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RobertWS

Automation in MIDI files...confusing.

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In a pure MIDI file....I add some automation volume changes.

After closing the file and re-opening it....the automation changes show up in the PVR but not the track view.

Am I missing something?

 

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Automation in the track view is not part of the MIDI standard. It is a feature of the DAW and is stored in the project file format.

The MIDI standard uses CC7 for volume. So, when saving a MIDI file the DAW converts the track view MIDI volume automation to CC7 just like what the DAW does on the fly when playing the MIDI track. This results in a standard MIDI file.

Upon opening the saved MIDI file, the DAW does not see track view volume automation. Instead the file contains CC7 data.

It is possible to manually convert CC data to automation although the data is altered slightly during the conversion process.

To avoid the converting MIDI track volume automation to CC7, save the project as a Cakewalk project file.

 

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19 minutes ago, scook said:

save the project as a Cakewalk project file. 

I don't want to save the project as a Cakewalk file and I'm not going to.  I prefer the universality of MIDI.

The convert CC data to automation function ("Convert MIDI Controllers to Envelopes)  butchers the data.    It really butchers it.  Unusable.

It seems to be a design flaw when they convert the data on saving but won't convert it back when reading it.  I'll live with it.

Thanks for your time and the link.

 

 

 

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MIDI doesn't have any notion of automation envelopes. When you open a pure MIDI file as opposed to importing it, we import MIDI CC events as is and also allow you to save the project back as a MIDI file. However any edits you made to the project that are not native to MIDI will be lost or converted. In the case of automation there is no such thing as envelopes in MIDI so Cakewalk converts the envelope to MIDI CC's (decimates into points to be more accurate) to represent the envelope as closely as it can. This is a one way conversion process and not a design flaw. When you open the MIDI file it will import back as MIDI CC's again.

If you want to work with non destructive data save your project as a CWP file not a MIDI file, as scook recommended.

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As I said before....

"I don't want to save the project as a Cakewalk file and I'm not going to.  I prefer the universality of MIDI. "

It is confusing when you take an automation snapshot...nothing shows up in the PRV event list.   When you save and re-open the file, the event is in the PRV event list.

I understand the developers had to make decisions and compromises when deciding how things work (two representations of the same parameter certainly makes things complicated). 

Perhaps this is something they could re-visit in the future.

 

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The basic premise here is that Cakewalk is not a MIDI file editor.

You can import MIDI files, at which point it becomes a CWP project... and you can export your CWP project as a MIDI file, at which point all the MIDI data that would have been sent by Cakewalk out the MIDI port is now stored in the MIDI file.

When you re-load your MIDI file, what you're doing is importing a MIDI file back into a CWP project again. 

There is no automation lanes in the MIDI file, just MIDI CC data, which is why it's in the PRV and not in an automation lane.

If you want things to be consistent, then just work in the PRV (or the Event List view) and avoid the automation lanes altogether.

I suggest however that you compromise on not saving it as a CWP.  If your end result is a MIDI file, then that's fine, but while you're still editing things you're much better off with working with a CWP project file until such a time your ready to export your final MIDI file.

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2 hours ago, RobertWS said:

As I said before....

"I don't want to save the project as a Cakewalk file and I'm not going to.  I prefer the universality of MIDI. "

 

Perhaps this is something to re-visit now.

The only thing preventing the ability to save MIDI files and work with features that are not part of the MIDI standard is the refusal to save Cakewalk project files along with the MIDI files.

Of course one can wait on changes to suit personal preferences, however; in this case, it may be a while considering the reply provided above by the principal developer of the software.

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1 hour ago, RobertWS said:

As I said before....

"I don't want to save the project as a Cakewalk file and I'm not going to.  I prefer the universality of MIDI. "

It is confusing when you take an automation snapshot...nothing shows up in the PRV event list.   When you save and re-open the file, the event is in the PRV event list.

I understand the developers had to make decisions and compromises when deciding how things work (two representations of the same parameter certainly makes things complicated). 

Perhaps this is something they could re-visit in the future.

 

There is not much to re-visit. Full features DAW is not limited by MIDI files.  Inside the part which "does not fit" into MIDI files are audio and envelopes. It can happened something in that part produce MIDI messages, but in general it is not possible not reconstruct original feature from resulting events.

In fact you should say "thanks" for automatic saving instrument settings and MIDI envelopes into MIDI file,  and automatic conversion of the instrument settings during import. That is not a must, there are DAWs which will not convert that at all (leaving instrument settings as binary events in the MIDI stream and completely ignoring any dynamic MIDI processing on MIDI export). 

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22 hours ago, azslow3 said:

There is not much to re-visit. Full features DAW is not limited by MIDI files.  Inside the part which "does not fit" into MIDI files are audio and envelopes. It can happened something in that part produce MIDI messages, but in general it is not possible not reconstruct original feature from resulting events.

In fact you should say "thanks" for automatic saving instrument settings and MIDI envelopes into MIDI file,  and automatic conversion of the instrument settings during import. That is not a must, there are DAWs which will not convert that at all (leaving instrument settings as binary events in the MIDI stream and completely ignoring any dynamic MIDI processing on MIDI export). 

 

A lousy interface can always be revisited.  I understand why they may have have it implemented that way, as a developer I may have made the exact same compromise.

But to deny something is wrong when it is SO wrong is just kind of silly and I don't see the point.

Imagine saving a text document just the way you want and when you reopen it....the formatting changed on certain portions.   That would be irksome.   If it can be corrected reasonably without breaking something else, it should be.

 

 

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3 hours ago, RobertWS said:

Imagine saving a text document just the way you want and when you reopen it....the formatting changed on certain portions.   That would be irksome.   If it can be corrected reasonably without breaking something else, it should be.

To take this analogy a little further...

A DAW is more like a word processing program than a text editor. When saving a word processing document as a text file, the data is converted and saved but the word processing features are not stored the text file. Re-open the file in the word processor and it displays the text as found in the file. In fact many word processors display a message warning that document formatting and features will be lost when saving as text only.

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1 hour ago, RobertWS said:

 

A lousy interface can always be revisited.  I understand why they may have have it implemented that way, as a developer I may have made the exact same compromise.

But to deny something is wrong when it is SO wrong is just kind of silly and I don't see the point.

Imagine saving a text document just the way you want and when you reopen it....the formatting changed on certain portions.   That would be irksome.   If it can be corrected reasonably without breaking something else, it should be.

Since you're a developer, have a look at the MIDI file spec:

https://www.midi.org/specifications/item/the-midi-1-0-specification

If you can come up with a better way of preserving envelopes that conforms to the specification, I'm sure the devs will be open to considering it.

Just out of interest, do any other DAWs do anything different here?

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The MIDI spec has been around  since the early 80's. The best way to use it is to fully understand what it is, and what it is not. The MIDI spec is only designed to contain a limited set of data, and that has not been changed much in several decades. I have been using it for over 20+ years, and I really don't understand what all the fuss is about!

I really like the word processor analogy that equates the DAW to a word processor for music projects.   DAWs and their proprietary project formats allow us to break free of the limitations of the MIDI format in many important and useful ways.

The first thing I do when opening a MIDI file in Cakewalk is to save it as a Cakewalk project file (.cwp). That ensures that all of my edits and settings are preserved for the next session. If I need an updated MIDI file, I just export one. It works very well!

If MIDI files are comparable to text files to a word processor, a DAW project format obviously adds value in the sense that it allows us to store envelopes and much, much, more. Cakewalk was never intended to be just a MIDI editor, and I wouldn't ever want it to be.

But I would take Cakewalk any day for MIDI, as IMHO, it's still the best tool on the Windows platform for manipulating MIDI data, and  I would thank them for that ability.

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On 7/4/2019 at 11:01 AM, msmcleod said:

The basic premise here is that Cakewalk is not a MIDI file editor.

 

It is a MIDI file editor. Nor is it necessary to import a MIDI. Cakewalk sees a MIDI as a native file format and can be loaded directly. One has a choice with loading MIDI. If you have a project already and want either all or part of  another MIDI file one can use import to add the MIDI file to the project. On the other hand if you want the MIDI to have its own project it can be directly loaded.  It may not be completely clear the distinction between the two.  One big reason to directly load is it  will retain the tempo of the MIDI. When one imports it it will use the tempo of the project it is imported to.

The reason the OP is not able to save the edits he has made to the MIDI file as a MIDI directly is Cakewalk has it's own internal automation based on envelopes which are not part of the MIDI spec.  However MIDI can be edited in Cakewalk using MIDI CCs as if the file were being edited in a MIDI sequencer which Cakewalk is. In fact it is its roots. Thats how Cakewalk started out.  One place where people seem to never go is the List Editor. It can insert CCs anywhere in a MIDI track to act on a MIDI note. Also Cakewalk has perhaps the most powerful SysEx file manager of any MIDI sequencer for controlling MIDI hardware. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, John said:

The reason the OP is not able to save the edits he has made to the MIDI file .....

But I AM able to save the edits. 

But I don't see them in the PRV until I close and reopen the file.  

It's not horrible or a show stopper, just a little quirky and confusing the first time.

 

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3 hours ago, RobertWS said:

But I AM able to save the edits. 

But I don't see them in the PRV until I close and reopen the file.  

It's not horrible or a show stopper, just a little quirky and confusing the first time.

 

You're able to save them as a SMF?  If so then I misunderstood your question. I can't recall doing that myself.  That is editing in Sonar or Cakewalk today and saving it as a SMF. 

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20 hours ago, John said:

You're able to save them as a SMF?  If so then I misunderstood your question. I can't recall doing that myself.  That is editing in Sonar or Cakewalk today and saving it as a SMF

I use MIDI files.

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On 7/5/2019 at 5:22 PM, RobertWS said:

Imagine saving a text document just the way you want and when you reopen it....the formatting changed on certain portions.   That would be irksome.   If it can be corrected reasonably without breaking something else, it should be.

Can you open a text file in MS Word (or other word processor)? Yes.

Can you add a PICTURE of a text there? Yes

Do you see the text in picture with original formatting? Yes.

Can you save the result as TXT? A kind of... you normally loose the picture. Cakewalk automatically ORC "the text" in picture and put characters into the TEXT file. Extra feature!

Can you restore original picture from the resulting TXT file? NO. There is no way to describe a picture in the text.

An envelope consist of "control points" and "curve segment types". SMF files do not support them.

6 hours ago, RobertWS said:

I use MIDI files.

SMF: Standard MIDI Files. Standard means there is a definition what is inside.

There can be different "MIDI file" format,  with automation, audio support, something else support. CWP can be perceived as such format.

But you want use SMF with features not included into SMF. That is not possible, by definition of SMF. Nothing to "fix" or "improve".

-----

You may  ask for explicit conversion of envelopes into CC during editing, so without saving to MIDI.  But CC lines editing in Cakewalk is  good. Simply edit/draw CC if you want to use Cakewalk as a MIDI editor.

Also do not use Audio, Envelopes, VSTi presets, separate tracks with the same MIDI channel, more then 16 tracks, etc. That does not fit into pure MIDI.

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5 hours ago, azslow3 said:

SMF: Standard MIDI Files. Standard means there is a definition what is inside.

There can be different "MIDI file" format,  with automation, audio support, something else support. CWP can be perceived as such format.

But you want use SMF with features not included into SMF. That is not possible, by definition of SMF. Nothing to "fix" or "improve".

Exactly!!!

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