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Area Selection Issue Tools
issueid=122 06-16-2009 05:39 PM
Human being with feelings
Area Selection
Completing the toolset for editing

=====>>Discussion thread<<=====

Vote for the request with the voting buttons below this post(it's a long one).

Current status of this almost decade-old request: GFY
(whether that applies to you, anyone or anything else is your choice buddy)

=edit= added an implementation idea at the bottom of this post, which is also posted in the discussion thread.

=edit 2011.03.17 added description of cursor-based editing for clarity=
This is a proposal known to many of us, and many of us have used this method, though never in such an advanced state in any other DAW(yet).

How does Area Selection work ?

You can select an area by left-click and dragging your mouse cursor in the upper half of the track. That includes envelope lanes as well. The selection can be extended or contracted by holding modifier-key-1(SHIFT is suggested) and click-dragging in the upper half of the track(s).

Area selections can be made across multiple tracks with a simple click and drag of the mouse in the upper half of any track across multiple tracks.

Multiple Non-Contiguous Area Selections

This is the new twist on things. How does this work ?

Simply hold modifier-key-2(CTRL suggested) and make selections as you see fit. Selecting without the MODIFIER key 2 held will cancel all previous area selections.

Changing one of the existing area selections happens by simply dragging on their edges, which now behave like item edges over which they take precedence. The modifier-key-1 plus the modifier-key-2 and click dragging could extend/contract the closest area selection boundary as well.

Three examples:

You can deselect, i.e. remove the area selection by making a single click either in the upper half of any track without modifiers held, by clicking in to an empty area of the arrangement or selecting any item via the standard selection cursor in the lower half of the track.

You can copy the selection, just like you can with selected items via the CTRL+drag method. You simply need to ensure that you drag in the lower half of any track. The mouse cursor image is your indicator once again.

The standard copy commands would work too, since item and area selection are exclusive. In other words, if you've made an item selection, any area selection cancels the item selection.

Moving material
You can of course move the contents of the selection, simply by positioning your mouse cursor anywhere in the selected area and in the lower half of the track, and click and drag. Optionally you can make Reaper not automatically split out the material at the selections edges. The default is that it splits material out when it's being moved.

Painting with the selection
You can paint the selection by CTRL+click and dragging in an empty area of the session. The entire selection will be pasted as your mouse cursor is moved across the screen. This saves you from having to guess whether or not anything you selected will fit in to your destination area.

You can select automation without having to lasso in every last point at the extreme edges of the lane. It's simple to drag from left to right without having to make sure you catch every last envelope point.

The area selection not only includes the envelope points but also the envelope graph itself. It would therefore no longer require the user to add extra envelope points at the edges of a selection that the user wishes to cover an area. In other words, upon pasting an area selection, envelope points are added at the edges, so an exact copy of the orignal area selection is pasted.

Thus selecting across multiple envelope tracks is easy with the selection cursor. The reason for this is that using a marquee selection across multiple tracks, it is much easier to accidentally select envelope points on tracks you had no intention of selecting.

The distance between the envelope points you intended to select on one track, and envelope points of a track above it may be only a few pixels, but with the selection cursor enabling you to select all envelope points from point A to point B in a track by placing the mouse cursor anywhere in the upper half of the envelope track, it becomes easy to avoid any mistaken selections.

Area selections that start in automation lanes cannot extend in to item lanes/tracks. Since Reaper makes it harder to have the automation lanes just on the tracks like in that other DAW, mixing area selections between lanes and tracks should be avoided. Copying an item would take all its automation with it anyway, if "Envelope Points move with Media Items" is active.

Selections, now including space around items

You would be able to select not only an item, but also the space around it. This makes it easy to create an item of exact lengths on a grid, such as 1 minute or six bars. Simply select the area with your selection cursor and Glue, or Apply FX as New Take, or Render as New Take.

Before you probably had to insert empty items at each end what was to become the edge of your new item, and then glue them to a new item. With the selection cursor, those actions work in one step without all the laborious steps in-between.

So instead of this:

you can do this:

and get a new item spanning from 5.1 to 13.1 without workarounds.

How would current functions work on Area Selections ?

Includes the empty space or envelope graph without an envelope point on it.

Apply FX, Render Item as New Take, Glue
Works on the area, not just the item. Might complicate the take system. May need to produce not new takes, but only one new item from the area selection.

Would either not work at all with area selections, or more interestingly would trim the items that the area selection touches to the edge of the area selection. Think of it as a crop for one side of the area selection.

The easiest to imagine. Is basically what the trim-left + trim-right would do as suggested above.

Area selections could be used for defining fade-in/out and crossfades. Optionally it would only work on existing material and NOT extend anything out or contract it. Thus if an area selection does not include an edge of an item, no fade is performed on that item.

New functions only possible with Area Selection

You could paste an automation setting across an area in one step. Select the area, check your current settings (you'll probably have had to disengage some automation) and activate the action "Write current settings to all armed parameters in selected area".

Most of the standard commands applied to an area selection also qualify as new functions.

The function that creates four automation points, with two on each side, giving the user the ability to pull a section of the envelope down so to speak, could now be done without keyboard commands. Select an area of the automation and pull down any of the envelope points to create two new envelope points on each edge of the area selection. The inner envelope points are added to the selection and thus a section of the envelope is pulled down straight.

Areas can be selected for processing automation with functions such as interpolating from the envelope value on the left edge of the area selection to the value on the right edge(smoothing jumps out).

Fast and easy glue'ing across multiple tracks could be done much quicker.

Parts of items could be glue'ed in to new items very fast. Before you had to split, then glue.

Processing areas with plugins now becomes possible too, unless you want to glue the area first, then add an item-fx. Audiosuite-style processing is now an option, not only realtime stuff. Audiosuite-style stuff means plugins that have access to the audio of the entire selected area at once. Thus, things like pitch-bending is now possible(ala Soundforge), or much more clever time-compression/expansion and pitch-correction. All the things that couldn't be done real-time, can probably be done here.

====EDIT==== added idea for a possible implementation of area selection
Implementation idea for Area Selection in Reaper

This idea is a result of a discussion some of us had over region groups and shuffle modes. It then occured to me that Reaper has sufficient ways to select items that we could in fact have a mode that favors area selection over another part of the interface.

This part is the selecting of complete items with one mouse click.

The problem with having the upper half of the track responsible for area selection duties and the lower half with complete item selections, is that it can get quite difficult to hit the right part of item to do an area selection or complete item selection, as the tracks get smaller vertically.

So here's the idea.

Area Selection mode replaces only the left-click in the arrangement area. So how does the user select a complete item ? Double-click on the item. It's already an option to make a time selection instead of opening the item in an external editor, so making that the default would play right in to our hands for the area selection mode. The other way is to use the marquee, which still only selects complete items.

Some proposed rules for this area selection mode.
  1. Left MB Click places edit/play cursor just like before
  2. Left MB DOuble-Click makes an area selection of the complete item
  3. Extending the selection can happen in two ways:
    • Shift + Left MB click and drag will change the area selections edge that is closest
    • Shift + Left MB Double-Click on an item not yet completely selected will extend the selection to that item

I propose this as an addition to the existing FR, not as a replacement. User should be able to say "50/50 area/item select" or "70/30 area/item select" on how the track height is used. In any case, the above rules should apply whenever the area selection cursor is active in any case.

== edit 2011.03.17 added description of cursor-based editing for clarity ==

Originally Posted by koolkeys View Post
I know this gets brought up a lot, and I know the devs know about it. But I think it's one feature that people need to keep the pressure on for. I say this because it's a HUGE deal for editing.

People claim that Reaper is great with "audio editing". But until it gets area selection, it's just second rate at audio editing. And that's sad as there are so many GOOD things that can be done, even without it.

It's just such an essential feature for heavier editing, and honestly, it's one of those "you'll get some respect if you include it" type of features. So the more it can be brought up, the better, IMO.

All this is unfortunately quite true. It's a missing piece of the puzzle, and I for one prefer to do some jobs in Protools because of it.

The big thing is literally the blinking cursor, which behaves exactly like a cursor in a text editor, and it's only there if you use an area-selction-like cursor and click in to the track or item. The fade, edges and other zones take precedence of course, but the fact is that cursor-based editing has come to take over the show, and the enormous amount of votes, support and calls for this is a testament to this feature being more than a like-protools feature, but an established advance in editing. And Reaper kinda just left it by the wayside, thinking Vegas was actually as good with its feature set, so here we are now.

I edit and mix a lot in Protools, because I have to and because I like to as well. I miss a lot of Reaper perks and routinely curse at Protools for costing me time on simple things that Reaper just makes easy and fun.

But the fact is that most of the time, I'm left-clicking and perhaps ALT+left-clicking in Protools. The visual feedback is simple and unmistakable. Some keyboard shortcuts, and life is pretty simple even on complex jobs.

In Reaper it's neither of those. I need to use either outlandish modifier+mouse combos (ALT+right-click anyone?) or I can modify the mouse modifiers to do a left-click and drag make a time selection+item selection combo, which is visually ambiguous at the least.

The cursor-based editing, to expand the analogy, works with a few simple navigation commands, similar to using the cursor keys in a text editor. You can jump to the left or right to the edge of another item, move the cursor up or down to change tracks. That's four commands. You can hold SHIFT to make or modify selections with those keys. That's eight commands, but only five keys. Text editor. Trim left/right, fade in/out/x, zoom in and out, toggle-focus on an area selection. I snap a few items to the edit cursor here and there(Reaper's better at that though). And that's about my arsenal in editing. Any kid can learn those commands in 30 minutes, because being so simple by working a lot like a text editor makes it easy to grasp.

And who hasn't selected text before.

Here are some more perks. Take a look at this :

It's an equal-power crossfade, perfectly lined up. This was done in Reaper by :
  • making the trims([click to place, hit trim key] x 2)
  • clicking on the edge of item 1
  • using the marquee to select the item 2
  • hitting the appropriate fade key
  • clicking on the edge of item 2
  • using the marquee to select the item 1
  • hitting the appropriate fade key

In Protools with cursor-based editing and hopefully area selection in Reaper one day I would :
  • make the trims([click to place, hit trim key] x 2)

    Assuming I trimmed item 1 last(the upper one), the cursor is now at its right edge.
  • Cursor down (we're on the second track now)
  • Fade left
  • Cursor left
  • Cursor Up
  • Fade Right
That second method takes seven key presses that I do about 1000 times a day, the last five of which I pull off in less than a second. Would I rather do it with the mouse ? If I have a dozen items stacked that I need to give an exact same fade I might, but most of the time, no.

Could it be any simpler ?

Or how about selecting fades and changing fade types just with the keyboard. PT uses four keys to do the cursor-keys thing (UP=p LEFT=l DOWN=; RIGHT=') but also used the TAB and CTRL+TAB to do right and left cursor jumps. Thus you can one-handedly select stuff by holding the SHIFT key along with those combos and keep your right hand on the mouse.

So, imagine selecting the fade by jumping to the start of the fadeout on item 1, hold SHIFT and press TAB to select the area of the fade, then call up the fade editor/selector. In PT that fade selector has shortcuts too and thus any cursor-select fade or crossfade can be changed by stringing together a few keys. Changing from equal-power to linear fade is as simple as hitting CTRL+F, CURSOR DOWN, RETURN.

That's one less clumsy mouse-driven method I have to worry about for things I do over and over every day.

Also, much like the Block mode in Ultraedit(called the column mode in many other text editors), the cursor can be extended up or down by pressing SHIFT+up or down. That makes it quite easy to make fade ins and outs across items, as I often do with background tracks at scene transitions for example.

Simple, yet powerful, or would any of you rather use a text editor that only worked like Reaper does right now ?
Issue Details
Issue Type Elevated FR
Project Deprecated REAPER issue tracker
Category Editing behavior
Status Popular Request
Priority 1 - Highest
Suggested Version 3.04
Implemented Version (none)
Users who would use this feature 686
Users who would not use this feature 4
Assigned Users (none)
Tags (none)

06-16-2009 05:44 PM
Human being with feelings
wow - haven't had a chance to evaluate entirely, but the basic idea up front of having a way to select items and space would doubtless be useful.
06-16-2009 06:25 PM
Human being with feelings
+ 1 billion on this. The old school way of selecting is dated, slow and too old as we approach 2010. It's time to move on and advance forward. Non contiguous selecting like described above(which is a feature in Ardour)will have editors running to do their editing in REAPER...and I mean running. Just imagine the speed of work flow. Imagine how fast editing a dialog interview would go. Do non contiguous selecting as your listening with ripple editing on, auto crossfades on, and your editing will be done in one go. This is one of hundreds of work flow increases one can do with non contiguous selecting. Imagine an editor selecting all the areas for their manual fade ins, fade outs and xfades and then simply hitting "x" to invoke the fade/xfade action. We're talkin' early lunch breaks here. :D Imagine warp markers to transients under selections or split at transients under selections or beat detection markers under selections etc. The applications of this would shake the entire DAW world. Basically all editing actions that can be done under a regular "old school" selection would also apply to non contiguous selections. Time to bring editing to the next level in this 21st Century.

06-16-2009 07:32 PM
jas jas is offline
Human being with feelings
+1 Not to clutter this forum with redundancies, but this proposal is brilliant and comprehensive - selections should further be capable of being nudged, trimmed, and snapped at user quantifiable distances (whether the timeline is in beats, time, timecode, film footages and frames, or multiples of samples). These should be available in appropriate divisions of those time specifics via menu selection of range.
06-16-2009 10:27 PM
Human being with feelings
This one done right would be beyond brilliant, done wrong it would be utterly unusable. I guess my first thought would be that it doesn't have to be terribly complicated. It would be nice and simple if one could just go on selecting one area at a time if they didn't want to use this feature and have it work as always BUT if they did want to select more than one area they would just do simply that...much like I'm doing to the text as I type this by holding down the ctrl key as I select. :)

(try it while you're typing a post, it doesn't work on the already posted text)
06-17-2009 01:02 PM
Human being with feelings
Originally Posted by jas
+1 Not to clutter this forum with redundancies, but this proposal is brilliant and comprehensive - selections should further be capable of being nudged, trimmed, and snapped at user quantifiable distances (whether the timeline is in beats, time, timecode, film footages and frames, or multiples of samples). These should be available in appropriate divisions of those time specifics via menu selection of range.
Thanks Jas, those are the kind of details I missed at 4 am when I posted this. :)

One could also add that these types of selections could be used to define container objects and item groups (for items covered in their entirety by area selection).

Actions for selecting things this way could be :

Select from edit cursor to end/start of next item(including fade)
note: great for selecting an area for making fast crossfades.

Expand area selection to track beneath/above
note: this is brilliant for just expanding an area selection quickly

I'm sure there will be many great ideas for this.
06-24-2009 03:57 AM
Human being with feelings
I'd like to add that Area Selection would make for a nice way to invoke the Zoom-Toggle that SWS made for us.

You select stuff and the Zoom-Toggle would zoom in to display it as largely as it can onscreen, while minimizing all other tracks. Hit the Zoom-Toggle again and you return to the previous view of your session.

Area Selection is much more intuitive in most cases, as an area is exactly what you're zooming in to. Btw, that Zoom-Toggle would make a smashing native function as well. SWS can't make a Mac version of his extension yet, which in light of that exceptional workflow improvements it brings is a shame for the majority of users.
07-23-2009 06:57 AM
Human being with feelings
Originally Posted by Dstruct
That's one of Cubase's features that I really miss.
This FR goes beyond the Cubase selection method. I like it. Studio One allows this kind of random horizontal selection.

While Cubase's selection is vertically non-contiguous (you can skip over tracks up/down) it is locked as a horizontally contiguous selection. You can't select bars 1-3 and bars 5-6 without including bars 3-5.

So this is better. +1

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