On Tuesday 28th April, Mike Aiton joined the Institute of Professional Sound (colloquially known as the IPS) Avid Pro Tools Training Day at Avid HQ, Pinewood Studios, which is home of the James Bond 007 stage, kindly hosted by Avid UK's Pro Tools "Jedi Master" Simon Sherborne.
The IPS Pro Tools Training Day Program
Firstly Simon walked us through a leisurely jaunt of Avid's new subscription plans, and the new Pro Tools 12 software. This took us off into Avid's plans for collaborative workflow and some of the plans for Avid Market Place. There are some exciting things coming that we are sadly unable to share, but after explanation and discussion we all came away with a much clearer idea of why things were heading the way they are, and how Avid have built a solid foundation for the road ahead.
A Tour Of The Avid S3L Controller
Next we had a tour around the Avid hardware, and an especially good look at the Avid S3L controller. I really started to like this as a fader control surface for post production, and with the new Eucon implementation, it was starting to come to life. Julian Gough in particular was rather taken with the S3XL live version with its associated rack of I/O.
Eucon is going through much development at the moment and there apparently there are some great things planned for the summer ahead, making it much more Icon like and even tighter in its integration with Pro Tools and S6 users will be in for a field day!
We also discussed the new Avid iPad control software, which unfortunately was not available to demo on this occasion and the new S6L live desk, before moving over to play with the Avid S6 (M40 variant) in the demo room.
A Look At Post Production Workflows
After lunch at the famous Pinewood Canteen, we went back to the S6 demo room and started with Elastic Audio from the ground upwards. After getting our Elastic Audio out of a twist, we to looked at field recorders and the post production workflow from location files to dub, via the Avid Media Composer.
Field recorder devotees who are using OSX Yosemite and PT12 will be delighted to know there is a fix coming for the broken Finder window.
We linked files with auto sync using timecode, edited them a bit, and exported them back to Pro Tools. We also discussed linked AAFs, embedded AAFs, and why some field recorders can be up to half a frame out of sync because they don't begin recording at the start of a video frame.
We then imported our edit files back into Pro Tools, and re-linked to the location media via the field recorder workflow.
Mike Aiton's Conclusions On The Day
Throughout the day Simon gave us his Jedi Master "Pro Tools Golden Nugget" shortcuts which we lapped up, and some of which I hope to cover in a separate article.
We shared much of our post production experiences amongst ourselves and learnt differing workflows and techniques from each other. Sadly we ran out of time to debate automation, our third topic and my pet specialist subject!
I came away from the day feeling much more positive about Avid and its road ahead. There are some exciting things ahead that could enhance and even change the way we work for the better. The S6 has some fabulous new Eucon features coming. It was a very social and informative day and our thanks to our hosts Avid UK, Simon and to Chris and the IPS for setting up the day.
So Who Are The IPS?
The organisation was founded in 1977 as The Institute Of Broadcast Sound (IBS) by sound balancers in radio and TV in the UK who felt a need for better interchange of ideas between practitioners in the various areas of broadcast audio. The profile of the membership has since expanded to include the many freelance engineers working in all areas of professional audio; such as forensic audio, internet and web audio, theatre, games etc, so the name was changed to reflect this and to avoid web searches for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The IBS has been active in the formation of the iXML open standard of file exchange, the EBU PLOUD group, and BBC TV's Audibility Group (TVAG), and has a very active discussion group of its own IPSNET. The IPS organises seminars, training like when our own Mike Thornton spoke on Loudness at the BBC, gives access to articles and views, and organises visits to manufacturers and facilities. So a wealth of experience and a pool of knowledge to both draw from and add to. Join up and get involved, as "much you will learn young Luke and may the Eucon be with you!" Don't worry if you aren't UK based as there are a good number of international members who benefit from the online forums etc.
The Training Day Attendees
This was definitely not a beginners day. Attending the training day were a high calibre of varied audio alumni....
Mike Aiton - Mike was weaned at the BBC. But after breaking free nearly 25 years ago & becoming one of London's busiest freelance dubbing mixers, he can mostly be found in his Twickenham dubbing suite, Mikerophonics earning three Bafta nominations. In his spare time he contributes Pro Tools Expert and takes therapy for his poor jazz guitar playing and his addictions to skiing and Nikon lenses.
Chris Maclean IPS Director: Chris joined the BBC in 1988 as a Studio Manager working in Broadcasting House. He specialised in music recording and documentaries, producing many sessions for John Peel, Andy Kershaw, The Evening Session etc. as well as mixing many award winning docs. In 1998 Chris started working for The Jungle Group mixing commercials for radio, TV and cinema. He also mixes full length TV programs in stereo but loves mixing in 5.1.
John York: John's career was formed with a 10 year stint at Thames TV. After a spell at the National Theatre, John was a dubbing mixer for the drama series "The Bill". He is now a freelance film and TV dubbing mixer, re-recording mixer, Sound Supervisor and Dubbing Editor. John facilitates the "dub in the pub" social meting group where post production people gather monthly at a pub in London to 'chew the cud of post production' and drink beer!
Julian Gough: Julian is a freelance TV Sound Supervisor working predominantly on live television but occasionally post production. With 30 years in TV sound, mostly in BBC Outside Broadcasts, freelance since 2011. A Pyramix Expert, having followed that route in 2003 when it was the best option to replace a stack of Tascam DA88s. He now owns 2 Pyramix rigs, Ovation, Audition, Reaper, and Pro Tools 10.
Alun Bowen: From South Wales, Alan is the Head Operator and Sound Engineer onboard one of Celebrity Cruises ships. As well as acting as the sound tech in the main theatre he is responsible for all sound, lighting, and entertainment rigging throughout the ship. He uses ProTools onboard while installing new guest entertainer shows, editing tracks and videos for flow and ease of playback.
Russell Smithson: Russell has worked in TV sound since 1980. Since 1982 Russell has been at ITV. Originally a Dubbing Mixer, Russell is currently Sound Supervisor for live LE and Music shows, such as Jonathan Ross, Have I Got News For You, ITV sport and Daytime Productions. Russell has been a Pro Tools user since version 7 and use it mainly for Music recording & Composing.