Volume Automation or Clip Gain

I was wondering what you guys use for what. I guess if you have motorized faders it’s probably super quick just hitting the “Write” button and ride the fader.

As I am a mouse guy (still looking for a good control surface), I almost exclusively used clip gain. Why? It’s easy to cut a clip in a loud spot precisely, then turn down the volume. I don’t have to learn the spot and then record automation in a few passes until it sits just right. I just cut the clip in pieces and do some manual gain editing. Sort of like a compressor, nut of course customized to the effect I want to achieve. It seems like a very fast workflow for me and I didn’t have to think of the automation moving with the clips or getting overwritten by something. The clip just had its volume and everything went with it when moved.

Also, when I had recordings of voice-over from different days and one was a bit louder, I just take all clips and bringt them down.

I only use volume automation on group tracks when I want to bring down a whole group of tracks in volume for some event in a movie.

What do you use volume automation or clip gain for? I’d be interested.

In my case, as a rule, clip gain for just about everything if I’m doing a TV, movie or book mix. For music, clip gain to get things in the ballpark, and then classic automation with the faders for the final pass. Mostly because it’s more fun… and also because there isn’t clip-based automation for groups (hard to do without clips!).


I was brought up on flying faders :slight_smile:

And I, on grease pencils! Jealous! :mrgreen:


For me it depends on the time I have available and the job.

If I have time I prefer to do the dialog edit and when I do I only use clip gain to match all the edits. Then I’ll typically ride the levels on the tracks using automation. After the automation I apply compression in stages. For me doing it this way makes it a bit smoother. The level changes are a bit more personal (since I’m riding the fader) and then the compression is more consistent. Mind you that compressing like this is for content where dialog is sitting pretty statically for the most time.

If I have less time or am working with someone with a different workflow I might rely a lot more on having the clip gain do more of the work the automation would have done. Again, since this is clip gain it’ll happen before compression. I also rely more on this if I only have one fader to work with (i.e. my Faderport), or no fader at all.

Simplest answer is clip gain is pre-inserts where as automation is at the fader point of the chain.

I somehow used that intuitively correctly. Bring the clips to a consistent level with clip gain so all the inserts work off of a balanced input level. And then faders can make processed sounds louder or quieter.

The clip based technique is brilliant for editing. But limitations begin when you work with reverbs for example. You want pre-fader sends to let dialog and foley move into depth of the room. Yes, you can make a dedicated track with reverb and just copy clips here (some additional editing there on new tracks with new clips). But finally when the movie is really deep - it takes a lot of time and gives you less control.
Personally, I think it’s better to combine both styles - I work with clips when I edit and with automation when I mix.
But for those light and quick projects the clip based style is the best.

Both for different purposes.

While editing I use clip gain for maching and to even sound stuff. I make everything sounds “half baked” with gain.
WRITE - for general mixing purposes when TRACKS need to be balanced through process - groups - other tracks.

I use both, completely at random, depending on how i’m feeling and who’s watching at the time.