In this feature we meet Logic Café’s Paul Yarrow who introduces his new ControlSkin for Logic pro.
This post was originally published in DJ Magazine’s free online edition DJ Weekly issue 100
“The ControlSkin is designed to make creating music with Logic Pro intuitive and hands on in a similar way to using controllers such as the Akai MPC or Native Instruments Maschine. Simply place the ControlSkin over your Macbook, Macbook Pro or Apple Wireless keyboard, install the included patch file for Logic Pro and your computer becomes a dedicated control surface and MIDI keyboard. It is a total re-think on the way Logic Pro can be used as a music production tool and gives users of Apples flagship DAW software the ability to make beats on the fly wherever they are.
My demonstration in the video above takes you through just some of the features which show how the ControlSkin can dramatically streamline your Logic Pro production workflow. The colour coordinated layout and organized transport on the ControlSkin are designed to stimulate quick response use of the keys with minimal necessity of reading or memorising key commands.
The Demo begins with two loops: a simple drum loop and a bass loop cycling over four bars. One of the features on the ControlSkin is the ability to chop a sample loop and split it instantly over the caps lock Keyboard in much the same way you can slice samples in the Maschine or MPC over the 16 drum pads. I chop and re-play the sample to create my own edit in seconds. An EXS24 instrument track with the sliced bass loop spread over the piano keys is instantly created, enabling me to play the edits back on the caps lock keyboard. For fine tuning the Piano Roll and other Logic Pro edit pages are easily accessed at the push of a button and the ability to punch in and out of record make putting ideas down at the moment of inspiration as intuitive as ever before.
A dedicated cycle section on the ControlSkin makes editing selected areas in your arrangement quick and easy, alongside single button access to the tools menu.
With a visible caps lock keyboard the QWERTY keyboard suddenly becomes a powerful performance tool with selectable velocity and octave controls. In the demonstration the User 2 key is pressed to open up a new track and a Sampler Instrument track is created. Navigating instruments in the library (which can also be recalled by pressing the User 1 key) is simple using the cursors, at the same time auditioning sounds on the caps lock keyboard. Again recording is intuitive with the record toggle feature and ideas are recorded as they happen.
In this way four or eight bar loops can quickly be built, creating complex track sections in minutes with minimal use of the mouse. Once the sections are complete, they can be repeated and organized into an arrangement at the click of a button. In the video demonstration the mute key on the transport is used in conjunction with the cursor keys to quickly create a gradual build into a full sounding track.”
ControlSkin available in the store at www.logic-cafe.com with UK/EU and USA versions available priced at £29.99.
Win a Point Blank Online Logic Course and ControlSkin
We have put together a great prize for you lucky lot where you can win a ControlSkin as demonstrated by Paul (above) plus an online Logic Pro Producer Course of your choice!
1 x Point Blank Online Logic Pro Producer Course (of your choice)
1 x ControlSkin
1 x ControlSkin
To be in with a chance of winning head to the competition tab on Point Blank’s Facebook page and follow the steps provided. The winner will be picked at random and notified on 17th May 2012.
Danny: Hi. It’s Danny Lewis; course developer and tutor here at PointBlank Online. I’ve got something really cool for our Logic students here; it’s basically an interview with Paul Yarrow from Logic Cafe. He’s put together a really interesting new product for Logic. It’s a control skin that sits on top of the keyboard and brings lots of new functionality. Let’s take a look at the interview.
Hi, Paul. Welcome to PointBlank. You’ve brought a control skin down. Can you tell us about it?
Paul: Yeah. The control skin is essentially just a small cover that you can literally take off and put back on. It goes over your Mac keyboard, laptop, or as we’ve got here, the Apple wireless. I basically just put it on, and it essentially turns your keyboard into a control surface for Logic Pro.
Paul: I’ve just tried to take advantage of the fact that you can move all the key commands around yourself and can set things yourself. Me thinking was, Logic’s actually got thousands and thousands of features in it that you can get to. You can actually turn your QWERTY keyboard into a fully-functional MIDI controller and customized control service for Logic Pro.
What I’ve tried to do is actually create a work surface using the fact that you can rearrange the key commands. You can have some fun playing about with Logic; making tracks in Logic on the move without having to carry a load of MIDI instruments around with you, MIDI keyboards and things. Wherever you go, you can pull your laptop cover up and you’ve got your full control surface just sitting there.
Danny: OK. The white and black keys there, are musical notes?
Paul: They are, yeah. It acts just like the piano keyboard, just like a MIDI keyboard. It works off the Caps Lock keys, obviously, so you can play straight away there. The Space Bar also acts as a pedal.
Danny: OK. It’s a real visual representation of what’s happening on that Caps Lock keyboard there, but actually on the typewriter keyboard.
Paul: Exactly. This is the point: If you were trying to play the Caps Lock keyboard and you’ve sort of got this in front of you, it’s a heck of a difference. It’s really quite a powerful tool if Apple thinks it’s strong enough to keep it in there, yet you still can’t see it.
Paul: The idea was to actually just have a skin over the top, and you can see the keys; you can play them. Turn it into a performance tool, rather than just something anyway you’ve got to take notes of what’s on the screen.
Danny: Yeah. I think a lot of our students are unaware of some of the key commands that exist, some of the things that could actually make working with Logic a lot easier.
Paul: Yeah. There are so many key commands. The basic ones that they give to you do make sense. Obviously like I say, if you take this off, R makes sense for record, M makes sense for mute, and S makes sense for solo, because you’re sort of looking at it like this.
I got to thinking that if you’re going to put actually really useful key commands in there, I thought you can make it work a little more like a Maschine or an MPC. You can actually turn it into a performance tool. You can turn Record into Record Toggle, which is something I’ve done. If you’re actually playing you can whack it into Record, whack it out of Record as it’s going, and just let it loop around and keep going.
Danny: It looks like you’ve almost got like a transport sort of set of controls there, whilst you’re mimicking the tabs that you’ve got at the bottom of the mixer sampler editor.
Paul: Yeah, that’s right. With the transport, I try to work off of color, as well. Like I say, I’m trying to make it a little more of a performance tool. The idea is that you’ve got sort of Solo’s yellow and Mute’s blue. The Navigation’s sort of Rewind, Fast Forward, and Return are orange, and Record is red. That just makes it so it’s more intuitive when you’re using it.
The Tab section here, I’ve got the Mixer, Sampler Editor; maybe it’s just Mixer, Sample Editor. There’s the Piano Roll when you’ve got some MIDI recorded in, and the Score functions. They just mimic these tabs, here. Again, there’s a little bit of a reflection going on there, from what you’re actually used to using in Logic.
Danny: Paul, you got an exclusive demonstration for us. What are you going to be showing us?
Paul: That’s right. I’m going to just be demonstrating how this can work as a production tool and sort of increase your workflow. It doesn’t totally replace the mouse, but equally in the demonstration, it just shows some ways of using it as production tool, as a MIDI keyboard. There’s little things like chopping samples with one button and sending them to the sampler, thing like that; 1 or 2 little features that I just want to demonstrate for you.
Here’s a quick demonstration of how quick editing and recording in Logic Pro can be when using the control skin. An ability of the control skin is to chop and export a sample to the EX at the push of a button. Just hit the Recent Sample button, Select [inaudible: 04:59], done.
I want to edit the last 2 beats of the base loop. Pressing the Escape key, it can access to the Scissors tool on the control skin to make the cut. By pressing the Set LR button, I can quickly set a cycle to the left in a selected region. I hit Piano Roll to see the note data.
I’m going to mute all the notes and play me own edit on the Caps Lock keyboard. By hitting Record, I can punch-in when I’m happy and punch-out when I’m done. A shortcut to tie it to the performance, in this case, is to hold the Alt and Shift keys together; if you’d like those notes selected to be of equal length.
Hitting the User 2 key enables you to add a new track. I’m going to add software instruments. I can activate the Caps Lock keyboard [inaudible: 06:19] sounds whilst navigating through them with the cursor keys. Again, when I’m happy with what I’m playing, I can punch-in on Record and lay it straight down.
Once happy with the main loop, an arrangement can be quickly created by pressing the Repeat Section key. I can then mute off any parts to create sections and build an arrangement.