Studio Diaries – “MHB,” Part 3: Sleeplessness and Logic’s Super Tool

It was 1:00 AM.  Like a typical teenage musician, I didn’t feel the least bit tired.  The rest of my family had already gone to bed, so I couldn’t play or really mix.  What did I decide to do?  Why, I added some key commands in Logic, of course!

I hit option-K and opened up the long list of assignable shortcuts.  I’d already made key commands for most of the tasks that I did routinely, but I wanted to add more to save even more time.

One thing that has continued to irk me about Logic has been the lack of the Super Tool (aka, the Smart Tool) that ProTools has.  After working in ProTools at GRAMMY Camp this summer, I took the SuperTool for granted.  I could clean and edit audio tracks so fast with it.  When I came back home and discovered that I had to assign a key command to switch to the fade tool in Logic to clean tracks, I was pretty frustrated.

But then I discovered that there was hope.  I’m not exactly sure what happened that night at 1:00 AM, but somehow, I discovered the marquee tool in Logic.  When I realized the power of said tool, I asked myself, what have I been doing with my engineering life all this time?

It turns out that the marquee tool allows you to select portions of a track and cut out the selected portion from the rest of the track.  I had missed that ability so much since learning ProTools!  The marquee tool also lets you catch the playhead if you single-click with it anywhere in the arrange area, so when you stop playing and then start again, it will start from where you clicked with the marquee tool.  Double-clicking on a track lets you divide the track at that point.

Oh, but it gets better.  I also discovered that you can have “fade zones” on the edges of your audio tracks, just like you can in ProTools.  So there’s really no need to ever manually set the fade tool in Logic since you can make the fade zones appear automatically.  Here’s how you set fade and marquee zones on tracks in Logic:

1) Open Logic’s preferences by clicking on the “Preferences” button and going to the “General” section, or you can just hit command-comma.

2) Under “General,” go to the editing tab.

3) Where it says “Pointer tool in Arrange,” check the “Fade tool click zones” and “Marquee tool click zones” boxes.

When you have these options enabled, and you have the pointer tool set, the top half of any track in the arrange area is still selectable by the pointer tool, while the bottom half lets you make an edit with the marquee tool.  If you’ve divided a track, at the very top of the new vertical edges of the track, you will see the fade tool indicator show up, and then you can add a fade by clicking and dragging the mouse away from the edge, towards the rest of the track.

I also discovered that you can assign the right mouse button to another tool, in addition to the primary and secondary tools.  Do you know what that means?  Logic lets you have access to five tools at once!  That pleases me greatly.

While you’re there in the same preference pane as before, you can enable the right mouse button to be assigned to another tool:

Since we already have the pointer, marquee, and fade tools as a result of the click zones, I generally like to set my right mouse button to the pencil tool so I can quickly create new MIDI regions or draw automation.  My secondary tool is usually set to the automation select tool so that I can easily select, adjust, and copy automation.  In case you’re not sure where to assign you’re primary, secondary, and right-mouse button tools, you can find the tools menu in the top right of the arrange area:

Well, life is full of surprises, isn’t it?  This five-tool thing in Logic has already saved me so much time while I’ve been mixing and editing My Heart Beats.  I like Logic even more after this late-night discovery.  Now, if we could just automate bypassing sends in Logic, then we would really be in busines…

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