Reaper is great but it needs this option: ‘Lock Automation to Item’

Ripple Edit in Reaper is great but it also creates a big problem when you use automation.

I am still very happy with Reaper and use it every day for editing podcasts. But there’s one thing I can’t stand about Reaper.

Ripple Edit

Ripple Edit in Reaper is great. With this function you can move all Items of all tracks while dragging just one Item. I use it all the time. For example when working for NRC Vandaag. The producer offers me a script with transcripted text plus time notations so I can find and cut those Items. During the day (Vandaag is a daily podcast which we need to edit in one day) the script gets changed a lot, so I need to be able to move around in an easy way.

With Ripple Edit I can simply move the whole project from a certain point and add something in between. Or I’ll use it for deleting something and paste the two parts of the project together.

The problem

Often I use music with stems (the multitracks which offers me great flexibility to better apply the music to the voices that speak) and apply automation to it. One trick I often use is to add a little reverb on a last note of music. This way I can create a custom ending in music.

Here’s the problem: when using Ripple Edit Reaper will move the Automation points which belong to Items even when those Items don’t get moved because they start earlier than the Item you are moving.

Here’s a screencast I made which explains the issue:

As you can see, the music Item starts earlier than the Item I am moving using Ripple Edit. So the music Item doesn’t get moved. But the Automation points however do not get moved and become detached from the music Item. So no longer the reverb on the last note will be heard.

Normally when moving the music Item, the Automation points move with it. Like it should because it is part of the Item. But not when using Ripple Edit! In my opinion Automation points should never be moved when the Item is not included in the Ripple Edit.

In short: you cannot lock Automation in Reaper. You can lock Items though, but the Automation is like free floating when applying Ripple Edit. Reaper might consider adding the option ‘Lock Automation to Item’ in a future edition of the program. It’s a must in my opinion!

Workarounds?

These are the – not so nice – workarounds:

  • after using Ripple Edit, fix the Automation points (which can mean: a lot of redundant work, hate it)
  • move all Items with Automation out of the range of Ripple Edit before doing the edit and move them back in position afterwards
  • don’t use Ripple Edit when you have complicated parts with lots of automation
  • stop using Automation, change the Items and group them so they won’t start to drift with the Ripple Edit

That last option, never use Automation in Reaper is a very good choice in my opinion which I tend to use the most. Oh and when applying reverb to a last note in the music you can record it as separate audio Item. When routing the music track into a new track and select the output of the music track as input for the new one. And then group that Item with the rest so it stays connected.

Reaper developers, are you reading this?

I hope the developers of Reaper are reading this and consider a fix for it. Maybe my suggestion for adding an option ‘Lock Automation to Item’ is the fix Reaper really needs. Can’t wait!

2 Comments

Have you try insert automation item. It will lock your automation in one place. YOu can right click and move your mouse toward the section call “Automation”. It will pop up a new section, with that you can select “Insert new automation item”. Hope this help.

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