UPDATE: This article appears in The Ultimate Guide to Creative Mixing on the Digico SD5.
In this video, I describe how I used macros to create efficient shortcuts in my mix on the Digico SD5 as head of sound for the Out of This Word tour for Ringling Bros. Circus. In it, I show you how I created macros to save the session, control Qlab, dim the lights and screen brightness, open the chat window, easily satisfy producer notes, create an explosion of reverb, and unmute hidden channels.
When I first heard about macros I ignored them because they seemed unnecessary. Why would I create a macro to save my session when I can just as easily click File > Save Session?
- The 500 times that you save 2 seconds by using a macro to save your session will reduce your stress level.
- There are other more important problems that macros can solve.
Problem #1 – How do I control Qlab from the SD5?
Unless your Qlab keyboard is right next to you, which mine wasn’t, it’s a pain in the ass to move over to it every time you need to trigger a cue. And what if you make a mistake and you need to hit the panic button? You better make sure it’s close by.
The SD5 has a midi out on the back and you can easily setup a macro to send the correct control message to Qlab.
Problem #2 – How do I mute hidden channels?
There were several times in the show when I needed mute all vocal FX when the Ringmaster would switch from singing to talking in the middle of a song. The channels I needed where not on a visible layer and I didn’t want to create an extra snapshot so I created a macro to mute and unmute those channels.
There are probably several other ways to solve this problem, but I found the macro to be an easy global fix.
Problem #3 – How do I create an explosion of reverb?
Well, this isn’t a problem, per say, as an opportunity. There were two long transitions in the show between songs that I needed to punch up while people were clapping. I tried doing it manually a couple of times, but I was never fast enough to boost the lead vocal, backing tracks, reverb level, reverb time, reverb density, and then return them all to their previous settings in the space of 5 seconds. And again, I didn’t want to create an extra snapshot for this. I just wanted it to be a fun effect I could blast on at any time.
The way I created it was to create a new macro, hit record, and make all of the operations one-by-one manually, then save. Try it!
Pro tip: Use a comma in the macro name to insert a line break. Yay!