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Chapter 3. Taking Audio to the Limit in ... > Using the Offline Process History

Using the Offline Process History

If you haven’t learned what the Offline Process History is all about, you’re way overdue. As you can probably tell, I’m obsessed with saving, resaving under new names, bouncing and duplicating tracks, and archiving. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to shelve a project after hours of work only to come back to it later and find that it’s not working right for some dumb reason. Recreating that original magic usually isn’t quite as fun the second time around.

Note:

The Offline Process History feature (found under the Audio menu) is not to be confused with the History feature found under the Edit menu. The History feature keeps a working list of everything you’ve done since last opening and saving the project, and you can undo all of your actions from various locations on that list. The irony is that saving the project actually removes its history (once you reload the project); so if you’ve made previous changes that you would like to undo, you’re stuck with them unless you go back to an earlier version of your project (saved under another name).


Offline Process History works specifically with offline audio processing (any process that has been “bounced” along with the audio) and is more than just a simple Undo feature. Like the History feature, it keeps a list of each process but it keeps a separate list for the processing that has occurred on each individual audio event, not for the entire project. This means if there was a section of a vocal track where you reversed the audio and added a delay, only the isolated event would display the list containing the reverse and delay processes. If you process an entire part and then edit it into multiple audio event sections, each of those sections will contain the original process in its individual history list. Each individual history list can be modified without affecting the history of the other events in the project.

Note:

I’ve previously emphasized that you should create new files as a safety measure while you’re working. However, you cannot see the complete history on each individual part when you create new files because a new file has no history. So if you feel that undoing processes might be something you need to do later on, then please disregard my earlier comments about always creating new files.


What’s particularly handy about the Offline Process History is that you can remove processes from any position in the list without affecting later processes. For instance, let’s say you applied compression to a vocal track, then processed some EQ, then added a noise gate and normalized the track. After normalizing, you decided that you really should’ve had a little more compression on the vocal track. Instead of starting over from scratch, you can go back and modify the compression without losing the later processing. Figure 3.9 displays the Offline Process History for one audio event.

Figure 3.9. Selecting an early process in the Offline Process History.


What actually happens during a modification is this: Once you apply changes to the earlier process stage, Cubase quickly reprocesses (if necessary) the other stages in the order that they appear. Your choices for modifying each process include removing the effect completely, modifying the settings (of course the effect has to be modifiable), replacing the effect with a completely different effect, or deactivating (bypassing) the effect (though the effect will still be there to reactivate if needed).

Again, these processes are all associated with its respective event and played back seamlessly. Saving your project does not reset the Offline Process History. This means that you can go back and change processes from the project you did a “final mix” on three months earlier.

All of these features can save you loads of time in the studio, but there is a catch. There are some processes that cannot be modified due to their type and location in the Offline Process History list. Usually, it’s because they alter the length of the file. An icon will appear in the Status column, and the modifier buttons will be grayed out to indicate that you’re on mission impossible if you attempt the modification. The moral of this story is to do your timing processes (time-stretches) last so that they can be modified and you won’t have to redo a lot of work.

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