Speeding up your workflow
Today writing great music unfortunately isn´t enough- you need to write it fast!
Therefore, to increase as much as possible our writing speed is absolutely pivotal. As we were discussing in the previous article, navigating the project is what consumes most time from our tasks, and that is when customizing Logic can really save precious instants that by the end of the day will have spared us much time and creative energy.
We should speak about THE TEMPLATES (oh, no!!)
Yes. They might be Templates but we are Logic Crusaders. All is good, all is fine.
Ok, a quick reminder here: we are not talking about templates including loaded instruments (which of course can be created too), but Logic project templates in terms of having a customized work station (shortcuts defined, interface set up for easy navigation, etc). The use of instrument templates accoriding to genre, etc. remains a choice for every composer.
Logic has some custom templates for some typical projects that can be useful (for working to Picture for example), and it´s worth giving them a look, even if just as a starting point to create our own perfect template (or ideally, different templates according to what kind of project are we going to tackle). You can find them when opening a new project, by choosing the option “open from template”.
So, how to set up a template of our choice? What basic aspects to consider?
The main guideline should be ease of use and quick access to the tools / features you know you´re going to use the most. This includes for example customizing the zooming and choice of tools for every window, defining what features to show (if we´re going to use them often) and which ones to hide from quick access, etc.
Focus, focus, focus!
First of all, you should try to use all screen space available to avoid zooming in and out. To have to reach out for your target continuosly consumes most of your time. Think of it as having your wardrobe tidy: you can find easily what you´re looking for if you can see it properly.
Unless one has an enormous screen, usually real estate makes a big difference. You can choose the exact degree of zoom you need for your window of choice, you can remove the Inspector if you don´t need it, or hide the tool bar. Anything you need to make your navigation more comfortable.
Am I properly armed? Do I have my tools at the ready?
We all know where to find the tools we need, but having to access them by navigating with the mouse from one corner of the Arrange to the other simply is not efficient. We need to have our more commonly used tools / keyboard shortcuts easily accessible, and decide which ones we are going to use in which sections of our project.
For example, if you´re going to work mainly with audio in the Arrange area, you might need to have quick access to the Flex Tool, so it could be handy to have it in your Tool Bar. As well, if you need to trim audio regions often, you can choose as alternate tool (right click on your mouse) the Marquee tool so you can both select and trim without practically moving your right hand from the mouse. If, on the other hand, you decide to do that audio editing in the Wave editor, you might consider creating a screenset (wait, don´t panic, they can be cute!) inside your template dedicated to your Wave editor, instead of opening and closing it everytime you need to access it.
Another example: you´re going to work mainly editing MIDI – in this case, you might want to have a dedicated screenset for the Piano Roll, and use as alternate tool the one you will be using most (velocity or pencil tool for example).
So, in our template we can edit different screensets. Hmmmm.
Screensets. (eerie music here)
What are the screensets? Is it true that they bite?
Yes. But we are fierce composers and we fear nothing.
Screensets show a customized window and settings for every number of the computer´s keyboard. This means that you can set up your arrange window just the way you want it (including zoom options, region shown, tools choice, etc), assign it to number 1, and go back to that working environement whenever you wish by pressing 1 at any time. Alternatively, you can choose showing both arrange and piano roll for example in another screenset, or just piano roll, or just the mixer, or mixer and score….you name it.
You do the choice, Logic keeps it under a number in your keypad and you can summon it at any time. Just like Gandalf.
Now, something very interesting: screensets can be locked or unlocked. You will know a screenset is locked if it shows a bullet by the number and unlocked when it doesn´t. This basically means that if the screenset is locked, any edit you do to it (zooming in and out, changing tools, adding new areas) will not remain once you leave the screenset. For example, if I edit locked screenset 1 and then use screenset 2, whenever I press 1 again I will find the locked initial version of screenset 1, and all edits done will have been ignored by Logic. Whether it is useful for you to have your screenset locked or unlocked will be up to you to decide: for example, when editing can be advantageous to leave it unlocked (since you might change your mind about the zoom degree) and if you dedicate your screenset to a global view of your project, you might prefer to keep it locked so you can go back to it at any time and see your whole arrange with just a quick look.
Locking / Unlocking a screenset is very simple: in the screenset tab menu, you toggle between unlock / lock and apply whatever changes you wish.
How to set up Screensets?
Very easy; just press a number of your keypad and check what happens in tab Screensets in Logic main menu (between Window and Help). You will see that your chosen number appears in this tab and the interface as you had it displayed is your starting point. Now, according to what you want your screenset, customize your interface and you will have by default that result as an unlocked screenset. If you wish to keep it precisely like that, remember to lock it so you can go back to it in that precise state anytime.
Hmmm…much to consider….any practical examples?
Sure, here it goes a very simple suggestion for getting started. A template that mainly consists of three simple screensets according to the three areas for a given project I tend to use the most: Arrange, Piano Roll and Mixer.
Screenset 1: A big arrange window, most space visible possible, for a full vision of the whole track (no inspector, no tool bar, all the screen devoted to your beautiful project!). This allows you to keep in mind the whole picture.
Screenset 2: Arrange / Piano Roll for editing MIDI. A small instance of the Arrange in the upper part and a bigger Piano Roll window for easy MIDI editing. Something useful to be edited here can be having the alternate tool in the Piano Roll assigned to velocity or Pencil tool so one can edit quickly any note.
Screenset 3: Arrange / Mixer following the same spirit – Arrange acting as a small guide and the whole Mixer shown. Note that zoom has a limit in the Mixer, but even this little bit helps a lot.
Of course you can do many others depending on your area of interest; for example using Score, already preparing scores for printing, etc. Showing the Environement, for complex routing, etc. Can you imagine the possibilities?
Ok, I got the customizing of my dreams. Now how do I keep it as a template?
Now that we´ve spent some while (come on, it wasn´t so bad!) customizing our template, we simple go to File / Save as Template and give it a name. We should name it something epic, we are so proud of our little baby!
So, where are my templates kept, and can I use them elsewhere?
Yes, you can! You can save them and take them with you, even if you´re going to work in someone else´s Logic (so you don´t have to start all your customizing from scratch!).
Templates are kept in User / Library / Application Support / Logic / Project Templates – voilá!
If you just feel like importing a particular Screenset that you liked from another project, you can also just import it using Settings / Import Project Settings.
Hope this helps you to work a little faster and with less effort so you can fully concentrate on your music.Questions, suggestions, any more thinking about this is more than welcome. Please don´t hesitate to get in touch if you have some tips after your years of experience using Logic, it can be very helpful for others!
Logic users of the world, share your tips!