audio workflow improvement Asbjoern Andersen


Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can result from spending long periods of time on a computer. If you don’t experience it yet, you may well in the future. A Wacom tablet helped Nick Granville-Fall manage his audio workflow and health better than a mouse alone - here are his experiences, with tips on how to set things up for audio work:
Written by Nick Granville-Fall
Please share:

I gave a lecture last year as alumni about freelancing in the creative audio and media industries. One of my slides showed a picture of a Wacom tablet. I’d expected some hands to show or a few head nods when I asked if anyone knew what it was… to my surprise no one seemed to know. Being involved with animators, motion designers and creative studios, I’ve seen Wacom’s products all over desktops of visual creatives. However there is no such thing for the audio discipline, after all, we are always being forgotten about right?

All computer users and professions could benefit from cutting down on mouse time.

When I think of Wacom’s brand it does cater very heavily towards visual designers. Have a read at some marketing for their new 3D Pen: ‘For creative professionals working in game design, animation, VFX, VR and AR, 2D and 3D art and industrial design’.  Where’s the audio mention?! All computer users and professions could benefit from cutting down on mouse time. After all, holding a pen is a far more natural way to interact with a computer.

I remember trying a Wacom years ago when my graphic design buddy Lee had one and still does. I found it a bit strange. It didn’t feel that natural to use at first but I would urge anyone to hold out past this stage, it doesn’t take long. The technology has further improved and the Intros Pro and Pro Pen 2 are excellent. I had preconceptions that only artists and graphics professionals used these, ‘I wouldn’t use this for audio!’ With Wacom’s marketing, it’s not hard to see why I thought this. I hope Wacom can challenge and amend this assumption about what industries typically use their products.

I started suffering RSI quite a lot when I got busier in the studio. I was working on audio projects and building up my client base, saying yes to every job. I realised my Apple mouse wasn’t doing my wrist any favours. I looked into ergonomic mice and ordered two different ones to try. I found that one of them was good but the scroll wheel position wasn’t working for me. If you are using only a mouse then the scroll wheel is important, not so much with a Wacom as I will later explain. I sent both mice back in the end and looked for other solutions.

I remember watching Martin Stimming showing his audio workflow using a Wacom Cintiq 13” with Cubase. I had a lot of questions, how well would it work with the software I used? I researched forums online but there wasn’t a huge amount of information or videos on using these with audio workflows. This inspired me to try one out, if I didn’t like it then my plan was to return it and hope I’d get a refund. I didn’t need the Cintiq model where you draw directly on the screen so I went for the cheaper, Intuos Pro Medium. This meant I could use my existing monitor screen and I felt having it setup flat on a desk might be better for ergonomics and posture.

Video Thumbnail

Martin Stimming demonstrates his audio workflow using a Wacom Cintiq in Cubase

 

Configuration

It took me a bit of time to get used to using a pen, I’m left-handed which is easy to set up. I changed the size of the tablet working area to be smaller. In reducing the physical distance the pen travels, means it’s easier to move the mouse cursor across a 34” ultrawide monitor. Wacom’s software also allows you to map key functions used in any application to the pen and tablet’s express keys (buttons). Most audio applications aren’t very customisable (except Reaper) but any application can have its own preferences for both pen and tablet. You can map any application’s keyboard shortcuts to be triggered. You can pretty much do anything with it, it’s very flexible. Below you can see I’ve setup one of the pen buttons to trigger opt + cmd when in Ableton.

Customized Wacom tablet settings

I found actually moving the mouse cursor around with accuracy using a pen very satisfying and quick to grasp. I think I just got it this time unlike years ago. The two buttons on the pen (which can do what you like) took a little longer for them to feel natural in my hand. I didn’t use them at all for the first month or so but then I realised it was worth learning and using them. This made my workflow much easier and quicker.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Cars Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Play Track 613 sounds included $150 $100

    This library will get you all of the powerful sounds of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that has a 707 horsepower, Hellcat 6.2L V8 Engine. Using the onboard, exterior, and interior recordings, it allows you to create any car sound your heart desires to bring your video game, or film to another level.

    Included Recordings:
    • On Board slow, medium, fast accelerating, shifting, and reversing as well as general driving
    • Exterior Pass bys, take offs, pull ups, and more
    • Interior general driving, speed ups and more

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1543014000
    Add to cart
  • Environments Summer Mountains Play Track 37+ sounds included, 127 mins total $30 $21

    Summer Mountains is a collection of nature sounds captured during several trips in 2017 and 2018.

    This library has been fully recorded at high altitude (over 2000m and more) in the heart of the French Alps in places such as the Vanoise National Park and the Natural Reserves of Aiguilles Rouges, Passy, ​​Carlaveyron and Vallon de Bérard.

    This collection provides more than 2 hours of high quality recordings such as alpines pastures ambiences, forests, wind, streams and waterfalls as well as herds of sheep or cows, birds and distant marmots, all without any human sounds.

    All recorded in 24 bit / 96 kHz and fully tagged with metadatas, Summer Mountains should provide you the essentials of a mountain journey.

    Gear Used: DPA4060 stereo set powered by a Sound Devices 702

    Summer Mountains Photo Cover Copyright © Mathilde Leroy
    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1542668400
    Add to cart
  • Ultra-high resolution Sea Doo recordings utilizing on-board microphone techniques, from multiple perspectives (driver perspective (mid-side) exhaust perspective & engine perspective).

    This library provides perfectly seamless loops at every 500RPM interval from IDLE to MAX speed, giving you insanely detailed control for interactive dynamics in game audio, or film sync. Not only that but also start-ups, shut-offs, revs, both dry and wet.

  • Environments Outdoor Ambience Play Track 200+ sounds included $50 $25

    Outdoor Ambience features 200 ambience length sound effects.  Featured in this collection are crowds, cities, forests, jungles, parks, streets, parades, water and more!  All sound effects have been hand-picked from the Sound Ideas HD – Atmospheres & Environments library.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1543618800
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Western Play Track 200+ sounds included $50 $25

    The Audio Hero Western collection features 200 professionally recorded sound effects, ready for use in your productions.  Included in this library are guns and pistols, horses, stagecoaches, steam trains, jail cell doors and much more!  These sounds are all hand-picked from the Hollywood Edge Burtis Bills' Sounds of the American West sound effects collection.

    50 %
    OFF
    Add to cart

Sound Effects Sale

The Early Black Friday Sale is now live!

Land huge savings on 100s of excellent sound effects libraries here


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Key differences – mouse to pen

NAVIGATION

You can make most, if not all software, work the same way using the Wacom pen.

With no scroll wheel on a pen, you have to find an alternative method for quickly navigating and moving around your software’s screen estate. You’ll find most DAWs have a ‘hand tool’ where you can drag the screen about rather than scroll vertically or horizontally. In Ableton on a mac, you access this via the key commands opt + cmd & drag the mouse. I use a button on my pen that triggers both commands, I drag the pen around on the tablet to move the screen. Logic Pro X uses ctrl + shift & drag pen etc. I have this setup the same in Reaper to hold the same pen button and drag to move around. I really like this way of working so I don’t miss the scroll wheel method at all. The additional advantage is you can make most, if not all software, work the same way using the Wacom pen.

DOUBLE CLICK

You can double click with a pen as you would on a mouse, just double tap your pen on the tablet surface. Sometimes however even customising the response speed etc, it doesn’t always register. This can be frustrating for the obsessive but fear not. You can either set up one of the pen’s buttons to double click (with a single click) or you can assign an express key (button on the tablet) to do this. Problem solved!

ZOOMING

Again with there being no scroll wheel on a pen you can either use the touch ring on the tablet or just use your DAWs keyboard zoom shortcuts. I find this is fine. Most DAWs give you a good amount of zoom shortcuts.

EXPRESS KEYS

You can assign any keyboard shortcut in your DAW to one of these buttons. If there is something you use a lot and would rather move it to a button on the tablet, rather than use your keyboard you can. This is useful if you don’t like the position of the keyboard shortcuts and can’t re-assign them to different keys etc. In software like Reaper, you can map anything anywhere but a lot of DAWs don’t have this luxury.
 

Conclusion

Once I’d got a fluid workflow together with the Wacom, I stopped using my Apple mouse because I loved using a pen so much. Even then, doing a solid 8 hours of work using the pen will likely cause some ache and RSI. It’s a huge improvement for reducing RSI using the Wacom, but it doesn’t mean only using this for long periods of time will totally prevent RSI. Using any device for that long will cause fatigue, therefore you should build in 5-minute breaks per hour worked.

A Wacom tablet on a desk

I find now it’s best to balance workload across both of my hands. I use the Wacom for any sound design/audio post using Reaper. For any music I tend to use Ableton, normally swapping between both the Wacom and mouse. For general computer use emails, file management etc, I use the mouse. I finally replaced my Apple mouse with Contour’s Unimouse.

Reaper settings for the Contour mouse

Using both devices means I am spreading the workload and fatigue across both hands and wrists rather than one.

This is a comfortable mouse that has customisable software like the Wacom. Its flexible design allows you to change the steepness of the angle of where your hand and thumb rest, greatly reducing RSI. Using both devices means I am spreading the workload and fatigue across both hands and wrists rather than one. It’s a huge improvement to my workflow and health, I hope it can do the same for you.

A big thanks to Nick Granville-Fall for giving us some tips on how to improve our workflow and quality of life!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Foley Haunted Doors Play Track 164 sounds included $24.99 $14.49

    Haunted Doors is a collection of 164 carefully recorded and mastered old doors sound effects. Door creaks, knob twists & turns, rattling, squeaking, opens, closes, locks, bolts and more!

    All audio files have been recorded at superb 24 bit, 192 kHz. Multiple mic positions to capture all the little details such as loose lock mechanisms, inner rattling, stuttering creaks and rich natural reverb of empty corridors.
    Comprehensive Soundminer’s metadata.

    Over 25 different door knobs and handles, over 10 pairs of hinges, 10 different doors and more! Perfect for horror movies, games and more.

    42 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Weapons The Range 20 Guns Play Track 3581+ sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $120 $100

    This library by Nathan Smith delivers the sounds of 20 guns, 20+ casing/mags/weapon impacting 20 different surfaces, and studio Foley. Files were recorded at 96kHz sample rate (48kHz to 192kHz), 24 bit resolution.

    Weapons included:

    5 Pistols:

    Kimar Cal 6mm, Kimber 9mm, MP Shield 9mm, H&K USP .40 S&W, H&K P30

    14 Rifles:

    22 LRG Rifle, 22 Lever Action, 22 Magnum Henry. Springfield M1A, Springfield M1A SOCOM2, Steyr AUG A3, Sig 551 A1, AR 15, COLT AR 901 semi auto .308, CMMG AR15, Remington 700 Bolt action .308, Uzi full auto IMI model b, AAC MPW full auto, Colt M4 full auto, Barrett M82 A1

    1 Shotgun:

    12 gauge Mossberg

    Bullet casings: Impacts, Handling, Foley

    Surfaces (20): bone, carpet, concrete, dirt, drywall, grass, glass, marble, metal auto, metal grate, metal plate, plastic, rock, rubber, sand, tarp, Tarpaper, tile, wood

    Casing Types: 9mm, 223 – 5.56, 308, 40 S&W, 30.06, 40.75GOV, 357MAG, 45 ACP, 303, 50 BMG, 12 gauge

    Other: Pistol, Rifle, AR, Grenade, Artillery, M1 Garand clip, AR mag metal, AR mag plastic, M1, Pistol mag small, Pistol mag large

    Gun Cleaning Foley: H&K USP and AR15

    Targeted for sound designers – 96kHz, 24bit (multi ch A1, A2, A3 channel layout). All files have been cleaned and organized for easy use for your projects, including detailed Soundminer metadata.

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1543532400
    Add to cart
  • Foley EXPLNR Sounds Vol. 1 Play Track 1181+ sounds included $42

    Need sound effects for your explainer videos? The EXPLNR sounds series is a collection of sfx libraries designed and produced with the classic 2d animated explainer video in mind. These sounds will give quick and useful coverage to the common moves used in this style.

    Vol 1 is an excellent all-around base library that includes whooshes, clicks, pops, swells, ratchets, slides, rips, drags, flicks, crumples, and dings – all custom designed with the playfulness and clean edges required to match the explainer video style.

    To help cover repetitive visual movements, multiple iterations of each sound are included. A host of designed sounds will quickly cover more complex movements.

    The next time you have an explainer video in the house, you know your starting point.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Cars Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Play Track 613 sounds included $150 $100

    This library will get you all of the powerful sounds of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that has a 707 horsepower, Hellcat 6.2L V8 Engine. Using the onboard, exterior, and interior recordings, it allows you to create any car sound your heart desires to bring your video game, or film to another level.

    Included Recordings:
    • On Board slow, medium, fast accelerating, shifting, and reversing as well as general driving
    • Exterior Pass bys, take offs, pull ups, and more
    • Interior general driving, speed ups and more

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1543014000
  • Environments Summer Mountains Play Track 37+ sounds included, 127 mins total $30 $21

    Summer Mountains is a collection of nature sounds captured during several trips in 2017 and 2018.

    This library has been fully recorded at high altitude (over 2000m and more) in the heart of the French Alps in places such as the Vanoise National Park and the Natural Reserves of Aiguilles Rouges, Passy, ​​Carlaveyron and Vallon de Bérard.

    This collection provides more than 2 hours of high quality recordings such as alpines pastures ambiences, forests, wind, streams and waterfalls as well as herds of sheep or cows, birds and distant marmots, all without any human sounds.

    All recorded in 24 bit / 96 kHz and fully tagged with metadatas, Summer Mountains should provide you the essentials of a mountain journey.

    Gear Used: DPA4060 stereo set powered by a Sound Devices 702

    Summer Mountains Photo Cover Copyright © Mathilde Leroy
    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1542668400
  • Ultra-high resolution Sea Doo recordings utilizing on-board microphone techniques, from multiple perspectives (driver perspective (mid-side) exhaust perspective & engine perspective).

    This library provides perfectly seamless loops at every 500RPM interval from IDLE to MAX speed, giving you insanely detailed control for interactive dynamics in game audio, or film sync. Not only that but also start-ups, shut-offs, revs, both dry and wet.

  • Environments Outdoor Ambience Play Track 200+ sounds included $50 $25

    Outdoor Ambience features 200 ambience length sound effects.  Featured in this collection are crowds, cities, forests, jungles, parks, streets, parades, water and more!  All sound effects have been hand-picked from the Sound Ideas HD – Atmospheres & Environments library.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1543618800
  • Animals & Creatures Western Play Track 200+ sounds included $50 $25

    The Audio Hero Western collection features 200 professionally recorded sound effects, ready for use in your productions.  Included in this library are guns and pistols, horses, stagecoaches, steam trains, jail cell doors and much more!  These sounds are all hand-picked from the Hollywood Edge Burtis Bills' Sounds of the American West sound effects collection.

    50 %
    OFF
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.