Entries in tips (87)
We know that some time soon that Pro Tools 11 will be announced, offering users 64 bit processing and we think a heck of a lot more. We make it very clear on numerous podcasts that there is no need to upgrade to the latest version of any software. Many users are still happily working in legacy versions of Pro Tools as far back as version 6. If your version works and is doing everything you need then you don’t need to update.
However many users will want to take advantage of the new power and features that a new version of any app can bring. However to make sure you have a pain free transition here are 5 ways to prepare for an upgrade.
- Make Time
It may sound low tech, but the first thing you need to do is make sure you have time to do something as large as change to a new version of Pro Tools. Below we will tell you the technical stuff, but these things can’t be rushed. If you have a diary full of work then our advice is wait until you have a natural downtime in your work before even considering this transition. Remember the work you have now is not reliant on having Pro Tools 11, so why upgrade now? Right now I have a list of things I need to do in my studio which includes rewiring, installing updates, repairing stuff, but that will have to wait until the clients who pay for it all have had their work delivered. Ignore this advice and you may repent at leisure.
- Do Your Research
Make sure that your hardware, other applications and plug-ins will work. You can check our AAX database to see where the various vendors have got to in this process, although you will see many essential VIs are not even close to being ready, so make sure you don’t install a version of Pro Tools that kills your workflow. Each week on the Pro Tools Expert podcast we give the latest news on hardware and software issues.
- Back-up, Back-up, Back-up
I was shocked to read on a recent forum of a user who was backing up their computer simply by dragging files to another folder, this is not a back-up, this is a copy. The only way to ensure a real back-up of your machine is a full clone of the drive, there are many apps on the market that do this, some of them free. Check out our support page here for more information. On a Mac I use Carbon Copy Cloner, but select the one that suits your needs.
- Upgrade Your Machine
Some of you will do research that leads to the fact that you need a new computer, to be honest who ever needed a reason to buy a new computer?If that’s you then make sure you buy one that will last a few years. Don’t buy a computer for the needs you have now, but for the next 3-5 years. One tip, if your going to max out a computer it is often cheaper to get the memory and drives elsewhere - just do your homework. Some of you will not need a new computer but there are a number of things any working musician/studio will always need more of; memory and storage. If you haven’t maxed out your memory then take time to see how much memory you can add to your machine and add it - 64 bit will mean that Pro Tools 11 will be able to access all that lovely memory for your VIs and processing, so make sure you feed the beast. Storage has never been cheaper, consider upgrading your system drive to an SSD and getting some external storage to use for your sessions, samples and a place to back-up to. Remember if you are going to back-up your entire studio then it will take at least the amount of storage that is already being used - in my case that’s around 12TB.
- Sell Some Stuff
I have always had a policy of trying to fund any expenditure by selling gear I don’t use, rather than getting into debt. Look around you studio and ask when you last used some of the stuff you have. If you can’t remember the last time you used it then you probably don’t need it. This stuff is meant to be used not moth balled, of course if you have a vintage 1956 Fender Telecaster then don’t sell that… unless it’s to me!
So in summary if you are one of those people who is considering an upgrade to Pro Tools 11 then make time, do your research, back-up, upgrade and if you can do it in a way that doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have, then do it.
Following on from Russ’ review of the Waves Manny Marroquin plug-in series, he takes a mix and uses the plug-ins to add more bottom end to a kick, density to a snare, mash up a backbeat, add interest to a synth and tighten up a synth bass. Check it out.
Ever had a feeling no one knows where you studio is and who you are - that’s perhaps because it’s true. Unless you are a studio like Abbey Road or Blackbird then beyond your current clients, mates and your Mum, then most will not know about you. Here are my top 5 ways to get people into your studio.
- Create A Web Site
It might be stating the bleeding obvious, but one of the first places people are going to look to find out more about you is on a web site. You don’t need to be a coder any more and there’s a lot of services out there to help you build a great site, most of them free. Make sure you choose a site that allows you to plug-in audio, video, images and more. Make sure you have great pictures of your studio, don’t use library shots of an SSL 72 channel mixer if you use a computer based DAW. Alternatively don’t take some snaps with an iPhone of your computer monitors with no one sat in front of them. Use some imagination, think like a potential client, what would you want to see? Include a list of gear, plug-ins, instruments, services and special skills. Also make sure it has audio examples of your work, more on that in a moment. Lastly make sure the site can deal with social media buttons, which is next…
- Get Social
Just a few years ago the best way to get found on the web was to invest in a web site, but who will visit your website if they don’t know it’s there in the first place? Do you realise that if you have Facebook Like buttons on your website then every time someone clicks one your site appears on their page and quite possibly the page of all their friends too? That means absolute strangers suddenly know about your website and may click to take a look. The same goes for Twitter and Google+ so make sure you use social media in a smart way - it may be the only way people find you. WARNING - make sure you create a separate Facebook, Twitter and Google+ page for your business don’t use your personal page, it’s a bad idea for two reasons. Firstly your clients and potential clients don’t want to read about what you had for dinner or your latest break-up, conversely your friends shouldn’t have to read your stream of ads from your social feeds.
- Have Examples Of Your Work
Show reels are common in the video world, but less common in the audio world. They showcase your best work and give potential clients a snap shot of the kind of work you can produce. Make sure examples are interesting, I often create bespoke reels and presentations for different clients to make sure I tick the right boxes. If you haven’t got examples then make sure you get some soon.
- Have A Good Reputation
Work hard to get people loving your work and your attitude, both count. You can have the best studio in the world capable of producing awesome work, but if your attitude stinks then you have more chance of becoming Pope than a top producer. It’s also the case that you can be the nicest person in the world, but if you haven’t a clue then you’ll be the nicest owner of a bad studio around.
- Meet People
I spent several years of my life with an office in Soho, London. For this who don’t know Soho, it’s the centre of the film, TV and advertising world in London. It’s full of studios, post houses, production companies and every conceivable industry related to it. It’s also full of bars, pubs and restaurant - all filled to overflowing from people in the industry. It makes sense to get your name and your face out so that people know who you are and what you do.The amount of projects I can trace back to those places is amazing, also some of my most trusted go-to people I met there. The same can be said for trade shows, industry gatherings, coffee times, in fact anything that gets you meeting people. They may seem like a waste of your time and your money, but trust me it is time and money well spent. Check out the latest podcast interview with Fab Dupont, that’s his advice too.
So there we go, 5 ways to get people into your studio, there are more - what are your top tips?
It wasn’t that long ago that MIDI was a dream waiting to happen for hard core Pro Tools users. Even though the MIDI features in Pro Tools are often maligned, but make sure you have dug deep before wrtiing them off. Here are 5 Pro Tools MIDI features worth knowing.
Make sure you know how the button in blue works, it’s the difference between MIDI overwriting or over dubbing a part. It’s ideal for building up complex rhythm parts, simply set a loop on the timeline and then it will keep cyckling around as you build up the part.
Mirrored MIDI Editing
Mirrored MIDI Editing is a godsend if you need to change a looped part of a performance but don’t fancy going through the whole song to change. With it turned on whenever you make a change to the original it does the same to any copies in the loop.
One of the most powerful MIDI features in Pro Tools in Real-Time properties, a feature that is often misunderstood. What MIDI real-time properties do is, as the name suggests, modify MIDI data on the fly and in a none destructive way. This means you can make live changes to the MIDI data, such as timing, duration or pitch, but still have the orginal performance intact. Turn any of them off and the original is still there.It also means you can make a copy of the MIDI from the track and copy it to another and have two versions of the same performance.
The Pencil Tool
The pencil tool is a really cool and powerful tool you can use in the MIDI edit window, it is great for entering notes. Did you know that if you select a note input value and choose the Line tool and then drag across the MIDI editor it inputs notes at that value? In a second you can have 4 on the floor kicks across an entire song, or 16 note hi hats. The other line types are great for drawing automation such as filter settings.
Back in the day (whenever that was) but for the purpose of this article I’ll say the early 80s, all MIDI input was step based, you couldn’t just play live and record it. We dreamt of a day when we could just record MIDI like audio, but what step input gave us (and still does) is the tightest performances around. It works as the name suggests, you select a note value and then step through one note at a time, plus any rests you want to add. It takes time, but if you want very tight drums or bass parts, or arps, then step input is your best friend.
More MIDI tips to come soon! Enjoy.
Does it frustrate you that Boom doesn’t play when you press play in Pro Tools?
If it does then Russ shows you how to fix it.
Pro Tools Expert and Waves guru Michael Pearson Adams has released his first title for Groove 3, playing to his experiences when working with Waves - SSL Bundle Explained, in their words…
Michael Pearson Adams, former North American product specialist for Waves shows you all the features and
Our friends at Groove 3 have launched their new blog. I am also thrilled to have been invited by them as guest Editor for the next few months. Not being content with having 4 hours sleep a night I agreed, I just love them so I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Even better, some of your favourite Groove 3 authors will be sharing tips and tricks about all your favourite DAWs and other gear.
Russ shows just how powerful Xpand 2 can be for create cool grooves in Pro Tools.
We know that our annual membership is a steal, you get to watch our growing list of over 500 Pro Tools videos for £20 ($30) a year. If you are already a member of Pro Tools Expert then nothing changes, you will still continue to get FREE access to all videos as you have always done and for as long as your membership runs. Simply continue to log in on this site and use it as before, you have no need to use the new Pay Per View site.
However, you may just want to watch a couple of videos, well now you can on our new Pay-Per-View video service. It is hosted by Vimeo and you can pay using either a credit card or Paypal.
So the new Pay-Per-View service has launced with a limited, but growing selection. Find out more here
Some users are having an issue when running Pro Tools updates with all plug-ins going missing.
Despite reinstalling Pro Tools the issue remains - here is how to fix it on a Mac.
Members click the picture above to play, or use our Pay Per View service to watch it here
Russ shows how to take Xpand and turn it into a really gutsy killer synth.
Members click the picture above to play or use our Pay Per View service to view it here
Red light fever is that condition that seems to grip even the most seasoned performer. They can knock a song, guitar part or even interview out of the park without even thinking, then the minute you hit record they go to pieces. Here are my top 5 tips for helping to beat the fever.
- Help Them Relax
The aim of a good record Producer or Video director is to harness the natural talent of the person they are trying to capture. The first cause for red light fever can often be traced back to a Producer or Director ramping up the tension. I know we all have a lot of work to do in a finite amount of time, but often a time set aside at the start of each day just to chat things through and talk about expectations can save hours later on.
- Don’t Tell Them You’re Recording
You’ve seen me say this before, but if you have a red light in your studio disconnect it, or a camera with a red light to show record, cover it up. In my experience some of my best takes were the ‘rehearsals and sound checks. Which leads me to my next one…
- Record Everything
Leave your DAW in record, your camera rolling and you’ll often capture the happy accident in a moment you least expected. It takes time to go through the stuff afterwards to review, but you’ll be surprised what you find on the cutting room floor.
- Be Prepared And Make Sure Your Artist Is Too
If you have to keep retaking because the bass player keeps forgetting the chords to the middle eight, or the vocalist is reading the words that will just ramp up the tension for everyone involved. That goes for the Producer or Director too, the army are right ‘prior preparation prevents piss poor performance’ - make sure you know exactly what you are doing before starting Production, which leads me to the final and most important tip…
- Stay Out Of The Way
I recently shot what was for everyone involved a complex project with a band. I sat down with them after the shoot and they paid the biggest compliment possible ‘we forgot your team were even there’ was their response to our presence. As Producers and Directors our job is to capture great performances from great performers, this is often achieved by staying out of the way, letting them be themselves and simply doing our job of making sure we get it.
So, there are 5 tips, are there any you would like to add?
This nifty site helps all of us become a Pro Tools shortcut Ninja.
Mike Thornton was joined by Simon from Soundworks and John from Halo post to host an upgrading to HDX seminar at BVE 2013.
It was a full house with an excellent opportunity to hear real world examples of the transition to HDX. As Mike has been one of the early adopters (if not the first), he was able to share both his joy and frustration about the journey, much of which has already been documented here.
A video of the session has been made and we will have it up as soon as we can.
James is also at BVE 2013, taking the mic baton from Russ and Neil and spending a lot of time interviewing on behalf of Avid, you can see them here.
We get a lot of very nice emails thanking us for the work of the team on the blog. Sometimes people say ‘I owe you big time.’ The team have a shared passion, to serve freely, our income keeps the servers buzzing and the lights on. So here are 5 ways to say thank you, we call it paying forward.
- Find someone who is just starting out and give them some of your free time to show them some tips.
- Give someone something you don’t use anymore. It might be something large or small, it’s not the size or value that matters simply the act of generosity - it’s contagious.
- Be radical and write to someone to tell them how much you appreciate them. It could be a software developer, gear manufacturer, author, producer. Trust us, a letter that says thanks puts a smile on every face.
- Offer to help in a local studio, store, online forum, web for FREE. Even the richest companies in the world don’t have enough money and people to do everything.
- Spend less time in forums and on social media talking about this stuff and go and use the skills you have to bring some creative light into this world. The best way you can thank us is by using the knowledge you have to be more creative.
Now get out of here and pay it forward.
And by the way… THANK YOU!
Ever get sent audio to drop into Pro Tools and you don’t know exactly where to put it?
Fear not, there’s a big chance that Pro Tools knows where it should go - Russ shows you how.
Often a bad vocal gets blamed on the performer and yet some of the best vocal performances have been ruined by bad technical issues with recording engineers getting a great performance down badly. Here are our 5 common mistakes made when recording vocals.
- Wrong microphone
It is said that a bad workman blames his tools, that may be true sometimes, but using the wrong microphone on a vocal can make life very hard. If you have little money for your home studio then you need to make sure you buy a microphones with vocals as one of the primary applications for the mic. If you have the good fortune to own a lot of microphones then make sure you put a selection up in front of the artist and listen to them before making your final selection. The right mic can often mean that the need for eq and compression is then left to a minimum.
- Level headed
Make sure you understand gain structures in recording, it’s fundamental stuff, but essential if you want to make great recordings. Too low and you’ll have more hiss than bacon frying, too high and you’ll have more clipping to deal with than a poodle parlour. In the ‘wonderful’ days of analogue pre-amps and tape were more forgiving when clipping occurred - not so with digital, get that wrong and it will sound like Indiana Jones is cracking his whip in the background. Which leads me to my next point…
- Coach The Singer
I’ve lost count at the amount of times I’ve seen engineers increase gain instead of asking the singer to move from across the room towards the mic. Your singer needs to be comfortable, yet at the same time be singing in the right place to capture the best possible performance. Forget trying the whole ‘testing 1,2,3’ rubbish with them, that will just remind them they are about to do something technical. Simply ask them to sing through the song a few times to get relaxed, and whilst they do this then you can sort out your gain and other settings… oh yes and record perhaps their best take.
- Treatment Hell
We are big proponents at Pro Tools Expert of getting stuff down to ‘tape’, rather than fixing in the mix. However, if you overcook the compression, EQ or yes, heaven forbid track with autotune on, then there’s no way to recover it later. If you want to get a certain sound when tracking then use splits on the mic and get a clean safety version of the vocal down too, just in case. It does no harm and can save a song later.
- Monitors, Monitors, Monitors
Even before a singer arrives you have work to do and that is make sure you have decent monitoring for them. A good pair of headphones (enclosed) should also be high on your shopping list. If you’ve ever wondered why seemingly great singers suddenly start going out of tune in a studio, it’s normally because they can’t hear either themselves, the track or both. Make sure your singer is comfortable and has what they need in their monitors, for some it takes two or three passes of the track until they have what they need.
Recording vocals can be scary even for the most seasoned professional, so make sure you are ready to get down their best takes. Any more tips?