Automation for VST3, VST2, AAX, and AU (Plug-ins)
Midi Quest Plug-ins support parameter automation for VST3, VST2, AAX, and AU. That is to say, if you have automation recording enabled on the host enabled and a parameter is modified in an editor, those modifications are recorded as automation in the host and can be played back.
At this point we expect that you will be experienced and comfortable with automation but if you require more information about automation, you should refer to the host's documentation.
Remember, Midi Quest is being integrated into a system which, frankly, was never designed or intended to host and support MIDI interfaces, there are a number of things that you should be aware of.
Automating Thousands of Parameters
Audio plug-ins were designed to support software synths with a relatively small number of automatable parameters and not MIDI hardware with hundreds or thousands of automatable parameters. MIDI instruments tend to have substantially more parameters than the soft-synth equivalents. Midi Quest even supports one workstation (the Kronos) with so many parameters that performing the initial setup in hosts causes them to crash because they were not designed to handle that many parameters. This is a long way of saying that you need to be aware of the fact that typically there are more parameters being used by a Midi Quest instrument plug-in when compared with a soft synth and you may need to make some adjustments to your work flow as a result.
The first issue is that host automation lists do not work very well. They were not designed to display and organize hundreds to thousands of parameters. As a result, it is recommended that initial automation recording be performed with the Midi Quest interface. After this initial work, most hosts offer an option to display only the automated parameters in the host. This will greatly cut down on the size of the list and make display and editing within the host manageable.
Another way of addressing the large number of parameters in MIDI devices is through Midi Quest's Automation Manager. Details below.
If you decide to start off the automation process by displaying all of the automatable parameters and entering automation information manually from the host, expect to have a very difficult time.
MIDI Devices that do not Support Parameter Update Messages
There are a large group of, typically, older MIDI devices which do not support parameter update messages. In order to update a single parameter in these instruments, a complete patch dump is required. This presents certain challenges from an automation perspective. If you have one or more MIDI devices that fall into this category, you will need to be very careful when working with automation.
Typical parameter update messages are 8 - 10 bytes and streaming them over MIDI doesn't usually result in an audible artifacts during playback. However, for instruments without parameter update messages, a patch with 30 to 100 bytes must typically be sent to change a single parameter. In this case the MIDI stream can quickly become overwhelmed. As a result and in these cases, you will need to review all automation events and only include those that are absolutely necessary. Delete the remainder. There is no way that Midi Quest can do this intelligently or automatically so it will fall to you to do so.
Automation in AU Plug-ins
AU offers plug-in automation in a number of formats. Frequently, the format will be one that offers essentially a continuous range such as a float. This allows for automation to be defined as a continuous value change between points in time A and B.
Midi Quest works with synthesizers which receive value assignments as discrete values. As a result, this is how parameters are defined for AU automation. Each automation event is defined as a discrete value. It is not possible to draw, lines, ramps or other items which specify continuous change for an automation parameter. As a result, extensive editing will result in a large number of automation events.
The Automation Manager offers a method of significantly reducing the number of parameters displayed for automation. The system allows you to specify which parameters are made available for automation on an instrument by instrument basis. These parameters will show up in the host's automation list and all others are ignored. If you don't automate a lot of different parameters, this can quickly and easily reduce the automation list to a manageable size. The Automation Manager can make the creation and management of automation a much easier process for MIDI devices.
For MIDI devices that have over 7500 automatable parameters, use of the Automation Manager is a requirement. The reason is that host DAWs will literally lock up when asked to manage a greater number of parameters. This applies to VST2, AU, and AAX plug-ins. The exception is the VST3 plug-in environment. VST3 handles large numbers of automatable parameters easily. For this reason, VST3 doesn't use the Automation manager and all parameters are available for automation.
More information on the Automation Manager is available in the Editor Window chapter.
Now that you have read about and addressed the difficulties of automation, once you are ready, automation is much like any other plug-in. Place your host in a state so that it is capable of recording automation and edit Midi Quest parameters just as you would in the stand-alone software. Once you are finished making edits, return to the start point and play back the edits. You will find that all of the parameters in Midi Quest respond to the incoming automation messages just as if you were using the mouse - including sending out the appropriate SysEx messages to the instrument.
You should also be able to display the automation tracks in you host and further refine them there as necessary.