Welcome to Pro Tools Expert a huge community for users of Avid Pro Tools for both music and post production. With over 3 million visits a year, we’ve grown to be the place to come for training, resources, tips tricks and news. We offer advice for users of all versions of Pro Tools both current and legacy formats. We’re independent and are not affiliated with Avid or their associated companies.
Entries in Pro Tools (411)
In part 1 we heard that Paul Sinkovich had told us about a free app - MXF4mac Player from Hamburg Pro Media, which will open and play nearly any flavour of MXF files, even in full screen. It will open most MXF variations. It supports XDCAM HD, AVC-Intra, DNxHD, HDV, Uncompressed SD/HD, Uncompressed Avid 10 bit, DVC-Pro HD, IMX-D10,DV, Meridien, Sony Proxy and more and it is compatible to QuickTime movies and other formats (e.g. .mp4, .mov, .avi, .m4v, .wav, .aif, .aiff).
However the free MXF4mac Player on is own isn’t enough, you need to buy an ‘in app’ purchase (Avid take note) called TC Sync which then allows you through MIDI Time Code (MTC) and MIDI Machine Control (MMC) to sync Pro Tools and the MXF4mac Player together so that you aren’t asking Pro Tools to handle the video and in this part Paul is going to explain and demonstrate with the video above how he uses MXF4macPlayer with TC Sync, over to you Paul.
In this video Russ shows how using automation with filters can create space in mixes.
He uses the a McDSP Filterbank and then applies automation on acoustic guitars to give the vocal a space to sit in the mix, you can then take these principles and ideas and try them in your mixes and with different plug-ins.
Software used: Pro Tools 11, McDSP Filterbank, Maag EQ4, Avid Revibe, Avid Pitch.
Community member Paul Sinkovich got in touch to give us the heads up on a workflow he now uses with a free app - MXF4mac Player from Hamburg Pro Media, which will open and play nearly any flavour of MXF files, even in full screen. It will also control 8 tracks of audio, the frame rate, Movie Time, Source Package Timecode, Frame Number and Data Rate.
The MXF4mac Player can open most MXF variations. It supports XDCAM HD, AVC-Intra, DNxHD, HDV,
Uncompressed SD/HD, Uncompressed Avid 10 bit, DVC-Pro HD, IMX-D10,DV, Meridien, Sony Proxy and more.
Optional Plug-Ins for DCP and JPEG2000 support and it is compatible to QuickTime movies and other formats (e.g. .mp4, .mov, .avi, .m4v, .wav, .aif, .aiff). So in a post workflow that is becoming more and more tapeless and MXF becoming part of the delivery format this is a very useful tool.
Synchro Arts have announced the public beta of Revoice Pro 2.3, it features a number of cool new features particularly for Pro Tools users, offering an almost VocALign AudioSuite interface for those who want to do fast APT and Doubling.
The engine has also been updated to give even more flexibility. Often instruments using very low or very high pitch are not processed well during pitch operations, in Revoice Pro 2.3 the algorithm now allows for much better processing at these audio extremes.
We are thrilled to welcome lynda.com as a new partner with Pro Tools Expert.
We have spoken a lot recently about some Pro Tools basics that every Pro Tools user should know about. In this FREE Pro Tools video tutorial Brian Lee White explains how essential it is to organise a Pro Tools session.
This video is a part of the entire series ‘Pro Tools Mixing and Mastering’ one of the many training series for Pro Tools from lynda.com
You can try out lynda.com for 7 days, just click the banner on the right or the link below.
So you are working on a masterpiece in Pro Tools and something goes wrong, either you edit the audio in a way you did not want to or made a change to an entire session that you now want to get back. We get emails asking if it is possible to roll back time. Here are a few things to consider.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
There’s a few steps you can take to ensure that when things do go wrong that not all is lost, here’s a few things to check off the list.
In your Pro Tools preferences there is an option to have Pro Tools automatically backup your sessions as you are working. Go to the menu Setup/Preferences/Operation
In the Auto Backup make sure the ‘Enable Sessions File Auto Backup’ is enabled and then choose how many copies you want to keep in your archive and how often. These numbers will depend on how dangerously you want to live. This one single option has saved me a lot of lost work when I’ve done something wrong or Pro Tools has crashed on me. When is a backup not a backup?
Name Your Tracks
You might think we are starting to sound like a cracked record but if you need to find a piece of audio in a Pro Tools session then unless you have given it a meaningful name it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack - so name every track the minute you create a new one. Read our 8 Pro Tools basics you can’t afford to ignore.
Backup Your Backups
You can never have enough backups of your precious work, you can either create local copies on another drive or get Gobbler, you can use Gobbler to automatically backup your Pro Tools sessions, which will even include backups of the backups! Find out more about Gobbler here
When You Are Working
ZZZZZZZZZ - Undo
No, it not time to sleep but don’t forget you have the option to use the UNDO feature in Pro Tools, or ‘CMD Z’. Pro Tools supports up to 64 levels of undo (this can be set in the Editing Preferences window). Not everything is covered by the UNDO option, but many editing and mix actions are covered. It’s worth opening the UNDO history window so you can see what is getting logged for you to roll back to. It time stamps your actions and you can click on each one of the items in the list to roll back your session to.
Compare The Meerkat
One cool but often overlooked feature in Pro Tools is the COMPARE feature in Pro Tools plug-ins, this enables the user to check the changes made since the current preset was last saved. So load a preset and then tweak to your heart’s content.
Simply Find The Orginal Audio
One of my all-time favourite features in Pro Tools is simply knowing that every piece of audio or CLIP (Previously called regions) is there in the CLIP LIST if I need to go back to it. If you are new to Pro Tools then open the CLIPS list on the right of the Pro Tools window and then you can see all your audio clips. As you start to record new audio or make changes to exisitng audio, then those clips are given new numbers each time you make a change. If you use audiosuite to change the clip then a new clip will be created with a name that denotes in some way to the process used.
Even better of you make a fade or drag the audio in and out with handles then the orginal is still there if you want to get it back simply by pulling the handles back out or removing the fade.
If you think you have screwed up the audio then as a last resort then you can always go back to the clip list and find the original and pull it back in. Hey presto!
One Final Word Of Warning
Of course if you try hard enough you can screw things up so badly you can lose your work. Here are two things to take special note of;
- In the CLIPS list there is an option to CLEAR selected audio clips - if you don’t know what you are doing then use this option at your peril. Now we have almost limitless hard drive space the need to clear audio to free up space is less necessary. If you don’t know what you are doing then you can delete audio and never get it back.
- Don’t delete entire session folders, they contain all your Pro Tools work. Back them up too!
Of course things can go wrong, but if you create workflows to account for that possibilty then the worst that can happen may not be the worst that can happen.
Check out our Support Tools page here that covers more troubleshooting
In this free Pro Tools video tutorial Russ shows you how to take any beat and make it do what you want - no plug-ins required!
This video is a sample of over 500 members only Pro Tools video tutorials for one low annual payment - more here
We get a lot of questions to the Pro Tools Expert podcast every week, many of which fall into the same categories again and again. These can often be solved by knowing some Pro Tools basics, these are 8 Pro Tools basics you can’t afford to ignore.
Some will make your system work better and some will help speed up your workflow, consider them the essentials to having a much more productive life with Pro Tools.
Knowing how to set-up your audio engine in Pro Tools is the difference between smooth operation with low latency or stuttered playback and cryptic error messages that are going to bring you to tears. Take time to learn how to set this up, this differs between different version numbers and between Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD/HDX systems and different machines. Some of it is down to trial and error, but as a rule of thumb you are aiming to keep your Playback Engine down to the lowest amount of samples possible when recording to reduce latency, without Pro Tools falling over. When you mix you can push your samples up to the max when you need as much power as possible and latency is no longer an issue.
The I/O set-up is where you tell Pro Tools what connections your audio interface has, these directly link to your channel input and outputs. If you get a dialogue telling you that you can’t record because you have no audio inputs, if you get this then make sure you have the right audio interface set in your Audio Engine (see our first point) and then a quick fix is to click the Input Tab and hit Default and then click the Output Tab and click default, in many cases this should get you up and running. Check out our guide here
Pro Tools uses different track types that are most approprate for your needs, they are;
- Audio Tracks - These are for recording audio from mics and line inputs etc.
- Aux Input - These can be used for effects returns and sub groups internally or for external inputs into Pro Tools from hardware devices that you do not need to record and want to keep live.
- Master Fader - This is where all the audio ends up in a mix, you can add processing such as compression, dither and of course check your final output is not clipping.
- VCA Master - HD systems only, VCAs are used to control the volume on a set of tracks
- MIDI Tracks - Used for recording MIDI information to be sent either to internal instrument plug-ins or external MIDI hardware.
- Instrument Tracks - A combination of a MIDI track and an AUX Input track allowing the user to record MIDI and playback the audio of a virtual instrument on one track.
- Video Track - Yep you guessed a track for the playback of video.
Knowing what track to use will help keep your sessions tidy, speed up your workflow and in many cases may also save your system power. Check out our guide to Pro Tools Instrument tracks here and our guide to Aux Tracks here.
In this Pro Tools video tutorial Russ shows how using groups, shortcuts and stems can help you to take control of large sessions and manage them.
Russ’ recent article 5 Basic Features Pro Tools Continues To Lack proved popular with the community with people offering lots of alternative basic features they think Pro Tools should have. For anyone who hasn’t visited the Ideascale you really should as Avid are interested in hearing the views of the users, of course that doesn’t mean that everything which is popular on ideascale will make it into the next release of Pro Tools, far from it. It would be a terrible mistake for Avid to attempt to meet every user feature request, even if they could. There is an old saying “a camel is a horse designed by committee”. Consistency and simplicity are essential in any product, Apple have made an unimaginable fortune by doing exactly that.
Inevitably there are feature requests I agree and disagree with but I often find myself wondering at the requests which say something along the lines of “make feature X from Logic/Ableton/Reason/Reaper available in Pro Tools”. If you want to use another DAW then use another DAW but respect the differences and treat them as a strength rather than a deficiency. I love Pro Tools, I’m good at Pro Tools but the last thing I want is to turn all other DAWs into Pro Tools - What would be the point of that?
In a recent video we showed how to create a mono button on the Pro Tools master buss (for lack of one as a standard feature.) We got some other suggestions on how to achieve this, so here are 4 FREE ways to check a stereo mix in mono. Check all our FREE Pro Tools plug-ins here
AIR Stereo Width
The AIR Stereo Width plug-in has numerous features for expanding your stereo image, but it can be used as a simple way to take a stereo image and make it mono as shown in the recent video.
Brainworx BX Solo
The BrainworxBX Solo is a handy little tool that offers several options including Mono/Stereo and MS. In their words “bx_solo is a nice little tool that we have designed to get you started with and used to the way we approach the M/S technique – be it for recording-, mixing- or mastering purposes. The “heart” of our M/S tools are our unique SOLO BUTTONS that allow you to actually LISTEN to all components of a stereo mix / stereo signal individually.”
Flux Stereo Tools
For a freebie this baby has a lot of bang for the buck… in their words “Stereo Tool features ultra precise control of input gain and individual pan for left and right channels. A phase inverter is available on each channel. Global stereo pan and stereo width settings are also implemented to complete the management of the stereo signal.
Stereo Tool also offers accurate visual feedback reflecting the signal content. A vector scope display, PPM meters for both inputs and outputs, and a phase correlation meter permanently monitor the signal.
Inserting our Stereo Tool after a BitterSweet II, will open your mind to new ways of controlling the stereo stage.
Like all Flux:: plug-ins it features 64 bit internal floating point processing, up to 8 FS (384 KHz).
Stereo Tool is available in native versions, AU, RTAS and VST. No dongle or registration required.”
Avid Down Mixer
Another more recent addition to the free Pro Tools collection is the Down Mixer, aimed more at those wanting to get surround mixes back to stereo but it is still able to take a stereo pair and make them mono.
The downside of using the Down Mixer is that it needs to be inserted on a sub mix before the Master out to work.
HOFA 4U Meter, Fader & MS-Pan
Another nice freebie from the HOFA team is the HOFA 4U, they say “
- precise metering (peak, hold, EBU, LRA)
- MS decoder
- trim-, fader- and mute-function
- stereo-mono switch
- innovative panorama-function: this is the panner that you can also use for “more than stereo” panning
- changeable plugin window size
- manual onboard
- works latency-free and with all common sample rates
- for PC and Mac, 32 and 64 Bit DAWs
- Audio Unit, VST, VST3, RTAS and AAX
Pro Tools is the industry standard DAW, like it or not, but with that said there are some basic features it continues to lack that are long overdue.
This is not about comparing Pro Tools with other DAWs, all DAWs leapfrog each other during their ongoing development cycles, but what we mean by basics are fundamental tools in any recording process that should have been with us a long time ago.
- A Phase Switch On The Channel
Having to insert a plug-in just to get a phase switch is unnecessary in an ‘industry standard’ DAW. It’s not like it is a modern idea, this feature has been on nearly every professional audio mixing console for several decades. Any questions?
- A Mono Switch On The Stereo Output
Sometimes it is essential to check your audio in mono, you would be surprised how much audio can go missing when you flip between stereo and mono.
- Channel Presets (Without using a hack)
Constantly having to re-invent the wheel each time you create tracks by setting up audio or VI chains is tiresome. Yes there’s a hack but it shouldn’t need to be the case.
- Input Monitoring For All
From the Pro Tools user manual “Track Input monitoring lets you toggle individual audio tracks between Auto Input and Input Only monitoring modes at any time, during playback, recording, while stopped, and even when a track is not record-enabled. TrackInput monitoring pro- vides the necessary monitoring flexibility for over- dubbing and mixing, and is similar to input switch- ing on analog multitrack recorders and similar machines.” We get that HD users should get some extra features for the extra money they shell out, but limitingthe basic need for input monitoring as a paid upgrade is as silly as making the ability to record in Pro Tools a paid upgrade. Whoever came up with this policy must be the person who never bought his wife an engagement ring - talk about tight!
- Variable Loop Lengths In MIDI Tracks
We had it in C-Lab Notator several decades ago, if Avid are serious about music producers using Pro Tools for production then variable loop lengths in MIDI composition is a must have no-brainer. What this enables composers to do is to get drum tracks down fast as well as repetivitive parts such as arps and bass-lines. Yes we have looping and duplication but I do miss this basic feature I was using in 80s MIDI sequencers.
How many of these are on your list? Which basics do you you keep wishing were in Pro Tools?
There are times when you need to check your stereo mix in mono. However Pro Tools does not have mono button in the master channel. Russ shows a way to do it in Pro Tools for free.
Mike has recently ran an article Avid Still Have Serious Problems With Video In Pro Tools 11 about concerns that many professionals have about the new Avid video engine found in Pro Tools 11. It garnered a lot of comments from industry professionals.
How are you getting on with it, take part in our poll and let us know what your experiences are.
Rich Tozzoli has worked with such artists as Al DiMeola, Ace Frehley, Hall & Oates and David Bowie. He has composed for the likes of NBC Olympics, NFL, NHL and Deepak Chopra/Oprah Winfrey, and can be heard nightly on History Channel, Discovery Networks, Nickelodeon and all A&E networks. Over to Rich….
Composing for TV is creative, challenging and always fun. But you have to be able to work fast, think on your feet, and have full control over your DAW. I think of Pro Tools as an essential instrument that helps me translate what’s in my mind to what comes out of the speakers during a broadcast.
- In The Box - I happen to write for a variety of different shows, so each day (and sometimes each hour) has its own direction. That’s why it’s so essential to work with a fully automated setup, and for me, that composing, editing and mixing completely in the box. That way, I can recall the entire session, including video, at a moments notice with no worries.
The winner of our Community Member Of The Month Award sponsored by Sonnox is Paul Maunder.
Over the last month Paul has made outstanding contributions to the community with his helpful comments and insights - all aimed at supporting other community members.
Wow, I’ve actually won something! Thanks for selecting me to be the January winner of a Sonnox plug-in. I’m happy that I could be of some assistance to the community.
This is the first time I’ve won anything since the time I won a Monster-Munch hand puppet in a draw at my local newsagents several years ago ;) This is definitely a better prize!
Well done Paul, shame we didn’t get a picture of you using the hand puppet!
You can win an awesome Sonnox plug-in by making regular contributions to the Pro Tools community.
We know that some of our readers really appreciate forums as they try to get answers.
Pro Tools Expert have teamed up with the highly popular ProToolsUser.org who have been around since 2007.
With contributions from both enthusiasts and top engineers and producers it is worth checking out.
In this free Pro Tools video tutorial Russ goes back to basics to help those new to mixing, In this video he talks about the different features in the simple 1 band Eq and how they can be used in significant ways to get a mix in shape.
This video is a sample of over 500 paid for videos on Pro Tools Expert, subscribe for just £20 a year for full access.
Following on from my recent series on Channel Strips I thought I would post this simple guide to creating a user default.
To create a user default setting, I made the changes I wanted to Channel Strip. These were to change the default process order from [EQ, Filter, Dynamics, Volume] to [Filter, Dynamics, EQ, Volume] and to change the LF and HF sections to shelf, and finally hide the EQ section. I then saved the setting as “CS Compressor” using the preset menu at the top of the plug-in window.
With the setting saved, I then set this particular user setting as the plugin’s user default as shown below:
The final stage of the process is to change the plug-in default from factory to user setting:
Neil Martin’s 3 articles part 1, part 2, & part 3, focused on getting Pro Tools and its associated extras into a state whereby it could be deployed en-mass, specifically with the software management tool, Munki. Neil takes up the story….
Packaging the Pro Tools application bundle for deployment tools other than Munki.
The way I dealt with the Pro Tools Application bundle meant that only Munki could deploy it and other software management tools couldn’t. I thought it would be a useful addition to show how to use our old friend, Packages in order to build an installer package with the Pro Tools application and post-install script included. You’ll see that it takes a bit more effort than the ‘Munki method’.
The package you’ll build can be installed with other tools, including Apple Remote Desktop, JAMF Composer, or anything else that can handle a standard installer package. It’ll also work with Munki. For those of you using something else, there’s no need to feel left out anymore.