Dolby Atmos® Improvements in Pro Tools | HD 12.8.2

By in Audio Post, Pro Mixing

Pro Tools 12.8.2 continues to improve and refine the Dolby Atmos® functionality first introduced this summer in Pro Tools | HD 12.8. Dolby Atmos is a scalable and adaptive immersive audio format which gives audio professionals a more powerful and creative toolset to place and move sound throughout a space. The Dolby Atmos integration in Pro Tools makes it easier for sound designers and editors to start working natively in Atmos earlier in the production process.

We’ve simplified the process of working with surround panners in Pro Tools on formats of LCRS and wider.  Previously, it was necessary to manage both the Front Position and the Rear Position controls independently, even if you wanted to perform a simple front to rear pan.

Now, all surround panners in Pro Tools include a Link switch which is enabled by default and gangs the Front and Rear panners for the Left/Right control. This is often referred to as 2-Knob panning –  the Front Knob (linked with Rear) and Front/Rear knobs operating in an Etch A Sketch style fashion offering simplicity in sound placement. Whether working with a control surface like the S6 or simply panning from the Pro Tools software, minimizing the number of encoders makes it more efficient to quickly place a sound within the surround space. And if you need to perform a diagonal move, for example from Front Left to Rear right, it’s simple to unlink the front and rear encoders.

The I/O Setup in Pro Tools now includes a feature which can greatly simplify the process of defining the Object and Bed paths required to work on a Dolby Atmos project. The Default Busses pop-up located within the Bus tab now offers an option called “Use Atmos Renderer” which uses the metadata from the Dolby Atmos® Renderer configuration to build, label and patch the appropriate Beds and Object busses. Whether the project contains multiple 7.1.2 beds for Music, Dialog and FX or a single 7.1.2 bed with 118 Objects, pressing Default with this option enabled automatically creates the correct number of Internal and Output busses to match the Dolby Atmos Renderer’s configuration. While creating new Object bus paths, Pro Tools automatically maps them to the correct Object ID’s from the renderer.

Pro Tools 12.8.2 adds a new feature to the panner window called Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation. When enabled, this option ignores the existing printed height automation data on the track and automatically generates new height information based on the chosen auto-height modes which include Wedge, Sphere or Ceiling. The Auto-Height modes are part of the Dolby Atmos system which changes the shape of the ceiling to match common architectural spaces allowing mixers to focus on the X and Y panning placement with the Z (height) being generated automatically. Sphere mode, for example, emulates a room with a domed ceiling, so as the X or Y coordinates travel toward the center of the room the Z gets gradually increased until it merges with the ceiling. Wedge mode is an example of a triangular vaulted ceiling.

Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation can be used by mix engineers to audition the various automatic height modes in real-time. Mixers can easily compare their written height automation performed in freeform mode with that generated automatically while in Wedge, Sphere or Ceiling modes to determine which is most appropriate for the scene. It’s also a great way to take an existing 5.1 or 7.1 mix and have Pro Tools automatically generate the height automation based on one of the three elevation modes. Once the mixer is satisfied with the placement of the panning automation for the scene, the panning can be committed using the Coalesce Pan Guide Automation option located under the Edit Menu.

Pro Tools | HD 12.8.2 adds several significant improvements to the existing Dolby Atmos workflows for sound designers, editors and mixers. It improves the overall efficiency of working in this truly compelling immersive audio format.

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Jeff is a 18 year veteran of the Avid product specialist team focusing on professional audio products. He is a musician, engineer and technician who enjoys helping creative people navigate the flux of technology. He has played a key role in many high-level demonstrations for Avid at industry events in the US and around the world. Jeff has been instrumental in helping major facilities to optimize their workflow by integrating solutions from Avid.