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Novation Automap and AAX Plugin Support

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sled
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Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 07/09/2013 - 16:18

Patiently (!!!) waiting.  Protools 11 has been out since Q2 2013, making my really great controller pretty-well useless for over a year.  

I'd be fine if the answer is "sell it and buy something that works because nothing is going to change any time soon" - but if a real solution is just around the corner I'm ok to continue to wait. 

Any indication or guidance would be appreciated.

insalacom
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Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: 05/12/2013 - 21:27

Any news on AAXsupport for automap ?

terryferminal
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Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: 10/13/2014 - 14:25

Hi Taylor,

Is there any possibility that a firmware could be applied to the older Remote SL hardware if an AAX update arrives?

The SL was the finest MiDI controller ever made, I have the limited edition and hoped to keep it forever.

The MKII was convoluted compared with the SL MKI, I really don't want to sell it but it's beginning to look that way.

I have PT11 and will be installing it very soon.

Cheers.

ancient
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Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: 09/14/2014 - 22:32

Taylor,

Undoubtedly this is a touchy subject, but the development of Automap is clearly stalled – not just with AAX, but overall.  The software is pretty dodgy and amateurish at best.  Yes, it sort-of functions as is, but it's not robust or pleasant to work with.  Clearly people like the Novation hardware – but the hardware is crippled by the software.  And while AVID's cooperation might help the AAX issue, it won't solve the many other problems that plague Automap in general.

For many users, Automap simply doesn't feel like well-coded software.  It feels like a slow script with a mediocre GUI slapped on top.  I'm sure it's much more than that, and that there are a million development issues that I'm completely ignorant of.  But that doesn't change the fact that the development process is at a standstill, users' complaints are not being addressed, and the radio silence from Novation makes it very clear that Automap development is not a priority.

So, in hopes of salvaging our collective investments, would Novation consider releasing Automap in some user-editable, script-based form so that enterprising users could revive the development?  Something a bit more helpful and user-friendly than the 2010 SDK, potentially with support for macros, expressions, and hooks for the most popular DAWs and applications?  For example, could something like Max be used to replace Automap, either in part or completely?  (Clearly I'm not a coder but someone in the community might be willing to tackle the challenge, either for free or with user subsidies).

Or alternatively, could Automap development be moved to a 3rd party contractor, with the expenses shared between users and Novation?  (I am presuming that significant financing by Novation is unlikely given the project's low-priority – and I am likewise presuming that users are desperate enough for a better product that they would be willing to help fund it if it were made available).  Actually, both approaches might be needed since the first idea likely requires some prep work that could be outsourced.

Ultimately, it makes no difference if Novation produces the world's best hardware if

(1) users can't actually make good use of it, and

(2) if users know from past experience that their Novation purchases will end up as flashy doorstops.

I think most readers of this thread recognize that you, personally, are caught between the needs of the userbase and the willingness of Novation to devote resources to this project.  But if other users get behind one of these proposals, it might give you a tool with which to motivate the decision-makers.  In any case, Automap will have a long-lasting impact on Novation.  It's just a question of whether it will be a positive or negative one.

Thanks for your efforts.

 

TL;DR - Automap development is stalled.  Users might be willing to share the cost of outsourcing development for a rewrite or to have it in some user-scriptable form like Max or some other script-based language.  Anything to get some actual Automap development.

 

skijumptoes
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

Automap works great for me using Logic, just my view in balance.  It's certainly not slow, i hit the learn button on my SL, tweak a knob on the software, tweak the related SL knob - and it's done.  If i want to recall an entire preset, i just open automap and load it.  I can flick directly to mixer and/or instrument/effects control via the buttons and have full transport control, and i never had to set anything up other than enable it in Logic.

My only concern, in fact, is storing wrapped versions of plugins in projects which may need to be opened on non-automapped OS installs in the future.

As it stands if Avid have locked down plugins, Novation can't illegally hack in to them to make automap work, the very concept involves a piece of code to be added into the plugin which enables full control.  The hardware is looking for that hook being passed to automap to operate, if the door has been closed by Avid then it's a really tricky solution to fix with hardware already out there installed in people's setup.  Of course, if you're using devices like the SL range you can pop into template mode, at which point there's many solutions available and you can use open source software to act as an interface like automap.

I don't question the amount of resources going in to this from Novations side, if they have a closed door and the only way around is illegally hacking in to the code signing, then what choices are they left with? Automap is an already developed, established system - but currently it's locked out of any involvement or freedom to look into what a pluging contains, and interface directly with.

Reading through the thread the only negative i can make in regards to Novation is not posting a monthly update of where they are, or assuring people that it's still being looked into if there is no further information to release - It's 5 minutes of someones time but it goes a long way to assure customers frustrations.  I hope equal complaints are going to avid too, not sure where their interest lies in M Audio/InMusic controllers and whether there's an air of favouritism there... who knows, they can be a touch arrogant at times (allegedly of course).

As many of focusrite/novation staff are into music production themselves i'm sure this is as much as an issue for those using Pro Tools internally as it is for all reading this thread.

mixmonkey
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Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: 11/30/2014 - 13:21

In case this isn't common knowledge already, Automap works very successfully with wrapped plug-ins running inside BlueCat Patchwork AAX on Pro Tools 11HD.

My personal preference is to use wrapped VSTs as there are a few advantages over the Audiounit format, but both work well.

I use my Novation Zero SLII in conjunction with my trusty Command 8 (which covers faders, pans and sends better than Automap ever will) leaving the SL purely for plug-ins. There is very little processor overhead using a wrapped VST over a 'native' AAX plug-in, Patchwork and Automap seem to have been coded very efficiently.

Naturally, Novation do not 'support' this configuration, a rather strange position since in terms of functionality it offers more than Softube's Console One arrangement for considerably less money- you'd think they'd be shouting about it!

You have a variety of controllers to choose from and you can use pretty much any manufacturers plug-ins (neither are possible with Console One) Sure, there are some plug-ins that cause problems- Slate Digital and Lexicon spring to mind, but the great majority I have tried work fine. It's a joy to be able to layout your own plug-in maps, customised to your exact way of working- exactly what Automap always promised. I can fit the entire Duende SSL Channel strip on one page of the Zero SLII = fast mixing :-)

The only thing Novation could do to improve this arrangement (and I have mentioned this in another thread regarding Logic, but it applies equally here) would be to fix the individual naming of plug-in instances, so it works as described on page 12 of the Automap manual. To wit:

Name

Initially shows the default name of the plug-in. Click on the text to edit or re-name it. This can be useful if you are using multiple instances of the same plug-in in your project, making the one you want easier to find in the browser view (see p13). Reloading the project will keep the edited names, but loading another instance in the same project, or in a new project will revert to the default name.

 

Yes, I do want to find my plug-in in browser view, that way I don't have to click on the screen (surely what a hardware controller is all about?) All I see at the moment is page after page of 'SSLChan' and if I type a unique name into the Edit Mapping window, it isn't saved and reloaded with the project.

Come on Novation, how about fixing this so it works as described in the manual? Everthing else gets saved into that little xml file buried down in Application Support, why not the name?

 

JConstantine
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 05/17/2013 - 00:31

Akai Advance has arrived and seems to work with PT AAX among other DAWs.

Salem Beats
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Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
Joined: 01/12/2015 - 19:25

JConstantine wrote:

Akai Advance has arrived and seems to work with PT AAX among other DAWs.

Yeah, it's difficult to imagine why NI and Akai are able to support AAX, but Novation is seemingly having a difficult time.

Hopefully Novation can work this out and continue to develop Automap on the most popular platforms.

-Ki
LearnAutomap.com - http://www.LearnAutomap.com/

 

 

skijumptoes
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

Salem Beats wrote:

Yeah, it's difficult to imagine why NI and Akai are able to support AAX, but Novation is seemingly having a difficult time.

It's probably due to automap having to wrap/drop a piece of code within the plugin itself for two way communication to an Automap controller and i guess something links to the host (PT/Logic etc.) also, whereas all something like the Akai Advance does is run as a host plugin itself, i.e. it is just a plugin in it's own right.  At least that's what i guess the VIP plugin is?!

Personally that would leave me pretty uncomfortable if i had projects that required the VIP plugin installed which is hosting other plugins within my DAW, much like automap there's a huge dependency/trust put in to the arms of Novation/Akai that the product will have a longterm support, if it doesn't and you upgrade OS's you could be in a sticky mess.

The fact that Automap is a software solution (Basically a server running on your computer which translates between hardware and host software)  should make it infinitly tweakable to get around these types of issues, personally i would love to see a new version of automap, even something named entirely different, which doesn't involve wrapping of plugins etc. But supports hardware with the automap logic installed.  But i can't see it happening, i can however seeing it being dropped soon, i thought incontrol was going to become king, but that also seems to be very quiet.

The only fixed component with an automap enabled setup is between automap software and the controller, the rest (by design) should be fully flexible, but evidently not happening for some reason.

mixmonkey
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Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: 11/30/2014 - 13:21

Quote:

JConstantine wrote:

Akai Advance has arrived and seems to work with PT AAX among other DAWs.

 

 

What makes you think Akai Advance and VIP are going to be able to control plug-ins in your DAW?

As I understand it, the Advance keyboards are a VI host and do all their control mapping internally. The link to the DAW is an Akai Advance plug-in on the channel. Whilst this plug-in can be AAX, Akai Advance only loads VST VIs, so no control of your Pro Tools AAX EQs, compressors etc.

I agree with Skijumptoes that using wrapped plug-ins can be a worry regarding continuing support, but to be honest we face this issue with audio software generally. There are Pro Tools plug-ins that haven't made the transition from TDM/RTAS to AAX and DAW history is littered with other examples that have consigned plug-ins to the graveyard.

As Avid are not going to change their policy on code siging or plug-in wrapping and are unlikely to open up the Eucon protocol to third parties, the best path for Novation to take with Automap is to code their own hosting plug-in to run within Pro Tools or other DAW hosts. Essentially this would move the 'wrapping' from outside the host DAW to within it.

This is effecively the approach taken by Softtube with Console One, except their 'host' plug-in only runs their channel sim.

For myself, I'm still happily running wrapped VSTs in Pro Tools using Bluecat Patchwork and waiting for Novation to fix the saving and re-loading of plugin names, so I can use the browser feature.

skijumptoes
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

mixmonkey wrote:

What makes you think Akai Advance and VIP are going to be able to control plug-ins in your DAW?As I understand it, the Advance keyboards are a VI host and do all their control mapping internally.

The best path for Novation to take with Automap is to code their own hosting plug-in to run within Pro Tools or other DAW hosts. Essentially this would move the 'wrapping' from outside the host DAW to within it.

It's a shame when you see a DAW such as Ableton actively trying to support hardware manufacturers where possible, compared to Avid's stance - Example: Using an automap device with Ableton (Such as the SL Mk2),  no longer actually uses Automap but instead makes use of Ableton's own scripting and a midi template which is automatically loaded for you, and it works brilliantly.

It's great to control - You select the controls on the plugin you want to affect in Ableton, and it maps through direct to your controller wiithout fuss, spread across various pages - still providing feedback on the lcd display may i add!  And Automap is not even part of this behaviour.  Now, don't get me wrong it only utilises the top 8 encoders, but it shows that such a system can be employed elegantly without the need for all this wrapping business.

It's features like that which gravitate me towards Ableton... But my bias is towards live instruments (guitars etc.), and in that respect Ableton doesn't 'quite' stand up to the likes of Logic/Pro tools etc.  But i am very concerned that Automap is nearing it's end, especially watching controllers such as the new Akai's, Nektar's etc with their different approaches.

It will be interesting if Novation are forced to go the host plugin route with Avid to rectify this issue, and if that happens will they follow suit for ALL breeds of automap (i.e. VST/AU)?!

Raymondo
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Last seen: 2 years 3 months ago
Joined: 09/21/2013 - 11:24

These are interesting posts about the way ahead for Automap.  It seems to be just treading water.

Two developments to further muddy the waters:  There is talk of Windows 10 being more audio friendly which may or may not include midi developments.  Apparently much will be revealed in the 'April Build'.  Check out https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/975864-windows-10-thread... where a Microsoft rep is active.

There is also talk of a new HD Midi protocol emerging.  Check out http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2015/01/16/new-midi-hd-protocol-has-re...

An Automap roadmap would be good.

Regards

Raymondo

Mark Oliver
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Last seen: 2 years 4 months ago
Joined: 04/11/2015 - 17:10

I have been following this discussion with interest, despite the fact that I am not a Pro-Tools user. This afternoon, I discovered that Brian Daly of DNA Music Labs claims that he has used the Novation SL Zero Mk II with some software called Controllermate (MAC only) to control AVID plug-ins. This basically converts MIDI messages to Mouse actions that are then sent to Pro-Tools. See http://dnamusiclabs.com/harmonic-distortion for details. 

For those using PCs, I believe there are equivalent packages to Controllermate that can do the MIDI-mouse message conversion.

For those who have an immediate need to control AAX plug-ins with older Novation kit, this may help.

Mark

skijumptoes
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

Wow, thanks for sharing that Mark Oliver, that really is interesting, and is something i was thinking of developing myself - i can't wait to give this a proper look.

Taylor
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Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 07/24/2013 - 17:12

Hey all,

It's been a while since I last spoke here. I hope you're all doing well. I have some word on AAX and Automap, which will put this matter to rest.

 

Since Avid changed to AAX we have had a problem in finding a solution to Automap plugin control in Pro Tools. Automap works by 'wrapping' plugins which involves adding a small piece of code to each one to allow the Automap server to talk to it. AAX plugins are code-signed and what that means is they can't change, therefore the 'wrapping' system simply can't work.

We've also had a good deal of discussion about the 'wrapping' mechanism in general. Over time and via customer feedback we have observed that this way of working is not really what the majority of people want. It tends to cause session incompatibility, can result in crashing plugins sometimes and has created a huge maintenance burden with the sheer number of plugins out there.

Given this information we have decided not to pursue AAX support for Automap. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note that Automap is compatible with Pro-Tools 11 for mixer and transport control.

 

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to message me directly, or reach out to our team via http://bit.ly/NovationSupport and they will be happy to help.

Keep well,
Taylor

bheller
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Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: 11/03/2013 - 05:50

So, it took another YEAR to basically repeat what was in the first post?  Utterly unprofessional and rude to your customers, Novation.  Good riddence.

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