TuneTracker™ QuickTip

Cue Markers...TuneTracker's "Sec Tones"

Back in the "olden days" of tape cartridges, a "cue tone" was applied to recordings at the point where you wished your recording to trigger the start of whatever audio event would follow it. Also called a "secondary tone, or a "sec tone," the cue tone was applied over the final one second of the recording, or over the last syllable of the announcement being recorded to the cartridge. You applied the tone by hitting a big blue "sec tone" button the cart machine in real time, as it was being recorded to the cart.

The cue tone had an interesting characteristic. It not only triggered the next automation event, but it would cause the automation to overlap the audio of the current cut with what followed it, for as long as the sec tone was applied. So if, as you were recording a cart, you held the blue button down during the final four seconds of the recording, that's how long the recording would overlap with what came next.

The cue tone approach could be called a "brute force transition," because it caused it caused an overlap at full volume by a prescribed length of time without regard for what the next event was, or whether the length of the overlap would sound good over the air. For that reason, they had to be used very conservatively.

In the digital age, that's history. In the TuneTracker System there are a variety of more subtle and artistic ways you can cause segues to occur, but starting with AutoCast 4.1, we've added something akin to the old brute force cue tone, because it can serve a very useful purpose!

The "Cue" attribute lets you set the number of seconds that a cut will overlap with what's next, without regard for what the next event is. What's it especially useful for? Sweepers! A sweeper is a transitional element containing a station's call letters and/or slogan, along with awe-inspiring synth effects, often ending with a swishy "swoosh" that leads back into music. Because synth swooshes tend to be mostly musically-neutral white noise, they don't sound bad overlapping with the intro of a song. So it's not inconceivable that you could mark a cue value that allows for an overlap of as much as five or six seconds. That's where the Cue feature really shines. You'll need to use your own artistic judgement about how much of the sweeper's tail is low enough volume and impact to avoid sounding like a collission.

You're not limited to whole seconds either. As with all of AutoCast's transition elements, you can be as "Mr. Monk" as you like when setting the Cue length, down to the thousandth of a second. Definitely more accurate than the old "punch the blue button" approach!

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