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twistiejoe
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SMPTE lock tempo changes

Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:28 am

Hi all,

I've written on here before about my desperate need for tempo marks to have a SMPTE lock on them. It wouldn't be difficult to program IMHO - would just be making the computer do what I have to do manually, but it would be better at not stuffing it up, and it would save me SO much time and heartache. I feel like about 1/4 of my time is wasted on this problem and I'm at my wit's end to be honest. Sick of it.

So I've written about it in the Logic feedback thing about 4 times. I did it again just last week.

No response.

Anything else I can try? This really is a desperate plea to try and make my life better with this one feature. Honestly I feel like its lacking is ruining my life.

Thanks.
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des99
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:40 am

Just a note: Logic feedback is a way to send comments/bugs/requests etc to the team - not to start a two-way dialogue into your most-wanted feature requests.

Not having a response also does not mean your request won't be seen and considered.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:51 am

twistiejoe wrote:
It wouldn't be difficult to program IMHO

What would happen when you change the BPM value of the tempo point directly to the left of the locked tempo change?
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 3:21 pm

I agree its badly needed. I'll send in a request for it too. I've asked for a lot of things and never got any of it, so I don't have any confidence they will fix this. it should work in a manner similar as scene markers.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 3:29 pm

But maybe its worth a discussion about workflow around how it is now?

I know for what I do, film scoring, locking tempo changes to SMPTE, on its own, is not enough to solve the problem. once you setup a tempo map to a cue...with hit points aligned on bar/beat grid lines...then changing any tempo anywhere in the cue will throw everything to the right off the grid, and usually requires human intelligence to sort out the best way to adjust...could be meter change...or further tempo changes, to get the rest of the cue back on track...

So what I have to ask is, why do you need tempo change locked to a SMPTE frame?

None of the DAW's really provide quite enough in this area.. I know for me, what I would prefer would be to see SMPTE locked scene markers which can be locked to bar/beat grid lines... and then I would place my tempo changes locked to bar/beat, as is the case now. Then whenever I change anything in the tempo map...tempos would be automatically adjusted to keep SMPTE locked scene marker locked to a certain bar/beat.

LogicPro doesn't do anything like that, nor does any other DAW that I am aware of..but that is what would save me a lot of time personally. That way once you setup a tempo map that is pretty close, you can tweak it, change a few meters here or there as you go, etc..and have subtle tempo changes automatically applied in order to keep certain bar/beat grid lines locked to a certain SMPTE frame.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:45 pm

Dewdman42 wrote:
I know for what I do, film scoring, locking tempo changes to SMPTE, on its own, is not enough to solve the problem. once you setup a tempo map to a cue...with hit points aligned on bar/beat grid lines...then changing any tempo anywhere in the cue will throw everything to the right off the grid, and usually requires human intelligence to sort out the best way to adjust...could be meter change...or further tempo changes, to get the rest of the cue back on track...

Exactly. That was my point (in the form of a question): locking a tempo change to SMPTE would be more complex to program than it may appear at first. If you change the position or value of another tempo change, or change the meters, it would require some kind of automatic adjustment: either the ability to do partial measures (which Logic does not handle), or meter change and the introduction of tempo buffer zones which could yield undesired results in many cases. Not saying it wouldn't be feasible but to be handled elegantly would require a lot of work (and probably a whole new slew of "buggy behavior" reports from users who don't understand the result of their operations.

Not that simple in my opinion.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:57 pm

As I think about it, I can't really think of a use case for simply allowing tempo changes to be locked to a SMPTE frame. I mean..if you changed some tempos somewhere earlier, the location of the tempo related to the music would shift all over the place and cause havoc, musically. I'd like to hear from the twistiejoe if there is a use case we're not thinking of.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:04 pm

Exactly my thought. I can think of a use (the ability to adjust a tempo change without affecting another tempo change located to its right)) but it would require the introduction of either an automatic meter change plus tempo buffer area (area where you wouldn't be in control of your tempo) or the use of partial measures in Logic, which is asking an entire overhaul of Logic's MIDI sequencer engine, which would be so much work as to prove unfeasible for all practical matters (might as well write a new DAW software).
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:12 pm

You wouldn't do partial measures..you'd just insert some meter changes...so that you throw a measure of 3/8 in there for example, which effectively gives you a half a beat shift, etc.. There are tricks..

Basically if you change a tempo in the middle..or change your mind about a hit point location ( and yes directors sometimes do send the video re-edited after you've already worked on it a while)...

But anyway, usually I would add measures and tweak a tempo slightly until the next SMPTE locked scene marker lines up on any beat line. Once its on a beat line, then I may have to rewrite the music since the number of beats for that section may have changed, but from that point forward everything should still be on track.

Its generally really about keeping the SMPTE locked hit points lined up to ANY beat...then you just adjust the meter's, and your music..to make it work.

LogicPro actually does have some interesting capabilities using the beat mapping tools, which aren't really designed for this task, and its a little bit fiddly to do it, but can be made to do some really interesting things that way.. I've tried to play around with that for this kind of work, but I usually end up finding that its just easier to do it manually...becuase the beatmapping stuff doesn't make it that easy to insert the meter changes, especially switching to 3/8 briefly and things like that..which provide a lot of options to get the next hit point on a beat.

But still...there is some ability to set these beat markers and then Logic figures out the tempos.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:17 pm

There is a lot of room for Logic, Cubase and other DAW's to do better in this area actually. I am a retired software engineer so every time I get into this particular process I'm bothered by the fact that the computer isn't really being used to make my job easier. This is exactly the kind of task where software could make tempo mapping a video cue much much easier then it is today, on every DAW platform!

There used to be this brilliant product that a lot of film score composers used called Auricle, and it had all this intelligence for working out a lot of stuff like this and making it monumentally easier for a film score composer to move on to writing music. Unfortunately it ran on DOS, required special hardware and the developer died, so you can't buy it anymore. But for a long time it was an industry standard, actually there are a few film score composers that still have an old laptop around just to run Auricle on to this day.

But anyway, I'd love to see Logic or Cubase or any of them, take this on, but even DP, which probably has the best tools in this area,.....pales in comparison to Auricle....and I am not really sure the various software devs fully understand this particular process...
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:23 pm

but anyway be that as it may...I don't think it would be as simple as having lockable tempo points.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:36 pm

Dewdman42 wrote:
You wouldn't do partial measures..you'd just insert some meter changes...so that you throw a measure of 3/8 in there for example, which effectively gives you a half a beat shift, etc.. There are tricks..

Well either partial measures OR tempo buffer areas.

Half a beat isn't enough precision to accommodate any tempo change at any location. Locking a 134.2819 bpm tempo at 1:00:53:22.74 and adjusting the previous tempo by .0001 bpm increments would require partial measures or tempo buffer areas.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:47 pm

not sure what you mean by tempo buffer areas?

...but anyway yes you're right...depending on the change you make you have to figure something out. if you speed up the tempo then maybe you have to remove one beat some how, that could be changing one bar from 4/4 to 3/4, for example, then adjust the tempo a little bit until that removal of one beat works out so that the next scene marker lines within a few frames of a beat line again..its like that. There are various options. Usually we are just trying to get certain SMPTE frames to land on a beat, any beat. So you speed things up or slow it down, ok fine...., and there is room to play around with that changed tempo, you needed to make it faster or slower...ok...but you usually have some wiggle room...by making it faster, and then changing the number of beats...and adjusting that faster or slower tempo a bit..you can get the next hit point to land on a beat again.

Of course then you have a different number of beats then you had before, so now you have to change the music composition to fit. That's how you handle what I think you are calling the nebulous tempo buffer area. That is not as bad as it sounds though, its usually as simple as making a certain held note hold a little longer or shorter.....etc...
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:52 pm

also if the next hit point is quite ways into the future...then you can change tempo...and that throws it off...but if you have a long enough period between that change and the next hit point..you can slowly adjust the tempo over time a little so that the next hit point will still end up landing on a beat.. With live players that has to be handled more judiciously..its quite hard to get live players to follow a click track that is ramping up or down in speed, but its not that hard for them to receive a new click rate every 4 bars or 8 bars..where the new click rate is just a little different then the last, etc.. Little by little.. Again, like I said..there are tricks. This is what film score composers have done for decades.

I'd like to hear from the OP about their use case for locking tempo points to SMPTE frame.. They might have a valid reason, but more likely they are going through some of this time consuming process to work it out and just wishing it wasn't so time consuming..and I don't think locking the tempo points to SMPTE would accomplish it. But I'd like to hear more.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:59 pm

Dewdman42 wrote:
not sure what you mean by tempo buffer areas?

A section of your project where you are not in control of the bpm value of the tempo because it has to be automatically (or manually) calculated to accommodate other constraints,
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:16 am

right. so if you have music going from point A to point B...at a certain tempo, and you go back to point A and change the tempo..... point b is no longer loading on the desired scene marker. But you have chosen in this case for the tempo between point A and point B to be a new tempo. Its not really an area where the computer is supposed to change it. We specifically want tempo at point A to be something new....and we want point B to land on a beat still.

Where would the computer be able to adjust the tempo between A and B to get it on track again?

this is usually a matter of adding or removing a beat, like I said, and then fine tuning the exact tempo so that point B will land on a beat again. it will be a different number of beats than we had before.

Or like I said..other options are..if point B is far enough into the future...then you might be able to make up for it through some subtle tempo changes between A and B... But generally if you think about it, that doesn't work out that well. For example if you slowed down the tempo at point A for some reason you decided it need to be slower. Ok... if you have 16 beats between A and B and you don't want to change it to 13 beats, you want it to stay at 16 beats. alright...well there is no way around it..you will have to gradually speed it up so that by the end of the section it will actually be going FASTER then the tempo you had before..so that it would end up exactly 16 beats. That is generally a bigger drastic change in the music, then just adding or subtracting a few beats and then re-writing the musical phrase to make it work...with a more stable tempo...

The process I mentioned above specifically adds or removes beats in order to keep a more stable tempo.. the tempo can move around a bit..but its unusual in a cue for the the tempo really change drastically, unless you are working on a bugs bunny cartoon.

I think an ideal tool would provide options, it would have constraints that say: hit points need to be within X number of frames of a beat...and tempos need to be within X BPM of what I am trying for, etc.. Then if it can automatically change some tempos around in order to make beats line up on SMPTE hit points, but only by this small amount..great! But usually lit will require beats to be add or removed in conjunction with those reasonable tempo changes...and then it can all be made to line up and I think software could be used to make that mental process a lot less painful then it is today.

when you have to come back later and something after the fact in the middle of a cue, that is a huge challenge sometimes. It is what it is...but somehow it has to be worked out..in a musical way. I don't trust the computer to just assign random tempo changes chaotically, there is more to it then that.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:20 am

Dewdman42 wrote:
and then fine tuning the exact tempo so that point B will land on a beat again.

Yes. That fine-tuned section is what I call a tempo buffer area. If you want to be able to SMPTE-lock a tempo change (presumably because you want the availability to manipulate earlier tempo or time signature changes, otherwise you wouldn't need to SMPTE-lock the tempo change) then you have to let Logic calculate that tempo buffer area bpm value for you. We are basically saying the same thing.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:43 am

yea except like I said in in one my earlier posts..if you had this tempo buffer automatic tempo feature at all...its not that you want to lock a "tempo point" to anything per say, ..but rather a SMPTE frame needs to be locked to the beat grid. And in my view it doesn't have to even be locked to one specific bar/beat position, it just needs to automatically snap to a beat....adjusting tempos (and optionally the number of beats through meter change) in order to keep it locked to a beat.

The tempo points should not lock to SMPTE, they are a musical expression. they should be be on the musical grid always. But its a question of how to lock the musical grid to the SMPTE so that the tempo changes will end up being in the right place...

That is essentially what the beat mapping tool does, but it works in a way that kind of makes more sense when you're just trying to get a tempo map that matches what a real drummer was playing, etc. it kinda works beat to beat...rather then over a longer period of time...it sorta works.. I messed with it for this purpose and got some good results sometimes, but not always because it would not be a stable enough tempo over longer period, it is going to make a tempo change every beat if necessary, the assumption being that the tempo changes will be slight, and mainly serve to re-align the bar/beat lines to the actual recorded performance.

but anyway that is what that does in way, you lock the beat grid points to recorded midi or audio. The tempo gets calculated, and LogicPro does work out that tempo buffer you speak of.

For film scoring, Its slightly different because you need a more stable tempo that doesn't change every beat. But you just need to make sure that certain SMPTE hit points land on beats...they are usually not that close together.

I think my dream feature here would be something where I can label a certain locked scene marker as need to be locked not only to SMPTE, but also "snapped" to the grid.

So essentially Logic Pro would adjust tempos and meters...or provide some direction to me for choosing on the fly how to handle it...such that anytime I made a change earlier in the cue...that SMPTE point would know that that musical grid needs to snap to it so that with a tempo change and meter change...that SMPTE point will land on a beat again.

If LogicPro could do that it would save film score composers hours of time. To be fair, no other DAW does this either...but we can dream right?

Obviously you'd want options...like maybe you don't want to allow beats to be added/removed...then the tempo changes would be more drastic to keep the SMPTE point snapped to a musical grid line. etc.. but it could definitely be done....

But anyway like I said..the point is...its not about locking a tempo point to video alone. You have to lock the musical grid to a SMPTE point...and the tempo changes will need to be musically sensible on the musical grid always.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:47 am

Dewdman42 wrote:
yea except like I said in in one my earlier posts..if you had this tempo buffer automatic tempo feature at all...its not that you want to lock a "tempo point" to anything per say, ..but rather a SMPTE frame needs to be locked to the beat grid. And in my view it doesn't have to even be locked to one specific bar/beat position, it just needs to automatically snap to a beat....adjusting tempos (and optionally the number of beats through meter change) in order to keep it locked to a beat.

The tempo points should not lock to SMPTE, they are a musical expression. they should be be on the musical grid always. But its a question of how to lock the musical grid to the SMPTE so that the tempo changes will end up being in the right place...

Sure. But no matter how you slice it, you WILL have to have a section of your project where you are no longer in control of the tempo value. Either that, or a partial measure.
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Re: Contacting Logic ... no luck :(

Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:48 am

meter change, but yea.. hehe
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