The Evolution of an Engineer: How Pro Tools Propels Mike Avenaim’s Career

By in Music Creation, Pro Mixing

We live in an incredibly fast-paced world where everything needs to happen immediately, usually without warning. To succeed, it’s critical to stay on top of all the moving parts in an efficient and professional manner. So… how do you make sure you’re prepared? When I think about all the work I do as a music director, musician, engineer, producer and composer, the one constant is Pro Tools.

Initially, Pro Tools seemed like a big giant. I had heard stories of people being overwhelmed, which made me never want to attempt to learn it. However, it was always something I felt was necessary if I was going to be a respected professional. After recording drums on the Pro Tools 12 campaign, I decided to face my demons. To my surprise, Pro Tools was user-friendly, approachable and very playful. Here’s the thing: It’s not a secret that Pro Tools is the most widely used DAW in the world. It’s the universal language of digital music creation. Every major studio I’ve ever walked into uses Pro Tools or has a stack of 192s, HD I/O—you name it­—Avid is always in the building. But… I didn’t feel that I could benefit from all that Pro Tools had to offer because I didn’t have any of that hardware or a large studio. I was wrong. Once I made the switch, plenty of opportunities came my way.

Here are some examples:

I recently worked on the opening segment of the Radio Disney Music Awards with Auli’i Cravalho, Alessia Cara, and Jordan Fisher. The segment included re-arranging and additional programming of music from the movie “Moana”.  There was a huge time crunch on this project. To get started, I requested printed stems. What I received was another matter: a GIANT Pro Tools session from the original dub session for the film. Now, let’s analyze this: If I didn’t have Pro Tools at that time, I would have been stuck trying to figure out how I was going to retrieve these files. Fortunately, I had Pro Tools, so I simply opened the session and grabbed what I needed to move forward. Functions such as “Commit”, “Offline Bounce/Commit”, “Tab to Transient”, “Insert Time” and “Clip Gain” are just a few of the features I used to complete this project. Nearly every session I ever work on requires at least one, if not all, of these features.

This is just one example of what happens to me every day, whether it is for a major TV spot like this one, or a large live performance. The two questions I’m most asked are always, “Do you work in Pro Tools?” and “Can I just send you the session?” I can’t stress how much time this saves me and how many jobs I’ve landed as a result.

Being able to immediately send sessions to major producers/engineers without the need to bounce anything down is a huge benefit. I’m recording most days in my studio and I generally don’t have the time to print every single track. Instead, I just send the entire session people I’m working with and they can immediately open it where I left off. If they’re working in a current version of Pro Tools, we can make this happen via “Cloud Collaboration”.

Another feature I use all the time is “Comments” on tracks. I’ll generally leave notes so that anyone opening the session can read them and know exactly what I was going for. This is a HUGE advantage in the world of remote sessions.

I could go on forever, but I think you get the point. Pro Tools has had an extreme impact on me in this business. It’s allowed me to grow as an engineer and deliver top-notch work to every client, no matter what the medium.. The straightforward Pro Tools GUI allows for extremely accurate editing and because of this, I’m able to deliver work that makes me feel proud of every project. After all, we are making art. No matter what it is, we should always be proud of it.

So, go get Pro Tools. Join in the standard of Audio Production. It may take you a minute to get over your previous DAW habits, but in the long run, you won’t regret it.

P.S. Once you get it – let’s make music via Cloud Collaboration!

 

Here are a few really short tutorials of my top 10 most-used functions. These particular shortcuts seriously speed up my workflow and help keep the creative juices flowing.

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Sydney-born Mike Avenaim is a drummer, music director, audio engineer and producer. He’s toured with Jorge Blanco, Emblem3, Scott Weiland, Troy Harley, and Zella Day and has appeared on such shows as: Last Call With Carson Daly, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Good Morning America, The View, Hey Hey It's Saturday and The Arsenio Hall Show. Avenaim is the current Music Director for a various Hollywood Records artists as well as multiple independent acts.