Maschine Ideas: Automation & Modulation

Kai_NI Product Team Posts: 60 mod
edited June 28 in Maschine

Hey all,

I wanted to follow up with the next part of the feature ideas breakdown and we are continuing with the topic of “Automation / Modulation Improvements”, which was the second highest voted feature area overall.

Modulation and Automation

Let me start off with a brief background around the difference of modulation and automation in simple terms to get everyone on the same page:

  • Modulation is applied on parameter level (i.e. Filter cutoff) by virtually increasing or decreasing the set value of the parameter (like knob position). You can still change the source parameter at all times and the modulation will still be applied, but always based on the currently set position without overwriting anything but dynamically changing the parameter, relative to its current setting. This means you can in theory apply modulation to any available parameter.
  • Automation is a similar, yet a slightly broader concept as it can not only modify parameters but also all possible states in a project (i.e. Mute, Bypass, etc.) with a specific value on a specific position of the timeline or beat grid (start with value X at point A, move or change to value Y on point B). These are hard changes that will commonly reset or overwrite any user set values to what the automation is set to. This affects a given parameter in absolute terms. 

Now in practice, there are some parameters in Maschine (or in general) that could in theory be controlled by either automation and modulation. A good example is Tempo, which can be modulated but in most cases is automated in absolute BPM values throughout a project, rather than in relative terms to the source project tempo. Other cases are also more suitable to only handle automation (such as i.e. Mute / Solo / Bypass states).

It all boils down to certain types of data being stored, edited and applied and this is where we need to spend a minute on the topic of “containers” to outline where Maschine is today and how it operates in regards to modulation and automation.

Container Formats in Maschine

As of today, Maschine 2 supports parameter modulation and automation via MIDI CCs, both of which need to be stored in a “container” type entity, which currently are Patterns in the Ideas View and both Pattern and Clips in the Arranger. What Maschine does not offer today, is a container format to hold entity-overarching automation or modulation data that is globally applied (i.e. on the Timeline / Arranger) so independently from Patterns or Clips. 

This means that we are lacking a “place” to store and edit certain types of information specifically in the Timeline or Arranger use case, which we would need to establish first in order to tackle some of the ideas you shared with us in this area.

In its current design, Maschine has been heavily focussing on a performance or “jamming” use case, where Scenes and Patterns hold the underlying MIDI and Modulation information and Macros or Lock States can be applied on top in a fluid way. This concept in part fundamentally rejects the concepts of a linear or deterministic timeline - or at least imposes some particular challenges.

So in order for us to record or write Scene, Pattern, Mute, Tempo, Lock State or Macro changes, we would require a “global” container format to store this information. And at the same time find ways to apply this without conflicting with the current usage paradigms. This includes determining what happens when a Pattern or Clip already has modulation or automation data that conflicts with the globally set values (once such were to exist).

The reason I am calling this out is because I want to be transparent that although this is the second most requested area for improvements, it is also one of, if not the most challenging feature area for us to tackle as it goes beyond and in part challenges what Maschine has been to this date. It is certainly possible, from a technical standpoint. But it comes at the cost of high and consistent efforts over a long period of time, and is currently not our main focus. 

Feature Voting

Moving on to your top 5 feature ideas, first of all thank you very much for sharing your ideas, suggestions and perspectives. We went through everything and started breaking it down into individual requests to present them for the next voting round. To remind everyone why we are doing this, the main reason is that because of the free form nature of the format, many of the top voted comments had multiple feature ideas within a single comment. So we know what the top voted comment was, but we do not know which part of the request or which particular feature was the one that all of you actually gave their vote for. By breaking all requests down systematically, we remove duplicates and allow to collect votes per feature and get better visibility on what exactly most you would like to see changed or added.

You can find the top 5, most requested features listed individually in our voting section, open for upvotes, questions and additional comments. Please make sure to keep the conversation of each topic within or at least closely related to the outlined use case. 

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!



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