This One Goes to 11: Audio Engineer Kris Siegers Digs into Feature-Rich Pro Tools Release

By in Audio Post, Music Creation, Pro Mixing

I had seen Pro Tools in action during a recording session a few months before the release of version 5.0.1 and could not believe it was possible to manipulate audio in such extreme ways.  As a musician, it inspired me to spend every waking moment learning Pro Tools. Often, I stayed up way too late reading posts on the DUC (now Avid Pro Audio Community). In 2000, I purchased a Digi 001 interface and built a custom PC to run Pro Tools… but I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know where to plug in the mouse or even how to hook up the 001.

Recently, I was lucky to be part of the Avid Beta Team for Pro Tools 12.8.2.  To work with such talented developers and product managers was incredible. The team listens and is committed to giving end users the features and functionality they need.

12.8.2 has sped up my workflow and literally saved my company Space Cabin Audio DAYS of time.  There are so many new featuresunheard of in a dot releaseyou’ll be thrilled by the value they add.

Let’s look at my favorite ones.

Kris Siegers’s Top 10 11 Pro Tools Features

1. Batch rename clip feature (new for 12.8.2)

Here, we see a track with thousands of clips.  This is zoomed out, so it looks like a bunch black lines, but the clips are there.  Not only are they there, they need to be renamed in a very specific way.

The new batch rename feature is a game changer for our workflow at Space Cabin Audio.  Having the ability to quickly find, replace, and trim names, as well as add prefixes, suffixes, or even insert at a index is remarkable.  We can save pre-sets for common renaming procedures and the use of Regular Expressions (custom scripts) for difficult renaming jobs saves even more time. In fact, we no longer use bulky 3rd party applications to manage this.

2. Edit Pitched Tracks to New Key

I never see this feature discussed, but it’s one I routinely use for inspiration.

How many times have you written something you think is amazing, spend all night working on it, and then the next day, realize you hate it?  Don’t waste all that time.  Now, you can see how it sounds in a different key.  You can change it from major to minor. The possibilities are endless.  As long as it’s MIDI, you can change it however you wish!

To do this, simply add a key change at the start of the session using the key ruler and choose edit pitched tracks.

 

3. Left and Right Arrow Keys for tab and select notes (New to 12.8.2)

This is another sleeper feature that the Avid developers included.  Simply use the left and right arrow keys to tab to and select the next or previous note.  Also, in keeping with Pro Tools editing methods, you can use the SHIFT + Arrow keys to tab to and select multiple notes!  This allows you to move forwards or backwards to select them.

 

4. Power Claw to Enable Automation

This feature will save you hours while mixing.  Simply hold CONTROL + START + ALT (Windows) or CONTROL + OPTION + COMMAND (Mac) on any automatable parameter in Pro Tools.  Then, select enable automation.  Stop using those pesky drop-down menus to find the parameter you want!

 

5. Power Claw Minus One to Show Automation Lane

If you think #4 improves your workflow, wait until you use this.  Once you enable Automation using the Power Claw, simply remove one finger and reveal the automation lane!  Holding the Power Claw, release the ALT Key (Windows) or the OPTION Key (Mac) and click on the parameter you wish to show in the track view.  This expedites the automation workflow so much, you just might wonder what you were doing before you knew it existed.

 

6. Commit up to this Insert

Sometimes, you may want to commit virtual instruments or vocal tuning to an audio file, but keep all post processing available.  To take advantage of this, right click on an insert. Commit the selected plug-in to an audio file and Pro Tools will create a new audio track without the committed plug-in, but leave the other plug-ins available.  Amazing!

 

7. Control + Click (Windows) Command + Click (Mac) to show send faders

To show a group of send faders to adjust your mix, simply click on the very left side of the send while holding CONTROL (Windows) or COMMAND (Mac).

8. Copy Mix to Sends

If you’ve left the analog world behind, you might miss making headphone mixes on a console.  Well, Pro Tools makes that easier than ever!  The key command CONTROL + ALT + H (Windows) or COMMAND + OPTION + H (Mac) allows you to copy your mix to any active sends.

To do this, add your sends to the tracks you wish to send to the headphone amplifier.  Now, select the tracks.  Use the key command SHIFT + ALT (Windows) or SHIFT + OPTION (Mac) and click the pre- fader button on the sends.  Now, hit CONTROL + ALT + H (Windows) or COMMAND + OPTION + H (Mac) and choose your desired options.

9. Record Enable in the MIDI Editor! (new to 12.8.2)

To some, this might seem like a small feature.  To others, they have probably wondered why it was not there before.  This is a great new feature that has sped up my workflow.  I am a one screen editor as I find that multiple screens slow me down.  This allows me to stay in the MIDI editing window and never leave if I don’t want!

 

10. EQ3 Bandpass and Invert

I cannot work without this feature.  It’s so simple and was launched in Pro Tools 6.7 when EQIII was released.  Hold SHIFT + START + Click (Windows) or SHIFT + CONTROL + Click (Mac) on either a frequency band or a Q and instantly solo that band!

To invert the bands, boost or cut, click the frequency gain knob while holding SHIFT.

And one extra for good luck!!

 

11. MIDI Merge

This is a little-known keyboard shortcut in Pro Tools.  Often, I have MIDI parts on separate tracks to make editing easier.  The kick will be one MIDI track. The snare will be another. The hi-hats will be yet another, etc.  They all feed the same VI.

After I am done editing, I put these on one MIDI track for proper export or session organization. To do this, select the MIDI you wish to merge and copy it.  Move your selection to the destination track using the P or ; key and use the keyboard shortcut ALT + M (Windows) or OPTION + M (OSX).  This will merge the copied MIDI to the destination track keeping the previous MIDI while adding the new MIDI information to that track.

Being a beta tester for Avid has shown me how much work and dedication goes into creating such an expansive product.  Now, go enjoy all the new features and make some great music.

Cheers!

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Kris Siegers is a professional recording engineer and a Pro Tools educator for over 10 years. With almost 15 years in the industry, Siegers has worked on projects for companies such as Disney Technology, Universal Music, Universal Films, Lions Gate Films, Hallmark, 604 Records, and many more. Recently, Siegers opened Space Cabin Audio, a progressive music software company created for the sole purpose of raising the expectations in the virtual instrument industry. Their first release, Galaxy Drums, launched in July of 2017.