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Folder Tracks in Audio Post

In this blog I want to look at a few ways we might utilize Folder Tracks in audio post production workflows to help better manage and simplify the increasingly large and complex sessions.

The areas I want to have a first look at are dealing with sessions with higher track counts and clear sections or type of audio, then using folder tracks to speed up sound design and finally dealing with the large amounts of incoming media and versions.

Before we jump into the examples, I wanted to very quickly mention as we develop a new feature, we work hard take advice from a variety of Pro Tools users across all areas of the industry.

This is partly the reason for the two folder track types Basic and Routing– but it’s also why we allow users to route the audio without restriction in the methods they are familiar with – even while using folders.

This is important because in audio post production, for instance a source or auxiliary bus may feed multiple mix versions, frequently including music and effect mixes.
Another great example of this might be in a session for Atmos where you have many object tracks which have their own output, but you would like to group those objects together.

Folders have no restrictions that prevent their use in these cases – which makes them super powerful organizational tools.

In this Dolby Atmos session even with Micro Track Height it's not possible to see all the tracks without scrolling but with folder tracks we have an overview and can open folders as needed

An obvious use for folders would be to sort your session into more manageable sections. Existing sessions can be updated easily using the Convert Aux to Routing Folder function.

 

Converting Auxiliaries to Folders

Often engineers will be working from a well establish template, but they can get large and complex, so let’s look at how would go about converting a session or template to add the folder functionality to simplify operation.

In the following example, the session has been split into Narration, Dialog, Music, Atmospheres, Foley, Effects for mixing. However, by organizing them in these folders it makes even larger sessions easier to see all at once and allow you to focus on the section you are working on at any given time.

To convert what was an auxiliary into a folder, simply right click and select “Convert Aux to Routing Folder”. This will change the Aux to a Routing folder but retain all the bussing, plugins and other track properties. You can then take the associated tracks and simply drop them into that folder. Additionally, you can use the reverse bus interrogation feature “show only assignments to” which will then display only the tracks already assigned to that Aux. This is very powerful when you’re modifying an existing template or updating an existing session.

Right Click on an Auxiliary to convert to a Routing Folder

Repeating this for all the main Auxiliaries in the session gives us a much cleaner overview of the session.

Session before and after converting the Auxiliaries to Routing Folders and placing associated tracks in the folders

Given that routing folders have the same functionality as an Auxiliary, you can still easily freeze, commit and use as bounce sources when providing stems.

Using Folder tracks to keep your Audio Building blocks

In Sound design use, you might keep a more complex arrangement of effects or building blocks in a folder. This way the whole arrangement can be moved, copied and pasted together, but the folder can also be opened to tweak levels or timing of individual elements as required.

In this way it makes it easy to select a group of sounds and place it later in the timeline for a repeating graphic effect or visual. In this example I have a small piece of sound design I made for an Avid Logo. Rather than simply placing the audio on tracks labelled ‘SFX’ for example as I might have previously keeping the specific tracks in a folder, I can see the individual items from the folder overview.

By using the shortcut or clicking on the folder Icon I can see the folder contents and make small timing and level adjustments as needed.

Duplicating and nudging a basic arrangement of SFX using a folder

Using Folder Tracks to organize material

In audio post production you often get updates to pictures and AAF files. Being able to keep these files in named folders and have a single control to mute them allows you to keep a record of changes as you work through your session in a compact but easily recallable way.

As Video tracks can also be added to folders, a nice idea might to be keep previous picture versions safely tucked away in a basic folder in case you need to refer to them again at a later stage.

You can import an AAF or other material into a specific folder by selecting it before import. The tracks will import into that selected folder.

AAFs stored in muted Basic Folder closed

AAFs Stored in muted Basic Folder open

Once in a folder I have very quick controls to mute, solo, delete and make inactive for example if required, a group of information that I might only need occasionally.

These are just a few ideas as I thought about how I would apply this new feature to my work, attempting to make my workflow in audio post production more efficient. I hope you find this new addition to Pro Tools as helpful as I do.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Pro Tools 2019 Supports 4K Video and Higher Frame Rates

The October release of Pro Tools 2019 supports 4K video resolutions and higher frame rates, enabling better frame reference accuracy and smooth collaboration with video editorial.

 

Higher resolutions and frame rates are becoming more common

As ultra-high-quality, 4K content creation becomes more commonplace it is important that Pro Tools is capable of easily accepting a wide range of video formats, frame rates and sizes, and thus remaining a smooth part of audio post production workflows.

With compatibility for higher resolution video and higher frame rates, these improvements enable smoother, more efficient collaboration between editorial and sound mixing with less time-consuming conversion or transcoding. Plus, the flexibility to select rates and resolutions independently, and work with non-standard video sizes, is critical to support a range of projects such as web-based video, gaming, or new formats that become popular in the future.

 

Support for higher frame rates

The latest version of Pro Tools 2019 introduces support for a much wider range of timeline frame rates. Previously, Pro Tools had a maximum of 30fps on the Main Timecode Counter, which required the user to choose half frames or another grid value to accurately display the video frames above 30fps. This was an issue in certain parts of the industry such as gaming, where these frame rates are used.

With the new improvement users are able to easily reference current frame rates accurately in the timeline and no longer need to perform additional video frame rate conversion when using these formats in Pro Tools. Furthermore, enhanced frame rate support provides for future formats as they become more readily used in production. This also means your main counter frame grids can match the actual frame rate of the video file.

Session Frame Rate Selection

Main Timecode Count with 3-digit fps display

1 frame Audio Clip at 30/60/120fps with 30fps Session/Grid

1 frame Audio Clip at 30/60/120fps with 120fps Session/Grid

Support for higher video resolutions, including 4K

A video raster (or “size”) refers to the file’s resolution. Previously, Pro Tools did not support 30fps 1080p or multiples of that.

With this release Pro Tools now supports 4k resolution—in alignment with Avid’s video editing software Media Composer. Pro Tools will recognize standard formats when adding those video clips to the timeline making them easy to identify. And it will have the ability to play clips outside those standard recognized formats. This means while commonly identified formats will be selected automatically, users will also be able to select and play back rasters that may be required for non-standard video sizes, such as web based or installation video, or new rasters that become popular in the future.

The Video track now displays the frame rate and raster size independently, rather than fixed settings of frame rates and size.

Previous – fixed raster and frame rate settings

Pro Tools 2019 – Independent control of raster and frame rate settings

Improvements to H.264 Playback and Performance

 Additionally, we have developed our own decoding for H.264 files which enables us to deliver smoother, more stable playback and performance without directly using 32-bit QuickTime APIs.

H.264, while extremely popular for its relatively good quality versus file size and wide playback device support, can be a difficult codec to playback smoothly in an editorial environment. This is partly because the many different possible encoders but also the way in which the frames and information are organized in the file itself. For example, it doesn’t lend itself well to nudging, scrubbing and shuttling. However, this release delivers much improved the performance of this important codec.

It’s worth keeping in mind larger raster and Frame Rate files and potentially more CPU intensive codecs will mean performance will be dependent on the host computer, disk speeds and video hardware.

As a general rule having high demand video files on a separate drive is recommended and there are several third-party tools to verify if disks have sufficient performance for various video rasters and codecs.

 

To learn more about the October release of Pro Tools 2019, please visit www.avidblogs.com/pro-tools-2019-fall

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Pro Tools: Track Presets for Audio Post – Working With Playlists

Building Up Atmospheres with Track Presets and Playlists

In post production we are often up against tough deadlines and anything that can help speed up the process is a very welcome addition to the process. Using, in this case, two Pro Tools features together, with a little preparation, we can make atmosphere creation and take management much more streamlined.

A time-consuming part of track laying for a film, documentary, or commercial can be to create atmospheres. With track presets you can save multiple layers of atmospheres, for example you could save a track preset for city environments looped with differing locations on each playlist.

If you are regularly working on a TV series or documentary you could name these for each location used so that once you have sonically built that scene you can have those grouped atmospheres ready to go immediately as the series goes on.

As new edits and episodes come in you can use recently introduced playlist functionality to select the length of the scene or shot and then cycle though the different atmospheres you have prepared on the other playlists. Simply, use the new shortcuts for playlists and then apply a batch fade you already prepared in the fade presets.

Cycle playlists inside edit selections using the following shortcuts.

Command + Shift + Up/Down Arrow (Mac)
Control + Shift + Up/Down Arrow (Win)

Cycle Audio Within Edit Selection

 

VO Recording

You can also use track presets with playlists for VO or narration recording. You could pre-name playlists to make take management more streamlined. For example, name alternate playlists Take 1-5 and favorite target playlist. Then as you are recording and reviewing you can keep audio organized and easily accessible for playback whenever you or a director need to listen to those available options.

Simply right click to copy or send an audio region to the designated playlist. Then, as the other production teams members want to review, it’s a simple case of just cycling through your playlists using the following shortcuts.

Shift + Up/Down Arrow (Mac & Win)

Cycle Playlists on Selected Track

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Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Pro Tools: Track Presets for Audio Post – Embedded Media

When working in post production an almost inevitable part of your workflow will be to import or create audio elements that will be used multiple times across sessions as the project continues, be it in Film, TV or advertising.

As can also save media with your track presets, meaning that any commonly used asset (e.g. intro music, title effects, stings and common VO elements) can be saved in your track preset, cataloged, and recalled in your sessions whenever you need them.

To save media with a track preset just select the Include Media tick box when saving the track preset. You can ensure you don’t unintentionally save more media than intended by restricting the included media to the clips in the current edit selection.

This will be helpful if there is other, out-of-sight media down the timeline that you don’t want to retain in your preset. Once you have stored your track presets with media, it’s easy to recall those elements into any session you might need them in the future.

One advantage of saving a FX arrangement in their separated form is that if the graphic changes you can easily retime as needed.

 

Creating SFX Picker Tracks

You can also use Track Presets to create SFX picker tracks. Save and catalog your go-to whooshes, swishes, and rumbles – and quickly recall them and add them to your project along with plugins and sends you use regularly.

Certainly, after going though thousands of different options I generally land back at the same 100 or so whooshes which I then modify to suit the particular spot I’m working on, so rather than searching and remembering, or cataloging in the workspace I can add them to a track preset called “Whooshes.” This makes it easy to import my favorite effects and means I can audition them in my session without going between multiple windows, as well as being able to locate with markers I saved along with the Track Preset.

If you find another sound or effect you can update your track preset quickly, with the naming automatically filling from other names in the track preset category you are currently in.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Pro Tools: Track Presets for Audio Post — Sub-Templates

Pro Tools improvements are released much more regularly now and there is plenty of new time saving features applicable to post production work flows.

Track Presets enable you to have a quick way to store and recall tracks or groups of tracks into your session.

In this blog series we are going to look at some ways of using track presets in post production workflows. The first idea I want to look at is what I’m referring to as “sub-templates”, that is to use track presets as part of your template workflow but with more flexibility.

Many engineers have complex templates that they’ve honed over the years. Templates range from being more broadly related to a show type or genre but are sometimes specific a particular show. And while these templates are a massive time saver and provide a fantastic starting point, templates can also be large and cumbersome to manage.

In terms of DSP and computer power, they may require hands on management of hidden and inactive tracks and plugins. And they can be big files that are slow to open and the multitude of unneeded tracks can be visually difficult to navigate.

Track presets enables you to split up those large templates in smaller more manageable groups. Rather than trying to create an all-inclusive template, you can use track presets to design your own “modular” workflow.

Converting a large template to a group of track presets is straight forward. Simply open your template and select each group of tracks and save them as appropriate names in a category for that template, that might be by session type or for a specific show you work on.

Because you can drag-and-drop (or right-click and import) an entire folder of track presets directly into Pro Tools, you can still use your previous template in its entirety, if needed. Simply, right click on the folder and import track presets to the session.

The benefit of saving track presets, or your sub-templates in this in this way is that you can easily bring in just the tracks you require for that project.

For example, you might have a TV advertisement template that is split into groups such as, VO, Dialog, Atmos, Foley, Music, SFX, Masters, and so on. However, you may not need all these groups in every session. So, you can start with, say, VO, Music, and Masters Track Presets. Then you can add some SFX later, as needed.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Track Presets in Pro Tools

Pro Tools 2018 introduces deep, multi featured Track Presets, giving you the ability to save everything from your favorite effects chains, sends and output routing, and even embedded MIDI and audio.

The ability to recall Track Presets will speed up your workflow so you can concentrate on being creative and not get bogged down in mundane tasks.

So let’s get into this exciting feature.

Some of you will be aware there has been a ‘work-around’ of sorts for some time that allowed you to create a Track Preset and I have been asked in the past why we wouldn’t simply make that an official feature.  But, over this blog and the accompanying video you will see why taking the time to build this feature right, with lots of customer feedback throughout the process, results in something much more comprehensive, reliable, flexible and well supported.

Track Presets, enables you to save tracks or groups of tracks as presets, and then recall in multiple ways to speed up your workflow.

Let’s first look at how we make a Track Preset.

Once you have a track you want to save as a Track Preset, you can either right click on the track name plate, select from the track menu or use the shortcuts.

 

Option Shift P on Mac

Alt Shift P on Windows

Save Tracks Presets from the Track, Track Menu or shortcuts

This opens a dialog where you are able to name your Track Preset, and choose which category to save it in, or make a new one. You can also decide to include audio and MIDI clips with your Track Preset, which we will look at a little more later, but defaults to unselected as to reduced large amounts of unintended data being saved.

The tagging feature, introduced several Pro Tools versions, ago is now even more useful as the Track Presets can also be searched by tag.

The Tags allow you to add tags to make your presets easier to find later on. There is also an auto-tag feature that uses information about the track data to tag Name, track type, plugins and plugin categories.

Save your Track Preset and options from the new Save Track Preset Dialog

To recall the Track Presets you can choose one from the new track dialog, or use the workspace to search by the tags, name of the preset. You can drag and drop the presets into your session from the new Tracks Preset Category in the Workspace, or right click and use the import Track Preset option.

Access Track Presets from the New Tracks Dialog

Search quickly and manage your Track Presets easily in the new Track Presets Location in Workspace.

When you save a Track Preset it also stores large amount of information about the track, such as, automation, sends, plugins and their associated settings, data about the original session and much more including clips if you choose, however you are able to decide which parameters you want to recall on a case by case basis.

You can save the range parameters you want to quickly recall in the 5 presets in the top of the Workspace Window. The options of what to include are able to be selected and recalled the following time for each Preset, but as the original Data is kept you can up update this at any stage.

Choose which Track Data you want to recall at anytime

I’m sure there are as many good ideas of how to use this feature as there are Pro Tools users, let’s have a look at a couple of ways to use this.

There are some immediately obvious cases like storing your favorite setup for important session elements like vocals or dialog that you may need to quickly recall. As all the plugins are also -optionally- recalled, as are sends, this means you can add fully prepared tracks into new sessions for immediate use without having to use a template or the import session data options.

Some others that come to mind for me are, in music situations, to be able save for easy recall complicated virtual instruments setups, like drums, using multiple outputs to tracks with appropriate plugins and sub busses, so you can begin creating straight away, even in a session you weren’t intending to use that plugin or plugin series.

Quickly add complex AOS Virtual Instruments in one step

As the Track Presets can also contain clips you can use track presets to also keep an idea in progress or patterns that you commonly use to be recalled, and when used with force to timebase will ensure they are in time/sync with your current session, even if they came from a session of a different Tempo.

Keep and easily recall MIDI and Audio ideas

Remember this isn’t only MIDI data but also Audio Data so if you have a favorite loop, or prefer to use Audio based clicks or reference audio they can also be saved as Track Presets.

The great thing about the optional data import functionality is that if you do want to import one of your presets without some of the previously saved data you can easily do that when recalling one of the presets by holding the Control key on Mac or Start key on Windows.

A good example of this would be when you have created a drum or click track with media, but on some occasions, you don’t want to bring in those audio or MIDI clips, another might be if you didn’t want to assign the previous input and output assignments.

In Post Production, I can see many opportunities to use this new feature to speed up my workflow so I can concentrate on being creative, not managing tracks.

From simple, 2 pip tracks, sorting the assets for a television or TV Commercial series, but what I’m really excited about making is some SFX picker tracks, for example, a whoosh select track that will have the whooshes I often use as the basis for warping or effecting to suit the piece I’m working on.

Manage frequently used elements with ease

I also plan to create what I think I’ll call sub templates in my Track Presets so that I can easily add more complicated groups of tracks to sessions as I go rather than starting with an attempted, all inclusive, template. Essentially splitting up what would have been in one large template before into more manageable groups of tracks using Track Presets.

There are quite a few benefits building up to suit your project rather than just starting with a very large complicated template, visually of course its tidier and easier to manage, and tidy up later but also it means you aren’t using any voices or system processing power be it native or DSP unnecessarily or having to manage many hidden or inactive tracks.

In my post work, I have built several large templates to try and cover most eventualities but using these often hundred tracks or more session as a starting point does means many unused tracks, especially because the media I receive via AAF more strongly dictates how I proceed that the template itself.

If I have very basic starting template like a session with some Master Meter plugins I can then have my other track or specific content type tracks as Track Presets, so that if I need a set of SFX tracks or Sync Tracks, their associated busses and effects I can bring those in as needed rather than starting with them all in the session.

Build and manage large sessions easily with sub templates.

In music sessions, this could be as simple as having Track Presets for various instrument types and only importing them if they are actually required for that song or artist.

This gives you an absolutely huge range of detailed options for extremely fast recall, while keeping your session minimal and well managed. Some examples might be to have 4, 5, or 6 Piece Drum Sets, Mic’d Bass or DI Bass, or both, Stereo Keys, Mono Keys for example, so that only have to bring in the tracks to suits that session.

You might think I’m getting about ready to wrap up this blog, but wait, there is more, and a great example of why when building a new feature, it is worth taking some time to fully develop it.

Everything I have mentioned up until now is about bring new tracks into a session, but we all know that so often we begin work creatively on a track be it in music or post we aren’t entirely sure what it will become and need to add plugins or sends to that track, not bring in a new track then move all the media to that.

The way in which these Track Presets have been designed allows us to use all the data in the saved track, or just parts of it.

Maybe you have already guessed it but this means Track Presets, as, Plugin Chain Presets!

Recall plugin chains directly from the inserts

I have several sets of plugin chains, both Avid and 3rd party, with some basic settings, that I commonly use and can’t wait to be able to right click on the insert point and recall my favourite set of trusty plugins. The same applies for sends.

Another important thing to remember, like almost all Pro Tools functions you can also use “Do to all” or “Do to selected” to perform the same action across multiple tracks. This means you can easily make multiple plugin, sends to a reverb, or output/bus assignments to, or from, a Track Preset. This means that in one step you can make a new sends from multiple tracks to your favorite Reverb, already on an aux bus in one step, using “Do To Selected” and selecting your Reverb Track Preset from the send selector on one of the tracks.

Add sends or outputs to your favorite auxes with plugins faster than ever before.

There are many aspects to Track Presets, and I haven’t been able to cover everything, but strongly encourage everyone to take some time and try out some Track Presets.

I’m sure this feature, and the wide set of functionality that make it up, are going to have, very, real world workflow improvements for Pro Tools users and am looking forward to seeing how Pro Tools users, Plugin Makers, Loop Providers, SFX Libraries take advantage of this great new addition to Pro Tools.

Happy Creating and Mixing.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Rename Groups of Tracks and Clips in Pro Tools 12.8.2 with Batch Rename

In this blog post we are going to look the new Batch Track and Batch Clip Renaming features in Pro Tools 12.8.2.

Like many of the features in Pro Tools 12.8.2 the batch renaming comes directly from customer feedback and aims to answer real world workflow needs across many types of audio production, from Scoring stages to File naming in gaming and more.

To begin with let’s quickly look at the Batch Track Renaming Dialog.

You can instantiate the Batch Track Name Dialog by right clicking in the track title in the Mix or Edit Window or in the Tracks List, or, by the shortcut Shift Option R on Mac, Shift Alt R on Windows.

As you can see this is a fairly intricate dialog with several selectable tabs, but don’t worry, starting at the very top we have presets which we can recall commonly used presets by either clicking or Control 1-5 on a Mac or Win 1-5 on Windows.

Like other Pro Tools dialogs you will be able import and export settings so once you get your favourite and most used rename settings sorted you will be easily be able to share or use in other systems.

Batch renaming is applied to the currently selected tracks only.

The first section is “Replace”, here you can simply find a alpha numeric text match and replace it, as well as a check box to “Clear Existing Names” for the following rename functions and “Regular Expressions” to enable advanced matching and replacing.

“Regular Expressions” allows for powerful and advanced use of Regular Expressions, meaning you can search and replace using string search algorithms allows for multiple complex match and replace in one pass.

There are some handy guides to regular expressions at www.regex101.com.

 

Also in the What’s New Guide

• You can quickly enable or dis-enable this section of the Batch Track Name Dialog by using the shortcut Command R on Mac or CTRL R on PC.

• The next section is “Trim”, allowing this you to trim characters from the beginning, end of the name, a range of characters in the middle or a combination of both. The number is simply the position of the character in the track name.

• You can quickly enable or dis-enable this section of the Batch Track Name Dialog by using the shortcut Command T on Mac or CTRL T on PC.

• “Add”, allows you to add text at the beginning, at a specified point, at the end of a name, or a combination.

• You can quickly enable or dis-enable this section of the Batch Track Name Dialog by using the shortcut Command D on Mac or CTRL D on PC. Unfortunately Command A is already used by “Select all”

• Numbering allows you add numbers, or letters, at the beginning, end, at an index, in increasing increments, or, with or without a separating character.

• You can quickly enable or dis-enable this section of the Batch Track Name Dialog by using the shortcut Command N on Mac or CTRL N on PC.

• The process order follows the sections, from top to bottom.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of options, thanks for being patient through the explanation, let’s look through a few real world examples.

A simple one that I regularly have to deal with is receiving AAFs from editors. I personally like to keep a duplicated, inactive and hidden copy of my imported AAF for safety and comparison later.

So after importing the AAF I have had to manually add a date or version number to these tracks, with the new Rename Function I can do this all in one step. In this case I can use the Add Function add a version number and a date to the end.

Importantly the track renaming is able to be easily undone in-case you need to tweak your renaming options.

Another is managing takes in Scoring Sessions. In scoring sessions there are common track naming conventions for organising, Cue, Track, Material and Take.

 

The starting point might look something like this:

1m1 0000a Mix1

1m1 0001 Vln1 tk.00

1m1 0002 Vln2 tk.00

1m1 0003 Vla tk.00

1m1 0004 Vc tk.00

1m1 0005 Cb tk.00

1m1 0006 Fl tk.00

1m1 0007 Ob tk.00

1m1 0008 Hn tk.00

1m1 0009 Tpt tk.00

1m1 0010 Tbn tk.00

 

When needing to make another pass with a significant change or picture edit we would want to duplicate the tracks but remove the duplication information and increment the track information.

In this example I have used regular expressions to search for a range of text matches and replacements as well as the trimming function to suit my particular name length and the add function where I can easily adapt the number as required.

This allows me to easily and quickly duplicate and rename a range of tracks.

Example result Names:

BEFORE: AFTER:
1m1 0000a Mix1.dup1 > 1m1 0000a Mix1
1m1 0000 Mix2.dup1 > 1m1 0000 Mix2
1m1 0001 Vln1 tk.dup1 > 1m1 0101 Vln1 tk.00
1m1 0002 Vln2 tk.dup1 > 1m1 0102 Vln2 tk.00
1m1 0003 Vla tk.dup1 > 1m1 0103 Vla tk.00
1m1 0004 Vc tk.dup1 > 1m1 0104 Vc tk.00
1m1 0005 Cb tk.dup1 > 1m1 0105 Cb tk.00
1m1 0006 Fl tk.dup1 > 1m1 0106 Fl tk.00
1m1 0007 Ob tk.dup1 > 1m1 0107 Ob tk.00
1m1 0008 Hn tk.dup1 > 1m1 0108 Hn tk.00
1m1 0009 Tpt tk.dup1 > 1m1 0109 Tpt tk.00
1m1 0010 Tbn tk.dup1 > 1m1 0110 Tbn tk.00

 

The same batch renaming logic and functions also apply to a new a new Batch Clip Rename, with the addition of the option to rename clips either in timeline order or from the Clip list sort Order.

Being able to to use the Clip List Sort Order allows for advanced sorting by a number of different clip attributes such as Original Timestamp, length format and many others in ascending or descending order.

This allows you to rename based on the order that files were recorded rather than how they appear on the timeline for example, even in channel format or length giving many options to suit the different kinds of projects you are working on.

The Batch Clip Rename will apply to the currently selected clips on the timeline or in the clip list.

As the Clip Batch Renaming names the clips rather than the files themselves this allows for instances where Cues or files will have the same name but will be exported to distinct folders.

An example would be in gaming where you have multiple languages and each cue is named the same for each language but will need to be exported to the specific languages master folder.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




Find Tracks with Ease using Scroll to Track in Pro Tools 12.8.2

In Pro Tools 12.8.2 Scroll to Track has been improved, giving you the ability to identify a track by name, rather than a number, and scroll to it in the Edit or Mix Window.

As sessions become larger and more complex, due to ever increasing demands on time, and due the flexibility of the Pro Tools audio and editing tools, it is difficult to easily remember tracks location by a track number.

The ability to find and scroll to a track by its name enables users to navigate quickly to the track they want without using multiple commands or zoom levels.

Recall the scroll to track dialog by Command+Option+F on Mac or, Ctrl+Alt+F on PC, and enter the first few characters of the track you are looking for and push enter.

That track will then selected and displayed in your timeline or mix window if it wasn’t previously visible.

In a music session you may not know the track number but it’s very likely that you will know the tracks name, for example if I enter “Bass” in the Scroll to Track dialog, all the tracks with Bass in the Track name will populate in the list and then I can simply use the arrow keys to select the particular track with “Bass” as part of the track name and have that scroll to the top of my timeline. In a Post Production Session it’s not uncommon to have hundreds of tracks, so similarly I can enter SFX to populate the drop down and then choose the particular track Im looking for, in this case, SFX Stereo 2.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.




A Journey to Pro Tools 12.6

Some Good Folks

There is one thing I really want to share before we start.

This process – the journey towards getting some of the features in 12.6 out into the world – as well as my time at Avid has reinforced my feeling that I’m lucky to be working with some of the most passionate audio professionals and skilled engineers I have ever had the good fortunate to meet.

Equally we have had a group of enthusiastic and professional users following us through every step, making sure we delivered.

It has been a long, but satisfying process, with an end result that I’m hugely proud to have played even a very small part in. Thus I want to share some insight into how we made our way towards some of the new features in 12.6.

 

The Beginning

Let’s rewind a few years.

While meeting with one of our largest broadcast users in the Asia Pacific region, as we do from time to time, to update and talk with them about where Avid is going development wise across storage, video, audio and media management, we began discussing what they were looking for their next DAW solution in Post Production Audio.

We discussed how Avid could help their engineers and assistants in the Audio Department work more easily and efficiently, without significantly disrupting their established workflows used with their current tools. Additionally they also wanted the support and services that only Avid can provide across all our solutions, almost all of which they were already using.

Their reply was clear. “We are very interested in seeing what Avid can do and want to work together”. Equally clear were the features they wanted to see.

To make sense of what was being requested we had to really look at how they were using Pro Tools, other DAWS, consoles and how these fit into a workflow.

New features are great, but it’s how they contribute to getting the job done that’s really important.

As the team started looking at these individual ideas and requests, we had to ask whether they line up with other plans and requests, and whether they would be useful to other users as well. Overwhelmingly the answer was yes. “Let’s get to work!”

I don’t think there was any doubt from anyone involved, that what we were looking to undertake was going to be a challenge, and may require some potentially significant changes to the previous Pro Tools edit models.

It was the beginning of many meetings, scribbled notes, whiteboard drawings, rough design documents. These turned into engineering documents, internal task assignments, alpha demos, presentations, feedback, redesign, internal testing, on site testing, and a great strengthening of working relationships between regional offices and departments within Avid.

The truth is, dealing across multiple languages and time zones as well as various departments both internally and externally, there were a few delays and the occasional misunderstanding. However, everyone’s commitment was absolute. Each time we persevered, made the effort to include and listen to the customer’s feedback, and with some patience on their part, the small issues became just that – small in comparison to the goal.

 

The Essence

Condensed down to a theme, the aim and idea from the customer was to allow assistants and dialog editors to prepare a session more quickly, with as few mouse clicks and button pushes as possible, in a way that didn’t interfere with the mixers’ (often another person) ability to control the overall tone and levels of the same session.

If you are involved in Audio Post you know how daunting and time consuming it can be to receive a sizable AAF with potentially thousands upon thousands of clips, all of which might need some attention; be it adjustments to timeline position, fades, EQ, and Dynamics, all of which must be completed before the narration and mix process can begin.

Now multiply this by, for this customer, more than 40 mix rooms and literally hundreds of audio operators. You can easily understand that even small improvements are as valuable to the users, as they are to the staff managing schedules and budgets.

 

Previous 12.x Features Highlight

A few of the features that partly came out of this adventure, you will have already seen in recent versions of Pro Tools.

12.3 introduced Clip Transparency. This seems simple, but once it’s turned on, you will wonder how you ever got by in the past moving a little yellow box around.
Now, aligning dialog and music is much easier. As you move a clip, they become transparent so you can see what’s “underneath” and what you are moving. This means less trimming and potentially less tracks to achieve the desired result.

->Enable Clip Transparency in the View Menu under -> Clip -> Transparency

Also in 12.3 was a new Batch Fade Window. This feature included presets, shortcuts and advanced options that allow you to, for example, choose to leave fades that already exist, or change just the shape but not duration.

Another example would be selecting all the clips after an AAF import and adding new short fade ins/outs to smooth out the transition into and out of clips, while preserving any fades the editors may have used during the edit process. This can be a significant time saver.

->Try batch fade! Simply select multiple clips on the timeline, then hit Command + F to open the new batch fade window. You can recall a few presets using control +1-5 while the batch fade window is open. If you have an Eucon enabled surface, you can control these functions directly without having to use a keyboard.

12.6 Features!

A page and a half and we aren’t even onto 12.6 yet! So lets now have a look at some of the new features and the reasoning behind them. Although, I think as there are so few “rules” in audio, how people come to use these features will be as unique and numerous as the range of Pro Tools users around the world.

Clip Effects – Real-time clip by clip, input gain, polarity, EQ, Filters, and Dynamics, complete with shortcuts and presets. All this with a design goal to make it quick to use.

Depending on how and when you found your way into Pro Tools, this will be either 1) a welcome return 2) similar to something else you have used or 3) a new tool. In any case, this feature is bound to have a massive and positive impact on the way you work – much like how it would be difficult for me to go back to a version of Pro Tools that didn’t have Clip Gain.

The idea is to have a real time effect allowing an assistant or dialog editor to help prepare the audio on a track for easier and more creative mixing. Previously, AudioSuite processing or automation could be used. However, this meant the need for extra steps if you ever wanted to revert an AudioSuite render, and automation should ideally be free for the mixer to use,.

Throughout the design process, the team made sure to stick to the ideals of easy and quick access. The feature includes shortcuts for showing/hiding the clip effects window, preset selection, and copy/paste. You can either work on an individual clip or multiple clips. When multiple clips are selected, adjustments to individual parameters are applied to all selected clips, but settings for the other parameters are preserved. The clip effects are based on the ChannelStrip plugin, and all HD users have control over the clip effect settings, while all Pro Tools users can playback, render or bypass without any compatibility concerns.

->The Clip Effects control is accessible by clicking the icon in the universe bar or by the shortcut option+6(num). Also try turning on the numeric shortcuts for the presets in Preferences to quickly apply your settings. Again, the functions are accessible with Eucon softkeys enabling fast operation.

Layered Editing

If you’re like me and have spent the large majority of your career in Pro Tools, then some of you might wonder what the fuss is about the current Pro Tools editing model.

Pro Tools has always dealt with the track on the time line as “flat”. So, “deleting” a clip off the timeline results in a “hole” or blank space. The clip will still available in the Clips list. This makes a fair amount of sense when there are no other clips near by.

However, issues arise when you take a small clip, be it a narration drop in or small sound effect, and place it within the boundaries of another clip. When the small clip is deleted, there will now be a hole in the timeline.

If I wanted to repair this hole in the underlying clip, I could either trim the ends, or use “heal separation”. But that’s a lot of extra work, and I still might not be able to restore it to how it was before. And don’t we all know for whatever reason, once you lose that first arrangement, things never quite sound the same.

In 12.6, you can enable “Layered Editing” from the tool bar. So long as the underlapped clip is not fully covered by another clip, you can either move the overlapped clip away by dragging or nudging, or delete the clip to restore the underlapped clip to its previous untouched state.

While I recommend having a try, we have kept the legacy editing model because there are some workflows that require it, and some people will be happy to work as they always have. The development team always tries to retain the ability to use legacy workflows if at all possible.

This all sounds great! But what happens if I do fully cover a clip, either by recording, copying and pasting, or dragging a minute long atmosphere from the workspace and accidentally covering a group of off the screen clips further down the timeline.

That brings us to Playlist Improvements.

Playlists have always been a powerful tool. Unfortunately they often weren’t used in post production, and the main reason was the lack of an easy way to see whether there were any playlists on a track or not. Using someone else’s session, or even your own after some time, could mean a frustrating time hunting through the tracks in your session to look for alternate takes. This has now been addressed by the addition of a simple indicator, in blue, to show that other playlists are available.

While playlists are great, switching to Playlist Track View, potentially means losing valuable screen real estate. This could also cause confusion about which tracks were routed where, especially when using an external console. There is now an extremely simple Shift + ↑ or Shift + ↓ shortcut that cycles among your playlists on the tracks with the edit insertion. Using this shortcut, you can then easily copy and paste between playlists, or quickly toggle takes for directors or producers without having to mute/unmute various tracks.

Furthermore, there are options to send a clip, or selection of clips, to a particular playlist. If you do a lot of narration recording using custom session templates, you could make a narration track with pre-prepared playlists that are named with take numbers or a rating scale. Pretty useful stuff!

However, we still haven’t addressed the clip overlap issue.

In 12.6 there are new options in the Preferences that will automatically send a clip that is fully overlapped, either by recording or editing, to the next available playlist. This again, is implemented as an option, so the legacy workflows that users have been taking advantage of, are still available.

What do these options do? If a clip, or clips are completely covered either by a new recording, or by another clip via copy/paste or drag and drop (from OS Finder, Workspace, or Clips list), they will be safely stored, intelligently, on another playlist.

Playlists created by this function will be named according to the clip name. If you record over a contiguous arrangement of clips they will be moved together to another playlist.

12.6 also adds great visual indicators about what’s going on in your session, improvements to latency domain control for “in the box dubbing” on HDX, as well as the long awaited direct fade manipulation in the timeline.

I think if you’ve been feeling hesitant about upgrading, now is the time. Pro Tools, and especially Pro Tools HD, has never been more accessible.

I want to finish up this post with a few shout outs. To the Executive Team at Avid who supported us through this. The Pro Tools Product team, who listened, took up the challenge and made this happen. The Avid and Beta testers who make us all go back and check what we were thinking. My co-workers in the Japan Office who tirelessly translated and championed for our users. And most of all, the customers who sought to make a positive difference, not just for them, but all Pro Tools users.

Please check out the fantastic Pro Tools 12.6 overview videos from the Audio Application Specialist team.

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