FEATURE REQUEST - Locking a measure to a frame/timecode

Dear Steinberg – Please consider this a formal feature request:

For film composers, the following feature could be very helpful: The ability to lock the start of a measure to a specific frame/timecode, with the option of the ability to lock the start position of a part to linear time, but have the part be in musical mode after its first tick. One variation of this potential feature would allow us to restart the grid to zero at a specific linear time so there can be multiple zero start points for locking multiple sub-cues to a film, for example, in a much larger project. In other words, the ability to have multiple locked sections/chucks/cues of MIDI and audio so we can compose/record/edit multiple cues inside one project, where the start of each cue can be locked to a specific frame/timecode.

For more information, the original thread started with the following query, which has now turned into a formal feature request:

I’m working on scoring a film with Cubase and I am looking for some tips to help me optimize my workflow. What I want to do is lock the beginning of a measure to a specific spot in the film – to a hit at a specific frame or absolute time.

[ Note - I’m currently on C5.5 waiting for my C6 to show up (this coming week) but my understanding is that nothing has changed with regard to timewarp, markers, tempo track, etc… so these questions apply equally to C5.5 as they do to C6. ]

The reason I need to do this is because as I’m composing, I’ll have numerous tempo changes and sub-cues within one larger composition that need to line up with specific frames/hits in the film.

As I compose/tweak/edit, particularly with tempo changes, things get messed up later on in the timeline for obvious reasons.

What I do now is simply use the timewarp tool, and create a new tempo event, which I then align with the frame/hit in question, etc… and everything is fine.

Then, as I edit the composition earlier on in the timeline and if I modify a tempo event earlier on, I simply have to use the timewarp tool again to re-align things later on. This can get tricky sometimes and can be a hassle, but it is more or less workable this way.

However, what I’ve never been able to figure out is how to lock the beginning of a measure to a specific frame/timecode. Again, if I’m working on another sub-cue earlier in the film segment that requires some tempo changes, everything later on in the project gets moved around.

Now, if I change subsequent tracks to linear time mode, I can obviously keep things locked up, but then the measures themselves are all messed up… so I need to leave everything in musical mode.

So every time I have a tempo change earlier on in the project (even within the same cue), I have to use the timewarp tool to line things up again.

What would be ideal is if I could lock a specific measure to a frame/timecode, for example, and any tempo changes I do to earlier sections of the music won’t affect the position/tempo map later on, up to the start marker of the section I want to lock in place.

In other words, if I want measure 25 to begin at 1:14:00, no matter what I do before measure 25, is there a way to do this without having to use the timewarp tool every time I make a change to the tempo prior to measure 25?

If something like this is possible, please let me know how to do it… and if it is NOT possible, do you have suggestions for a better way of doing it than the way I’m currently doing it?

Thanks for any help/ideas you can share.

1 Like

I think there are several ways of dealing with this, but they all depend on the content of the project. I’m sure there others with answers too. For me at least, a few more details would help.

I will say that in a project with lots of tempo and time sig changes I just adjust the tempo and add and subtract beats with time segs like 50/4 (such as after adding 3/4 for 50 measures inside what used to be 4/4), and I do what you do but with a different method for tempos. I adjust the tempo in the tempo track, and watch the next tempo track entry to get it to where it was before the edit.

I have to place the tempo changes at the exact location of the start of the cues for this to work.

Of course what works for my project and way of working might not work for yours… but hope it helps a bit.


Thanks for the response, Steve, that sounds very close to how I’m doing it, only I’m using the timewarp tool to line up the beginning of a cue (or sub-cue).

You asked for more info: The way my project is organized is like this: We’ve split the film into about 15 large chunks for a feature-length indie film. I get a new chunk when the producer locks it. Saves time and money for us to avoid working on parts of the film unless they have already been locked. This film has a lot of post-production so there are parts of it that have been held up by other production issues. Naturally, changes can still happen, but for the most part, we try to make sure a chunk will have minimal changes before I start laying down original music. On a bigger budget, we’d probably do it differently, but this has been working great so far, and I think I could scale this workflow to even larger projects pretty effectively.

Each of the chunks contains one or more “traditional” cues. So I’m lumping those smaller parts (or cues) into one larger cue for the entire chunk. Those smaller parts I’m calling “sub-cues” for the purposes of describing it. Each of the sub-cues blends into the other parts of the overall chunk so it’s very difficult to separate them out into traditional cues and smaller project files.

So, basically, I’ll set up a chunk with its various sub-cues tagged with markers. I try to plan for tempo issues as well as possible before composing, but inevitably tempos will change along the way. Since the sub-cues have important related hits on specific frames, it’s important that I can line the measures back up perfectly with a specific frame.

The way I’ve been doing it is with that great little timewarp tool. I snap to markers, and it seems to do the trick most of the time.

However, due to the complexity of some of the pieces, I’ve realized how much better it would be if I could anchor some measures at a locked frame/timecode, so that I can’t screw anything up as I work on parts of the music in an earlier sub-cue.

It’s not the end of the world and not worth switching DAWs in the middle of the project by any means, but I’d really love to know if there’s a better way to do this process than the way I’m currently doing it. I know PT, Logic, Live and Sonar can’t do what I’m asking. However, I do understand that Digital Performer, for example, does actually allow for multiple sub-cues (I think they call them chunks) with their own 00:00 start time in one larger project file. It’s been years since I touched DP (been around the block with DAWs) but that feature seems like a great tool. I didn’t know if there was some similar approach available in C5/C6, or at least a superior way of dealing with my situation.

If Cubase CAN’T do this, I’m hoping the developers will see the wisdom of this potential feature and consider adding it for a future version.

It’s still quite impressive how well things work in Cubase. Since I also do sound design (which doesn’t need to be tied to a tempo or measure in my case), it’s great that I can switch between linear time mode and musical mode on a track-by-track basis so easily. But again, just that one extra feature of locking a measure to a frame/timecode position would really combine with the other great features to make the perfect overall feature set for my workflow right now.

Well, funny you should mention DP, I recently learned much about it. I bought it and worked with it for about two weeks solid, hard copy manual in hand. It was the chunks and multiple sequences that I found inviting. There is a lot about it that’s great, but you might be interested in knowing this- it can still only have one video file per project, and no rudimentary video editing like Cubase has. It will export a quicktime movie, but no edits, nada. For me that meant trading one set of limitations for another, plus a learning curve. It has a beautiful looking interface though.

Anyway, I wanted to ask, do you need your midi tracks to be in musical mode all the time? Because after you compose in musical mode, if you are not working on a piece, you can note its tempo, and then set the track(s) to time linear until you need to work on it again, at which point you set the tempo back to what it was and change it back to musical mode. As long as the tempo when you set it back to musical mode is the same as when you set it to time linear it will be okay. There would still be some fiddling, to move the events as a whole (in the part) but you could have time-locked parts.

When I do that kind of thing I just make a duplicate of the ensemble, and I can have identical tracks outputting to the exact same instruments for a new purpose, in this case to have one set of tracks locked and another not locked.

All in all it sounds like my suggestions might simply result in trading one set of problems for another…

As far as features, Your idea would be great- multiple sequences or arrangements per project, then add the ability to create a “song” which in DP is like an uber-sequence, or a chain of sequences, that can be played with configurable key commands. The Uber-Arranger track.

If I may add to your other idea, a useful option to have would be the ability lock the start position of a part to time linear, but have the part be in musical mode after it’s first tick.



THIS is what I want. :slight_smile: Haha! Thanks for stating it so clearly.

Okay, so it sounds like the specific thing I’m wondering about is not possible at this point with Cubase (and in fact not possible with any other DAW except DP). I completely agree about the issue of trading one set of limitations for another, hence the reason why I’m not interested or tempted to try to switch to DP. The benefit in that case definitely doesn’t outweigh the other limitations.

And for the record, the rudimentary editing of video clips inside Cubase that you mention is AWESOME… I do not want to trade that feature… it’s come in handy several times, not the least of which blew the mind of a producer when I showed him, “hey, I can do that… don’t send me another cut of the film” and he simply couldn’t believe Cubase could actually do it. So yes, I agree, that one little feature that most people don’t know about is quite excellent, and I don’t want to trade it. :slight_smile:

In response to the rest of your response – yes, I do need to keep the MIDI parts in musical mode, especially since once I switch to linear time mode and mess with prior tempo events, the bars get messed up… therefore, it would be a nightmare for further editing… that’s why this notion of locking the START POSITION of a part or section to linear time, but the rest of the part or section to musical mode – a “hybrid” mode – would be the ideal solution.

However, I’ll try your other suggestions to see if they speed the workflow, but I think we’re both pretty much on the same page about the overall methodology. I can see some projects where your specific approach might be faster, etc… but in the end, we’re basically doing things the same way.

Thank you again for your thoughts and comments!

My pleasure. Have fun writing.

That would be a great feature. Or a way to restart the grid to zero at that specific point or any others points in time.

For sure. Multiple zero start points. Great.

very good idea.

make a feature request!
i will also.
regards jan

Yes! How do we make a formal feature request? (Apology if that seems obvious, I must have missed it!)

Yes, Multiple zero points which the start can either be time linear or in musical mode.

Maybe it’s been said in a way I didn’t quite catch, but if I wanted to do what you are describing, I’d use 15 unique sequences, each representing one of your cue sections. If they use same or similar instrumentation, all the better, do 14 ( or however many ) “save as” instances as made sense. I’d then write my cues purely in MIDI until I was pretty happy with the timing and hit points, adjusting tempo and time signature as necessary. Then and only then would I add any audio tracks, trying to play them over the tempo changes, because 5.5’s timestretch was so bad sounding. Hopefully C6 changes that, in which case audio can be recorded at any point in the process.

Good luck with your project.

I guess the idea is to keep it all in one project file, and I was thinking there’s no audio recorded, just midi.

I guess in the thread title

[FEATURE REQUEST] Locking a measure to a frame/timecode
[FEATURE REQUEST] Multiple zero start points

Great, I’ve changed the title of the thread, and added a summary of the feature request. Hopefully I covered the main points from the other comments. :slight_smile:


Thanks uarte!

Thank you for the suggestion. That is precisely how I used to do it, until I got comfortable with the timewarp feature, which allows me to more or less “fix” the start position of new sub-cues. However, it does get complex sometimes when the cues are crazy and there are a lot of changes or tempo issues, so your suggestion is the most logical for me in those situations where I have to break a cue out into its own project file.

Ideally, we could have this multiple cue concept as a feature, with multiple zero start points, which would really help us manage a collection of smaller cues in one larger section of film…

In my case, I find that a lot of my inspiration and the musical “glue” that helps move the score from one cue to another benefits when I can work on more than one cue at the same time in a section of film. So if we can get some easy way to lock a measure to a frame, or have multiple zero start points, I know that would help me produce a more cohesive set of cues.

bump. :wink:

+100000 and a Huge Bump. Just finished a film score. Changes in the film edits were disastrous for me.

Multiple zero points, chunks, or whatever we want to call them, would be a godsend for film composers using Cubase.