If You've Lost Your Creative Spark Then This May Be The Problem And How To Cure It

‘Always on’… that’s what our new connected world is.

How often have you sat up until the early hours of the morning working on a new project, at the same time checking your email, text messages and social media, only to eventually fall into bed and start checking it all again on your smart phone? It’s at a moment like this that you realize your phone isn’t making you any smarter.

We all like to think we are superhuman, but part of being human is taking time to relax, rest, recharge and charge the batteries. Even those selling stocks and shares or emergency workers are not ‘always on’, for the creative ‘always on’ has the potential to kill your creativity.

Why We Need To Rest

I recall reading a study on sleep in Time Magazine around a decade ago, scientists were trying to understand why we sleep. Several theories were cited, but the one that they seemed to think was the most probable reason was that our bodies need time to process the data from the day, order it all and help us to make sense of it. That’s why sleep deprivation is a favoured tactic for interrogation, it messes with the mind and creates confusion, it creates an environment where we are more likely to make mistakes, or say and do the wrong thing.

So if you spend a lot of time right now staring at the screen of your Pro Tools systems, or picking up your instrument and finding nothing, then it’s highly likely that you need to turn it all off. Then turn off all your other technology, honestly no one will die if you don’t post a picture of your lunch on Facebook… really. My wife and I have a deal now that I give her my phone when we go out to eat, now she has my attention. She told me that when I kept checking my phone when we were out it made her feel excluded, that’s not a good way to make anyone feel, especially the person you love. In fact it’s got so bad that I’m often reading messages on Facebook from people saying sorry for taking some time out to relax or attend to their families… this is something we should never apologize for. 

But you should also never apologize for taking care of yourself and the mind that powers the gift you have. Some think to be better at what we do we need to keep reading, watching videos, getting more information, the reality is that you also need to process it, that requires rest and reflection.

It’s Time To Turn It All Off

If you are feeling like you have nothing to give then it’s highly likely that’s it’s time to turn off, let your body renew and then see the fruit of your rest.

For some reading this it may just be a weekend that is needed, for others a week, for some who are really burnt out it could take weeks if not months to renew you. You might want to check with your partner to see what they think, my guess is some of them are going to say ‘thank God’ that you’ve decided to do this.

So go on, turn it all off, have some fun, relax and see what happens. You’ll be surprised what happens when you start taking care of yourself.

Sweet dreams!

Waves Weekend Deals

3 more great plug-ins at great prices from our friends at Waves, but hurry these will finish on Sunday.

  1. Waves C1 Compressor Native Plug-in $29 - normally $150
  2. Waves MaxxVolume plug-in $99 till Sunday - normally $350
  3. Waves Masters Bundle $199 till Sunday - normally $700

Grab them while you can. Also check out the Specials page too for more great deals.

Pro Tools Fundamentals - 5 Ways The Clips List Can Help You

While not exactly the most exciting corner of Pro Tools, the clip list is one of those areas where you can find the easy way to sort out common tasks. While a flat list seems difficult to keep organised (I for one would love to see folders introduced into the clip list) there are many simple techniques which can help you stay in control of your session to be found in the drop down menu in the clips list. Here are 5 to get you started if the clips list is somewhere you don’t visit very often. 

1 - Show Full Path

If you are finding when opening a session that an an audio file is missing, its really helpful to be able to find out where Pro Tools is looking for the missing file. Show full path will help you find out what went wrong. A perennial favourite is the missing file on a removable drive you no longer have. If its not there no amount of searching and relinking will bring it back.

2 - Option/Alt-Click To Preview

Featured in my list of uses for the option key, option-clicking on a clip in the clips list will audition it. Very useful, especially if your clips don’t have particularly descriptive names. While it is perfectly acceptable and often more convenient to import clips directly to the timeline, for many tasks it can be convenient to import to the clips list and keep your timeline clutter free.

3 - Export Clips As Files

While this is less of a lifesaver than it was prior to Pro Tools 11 and offline bounce, exporting clips from the clips list has always been faster than real time and if you just need to make some edits and export the result without any real time processing then, after editing on the timeline, consolidate your edits to a new clip (edit > consolidate clip, Opt+Shift3/Alt+Shift+3) and export clips as files (CMD+Shift+K/Ctrl+Shift+K) to get your edits out of Pro Tools faster than real time, even if you are still using Pro Tools 10 or earlier.

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Special - All Pro Tools Expert Production Tricks Video Tutorials Free To Watch This Weekend

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK this weekend so in case you have some free time we’ve opened up our Pro Tools Production Tricks video tutorials for free.

When we say an archive, it may take you the weekend to watch them all, the archive list of Pro Tools Production Tricks videos is shown below.

Pro Tools Tutorial Videos

The videos include Producer secrets, power virtual instrument tricks, the basics of many popular plug-ins and many more.

Normally these videos are member only exclusive content, so knock yourself out and find out what so many people sign up as Pro Tools Expert community members. To find out more about membership then clik here.

The Pro Tools Production Tricks Video Archive

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POST EDL: Tip 5 - Show and Hide Pro Tools (OSX)

Running out of screen real estate? Need to keep Pro Tools open but would like to do the equivalent of “Apple + H” to hide the screens?

“Command + TAB” until the cursor is on the Pro Tools icon, keep your thumb on Command and swing your finger over to H and press (keeping thumb on Command) and it will hide Pro Tools.

Now see you it, now you don’t!

Using Waves MaxxBass In Audio Post Production

In the first in a series of three videos looking at ways to use the Waves MaxxBass, Renaissance Bass and Lo Air plug-ins in audio post production, Mike Thornton shares how to get the best out of the Waves MaxxBass plug-in.

Click here to watch this free video tutorial

5 Things To Think About When Buying A New PC - Part 3 - Support

The biggest concern for the computer musician/producer is what happens if it all falls apart? The experience of Mac users tends to be that the “Genius’” at the Apple store don’t know a whole lot about Pro Tools, MIDI sync, sound-to-picture or plug-in incompatibilities. Shoppers of a Dell, HP or Tesco branded PC have a similar experience but in less groovy and relaxed surroundings.

This is of course why places like Pro Tools Expert exist - the support of a community forum and expert articles shouldn’t be undervalued. But at the same time these sorts of places are peppered with people having very similar troubles for which there isn’t always a quick fix. So to whom do you go? Software manufacturers have their own tech support lines but with the best will in the world they can’t know every permutation of every computer or audio interface, and often they have no choice but to lay blame at the feet of the computer rather than their software. It works fine on their machine after all.

Many people make music on their computers with no trouble at all, but in the event of audio glitching, badly behaved plug-ins, or incompatibility issues then you have to become your own tech support engineer. For some people this is an interesting journey into the expansion of their computer knowledge – a puzzle to be mastered, technology to be tamed. Others put up with the issues and carry on the best they can knowing that their system harbours amazing power and a few glitches are worth it for what you can do with it. And a few seem to spend all their time tracking down the bugs, ironing out the problems and hoping the next upgrade will sort them out.

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Using RX3 Spectral Repair To Remove Unwanted Sudden Sounds

An unwanted noise in the background can ruin what would otherwise be a perfect take. In this video, Mike Thornton shows you how to use RX 3’s Spectral Repair module to fix problems like a cough or a sound glitch.

Don’t forget you can get RX3 and RX3 Advanced at a very special price and get RX4 free when it is released later next month.

RSPE Audio Solutions

Time+Space Distribution Ltd

How To Clean A Vocal Up That Is Being Monitored Through Speakers

Monitoring Without Headphones

Some vocalists hate using headphones when tracking vocals, instead preferring to monitor through speakers.

The problem is that this gives excessive bleed of the rest of the instruments though the vocal track.

The Solution

This video tutorial shows you a trick that helps to remove a lot of that bleed and cleans up the audio for further processing.

Join now to watch this and over 500 exclusive Pro Tools video tutorials

How To Set Up ADAT Lightpipe Input To Expand The Channels On The Universal Audio Apollo Twin 

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin is a powerful little audio interface, but for some the limited inputs may sometimes not be enough. However UA have included an ADAT Lightpipe input connector on the Apollo Twin enabling the user to increase it by up to 8 extra inputs.

In this free tutorial we are going to show you how to set up ADAT Lightpipe input to expand the channels on the Universal Audio Apollo Twin.

What Hardware To Use?

In order to do this you need a pre-amp that has a ADAT Lightpipe output on the rear, there are a number on the market, they include; 

  • Universal Audio 4-710d
  • Audient ASP880
  • Focusrite Octopre

What Pre-Amp Are We are Using

We have both the Audient ASP880 and the Universal Audio 4-170d pre-amps at Pro Tools Expert HQ, in fact Mike uses the Focusrte Octopre as seen here, but to keep it in the family we decided to use the gorgeous sounding 4-710D. The UA 4-710d offers up to 8 channels of audio inputs, 4 mic, 8 line, variable tube and transistor tone blending on 4 inputs and UA compressors. Of course the most important thing for this is the ADAT Lightpipe out on the rear, this is what we use to connect the 4-710d to the Apollo Twin.

ADAT Lightpipe Cable

The ADAT Lightpipe or ADAT Optical Interface was invented by Alesis originally for use in their ADAT tape machines, however widespread adoption took place of this protocol. It is called Lightpipe because the data is transmitted over fibre optic cable. They are widely available online or from stores, we got ours from Amazon, a 5 meter cable costing around £7.00.

Connecting It All Together

The connection between the 4-710d and the Apollo Twin is simple, plug the ADAT Lightpipe cable into the ADAT Out 1-8 connection on the rear of the unit, see above.

Then plug the other end of the cable into the ‘Optical In’ port on the rear of the Apollo Twin, see below.

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