Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

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eightyeightkeys
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Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by eightyeightkeys » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:05 am

Spline based curves could be really useful in terms of creating expression curves that are much more controllable that what we've had in the past...I'm still on C5...so, I don't know if we've got that feature yet on C7 ?

Anyway, just to go on a bit, for those of you that may not be familiar with spline based curves, they are already in use within a couple of EQ plug-ins, but, are primarily used in Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop for the creation of very detailed intricate curves and lines. Outlining a face or eye for editing would be one example.

The " line, parabola, sine etc.." based curves we have in the MIDI edit window,just don't give enough control, neither in a gradual or abrupt manner, for expression, volume, modulation curves...etc. A spline curve would allow the user to create a point or multiple points, pull on a point, creating a handle around which a curve can be manipulated in any way imaginable.

I'm creating a Wobble Bass right now, where the modulation is controlling the wobble, somewhat in tempo, but wow, what hassle it is in the old way.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by Mahlon » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:00 pm

Big +1 for spline based CC data. (unfortunately it's not in C7)

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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:07 pm

eightyeightkeys wrote: Anyway, just to go on a bit, for those of you that may not be familiar with spline based curves, they are already in use within a couple of EQ plug-ins, but, are primarily used in Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop for the creation of very detailed intricate curves and lines. Outlining a face or eye for editing would be one example.

The " line, parabola, sine etc.." based curves we have in the MIDI edit window,just don't give enough control, neither in a gradual or abrupt manner, for expression, volume, modulation curves...etc. A spline curve would allow the user to create a point or multiple points, pull on a point, creating a handle around which a curve can be manipulated in any way imaginable.

I'm creating a Wobble Bass right now, where the modulation is controlling the wobble, somewhat in tempo, but wow, what hassle it is in the old way.
I bring this up every time I see this request. What will the intricate curves do for you other than hide the details of the actual automation which is at MIDI resolution. The answer ... Nothing. The automation curves work like they do because it shows you what will happen at the resolution of the control. A spline will NOT increase that resolution of control.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by arvfur » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:58 pm

I use the Cableguys Midishaper plugin for this kind of smoooth controller curves:
http://www.cableguys.de/midi-shaper.html
something like that would be a great addition inside of Cubase!
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:07 pm

arvfur wrote:I use the Cableguys Midishaper plugin for this kind of smoooth controller curves:
http://www.cableguys.de/midi-shaper.html
something like that would be a great addition inside of Cubase!
Again, you can use that all you want, but the MIDI automation does not follow that curve, it steps at the resultion of the MIDI resolution. You can't see in the curve where that will occur. In other words, the curve is a lie. The steps are reality.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by vic_france » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:32 pm

JMCecil wrote: Again, you can use that all you want, but the MIDI automation does not follow that curve, it steps at the resultion of the MIDI resolution. You can't see in the curve where that will occur. In other words, the curve is a lie. The steps are reality.
100% correct ;)
However, spline editing would certainly make it easier to draw the curve that we are hoping for ;).
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by eightyeightkeys » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:53 pm

JMCecil wrote:
arvfur wrote:I use the Cableguys Midishaper plugin for this kind of smoooth controller curves:
http://www.cableguys.de/midi-shaper.html
something like that would be a great addition inside of Cubase!
Again, you can use that all you want, but the MIDI automation does not follow that curve, it steps at the resultion of the MIDI resolution. You can't see in the curve where that will occur. In other words, the curve is a lie. The steps are reality.
Yes, the "steps are the reality" just as the "line" or the "parabola" are the reality as well, but, this is not my point at all. A bezier spline curve would be as much reality as any other....just bear with me for a second as I try and explain it :

#1. The Pen Tool :
You must have noticed that when you try and create a smooth curve using the pen tool that you end up with zig zags and worse, extraneous points everywhere, some-of-which are not contributing at all to what you're actually trying to achieve. The mouse + pen tool is not a great tool to create curves with. Ask any artist.
#2. The Line Tool & the Parabola Tool :
The line tool and the parabola tool create smooth curves, but, with the restriction that you can a) go in a straight line, or, multiple straight lines, or, with the parabola tool you can create a smooth curve, but, the curve is preset. You cannot change it. You can only do mulitple curves on top of each other....this can get rough in a hurry...and is not very quick.

So, what does this mean to a composer ?

Well, what if you are trying to create a forte-piano or sforzando-piano curve ? Or, what if you'd like to program an abrupt crescendo that starts off slow and then exponentially gets loud ?...or, for that matter something unusual such as a wobble bass ?

Very, very hard with the tools we've got....and so time consuming. A bezier spline based tool allows you to create any shape whatsoever in the edit window for modulation, volume...whatever. Here's a link to what bezier spline curves look like :

http://www.moshplant.com/direct-or/bezier/
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by Mahlon » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:11 am

The underlying resolution would be the same, yes, but it's the interaction tha could be a boost. If the curves and handles were implemented well, I'd rather work with bezier curves than a pencil tool (at least the current pencil tool).

I like the line tool and use that mostly.

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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by jose7822 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:37 am

eightyeightkeys wrote:
JMCecil wrote:
arvfur wrote:I use the Cableguys Midishaper plugin for this kind of smoooth controller curves:
http://www.cableguys.de/midi-shaper.html
something like that would be a great addition inside of Cubase!
Again, you can use that all you want, but the MIDI automation does not follow that curve, it steps at the resultion of the MIDI resolution. You can't see in the curve where that will occur. In other words, the curve is a lie. The steps are reality.
Yes, the "steps are the reality" just as the "line" or the "parabola" are the reality as well, but, this is not my point at all. A bezier spline curve would be as much reality as any other....just bear with me for a second as I try and explain it :

#1. The Pen Tool :
You must have noticed that when you try and create a smooth curve using the pen tool that you end up with zig zags and worse, extraneous points everywhere, some-of-which are not contributing at all to what you're actually trying to achieve. The mouse + pen tool is not a great tool to create curves with. Ask any artist.
#2. The Line Tool & the Parabola Tool :
The line tool and the parabola tool create smooth curves, but, with the restriction that you can a) go in a straight line, or, multiple straight lines, or, with the parabola tool you can create a smooth curve, but, the curve is preset. You cannot change it. You can only do mulitple curves on top of each other....this can get rough in a hurry...and is not very quick.

So, what does this mean to a composer ?

Well, what if you are trying to create a forte-piano or sforzando-piano curve ? Or, what if you'd like to program an abrupt crescendo that starts off slow and then exponentially gets loud ?...or, for that matter something unusual such as a wobble bass ?

Very, very hard with the tools we've got....and so time consuming. A bezier spline based tool allows you to create any shape whatsoever in the edit window for modulation, volume...whatever. Here's a link to what bezier spline curves look like :

http://www.moshplant.com/direct-or/bezier/
Well done! Couldn't have said it better.

I also have asked for this last year, during Cubase 6's lifetime. Was hoping Cubase 7 would have them, but that didn't happen (at least not yet). Automation in Cubase needs an update and what better way than adding Bézier curves as well as sample accuracy to get it to the next level.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by nke » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:41 pm

Mahlon wrote:The underlying resolution would be the same, yes, but it's the interaction tha could be a boost. If the curves and handles were implemented well, I'd rather work with bezier curves than a pencil tool (at least the current pencil tool).

I like the line tool and use that mostly.

Best,
Mahlon
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:39 pm

So what you actually want is easier envelope entry. You just happen to think spline editing provides it. I can see that.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by const » Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:16 pm

i simply don't get this request.
why do you need splines?

one could get a pretty good approximation if, before drawing any automation,
he/she increased resolution to eg. 128ths
and that would be more accurate than splines!

edit: also, interpolation of automation from one point to the next (which is what an spline is), should be (a configurable) part of each vst in order to avoid overuse of the cpu (when you have discreet type automation data (eg program change) interpolation would be an overkill) when using a lot of it!

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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by eightyeightkeys » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:41 pm

JMCecil wrote:So what you actually want is easier envelope entry. You just happen to think spline editing provides it. I can see that.
yes...thanks

If there is a resolution issue with too many points resulting in too much data, fine. I get that. However, why would a spline based curve be different than a parabola/sine/saw(which are already there), for example ?

Here's an example of a Spline Curve that I drew in 1 minute using Illustrator....this would take a lot of time to do with our current tools in Cubase...just an example.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:08 pm

eightyeightkeys wrote:
JMCecil wrote:So what you actually want is easier envelope entry. You just happen to think spline editing provides it. I can see that.
yes...thanks

If there is a resolution issue with too many points resulting in too much data, fine. I get that. However, why would a spline based curve be different than a parabola/sine/saw(which are already there), for example ?

Here's an example of a Spline Curve that I drew in 1 minute using Illustrator....this would take a lot of time to do with our current tools in Cubase...just an example.
I know what spline based is by the way. I had to write some curve implementations for other programs. I don't think you guys appreciate how NOT CPU efficient it is for this purpose. I would guess that point reduction to the resolution would be orders of magnitude more troublesome/CPU intensive than the current method (I'm guessing because I have no idea how the Borgz coded it). Although, there are probably ways to do it than are more efficient than the stuff I played with. Remember that in the bitmap world, you aren't trying for real time functionality. In the hosts (like reaper) that I've used with spline curves, it actually kind of sucks. But again, I'm willing to accept the fact that I could be totally wrong. Which is why I always ask when someone brings this up.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by eightyeightkeys » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:28 pm

Thanks for the info JM...I didn't mean to imply that you didn't know what Bezier Spline Curves are, but, rather how easy they are to work with....as an example.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:52 pm

eightyeightkeys wrote:Thanks for the info JM...I didn't mean to imply that you didn't know what Bezier Spline Curves are, but, rather how easy they are to work with....as an example.
It's not a problem, I think people assume you are attacking them if you don't agree with them on the internet. I take the entire forum thing with a grain of salt.

Just some trivia ...
So one of the "false" arguments for splines is that it increases automation resolution. But it isn't falose just because of the point reduction problem. It's got an almost Nyquist problem at the tail of exponential curves. The rate of change is greater than the ability to read the change. So you can get huge jumps (or no jump at all depending on how you implement) at the tail of a curve, which is most likely where people are looking for the "enhanced" resolution.

Again, you might be able to build reduction maps in the background or other optimizations that I don't know anything about. I just always find it curious that the first response to "why" is usually based on automation resolution.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by eightyeightkeys » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:00 pm

JM, here's a product that implemented spline curves :

http://photosounder.com/splineeq/

Would I be correct to say that in order for this to work, you'd need to move away from the constraints of MIDI resolution issues and move toward MIDI data as audio or at the audio level ? (as someone else pointed out)
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by const » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:04 pm

eightyeightkeys wrote:JM, here's a product that implemented spline curves :

http://photosounder.com/splineeq/

Would I be correct to say that in order for this to work, you'd need to move away from the constraints of MIDI resolution issues and move toward MIDI data as audio or at the audio level ? (as someone else pointed out)
i believe it's the latter (at the audio level)!

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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by JMCecil » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:32 pm

const wrote:
eightyeightkeys wrote:JM, here's a product that implemented spline curves :

http://photosounder.com/splineeq/

Would I be correct to say that in order for this to work, you'd need to move away from the constraints of MIDI resolution issues and move toward MIDI data as audio or at the audio level ? (as someone else pointed out)
i believe it's the latter (at the audio level)!
Then you run into the performance problem of when to call the function. Because as far as I know the spline function has to be called to get the value at a given point along the function. But, it will work for VST(i) and such at sample rate resolution (at least I think it would, haven't thought it through completely). Obviously won't work on external MIDI gear as they will still be at NRPN at best right? Anyhow, it's an interesting topic and obviously some hosts have done it. I've just never understood the benefit.
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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by const » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:24 pm

JMCecil wrote:
const wrote:
eightyeightkeys wrote:JM, here's a product that implemented spline curves :

http://photosounder.com/splineeq/

Would I be correct to say that in order for this to work, you'd need to move away from the constraints of MIDI resolution issues and move toward MIDI data as audio or at the audio level ? (as someone else pointed out)
i believe it's the latter (at the audio level)!
Then you run into the performance problem of when to call the function. Because as far as I know the spline function has to be called to get the value at a given point along the function. But, it will work for VST(i) and such at sample rate resolution (at least I think it would, haven't thought it through completely). Obviously won't work on external MIDI gear as they will still be at NRPN at best right? Anyhow, it's an interesting topic and obviously some hosts have done it. I've just never understood the benefit.
@JM oh, you are correct! and it is interesting indeed! my mistake was i automatically left the (low resolution) domain of midi automation (0-127 discreet values and normally 1920 midi ticks per second @240bpm) jumping to the (higher resolution) audio domain (24bit amplitude and fs steps per second) (as the eq seemed to be an fft spline eq --like the voxengo, though with more stuff going on). it is a completely different thing how much the in-vst(i) resolution of the spline is (as in the photosounder eq) and how the vst automation-midi-communicates with cubase (or any other daw for that matter) using the vst protocol!

i was just saying that since all automation in reality is midi, spline-ing (interpolating on a line) should exist within the vsti of our choice (as it is now) and that it should be configurable (up to a degree) for every controller! another option, that has more to do with cubase, would be to be able to "bake"/"freeze" the lines or drawing of automation at tick level and not be constrained at 128ths with an additional feature to improve the line tool to be easier to use (as in illustrator/inkscape)!

edit: i noticed i'm not making sense right there in the end, so here goes: i'm saying an advanced line tool with more resolution on midi is what i believe would be more effective, not bezier curves replacing/layering over the existing midi-automation!

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Re: Do we have spline based expression curves in C7 ?

Post by Shift+G » Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:33 pm

+1 for spline editing option for automation and controller data.

To see how fast and flexible this type of editing can be, see Cubase's own Audio/Process/Envelope function (and/or the Fade In/Out functions).

Real World Application....imaging trying to quickly audition the sound of a "fade out" of controller date as a concave, convex or linear curve shape. With splines it takes one click+drag. With points you have to manually redraw the curve every time while trying to keep the start and ends points of the curve from being accidentally shifted. Not a great workflow!

Check out an FL Studio demo to see spline controller/automation editing in action.

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