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:  
  • Welcome to “MOTION MODE”, an intense collection of sounds to induce movement and evoke excitement in your production.

    You will find whooshes, transitions, noises, granular textures, movements, stutters and hits with a powerful Sci-fi feel.

    Special attention was put in the dynamics of the sounds to ensure the creation of an energetic pack aimed to enhance atmospheres, add movement and enrich musical compositions.

    If you liked some of my previous libraries like “Dodge this” and “The Transition” you are gonna love this one.

    29 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
    Add to cart
  • Huge deep and textural organic whoosh by’s. These are un-altered but a total blast. Want more fun, just (again) compress and pitch to fit, and hell, maybe add a little distortion.

    A great collection of organic sliding whooshes. They sound great, have lots of movement and are almost always complicated movements not just simple whoosh by’s.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
    Add to cart
  • Assorted firework recordings, ranging from individual explosions to multiple fireworks going off at the same time.

    This collection has lots of nice sharp bangs, and includes a variety of firework sounds recorded close up and from a distance.

    Add to cart
  • A small collection of horror sting sound effects, ideal for spooky, scary, Halloween and horror uses.

    Add to cart
  • Bundle 2019 InspectorJ Bundle Play Track 4150 sounds included, 337 mins total $67.99

    4 InspectorJ SFX libraries created in 2019 at a permanent 50% discount, including:

    44.1 General Library (Volume II) (2.06 GB, $32)
    Party Pack (1.98 GB, $40)
    Sewing Machine (2.73 GB, $32)
    Toilet Flush (381 MB, $32)

    For a discounted total of only $67.99 (Originally $136 if bought separately)

    44.1 GENERAL LIBRARY (VOLUME II) (2.06 GB, $32)
    A hand-picked variety collection of 1,000 sound effects covering numerous categories at 44.1kHz and 16/24-bit stereo recordings. Here are some sound categories that can be found in Volume II:

    85+ Seamless Loops
    Ambiences: Deep Abysses, Train Stations, Seaside Waves, etc.
    Camera: Shutter Clicks, Flash Lifts and Falls
    Dialogue: A creepy, deep male voice
    Fireworks
    Ice: Impacts (Small, Moderate, Large), Gathering
    Roller Coasters: Full Rides, Chain Hill Lift, Screaming
    Screaming: Crowds and Roller Coasters
    Toilet Flushing
    Trains: Arriving, Leaving, Passing, Idling, Doors, Clip-Clop
    UI: Dialogue Text Scrolling
    Vacuum Cleaner Hoovers
    Vinyl Record: Glitching, Needle On and Off
    Water: Streams, Bubbling, Swirling, Splashing, Movement
    Weather: Rain, Hail, Wind, Thunder
    Whooshing
    Many, many more!(See the sound list below)

    PARTY PACK (1.98 GB, $40)
    An extensive collection of party-related sounds, “Party Pack” brings you 2,000 96kHz/24-bit stereo recordings of balloons, party horns, matches, sparklers, party poppers, confetti, various toys and more!
    SEWING MACHINE (2.73 GB, $32)
    This library brings you 800 mechanical sounds created entirely from an electronic sewing machine, including: 20 different rhythmic seams all recorded at up to 5 different speeds with 2 microphone positions; over 200 seamless loops; various gradual revvings, ramping up and down, clicks, ticks, movements and warm-up checks – all recorded at the standard 96kHz 24-bit stereo.
    UI – MECHANICAL (381 MB, $32)
    This library brings you 350 intricately designed user interface sounds with a mechanical aesthetic, recorded at 96kHz/24-bit stereo. These sounds were crafted from various machines, clockwork, buttons and switches alongside several other gadgets and tools. The library covers 10 UI categories, including:

    Cancel: A cancellation sound useful for backing out of a selection, or returning to a previous page.
    Confirm: A confirmation selection sound (more intense and fancier than the “Select” sounds) useful for a final confirmation or selection.
    Error: A negative error alert useful for a problem or issue.
    Loading: A loopable sound for a mechanical device that is loading, processing or analysing.
    Move: The quick, small movement sound as you move between different options in a menu or list.
    Notification: A notification alert useful for popups and messages.
    Select: A simpler selection sound for general confirmation and selections.
    Text Scroll: A loopable sound to accompany the scrolling of dialogue in a conversation or upon reading text
    Turning Off: A turning off or shutting down of a machine or device.
    Turning On: A turning on or booting up of a machine or device.

    Add to cart


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:
 
 
  • Destruction & Impact Metamorphosis Play Track 2328 sounds included $190 $165

    Metamorphosis is a huge collection of recorded source, synthesized material and hybrid sounds. The library was created to cover a wide range of themes, with rich textures, aggressive impacts and a large selection of pass bys, bass drops, pyrotechnics and many more types of material.

    All of the Recorded Section was captured at 384KHz with microphones capable of recording up to 200KHz among with more conventional mics. The resulting assets are sounds that can be stretched to new extremes for greater sound design opportunities.
    In many cases I took the liberty to slow down the assets while editing the sounds to deliver what I thought was the most useful version of a given recording though in most cases I have also included other takes at the original 384KHz sample rate to get the best of both worlds.

    All of the Synthesized Content was created in Serum while the Hybrid Section was created by manipulating the Recorded and Synthesized sounds.

    Techniques such as morphing were used to blur the lines in between the nature of the two sources, making for ambiguous yet extremely versatile material that can be employed on both realistic and abstract designs.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    13 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Alchemy of Guns is a comprehensive weapon laboratory of single sounds made to be mixed, assembled and fit with each other.
    We built the library as an array of modular layers, each one bound to a specific alchemical element, each one made with a specific Xfer Serum setup, and since we enjoyed finding ourselves sketching on paper combinations of elements according to the combinations of the samples, we kept this general structure.

    30 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Foley Foliage Sweeteners HD Play Track 811 sounds included, 85.5 mins total $45

    Foliage Sweeteners are great for characters creeping around in the bushes, running through the trees, or just walking through the park.  You can add specific environmental sounds to your ambiences, such as individual leafy tree branches that dip into frame, or cattails and bushes reacting to a gust of wind. These sounds are also great for nature documentary, whether you have a squirrel climbing a tree, a bear plowing through a forest, a cheetah stalking from the underbrush, or just a cow eating grass.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Welcome to “MOTION MODE”, an intense collection of sounds to induce movement and evoke excitement in your production.

    You will find whooshes, transitions, noises, granular textures, movements, stutters and hits with a powerful Sci-fi feel.

    Special attention was put in the dynamics of the sounds to ensure the creation of an energetic pack aimed to enhance atmospheres, add movement and enrich musical compositions.

    If you liked some of my previous libraries like “Dodge this” and “The Transition” you are gonna love this one.

    29 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
  • Huge deep and textural organic whoosh by’s. These are un-altered but a total blast. Want more fun, just (again) compress and pitch to fit, and hell, maybe add a little distortion.

    A great collection of organic sliding whooshes. They sound great, have lots of movement and are almost always complicated movements not just simple whoosh by’s.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
  • Assorted firework recordings, ranging from individual explosions to multiple fireworks going off at the same time.

    This collection has lots of nice sharp bangs, and includes a variety of firework sounds recorded close up and from a distance.

  • A small collection of horror sting sound effects, ideal for spooky, scary, Halloween and horror uses.

  • Bundle 2019 InspectorJ Bundle Play Track 4150 sounds included, 337 mins total $67.99

    4 InspectorJ SFX libraries created in 2019 at a permanent 50% discount, including:

    44.1 General Library (Volume II) (2.06 GB, $32)
    Party Pack (1.98 GB, $40)
    Sewing Machine (2.73 GB, $32)
    Toilet Flush (381 MB, $32)

    For a discounted total of only $67.99 (Originally $136 if bought separately)

    44.1 GENERAL LIBRARY (VOLUME II) (2.06 GB, $32)
    A hand-picked variety collection of 1,000 sound effects covering numerous categories at 44.1kHz and 16/24-bit stereo recordings. Here are some sound categories that can be found in Volume II:

    85+ Seamless Loops
    Ambiences: Deep Abysses, Train Stations, Seaside Waves, etc.
    Camera: Shutter Clicks, Flash Lifts and Falls
    Dialogue: A creepy, deep male voice
    Fireworks
    Ice: Impacts (Small, Moderate, Large), Gathering
    Roller Coasters: Full Rides, Chain Hill Lift, Screaming
    Screaming: Crowds and Roller Coasters
    Toilet Flushing
    Trains: Arriving, Leaving, Passing, Idling, Doors, Clip-Clop
    UI: Dialogue Text Scrolling
    Vacuum Cleaner Hoovers
    Vinyl Record: Glitching, Needle On and Off
    Water: Streams, Bubbling, Swirling, Splashing, Movement
    Weather: Rain, Hail, Wind, Thunder
    Whooshing
    Many, many more!(See the sound list below)

    PARTY PACK (1.98 GB, $40)
    An extensive collection of party-related sounds, “Party Pack” brings you 2,000 96kHz/24-bit stereo recordings of balloons, party horns, matches, sparklers, party poppers, confetti, various toys and more!
    SEWING MACHINE (2.73 GB, $32)
    This library brings you 800 mechanical sounds created entirely from an electronic sewing machine, including: 20 different rhythmic seams all recorded at up to 5 different speeds with 2 microphone positions; over 200 seamless loops; various gradual revvings, ramping up and down, clicks, ticks, movements and warm-up checks – all recorded at the standard 96kHz 24-bit stereo.
    UI – MECHANICAL (381 MB, $32)
    This library brings you 350 intricately designed user interface sounds with a mechanical aesthetic, recorded at 96kHz/24-bit stereo. These sounds were crafted from various machines, clockwork, buttons and switches alongside several other gadgets and tools. The library covers 10 UI categories, including:

    Cancel: A cancellation sound useful for backing out of a selection, or returning to a previous page.
    Confirm: A confirmation selection sound (more intense and fancier than the “Select” sounds) useful for a final confirmation or selection.
    Error: A negative error alert useful for a problem or issue.
    Loading: A loopable sound for a mechanical device that is loading, processing or analysing.
    Move: The quick, small movement sound as you move between different options in a menu or list.
    Notification: A notification alert useful for popups and messages.
    Select: A simpler selection sound for general confirmation and selections.
    Text Scroll: A loopable sound to accompany the scrolling of dialogue in a conversation or upon reading text
    Turning Off: A turning off or shutting down of a machine or device.
    Turning On: A turning on or booting up of a machine or device.

 
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.