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domingo, 24 de agosto de 2008

how to use audio clips FL Studio Special Tutorial 1: Using audio clips - PART 1

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FL Studio Special Tutorial 1: Using audio clips - PART 1



NOTE: Before continuing, if you haven't already, I highly recommend you read through my first 3 tutorials, the 'basics trilogy'. I will assume that you already know everything covered there from here on.

OK, so I've gotten several requests to go into more detail about using audio clips and recording within fl to add vocals, live instruments, etc. Now before I begin I want to state that FL Studio is mainly geared towards midi and vst's. The audio clip system is a bit rough to work with, to say the least. I, personally, use Cubase for recording, and run FL as a plugin for drums, synths, etc. With that said, I'll get into it.

First of all, you need to understand that there are 2 ways to use external audio within FL, by copying in prerecorded audio clips, and by recording directly into FL Studio itself. As you may have guessed, the latter is quite a bit more complicated, and may be impossible altogether for some of you. I'll cover the simpler former first, and come back to the latter in a bit.

So to start off, take a look at your playlist. The playlist is split up into two panes, the upper sequencing pane, where you spend the majority of your time (or all of it most likely if you're reading this tutorial). Take a look at the bottom pane, which you may have not noticed until now. If you don't have a second pane, it may be hidden. If this is the case, click on the bar at the bottom of the playlist window and drag it up.





The lower pane is where you manipulate and place your audio waveforms. The very simplest way to get started using your prerecorded audio is to bring up the folder and drag the file directly onto the playlist from windows explorer. This will immediately initiate some changes...



First of all, you'll see your audio waveform immediately pop up in the bottom pane, on the row you dragged it on to. Unless you dragged it to the exact row and measure you wanted, it's probably in the wrong place, however, so you'll need to move it around. We'll get to that a minute - first let's take a look at the step sequencer. You'll notice that all of your instruments have disapeared and a new one has appeared named after the audio file you dragged onto your playlist. This is simply an audio clip instrument (try adding an instrument and notice the one near the top named audio clip). Let's take a look at the audio clip's instrument window...



There are several useful settings here, and you may come back several times. you'll notice at the top, under the SMP and MISC tabs if your audio file. If you want to define a different file, just hit the folder. If you click the panel with the name of your audio clip, or the down arrow at the right edge, it will bring up a pop up menu with recently used files (you probably don't have any right now) as well as the option to disable the audio clip (none).

Down in the lower half you see a more detailed image of the waveform. If you click on the waveform it will play the audio clip once. As a side note, if you have a long audio file and you happen to click this by accident and really don't feel like sitting there for 5 minutes waiting on it to end, hit the panic button, ctrl + H. This is mostly used for the occasional stuck note with MIDI or to nix all the leftover audio after stopping the song due to reeverb, delay, etc, but can also help in this situation. Anyways, probably the most useful option on here is the "Normalize" switch. This will minimize the difference between the loud and soft points in your audio clip. Also if you use a lot of clips, and you turn on normalization for all of them, FL will try to bring all of them to a standard volume level. (If you need to tweak the volume manually, don't forget about the volume and pan knobs at the top of the instrument window and next to the instrument in the SS). Other useful switches are Reverse which, amazingly, reverses the clip, and swap stereo, which will, even more amazingly, swap the stereo channels (ie if something was panned to the left, it is now panned to the right)

You'll also notice the row of knobs just above the waveform. In and Out are for fade ins and fade outs. The section in the middle of the window is for time stretching, and it allows you to change the pitch of the note without changing the length of the clip (pitch knob), change the length of the clip without changing the pitch of the note (MUL knob, note there is sound quality loss here), and to simply stretch the clip, ie a longer clip with lower pitch, or shorter clip with higher pitch (time knob).

The rest of the options are best learned by experimentation. The pogo and crf knobs down by the waveform make for some interesting effects (just try them with smaller clips unless you want to site there for 2 minutes waiting on it to process).

Alright, back to the rest of the world. OK, I'm sure some of you right now want to know exactly where the heck the rest of your instruments went! Well take a close look at the step sequencer. Notice at the bottom where it says "Audio clips" click here to bring up the list of all your different groups. Click on 'All' to bring back the rest of your instruments...



If you want to make your own groups (I never found the feature particularly useful myself..) simply select each instrument you want in your group by clicking the green circle to the right of the first instrument, and shift-clicking the rest of them. After all of the instruments are selected, go to channels -> group select, or just hit Alt + G. Give FL an appropriate name for the group, and there you are! Use the same method as before to get all of your instruments back.

OK, so now we know how to get our audio clips into fl, and how to tweak them to our heart's content, let's find out how to use them! Back to the lower pane we go. You'll notice that the grid in the lower pane is similar to the familiar upper pane, and that the vertical lines all match up. This is because fl follows both panes the same way, and you can actually stick your waveforms onto the lower panes and move them around the same way as a pattern block on the upper pane! To insert your clip, first select it in the step sequencer (remember this is the 'audio clip' instrument tied to your audio file). After it is selected, simply follow your usual pattern sequencing procedure, only now in the lower pane. You can place the waveform in simply by left clicking. You can drag it around the same way, and delete it by right clicking.

Several options are available to you from the pull down menu in the upper left corner of the waveform after you insert it into the playlist (there is a small down arrow to the left of the name). Again I don't have the time to go into detail on all of these, but some of the more useful features are Edit Sample, which will bring up a basic wave editor, that allows you to clip, and otherwise modify your audio clip. A basic knowledge of wave editors in general will be useful here. Also the option "Make unique" will create a copy of your audio clip in a new instrument, which will take the same name with an amended "#2, #3", etc. Detect tempo and Fit to Tempo are used for time stretching, and shouldn't be necessary unless you are trying to bring in clips from other songs with different tempos. Preview will do the same thing as clicking the waveform within the instrument window (remember ctrl + h ), and Select Channel will show you all of your audio clips and actually allow you to change the clip you have on the playlist to something else.

You can tie your audio clip to a mixer channel and add FX the same way you can a vst from the instrument window. This is a great feature, and you'll definitely want to know how to use this once you start using vocals on your tracks (check out tutorial 3 for more detail).

OK, I'm going to wrap this tutorial up here, and I'll make this a two part. In the second part I'll discuss how to record directly into FL Studio. If you're stuck, and don't know how to record anything into the computer at all, try running sndrec32 (use winkey + r, or run from the start menu) for the incredibly basic sound recording utility included with windows. This will allow you to toy with your sound card, and if you need help on getting your mic to record through sound recorder send me a message, as it's a fairly simple process. Once you know how to record with your sound card, check out a program called GoldWave (just google it). you can download a free shareware version, which basically just pops up a stupid window whenever you start it to tell you to go buy it. If, by some miracle, you happen to exceed the number of button clicks or w/e it is (I've only done it once ever) just uninstall and reinstall the program and you've got a fully working wave editor again.

I hope this helps a lot of you guys out!

Thanks for spending the last 15 minutes of your life reading this. If you have any more questions, just send me a message!

Until next time,
-David

 
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