What’s New in Reaper Version 5? (Justin Frankel Interview – Part 2)

David: So, good news for all of you Reaper users out there, version five is about to bust! It’s coming!

So Justin, tell us about what’s new in version five, and let’s start with that.

Justin: Um, well, something that people requested is VCA groups. It’s a group of tracks with each other, which Reaper already does, but in this case, having the volume of one track affect the volume of other tracks.

You can have tracks be members of multiple groups, and tracks be masters to multiple groups as well, and you can then apply the volume information from one track to another, and the pan as well.

We’ve improved the video support in Reaper substantially, so you can — it’s better in pretty much every way, but you can actually now use Reaper as a video editor, and we have a user scriptable video effects processing, which we’re not becoming a video editor, but having these capabilities is interesting as video becomes better and better, and also people do a lot of scoring to film and to TV, so it’s good to have these capabilities.

David: That sounds like a great feature. Obviously, being able to integrate video and audio and actually get creative with it is better if you have an all-in-one environment, that’s going to be a real benefit.

Justin: The other thing we’ve added is VST3 support, which is a nice thing, it’s a more modern API, so in theory, plug-ins should be more compatible. People are still using VSTs from the late 90’s, which some of these can cause issues.

Also supports sample accurate automation, which is nice. We’ve also added sample accurate automation support to our own sort of built-in, scriptable plug-ins for parity.

We’ve improved the ability to have take effects — so individual items in Reaper you can put effects processing, and this is not a new feature, but now you can automate them and use the parameter modulation on them as well, which is something we only supported before on track effects, but now it’s sort of just rounding out the feature set there.

We’ve been working on a new theme, and it has a bunch of new layouts, so for example, if you want your tracks to be larger for on a tablet, it supports that, or smaller so you can cram more on the screen, all sorts of things in between there.

David: Right. Well I think that makes a huge difference. An upgrade in the way the information is presented visually in a DAW will make a difference to it’s users, which is an interesting thing. Do you think about that? Does DAW use promote looking at your music, which many people have an issue with?

Justin: Well, I think whether or not it does, I think the thing you end up looking at all day when you’re working on making material probably does have an effect on what it is you produce.

David: You were talking about the status of the DAW market in 2004, 2005 when Reaper was new.

Flash forward to now, 2015, has it gotten better or has it gotten worse?

Justin: I think it has gotten better. I think the price of DAWs like Logic have gone down, but that’s probably due to Apple more than anything having a lot of money, but Pro Tools now you can run with third-party hardware.

Things have gotten better, I would definitely say. In every way, every aspect.

David: The way you described Cockos to me was a company that wants to produce the best of things without being concerned about bottom line, basically. About business deals, and that type of thing.

What happens when a company can operate like that?

Justin: So, we haven’t grown, which is kind of counter to the way most companies run. Most companies run and they want to grow and they want to do more things and spend more money so that they can earn more money and do more things, and so there’s this expectation of growth, and we haven’t done that, largely because I don’t personally want to have to deal with more people and telling people what to do, which I’m terrible at doing, and managing people, and just doing all of these jobs that are not really about what we’re doing.

So I’ve always tried to keep things as small and as simple as possible, and as a result, it’s a viable business.

David: Do you think that’s part of what makes Reaper different? I know you set out for it to be different. What really stands out for you in that respect?

Justin: I think there are sort of three big, big things.

The first is that it’s a lot more modern than a lot of DAWs. It was started decades after some of them, so we’ve had the ability of — or the advantage of having a lot more processing power and a lot more resources on the computers that are running it.

So there’s that. The other thing — two things I would say are that we are not motivated at all by money, really. We want to have money, we want to have enough money so that we can pay for things and so that we can provide this DAW to our users, but we’re never going to add copy protection, we’re never going to do things that would ultimately compromise the user experience.

You know, if you have to use a dongle with your software, it’s a compromise. It’s a compromise for the user. The user is — at some point, inevitably is going to be inconvenienced by that, and sometimes that inconvenience is a big deal.

If you’re using it for a live show, it’s a big deal to have one more thing that can go wrong. The third thing is that we’ve always been focused on making Reaper accessible and configurable, so early on, we made it theme-able, so that you could customize the appearance.

We’ve now made it very scriptable, so you can write scripts to do more advanced things we haven’t actually programmed Reaper to do.

So users can write scripts in Python and Lua and another scripting language of our own, so if they want to manipulate projects and envelopes, they can do that. If they want to create Macros, simple things, they can do that very easily without even programming, just by dragging and dropping different actions together.

So on all of these different levels, we’ve given the ability to the user to go and customize it to their heart’s content.

Having said that, you don’t need to. I don’t really do that. I use it as it is, and it’s great, but for the people who really want to make it something of their own, they can.

David: Right. So people can get under the hood with Reaper, and just go.

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