Automation editing is great for CCs, then why is it so bad for tracks?

Cubase has some excellent automation editing features, which are part of the reason why I switched from Logic Pro X. All the ways you can move and scale the selected points, and how easy it is to make a line between two points a curve show that a lot of thought went into them. I wish there were more tweaks available that I find myself needing at times, but what it has is still quite impressive.

Another thing to mention is the drawing of automation parameters, so much that I bought a drawing tablet to have more fun with it.

All of this is when editing controllers in the key editor. That part is great. But as if it was a different DAW, or even another DAW from the same company, the automation editing in the project window for tracks is a mess. It could be great if it was exactly as it is in the key editor, but it almost seems as if they said “That’s too good, let’s ruin it a little bit for the tracks.”

I bet at least 95% of you know what I mean. In the key editor, let’s say you have something like this:

You have four points you created, select the two inside, and when you hover the mouse pointer close to the top of the selection, it turns into an icon that lets you move the two points up or down (sorry but macOS doesn’t capture the pointer itself for some reason):

And you know as well that moving the mouse pointer to the middle of the selection at the top gives you the scale up or down pointer, and all the other ones I’m not going to post screenshots of, but you get the idea.

Then we try to do the same for track automation, whether it’s volume or anything else, and suddenly our pride for using the best DAW ever created gets shattered because you try to do the same thing and Cubase decides it wants to add points for no reason:

I mean, at first, everything looks the same, but you hover to get the pointer to move or scale vertically and this happens:

So I put my hands high, look up and yell “Is there no God???”. Well, I’m an atheist, so to me there is no God, but I always do that since I saw David Shatraw do it on Titus because 23 years later I’m still laughing my ass off about it, but seriously, why, oh why, did the devs at Steinberg set it that way?

And I know you will say if you only create two points, then hover close to the top of the track between the two points and move it up or down, then this way works for that. But it will create two sudden changes in volume or whatever parameter you’re automating, which I hardly ever want.

But more importantly, it works in a way that is totally different from another part of the same program. One automates MIDI controllers, the other one other parameters like track volume, panning or from the plugins that you put as inserts.

Here’s another difference. Like I mentioned, I love drawing, and Cubase is amazing in how many tools it gives you for that. I mean, you can draw a line, sinewave, triangle, square, etc, besides also using your own hand with the mouse or drawing tablet. Except that in the key editor it gives you the option to set the drawings to step, so whatever you draw stays that way:

But what happens when I draw the same thing in a track? This work of eviiiil:

Now, I have searched the manual online and PDF for an answer without any success. In fact, this is all I could find regarding the step vs ramp issue:

And Google may be my friend, but is not a very good one, because in the year I’ve been using Cubase, and have searched for this on and off, I didn’t find anything about either of these two issues. The thing is that until recently I barely used any track automation, using controllers instead for almost everything. So when I had to use track automation I would search for this, find nothing, get frustrated and move on. I also went up and down the main preferences and all the menus.

But now I’m working on a project that was using 70+ instrument tracks, and when I started adding pretty much every FX VST in the history of mankind, the hiccups started, and the project would take like 5 minutes to load, plus another 5 to become usable. Of course I could go through every instrument and unload every articulation I didn’t need, but I opted for a faster approach, which was to bounce every single track in a dry mode to a new project, and add all the FX VSTs to those, which was a great decision, but that means I have no CC controllers to edit anymore. So now I have 70+ tracks that require some track automation and this unwanted creation of extra automation points is driving me up the wall.

Now, please please please tell me I’m an idiot and I missed this toggle in the preferences that prevents this behavior, especially the first one, the drawing one is not the end of the world, but the one with the extra points when moving or scaling up or down is wearing me down.

Thank you all very much, and apologies for the long post. I’m mentally unable to write anything short and without any smartassery.


I agree 100%. I can’t for the life of me understand why these tools differ the way they do.
Here’s another issue on the same topic.

And another.

There is a reason for that.
The MIDI CC events are discrete events, ie. in between the events there is nothing happening.
But between automation events Cubase will always interpolate the values between the nodes.
When you put MIDI CCs into ramp mode then Cubase will also start to interpolate values between the events. Steinberg has opted to reduce the time resolution in this case. As a result you can draw finer CC changes (in regard to time) in step mode than in ramp mode.
Anyway, try adjusting this setting to keep Cubase from “over-reducing” the VST automation data:
This can be found in the Automation Panel → Settings (key command F6 by default)

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While I don’t know if there is a setting in Cubase that lets you switch off the automatic creation of creating two additional automation nodes, here is the way to avoid having them created. It requires you not to use the tools that you can use for CCs, though. So I understand your critique.
You can drag one of the selected nodes to the new value. After starting to drag you can press Ctrl/Cmd to restrict movement of the nodes to only vertical.


Change the value in the Info Line. As you probably know you can chnage a numercial value there as if it were a fader. Keep left mouse button pressed and drag up or down.


Apologies for diverting a little, but made me think there’s a ‘Feature Request’ here in this topic as well - that should also allow this modifier when dragging on the line between the two nodes, which results in NOT automatically creating the two additional nodes (current behaviour). It becomes a user option/choice.

[edited in light of JM’s further clarification below.!]

Just to clarify: It was not my intent to defend the current implementation of these functionalities but to give some aid in case Sebastian needs a working solution quickly - regarding his first issue. For his second issue I tried to provide some background information as to the difference between automation and automation.

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Thanks for the tip!!

Thanks, Johnny. I forgot to state that in my post, but your solution #2 was actually the workaround I was using. It’s just that I really thought that this couldn’t possibly be so lame. But your first solution, that I didn’t know about, so thank you a lot for that!

I just don’t get it, why would they implement automation editing in two different ways when it’s not necessary? It’s as if two separate groups of people work on it and didn’t check with each other what they were doing.

Or you can do something like this in PLE

Then bind it to mouse wheel or something

Oooh, I think you found the answer. Cannot proof it, of course, just a gut feeling of mine.