Bitwig Studio: Tips and Tricks (1)

Now that Bitwig Studio is out for 3 Weeks, I see certain Questions pop up quite regularly on the Forums at KVR. While some Concepts in BWS are very similar to Ableton Live and other DAWs, others are new and/or somehow not so obvious or obscured by how People are used to work somewhere else – there are not only new Things to learn, but also old Patterns to “unlearn”. ;-)

So I present this pseudo-random Collection of Tips and Tricks – I hope you Enjoy! :-)

Mixed use of Clip Launcher Tracks and Arrangement Tracks.

In Bitwig Studio, you can decide for each Track if it should play back the linear Arrangement Timeline or the nonlinear Clips from the Clip Launcher. For example like this:


 The little Grid-Button to the right of each Clip Launcher Rows decides for each Track what is played back – when its highlighted, the Clip Launcher is active and when it’s greyed out, the Arrangement Clips on the Timeline will play.

But if you start for example Scene 3 in this case with the Play Button on top of the Row, while the 3 Clips play back alright, the Arrangement Track doesn’t but instead the Clip Launcher Playback Button is suddenly highlighted.
To solve this, you have to select the empty Clips in the Clip Launcher on the fourth Track and rightclick -> “Remove Stop Button”:


The Reason is, that the “relatively empty” Clips with the Stop Buttons in them are still Clips that get toggled on/activated when you start a Scene, and starting a Clip toggles the Clip Launcher on and the Arrangement off for that track …
With these out of the way, you can play the mixed Scene/Arrangement as expected:


But wait, there’s more.

In a Situation like the one above, you may want to play some Parts on the Arrangement but be able to throw in some short FX every now and then on the same Track and then return to the Arrangement playback.
You can do that automatically with a “Follow Action”:
Put the FX clip in the Clip Launcher on the same Track as the Arrangement Clip (in above example it would be Track 4) and look at the Inspector (Shortcut “i”) Find the “Next Action”. It’s greyed out at the Moment since you first have to set how long you want your Clip to play with the “after” Fields. In my case it’s 3 Bars so I click and drag the first Number up with the Mouse until it shows “3”, and this also enables the Dropdown above it (so to disable Follow Actions, you can just set the “after” Time to zero again). Now select “Return To Arrangement” like this:


 Now if you launch that Clip, after 3 Bars, the playback is going back to the Arrangement for this Track.

BTW. “Return to Last Clip” does the same for Clips – play back your FX Clip and then return automatically to the Clip that was playing before.


Other Clip Tricks:

Bitwig Studio allows you to use Clips not only on “normal” Tracks, but also on Effect Tracks (“Return Tracks” in other Software) as well as on the Master Track. This can be used to for instance directly record the incoming Audio on  a Send or on the Master or to have some Midi Clip play directly into an Effect like a Vocoder on an Effects Track (you may need to switch the track type for this to work).

But on the Master there is another interesting use:

“Tempo Clips”

If you want to be able to change the Tempo of your Project with the click of a Button (well, a Clip in this case) you can do it like this:
First, convert your Master Track to a Hybrid Track (Rightclick, “Convert to Hybrid Track”) so that you can have Audio go right through while playing back Midi Clips (if you don’t do this, the playing Clip will block the audio, even though it’s empty).
Then on the Master Track, create as many empty Clips (double click on an empty slot)) as you need different Tempi.
Unfold the Automation Lanes for the Master Track, and from the dropdown, select: “Transport -> Tempo”. To just directly switch to a specific Tempo, you only need to create one Automation Value, but of course you can also create ramps.
In that case you may want to make sure your clips aren’t looping, although that has some creative potential too…  Go wild!   ;-)


Since these Clips are launch-quantised, you can change Tempo quite precisely.
You may or may not want to move them out of the Scene range of your main Project to prevent them being launched as part of Scenes – or it’s just what you want ;-)

Another interesting Feature of Clips in Bitwig Studio:

Decouple Automation Lenght from Clip Length:

For this Example, I use Alchemy and a Drone Patch. Alchemy has 8 Remix Pads through which one can morph with two Parameters, “_RemixX” and “_RemixY”:


For a full roundtrip I want first to go through Pads 1-4 on the X-Axis, then down the Y-Axis to Pad 8, back on X through Pads 8-5 and up on Y again (Y is “inverted” here, a value of 0 is up and a value of 100 is down).
My (very simple) Midi Clip is only 4 bars long, but I want the morph to go on for  20 Bars.

So I first create my 4 Bar Loop:


Then I go to the “_RemixX” Automation Lane and create a first Automation Point at Zero. Now some more Buttons become active and I can select the “Free” Button (with the little Runner ;-) ) which allows me to have a separate length for this Automation Lane from the Clip Length (be sure to hit “Free” before you do this, otherwise you will change the Length of the whole Clip).
I set the Stop Point to and build a Curve like this:


 Going up for 8 Bars, staying there for 2, going down for another 8 Bars and again stay there for 2. With this Automation alone, only the X Axis would move back and forth, so now we need the Y Axis too. Select _RemixY from the dropdown and follow the same procedure as above, but this time we want this Curve:


So, corresponding to X, this time we first wait for 8 Bars at Zero then go up to 100 in two, stay there for another 8 and then go down again within two Bars.

Each and every Automation Lane can have it’s own length!
This allows for some very nice evolving and ever-changing Setups…


And another Frequently Asked Question:

Are there Named Timeline Markers?

Yes, open the View Menu and find “Show Cue Markers”:


You get a small Lane above the Timeline where you can add Markers, name them and give them a Colour:



Plugin Sandboxing?

One of the very Special Things in Bitwig Studio is, that each VST-Plugin can run in it’s own Process. When it crashes, the Application doesn’t crash, but shows a Message in the Device if the Plugin should be restarted.
Bitwig Studio does this by using an internal Bitbridge, so you can use 32 Bit and/or 64 Bit Plugins without having to think about the whole complicated Matter much.

For this, there are extensive Settings in the Preferences:


“Global Processing for all plug-ins” is the Default. If you don’t select any Plugins in the List, it uses one Process for all 32 Bit Plugins and another one for all 64 Bit Plugins. The Result: When one 32 Bit Plugin crashes, all 32 Bit Plugins crash, but not the Host.
This uses the least amount of memory and CPU but is also the least secure.

The next Option is, to select some specific Plugins in the list that are either especially prone to crash or need a lot of RAM.
In the above Screenshot, I selected the 3 different Kontakt 5 Variations to run in their own Process.
Now I use mainly 32 Bit Plugins with Bitwig Studio. On a 64 Bit System, each 32 Bit Process can use up to 4 GB of RAM. If all 32 Bit Plugins share one Process, this is the limit for all 32 Bit Plugins you run together. Therefore it can make sense to run Plugins like Samplers that need a lot of RAM in their own Process, so they can each access 4 GB on their own.


The third Option – which is what I personally am using and which I would call “Full Sandboxing” – is enabled by the leftmost Button on Top of the Plug-in management Dialogue: “Independent processing for each plug-in”. This puts each and every Plugin in it’s own Process and thereby makes it possible that each Plugin can crash independently from any other. This not only makes it more secure in that not all Plugins crash but only the one that has a problem, but it also makes it easier to find problematic Plugin.
So you may try this setting if you encounter Plugin crashes to narrow it down.


Larger Waveforms in the Arrangement

There was a lot of discussion about the fact that as of 1.0.x you can’t make Rows in the Arrangement View vertically larger, for instance to see Audio Waveforms better. I personally don’t miss this since there is not only the Edit View at the bottom of the Bitwig Studio Window that can be scaled freely, but you can also switch to the fullscreen Edit View and engage Layered Editing if you want to really go down to the Details.
With the option to not only see multiple Clips in this View but also optionally the whole Timeline, I find little left to desire.


But there is one more option that is less obvious:
If you open the Automation Lane in an Audio Track in Arrange View, you can then scale the Automation Area vertically quite a bit. The Audio Waveform is shown in the Background in this Case and stretched to fit…



One last Thing

Bitwig can open multiple Documents/Projects/Songs and drag and drop between them. It can be very handy to have a “Dummy” Project open in the Background where you for instance collect Samples on some Tracks or nice Clips or Presets for your Instruments or build an Effects-Chain for testing. This way your main Project stays uncluttered and you can easily drag whatever you need back and forth between the Tabs.

Try it out, it’s really a great help.

Ok, that’s it for now folks. Have fun with Bitwig Studio!



Posted in Audio, English, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

11 Responses to Bitwig Studio: Tips and Tricks (1)

  1. BSD says:

    Hi Tom,
    I’m just giving Bitwig a try on Linux and WOW! I am very impressed. What a great job they did, I’ll have to get that DAW.

    Thank you for your tips and tutorials, they’re great. Contributions like yours make Bitwig great already :)

  2. Xander Thor says:

    Hi Thomas…great post thank you. Any idea of how to get Izotope Stutter edit to work in BW? You can put SE on the same track as audio, control it during live playback (due to the hybrid audio/instument capability) but cannot record the SE effect…there is nothing anywhere on using SE with Bitwig so if you have experience would love to hear from you.

    • Thomas says:

      I don’t know Stutter Edit, but you can either route the output of the track you put it on to another audio track for recording (ideal for playing live while recording) or record your actions as midi clip on the hybrid track Stutter Edit is placed on and bounce it (creates a new track with the audio result for further mangling) or use bounce in place to replace the midi clip on the hybrid track with the audio result (maybe create a copy of the track beforehand as a backup (CTRL-D)…



      • Xander Thor says:

        Thanks. After being determined to figure it out, the method that works best is as you described, set up an Audio track for audio you want Stutter Edit to affect, route that audio to an instrument track on which Stutter Edit sits, record on the instrument track, then bounce the Stutter Edit track out and you have it, mangled audio, works like a charm and much easier to use than in Abelton or Logic!

  3. powermat says:

    Are you planning on more of these? Loving ’em!

  4. Craig says:

    Great tips thanks.

  5. Sebastian R. says:

    Hi, cool spot here to find the rare Bitwig infos, big thx,
    please can you add more infos about dummyclips..

    Dummy clips with automation in the master track or in a
    Efect track for audio efect devices.
    Would be cool to have more infos about this theme.
    Can I use a audio clip in a efect track to write (record) automation for a delay f.e. , so that no dummytracks (Ableton ) and dummyclips are needed to control the Parameter of devices
    in a efect track (Sends) .?

    ableton have a second chance to control, devices without big hassle without reroute the efect track Signal to a audio track and then place there the (delay) efects and create then dummyclips lower the Volume Level and record then automation and with that control the audio efect.
    The Ableton solution is Max for live.
    But its so laggy and buggy ..I search for infos about Bitwig and Feature about the
    Sends Return (efects) ,dummyclips,
    midi routing with Multi vst (Micro Tonic)
    and audio routing with vst (multiouts) !

    Best regard Sebastian R.

    • Thomas says:

      I would recommend downloading the demo and try it yourself:
      You can have clips on Effect Tracks and on the Master and those tracks can not only be audio tracks but also Hybrid Tracks, where you can place Audio as well as Midi – and of course Automation. So you can address effects that use Midi Notes or even place Instruments there. Lot’s of Freedom in Bitwig Studio ;-)
      I personally was never very fond of M4L, to me it felt clunky and bolted on, as powerful as it may be.
      What you ask for is a bit much to put into a comment, I recommend the KVR forum for more involved questions. Most of what you ask for exists although some of it may need a bit of rethinking what you are used to… :-)



  6. Tobyette says:

    i just got bigwig. And this article really helps- I want to know how to simply play back the track I recorded and it keeps playing back the Clip that is activated at the moment- How do I play from the arrangement view what I have recorded.

    Thanks Tobyette

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