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Camelot Tutorial 5: The Timeline
The Timeline view is Camelot’s facility for automating Scene changes, triggering sample or audio file playback, and playing backing tracks. It is accessed by clicking the Timeline button in the footer. The Timeline is a Song function; it remains the same for all Scenes in a Song.
Figure 1 - The Timeline button in the footer switches Camelot to the Timeline view.
Before tackling the Timeline view, it is best if you understand the basics of Camelot. Take a look at these articles to get you started:
Figure 2 - The Timeline view is defined by its three sections, the time ruler, and the Transport panel.
At the top of the Timeline view, just under the header, is the time ruler. Below this are three sections: Backing Tracks, Scenes, and Markers. The Transport panel is needed for most timeline operations. It is invoked by the Transport button/display in the footer, and occupies the bottom of the view when it is active. A number of important functions in the Timeline view can be controlled remotely, which can be very useful in performance.
Section features overview
Figure 3 - The banner at the top of each section has the same basic features.
The title bar of each section includes three functions also found on Layers:
- Clicking on the pencil icon enters Edit mode, in which sections or tracks within a section can be rearranged by dragging on the move handles. Individual elements can be deleted by clicking on the red “X,” or renamed by clicking on the name and editing it. Colors can be selected for backing tracks.
- Each section can be collapsed for a more compact appearance, or expanded from the collapsed state.
Figure 4 - Each section can be collapsed (bottom) for a more compact appearance, or fully expanded (top) for a detailed display.
- Clicking the plus sign on the far right adds a new element to the section.
The Time Ruler
Figure 5 - The time ruler and marker bar show the timeline and all of its elements.
The time ruler is laid out and marked in minutes and seconds, and contains the Song Start and Song End markers, as well as the play cursor. Each type of marker is represented by a different symbol.
- The play cursor position can be set by dragging, or clicking in the time ruler. There also is a draggable handle for the play cursor in the Transport panel, which is discussed in the Transport section below.
- The Song Start marker is fixed; the start of a Song is always at time 00:00.
- The Song End marker can be set by dragging it in the time ruler. After dragging the Song End marker, the view adjusts to the new duration of the Song.
The Marker bar immediately below the time ruler displays Label, Play, and Stop markers, as well as Scene change handles, and allows their positions to be edited by dragging. Markers are discussed in the Markers section below.
Zooming and Scrolling
The scale of the time ruler (and the duration of time displayed in the Timeline view) can be adjusted with the Zoom knob in the upper right of the view. Zoom In and Zoom Out also can be executed with key shortcuts; for more information see Remote Control.
- To zoom in or out in the Timeline view, click on the Zoom knob and drag up to zoom in or down to zoom out.
- To restore the default zoom level, click the Zoom Reset button.
A scroll wheel can be used to navigate around the Timeline view:
- Clockwise/counter-clockwise scroll wheel motion scrolls the display up and down.
- Holding the shift key down while scrolling moves the play cursor (and the display) later or earlier in the Song.
End Marker Settings
Figure 6 - The End marker settings enable you to define what Camelot does when it reaches the End marker in a song.
Double-clicking the Song End marker invokes the End marker settings panel, which contains three important parameters:
- Song Length: To change the duration of the Song, simply click in the fields of the duration shown and edit directly. Press Enter to keep a value.
- Auto-adjust with tracks: If a file added in a new track is longer than any already in the Backing Tracks section, the Song End marker will be automatically reset to the end of the new track. Note that the Song End marker is not automatically reset when a file is dragged to a new location or a track is deleted.
- Action at the end of the song: This setting specifies one of three actions be performed when the timeline reaches the Song End marker while it is playing:
- Stop – Playback stops when the Song End marker is reached.
- Stop & Load the next Song – When the Song End marker is reached, playback stops and the next Song is loaded. Depending on what is contained in the next Song, this could take a few seconds to complete.
- Stop & Play the next Song – When the Song End marker is reached, the next Song is loaded and begins playing immediately.
Whether you are a solo performer needing accompaniment or a band wanting to add samples or prerecorded material to your performance, the ability to play audio files in the context of a live performance is a need shared by many musicians.
Camelot’s Backing Tracks function is a multitrack player that can play WAV or MP3 files in a timed sequence, or trigger playback of files from a MIDI controller or using Camelot’s own transport functions. The Backing Tracks section also allows numerous customizations to backing tracks, including adding fades to the head and/or tail of any file, as well as routing each backing track to a separate audio output, if desired.
In addition to the panels used for adding audio files into tracks, the Audio Files Manager offers a set of utilities for viewing, renaming, and deleting audio files.
Audio files are added to the Backing Tracks section by adding a new track and designating a file to be placed in the track:
- Click the plus sign (+) at the right end of the Backing Tracks section title bar to invoke the Add New Backing Track panel.
Figure 7 - The Add New Backing Track panel allows you to organize audio files into folders, then access them to insert into a new Backing Track in a Song. The Audio Files Manager, accessed from the button at the bottom of the panel, offers a number of utilities for viewing and handling audio files.
- Click the My Audio Files folder; the Add Backing Tracks panel appears. If the file you want to use is already in the folder, check the box to the right of the file’s name and click the Add selected button at the bottom of the panel. You can select multiple files, if you like, just by checking the boxes for all of the files you want to add.
Figure 8 - The Add Backing Tracks panel is where you select one or more files to add as Backing Tracks.
- If the file you want is not in the folder, click the Load Audio Files button, locate the file you want in the standard File Open dialog that appears, select the location to insert it, and click the Done button. Multiple files can be selected and inserted using the usual selection techniques in the directory window that is shown: shift-click to select a range of files, cmd-click (ctrl-click on Windows) to make a discontiguous selection.
- Once you click the Add selected button, you will be prompted in the Backing Tracks Position panel to select the time at which the file should be inserted. The time will default to the current location of the play cursor, but the cursor can be dragged to any time, or you can click any of the markers shown in the list at the bottom to insert at that time. If you selected multiple files, each file will be inserted in its own track at the time selected.
Figure 9 - There are three ways to specify where an audio file will get placed in its Backing Track: 1) click in the time fields at the top and enter a time (the default time value is the current location of the play cursor), 2) drag the time cursor below the time fields (or click in the time cursor bar), and 3) Click one of the marker locations shown at the bottom of the panel.
- It is possible to create multiple tracks using the same audio file if, for instance, you want to play different parts of the file at different times. See the information on file start/end offsets below.
- Tracks are deleted from Edit mode, described below.
Customizing Backing Tracks
Creating tracks and placing files is just the beginning; Camelot offers a considerable number of options for customizing how files are played.
Figure 10 - Backing tracks can be customized in a variety of ways. In addition to the options shown by the callouts, files can be dragged to the left or right to change their placement in time.
- If you want to change the placement of a file in a track, you can simply drag it to another location. On the iPad, accidental changes are prevented by requiring that you hold your finger on the file until it turns gray (about one second), at which point you can drag it to the desired location. Markers in the timeline have a “magnetic” attraction when you drag near them to make it easy to locate the start of a file exactly at a marker.
- A track can be configured to play only a portion of the audio file it holds by setting start and end offsets. To set a file start or end offset, simply drag the appropriate handle to the desired location within the file. Suppose you have a sample with three instances of a given sound or instrumental part. You can create three tracks all containing the same file, drag the files to the locations within the Song where you want them, then drag the offset handles so that each track plays only the portion of the sample you want in that part of the Song.
- Each file can have a fade-in and/or fade-out added. This can be particularly useful if you are using file offsets to play back only a portion of a file. To add a fade-in or fade-out, simply drag the appropriate handle at the start or end of the file (or offset, if one is set). Note that if you change the file offset where there is a fade, the fade will move with the offset. You may find that you need to adjust the length of fades as you adjust offsets.
- At the right end of each track is its audio output section. This is the same as is found in Layers in Scenes or Song or Setlist Racks. Clicking on the output name in the track’s name banner allows selecting an audio output for the track. Drag the fader to modify output level; a level reading pops up as you do this to facilitate precise level setting. There also are Mute and Solo buttons to the right of the level fader. Soloing a track mutes all other backing tracks.
- As in the Layers view, on the right side of the section’s title bar is an icon which, when clicked, collapses all of the tracks within the section to give a more compact view. Clicking the button again expands the tracks back to their normal view, as shown in Figure 4.
- When the tracks are in their fully expanded view, each track has its own output level fader, but when the section is collapsed, there is only one fader, which is a master level fader for all tracks in the Backing Tracks section. This is the same master level control available in the Mixer panel that appears when you click the Mixer button in the footer; changing this level in one place also alters it in the other.
Figure 11 - Edit mode enables a number of adjustments and modifications for tracks. Note that fade and offset handles, audio output controls, and dragging a file to a different location all continue to function in Edit mode.
Clicking the pencil icon in Backing Tracks section banner enters Edit mode. (Actually, clicking the pencil icon for any of the three sections in the Timeline view - Backing Tracks, Scenes, or Markers - enters Edit mode for all of them.) There are a number of useful functions that can be performed here:
- The vertical order in which the sections appear can be changed by dragging the Backing Tracks section up or down using the handle on its left end.
- The vertical order in which tracks appear can be changed by dragging a track up or down using the handle on its left end.
- A track can be renamed simply by clicking on its name. Editing the track name has no effect on the name of the file used in the track; its name on disk is untouched.
- A file in a track can be dragged left or right to change the time at which it starts.
- The offset and fade handles work just as they do when not in Edit mode.
- The track color can be set by clicking the color icon in the upper right of the track.
- A track can be deleted by clicking the red “X” in the upper right corner of the track.
When you are done making changes, click the Done legend in the top right of the view to exit Edit mode.
Audio Files Manager
Figure 12 - The Audio Files Manager offers the same basic file display features as the Add Backing Tracks panel, however, it also offers a set of view filters for different perspectives on your file library. Mostly, the filters all offer the same facilities, but a few of them have unique capabilities.
The Audio Files Manager offers utility functions for viewing and administrating audio files already imported to the Setlist. The same basic file information shown in the Add Files panel (file name, format, and duration) is displayed, supplemented by functions in a “three dots” menu (“…”) at the right of each file entry in the audio files list.
Figure 13 - The "three dots" menu in the Audio Files Manager usually just has the Rename and Delete commands, but the MP3 filter adds a Convert to WAV command.
- Rename: Allows renaming the file in Camelot. The file on disk is unaffected and retains its original name.
- Delete: Removes the file from the Audio Files Manager. The file on disk in unaffected and is not deleted.
- Convert to wav: This command only appears in the menu when the file is an MP3 file, and provides conversion from an MP3 to a WAV file. The file on disk is unaffected and remains as an MP3 file. The converted file is stored internally and not accessible outside of Camelot.
File Display Filters
The Audio Files Manager offers five different filters for viewing the files in your library. The following standard features are available for each filter:
- File display: file name, file format (WAV or MP3), select checkbox, “three dots” menu with Rename file and Delete file functions.
- Select All checkbox: selects all files shown in the list.
- Search field: allows files in the list to be searched and filtered by typing in just a few characters.
- Add selected button: The Add selected button creates a new track for each file in the list whose checkbox is filled in and inserts the file at the specified time. All selected files are inserted at the same time.
- Delete selected button: The Delete selected button removes all selected files from the Setlist. Note: The original audio files on disk are untouched by the Delete selected button’s action.
Here are the five filters:
All: Displays all files in the Setlist library.
- In use: Shows a list of all Songs in the Setlist that use backing tracks. Click on a Song name in the list to drop down a list of all the files used in that Song. The In use filter has all of the standard features described above, except for the Select All checkbox and the Search field.
Figure 14 - The "In Use" filter shows the audio files used in each Song in the Setllist.
- Unused: Shows a list of all audio files in the Setlist library that are not currently being used in any Songs. In addition to the standard feature set, the Unused filter has a Clear All Unused button that removes all of the files in the Unused filter from the Setlist.
- WAV: Shows a list of all WAV files currently in the Setlist library.
- MP3: Shows a list of all MP3 files currently in the Setlist library. In addition to the standard feature set, the MP3 filter has a Convert to WAV button that converts all selected MP3 files to the WAV format. The “three dots’ menu also contains a Convert to WAV command that converts only that one file.
Creating Additional Folders
For some, the My Audio Files folder is all they will need for storage, but if you have a number of files you will be using in the Backing Tracks player, you may want to set up multiple folders to keep your audio files organized.
- Click the plus sign (+) at the right end of the Backing Tracks section title bar.
- Click the New group button.
- Enter a name for the folder and choose a color from the icon list at the bottom.
Figure 15 - The Group panel lets you name a new folder and choose a color for it.
To rename or delete a folder:
- In the panel displaying the folders, click the Edit link in the upper right corner.
- Click the pencil icon in the lower left to rename the folder, or the red box in the upper right corner to delete it.
- Click Done when you are finished.
One of the most often used functions of the timeline is to automate Scene changes. Since Scenes are essentially complete sonic universes, a Scene change can completely redefine
- the sounds being played
- the keyboard/controller splits or stacks
- MIDI controller curves
- audio and/or MIDI routing
- MIDI processing, such as conforming to a musical scale, etc.
- audio processing and effects
- the attachment being displayed (lyrics, chords, notes, etc.), including its zoom and pan settings.
It is common to use one or more Scene changes for each section of a Song. One advantage of having the timeline is that it makes it easy to reuse Scenes, so you can have one Scene for verses, one for choruses, one for the bridge, plus whatever one-time needs like Intro, Solo, Outro, rather than needing a Verse 1 Scene, then a Chorus 1 Scene, followed by a Verse 2 Scene, etc.
Automating Scene changes is extremely easy. First, you create all of the Scenes you need for each Song. Then you place them on the timeline at the desired times, which very often ends up being the start times of the next song sections.
You cannot create multiple tracks in the Scenes section as you can in the Backing Tracks section. All Scene changes are on a single track.
Adding Scene Changes
To add an automatic Scene change to a Song:
- Click the plus sign (+) at the right end of the Scenes section title bar. The Add scene panel appears, listing all Scenes available in the currently active Song.
Figure 16 - The Add Scene panel shows all of the Scenes available in the Songs in the Setlist.
- Click a Scene in the list to select it. This will cause the Scene position panel to appear.
- The Scene position panel is just like the Backing Tracks Position panel shown in Figure 9 above. Set the time at which you want the Scene change inserted by using the current play cursor location (the default time), dragging the cursor below the time display to the desired time, or selecting a marker from the list shown at the bottom of the panel. Click Done after setting the time.
- If you double-click a Scene change in the Scenes section of the Timeline view, the play cursor is set to the Scene change time, the Scene is recalled, and Camelot switches to the Layers view.
Changing Scenes Manually
The ability for Scenes to change automatically as Camelot’s timeline plays is powerful, but there are many situations in which it is better to be able to change Scenes manually, that is, on demand.
Perhaps there are solos that are not always the same length, or there is a vamp in the middle where the band gets introduced. Camelot’s Remote Control commands include Next Event and Previous Event, which let you go back and forth through Scene changes on the timeline, while always staying within the same Song. For more detail on this technique, see Using MIDI to Manually Change Scenes below.
Editing Scene Changes
Scene changes can be edited in three ways:
- Change the time at which the change occurs by dragging the blue Scene change handle in the Marker bar.
Figure 17 - Scene changes can be moved in time by dragging their handles in the marker bar below the time ruler.
- Select a color for the Scene change. Click the pencil icon in the Scenes section title bar to enter Edit mode, then click the color selection icon in the lower left corner of the Scene change and choose the desired color.
- To delete a Scene change, click the pencil icon in the Scenes section title bar to enter Edit mode, then click the red “X” on the Scene change you want to delete.
Collapse/Expand and Audio Output
- At the right end of the Scenes section is its audio output section. The level fader is a master Song level control, which scales the output level of each Layer in the currently active Scene. This same Song Level control is available in the Mixer panel, which is invoked by clicking the Mixer button in the footer. This level is stored with the Song, enables you to match levels between different Songs and maintain a consistent balance when a new Song is loaded.
- There also are Mute and Solo buttons to the right of the level fader that control the Scene Layers for the currently active Scene..
- As in the Backing Tracks section, on the right side of the Scenes section’s title bar is an icon which, when clicked, collapses the track and hides the Scene changes. Clicking the button again expands the track back to its normal view.
Figure 18 - Marker types and their symbols. Scene change markers are inserted in the Scenes section, not the Markers section, so are they technically markers? Well, um, does that really matter?
The Timeline view provides three kinds of markers:
- Label: Label markers simply denote a position in a Song. This might be to provide a visual reference, or a location to which Camelot can be sent by command. No automation function is associated with label markers.
- Play: When this marker is reached, the timeline immediately begins playing.
- Stop: When this marker is reached, the timeline immediately stops playing.
These markers will perform their functions when the timeline is playing, but their real use is for manual use, to execute their functions when Camelot is told to locate to the marker.
To add a marker:
- Click the plus sign (+) at the right end of the Markers section title bar.
- In the Add a marker panel that appears, add a name for the marker, enter any comments or notes in the Annotations field, and click one of the radio buttons to select the type of marker you want to insert.
Figure 19 - The Add a Marker panel lets you add a note to a marker, as well as select which kind of marker you want to insert.
- Click the Next button and set the location for the marker in the Marker position panel by editing the time shown, dragging the time cursor to the desired time, or clicking one of the markers in the list below to insert the marker at the same time as an existing marker.
- Click Done and the new marker is inserted.
To edit a marker:
- To relocate a marker, double-click it to open the Marker position panel. Enter the new time in the time fields, drag the time cursor, or select an existing marker position from the list at the bottom. Click Done when you are finished.
Figure 20 - The Marker position panel is just like the position panels for Backing Tracks and Scenes, except that the marker list at the bottom only shows Song Start and Scene change markers.
- To rename a marker, click the pencil icon at the right of the section banner to enter Edit mode, then click the name of the marker to edit it.
Figure 21 - Marker Edit mode. Pretty straightforward.
- To add or edit marker comments, click the pencil icon at the right of the section banner to enter Edit mode, then click in the Description field and edit it as desired.
- To select a color for a marker, enter Edit mode and click the color icon at the lower left corner of the marker, then choose a color from the palette that appears.
- To delete a marker, enter Edit mode and click the red “X” in the upper left corner of the marker.
Figure 22 - The Transport panel is activated by default when the Timeline view button is clicked, but it can be hidden, if desired.
Transport controls for the timeline are found, unsurprisingly, in the Transport panel, which is made active by default when the Timeline view is selected. The Transport panel can be hidden, when desired, by clicking the Transport button in the footer.
The layout of the Transport panel is quite simple: the top row is the transport controls, below that is the marker display bar, and beneath that the play cursor.
The middle three buttons in the transport controls area are the standard Stop, Play, and Pause controls. Note that the Stop button stops playback and returns the play cursor to the start of the Song. In fact, clicking the Stop button when the timeline is not in Play also returns the play cursor to zero.
But the buttons on the far left and far right are not for rewind or fast forward; they jump to the Previous Event or Next Event. A timeline Event is anything that shows up on the timeline, so: markers, Scene changes (represented on the timeline as blue dots), and the Song Start and End markers.
All of these Events are displayed immediately below the transport controls with the same symbols as in the time ruler at the top of the Timeline view, but they are not editable here; you must go to the time ruler to edit them.
Beneath the marker bar is a bar with the play cursor (a large white dot), which can be edited here by dragging or just clicking in the bar at the desired location. The current time location is always displayed in the Transport button in the footer, as well as in the ruler bar at the top of the view.
It is easy to use Camelot directly from the screen of your laptop or iPad, but in performance, it can be preferable to make changes from footswitches or buttons or faders on a controller. Camelot has extensive remote control capabilities that will be covered in their own tutorial, but it is appropriate for us to make mention here of how timeline functions can be remotely operated in Camelot.
There are two sources that can perform remote control in Camelot: key commands and MIDI events.
Here are the timeline-related functions that can be controlled by key commands, along with their default keystrokes, which can be changed to whatever you want:
Note: Mac shortcuts are shown. For Windows, substitute the Ctrl key for the Cmd key.
- Zoom In/Out - Cmd-plus/Cmd-minus
- Open Transport panel – Cmd-T
- Play/Pause – spacebar
- Stop (and return to zero) – Shift-spacebar
- Go to Next Event/Previous Event – N/Shift-N
- Go to Timeline Event 1-10 – Cmd-(1 through 0)
Assigning hardware controls on a MIDI controller or foot controller is a powerful way to be able to execute sophisticated control over Camelot, and numerous timeline functions are available to be controlled in this fashion. As will be discussed in the Remote Controls tutorial, a logical system for choosing and assigning sliders, button, footpedals, footswitches, and other physical controllers is essential to being able to use them smoothly in performance. Here are the timeline functions available for MIDI control:
- Stop (and return to zero)
- Go to Next Event/Previous Event
- Go to Timeline Event 1-15
- Backing Tracks master level
- Backing Track 1-16 level
- Backing Track 1-16 mute
Using MIDI to Manually Change Scenes
There is one remote control application worth calling out specifically here, and that is using remote control to change Scenes.
Scenes can be placed on the timeline at specific times and they will execute when the timeline reaches them during playback. This is perfect for Songs that are played the same way each time.
However, there are many situations where that kind of automated change is not suitable, such as when there are open-ended solos or improvised sections.
If you still want to avail yourself of Camelot’s powerful ability to completely change your sound and MIDI control with a Scene change, but need to have complete control over when those changes happen, the timeline can be the answer. The secret is in using the timeline as a list, rather than as a running clock. In this application, you will never start the timeline playing.
If you just want to step through the Scenes in a Song in order, that can be accomplished using the Next Scene/Previous Scene remote controls and the timeline is not needed at all. But if you want to change to Scenes in a different order, or even an improvised order (changing to sounds when the mood strikes you), here’s how to do it:
- Choose all of the Scenes you will want to access.
- Place them on the timeline in an order that makes sense for how you want to access them. If you know the order in which you will want to call the Scenes, then put them on the timeline in that order. If you want be spontaneous, then consider organizing them on the timeline in some functional fashion, such as having the first few Scenes be for playing rhythm, the next few for soloing, and several more for effects of some sort. Using that scheme, in performance you would just have to remember: low numbers for rhythm, middling numbers for lead, higher numbers for effects. Note that the actual times at which you place the Scenes is unimportant.
- To step through the Scenes in order, use the Next Event/Previous Event remote controls. To access them in random order use the Go to Timeline Event 1-15 remote controls.
- NOTE: Remember that if the next or previous event on the timeline is a marker, rather than a Scene change, the Next/Previous Event controls will move to the marker. To avoid going to a marker when you want a Scene change, either make sure there are only Scene changes on the timeline or use the Go to Timeline Event 1-15 controls.
Figure 23 - A way to manually fire Scene changes. There are only Scene changes on the timeline, no markers. The Scene changes are lined up in the order needed but the times at which they are placed can be arbitrary. Then, you can use the remote controls at bottom to step forward or back with a footswitch, or use a MIDI controller to jump to specific Scene changes.