controller number to modulate volume.
  5. Record and Edit Automation:
    • Since direct recording to the same track's automation lane isn't possible, output the FX grid to a separate track and record it.
    • After recording, copy the CC data from the second track and paste it into a new MIDI lane in the automation section of the original vocal track.
    • This allows manual editing of the automation data for detailed control over the dynamics.


Key Notes:

This approach not only allows for detailed manual edits of automation data but also fosters learning and innovation by encouraging a hands-on, customizable approach to dynamic processing in Bitwig.

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

What is the purpose of building a vocal rider plug-in with Bitwig envelope follower in this video?

The purpose of this video is to demonstrate how to use the Bitwig envelope follower to create a vocal rider plug-in. The goal is to record modulator data to an automation lane for further manual edits, allowing for customization of the algorithm and signal processing.

How do you set up the FX grid and envelope follower in Bitwig to create the vocal rider plug-in?

To set up the vocal rider plug-in, you need to create a separate track in Bitwig and use the FX grid. Within the FX grid, choose a mono voice and add an envelope follower with appropriate settings. Use the output of the envelope follower to send CC data to a specific controller number. Then, use a tool device and a MIDI modulator with the same controller number to modulate the volume.

Can you record the modulator data directly into the automation lane on the same track in Bitwig?

No, it is not possible to directly record modulator data into the automation lane of the same track in Bitwig. Instead, you need to create a second track and record the audio output from the FX grid. Once the data is recorded, you can copy and paste it into the automation lane of the original track, allowing for manual edits and adjustments.

What are the benefits of using Bitwig for creating a vocal rider plug-in compared to using a pre-built plug-in?

The benefit of using Bitwig is the ability to fully customize the vocal rider plug-in. You can change the algorithm, adjust how it reacts to audio, and apply additional signal processing. This level of customization is not possible with pre-built plug-ins that have a set workflow. Additionally, creating a plug-in from scratch allows for a better understanding of how it works and the ability to modify it in the future.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00:00] So under my last video someone asked here, "Hey, by the way, any ideas how to build a vocal
[00:00:05] rider plug-in with Bitwig envelope follower?
[00:00:08] What's the best way to record modulator to automation, lane for further manual edits?"
[00:00:13] And that's, I think, I guess the most important part that you can edit all the automation
[00:00:18] data later on.
[00:00:20] So here I have some vocals in Bitwig and that's actually the original Britney Spears vocals
[00:00:26] for Hit Me Baby one more time and that's the raw recording.
[00:00:31] So it's without all the sidechain processing applied.
[00:00:55] Okay, so we want to follow the signal with an envelope follower and we want to record
[00:01:01] this data to the automation lane and that's not possible within the same track.
[00:01:07] We have to use a second separate track for this.
[00:01:10] For some reason, it's a bit weak, not possible to just record automation data from modulators
[00:01:17] or from within the grid.
[00:01:20] Okay, so we use here an FX grid.
[00:01:25] Inside of this FX grid, it's very important that you choose the actually voices mono and
[00:01:30] that's just so you use one voice.
[00:01:33] And then we use here one envelope follower and you dial in the settings dependent on
[00:01:40] your situation.
[00:01:41] Sometimes you want to follow the signal more closely than other times, right?
[00:01:45] So it depends on your depends on what you want to do with it.
[00:01:51] Then we switch us maybe to RMS and we send this out as CC data here.
[00:01:59] Channel one, let's go for let's say CC 30.
[00:02:02] It doesn't matter.
[00:02:04] You can choose whatever controller number you want here.
[00:02:08] And then that's basically it.
[00:02:10] Then after the FX grid, we want to use a tool device and again, a CC modulator or MIDI
[00:02:18] modulator here.
[00:02:20] And we want to use here also again the same controller number 13 in this case.
[00:02:26] And then we modulate here the volume with this.
[00:02:30] So now it sounds like this.
[00:02:31] Oh, baby, baby, how was I supposed to know that something wasn't right here?
[00:02:41] Oh, baby, baby, I shouldn't have left.
[00:02:45] So now the peaks in the vocal track, right?
[00:02:48] Push this follower up and then we get the modulation signal and this modulation signal
[00:02:53] then is used to push the volume down and you can apply a lot of different things here in
[00:02:59] front of the follower or after the follower.
[00:03:02] Maybe you want to multiply the signal or you want to delay it a bit or you want to smooth
[00:03:06] it out a bit or you want to get rid of some upper frequencies or you want to, you know,
[00:03:13] limit it in certain ways.
[00:03:15] So this is basically the benefit of doing this in Bitwig.
[00:03:18] You can make it your own.
[00:03:20] You can change it, right?
[00:03:22] It's not just a follower like any vocal rider.
[00:03:25] You can actually change the algorithm, how this reacts to your audio and how the signal
[00:03:30] is processed and how it's applied to the volume or gain reduction here.
[00:03:38] So you can make it your own.
[00:03:39] You can modify it.
[00:03:40] That's the that's a big benefit inside of Bitwig Studio because sometimes people ask
[00:03:45] why you do this from scratch or why you don't use a plug-in.
[00:03:49] The plug-in you have always like a set workflow that maybe works nice, but you doesn't learn
[00:03:56] anything how it works and you can't change it.
[00:04:00] It's always the same thing.
[00:04:02] And sometimes it's fun just, you know, to do it on your own from scratch.
[00:04:07] Okay, so now that we have the signal here, like I said in the beginning, we can't actually
[00:04:13] record this data into the automation lane here on the same track.
[00:04:17] It's not possible in Bitwig.
[00:04:18] I tried some hacks, but it's not really possible.
[00:04:22] It's I guess because Bitwig use internally a node format and not MIDI, I think they convert
[00:04:29] basically when you bring in MIDI from the controller, it's converted into Bitwig's own
[00:04:35] node format.
[00:04:36] And then within Bitwig, you stay with this node format and it's not really CC data or
[00:04:42] it's not really MIDI data.
[00:04:46] So the only way to do this basically to use a separate track here, a second one, and you
[00:04:52] actually don't name this, but I use it here, or let's say data.
[00:04:57] And you want to record basically now everything that comes out of this FX grid here into the
[00:05:04] second track.
[00:05:05] So we hit record here on this track and then we use vocals FX grid, right?
[00:05:12] The output of the FX grid, that's what we want to record.
[00:05:14] You can see here this is MIDI or node data channel.
[00:05:21] And all we have to do now is to hit record.
[00:05:23] Oh, baby, baby, how was I supposed to know that something wasn't right here?
[00:05:32] Oh, baby, baby, I shouldn't have let you go.
[00:05:40] And now you're out of sight.
[00:05:42] Yeah, show me how you want it to be.
[00:05:48] Tell me, baby, cause I need to know now.
[00:05:53] So sweet.
[00:05:54] Yeah.
[00:05:55] So now that we have this CC data here, we can actually copy this.
[00:06:03] That's the tedious part.
[00:06:05] We can copy this and put this here into a new lane.
[00:06:10] So here we open up the automation lane on the first track and we add, we add here's a
[00:06:16] MIDI lane, right?
[00:06:18] You open this up here, MIDI lane, and then we can choose MIDI channel one and controller
[00:06:23] number is, yeah, 30.
[00:06:27] Okay.
[00:06:28] And this one is now empty.
[00:06:30] And we can click on the first bar and or first line and then control V, paste it in basically.
[00:06:39] And we have the same data here from copy pasted to the first track here on the same MIDI channel,
[00:06:46] the same controller number.
[00:06:49] And then we can delete basically the second track.
[00:06:51] It's just to record and just to copy and then paste it in here.
[00:06:56] So now that we have this here on the same controller and the same channel, we can actually
[00:07:01] disable here the FX grid.
[00:07:03] And this one still reacts to CC 30, which is basically the SMEEDY lane here.
[00:07:15] But now you can go in, make adjustments to parts of it, right?
[00:07:21] We can also, I think, select everything here and then you can change the position so you
[00:07:27] can delay it later or earlier, right?
[00:07:30] So it's more like then when the follower takes a bit of time to react to the audio, so you
[00:07:36] can bring this more in front or put the modulation earlier, right?
[00:07:43] So it's more like a look ahead thing.
[00:07:46] And then we can also change the values.
[00:07:49] We can bring in chaos, bit of random modulation.
[00:07:53] We can scale it.
[00:07:55] So it's more like multiplying the signal.
[00:08:00] We can also offset everything.
[00:08:05] And you can also go in and edit small little things in and out.
[00:08:11] And then it reacts basically with the CC emulator to it and changes the volume.
[00:08:17] So that's how I would do it, basically.
[00:08:21] If you don't want to use this here with the CC thing, right, you can also copy this or
[00:08:28] let's say cut it out.
[00:08:31] And let's say you click or you delete this here and you click on this volume knob.
[00:08:36] You can also just add here this as pure volume knob modulation, right?
[00:08:43] All you need to do is basically select here the knob you want and it changes here then
[00:08:48] the automation lane.
[00:08:49] And then you go in here and say control and V and paste it in and then it modulates the
[00:08:55] volume knob directly, but it's probably not what you want to do.
[00:09:04] I'm not sure.
[00:09:05] Can you actually invert this here?
[00:09:08] Let me see scale.
[00:09:10] No, it doesn't go into the negative range.
[00:09:14] Okay.
[00:09:16] So that's not possible.
[00:09:19] So yeah, so the big benefit, like I said before is that you can actually use a FX grid with
[00:09:25] the follower and you can apply some processing to it, make it your own, react to the audio
[00:09:30] bit differently than a normal vocal rider.
[00:09:32] You can apply some delays or some a time shift device, maybe to create some kind of look ahead
[00:09:39] or maybe clip it limited in a way or multiply it, you know, add some processing to it, make
[00:09:47] it your own.
[00:09:48] Then record it to a second track and then you can copy and paste it to your first track
[00:09:52] again onto your CC channel and then use here a MIDI CC modulator to react to the right
[00:10:01] controller number and then kind of works.
[00:10:07] Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know?
[00:10:13] Yeah, that's because I applied here a lot of chaos probably.
[00:10:21] So yeah, this is basically how you do it.
[00:10:24] There's no way to record this on just one track or one automation lane on the same track.
[00:10:29] You have to use a second one.
[00:10:32] I couldn't find another way to do it.
[00:10:34] I hope this answers the question.
[00:10:37] Let me know in the comments.
[00:10:38] If you liked the video, leave me a like.
[00:10:42] Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.
[00:10:44] Bye.