To finish of this series on taking your first steps in Pro Tools here are two useful tips…
Mixing And Headroom
How many times have you been mixing a track and found that as you progressively push the levels up you end up hitting digital headroom on the Master Fader and so you have had to bring the individual track levels down which is never that easy especially if you have started adding automation.
So here is the trick. When you start mixing a track push the Master Fader up to +6dB so that when you start seeing the Clip lights flash on the master all you need to do is bring down the Master fader until it stops clipping so as long as you don’t end up much below 0dB you will be fine.
Problem Solving - Disk Allocation
Remember to check Disk Allocation. For reasons I have never been able to get to the bottom of Pro Tools can sometimes change the Disk Allocation settings to another hard drive on your system.
Disk Allocation is a setting within Pro Tools that determines which hard drive any content on a track will be recorded onto. It is there because once you get beyond 24 or so tracks you need to be considering spreading your tracks across multiple hard drives if you want to keep Pro Tools happy. Yes I know you can have sessions with more than 24 tracks on one drive and get away with it, I have done it too on many occasions but the guidelines rightly say that once you get above 24 tracks you should be looking at more than one hard drive especially if your tracks are heavily edited.
So lets take a look at the Disk Allocation window. You get to this window from the Setup menu.
The Disk Allocation window takes the form of a table with two columns, the first lists each track in your session and the second shows where on your system any audio files recorded on that track will be saved. Normally as above all the tracks in the Root Media Folder column should be set to the session folder on your external drive, in my case Work Disk 1 and the session folder “Meet the Patels”. However there are times when these settings are not correct. The classic scenario when Disk Allocation will be wrong is when you have copied a session folder from one drive to another. When you open the session on the new drive you should always go into Disk Allocation and change the Root Media Folder settings to the new drive location, as Pro Tools won’t do this for you. It still thinks the session is still on the old drive. You can do this by click and holding on the arrows at the right hand end of the Root Media Folder for that track and a contextual menu will come up.
The menu will contain all the drives that Pro Tools can record onto. Simply select the desired drive and it will change to that drive. You can change all of the tracks at once by holding down the Alt and clicking any track. Notice that all the tracks will be selected so that that whatever you select on one will then be implemented on all the tracks.
It also seems that sometimes when you create a new track Disk Allocation can be set to another drive. I have wondered whether this has had anything to do with where on my system I have just been, say to import some audio, but I have never been able to nail it down, so the advice is to be aware and regularly check that Disk Allocation is set correctly.
Another tell tail sign that disk allocation is not set correctly is that if you find a session folder on another drive which doesn’t have a Pro Tools session in it but does have either and/or an audio files or fade files folders in it.
Well that is it. I hope that this series has been helpful for you.