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Entries in tips (123)

How To Do Old School Tracking With Effects In Pro Tools

Russ shows how to track both clean and effected tracks at the same time in Pro Tools, giving the best of both worlds.

Pro Tools Expert Podcast Episode 64

Russ, Mike, Neil & James are here with a packed Pro Tools Expert podcast that includes; 

  • Competitions
  • Exponential claims for PT11
  • HD Native could be a killer system
  • The future of Apple’s Mac Pro
  • Community Tip 1 - Carsten Groa
  • Community Tip 2 - Tony Molica
  • Community Tip 3 - John aka Tunes
  • Community Tip 4 - Kimball Owen-Brown 
  • No sound from Pro Tools  SE  
  • Control surfaces and monitor sections
  • No Digidesign Plug-in Folder after update
  • Problems with DAE error 9073 on Windows machine Video to help 
  • Problems with Ableton Live 9 Intro & Pro Tools 10 Rewire downloads 
  • Will Bidule work with effects plug-ins?
  • AAX version of Vocalign LE
  • How to prove eligibility for free academic upgrade 
  • Pelsuo v Octava mics
  • Keyboard focus question on Windows PC keyboard Logic keyboard 
  • Have you heard of Keycue?  
  • What is the Pro Tools mode on the Apollo?
  • Where are the links your refer to in the podcasts

You can listen here;

Monty Powell Shares Songwriting Tips

This is an excellent video produced by Toontrack and a valuable resource for anyone wanting to craft better songs. Enjoy!

Is Your USB Stick Fast Enough To Record Audio On?

With the growing propensity towards mobile recording solutions, an obvious way to capture the data is with a USB stick or pen drive. However not all drives are created equal and some just don’t have the speed to keep up with a multi track audio DAW like Pro Tools.

However, help is at hand from the sites whiratesit, and Tom’s Hardware who have an extensive and growing test database ranking drives, so make sure you get a drive that has the speed you need.

Working For Yourself - 5 Things Everyone Should Be Told

A lot of people working in the music industry work for themselves; it can be the best decision you ever make. But too many people go into starting a business without knowing some key things that are a normal part of running your own business. So if you are considering working for yourself, or have just started, then read these 5 things - they will stop you feeling alone or thinking that you’ve maybe made a big mistake.

Click to read more ...

5 Ways To Get Tight Timing In Pro Tools

If you want to get tight timing in your tracks there are a few things you can do to make sure your performance is on the money. Here are my top 5;

  1. Get The Metronome Beat Right
    One trick drummers use, especially on slow tempos is to make sure you metronome is running at 8 clicks per bar rather than 4 clicks per bar. This helps to keep your playing super tight. 
  2. Get the Metronome Sounding Right
    The sound of a click can make a lot of difference, thankfully Pro Tools 11 features Click II that will offer many more click sounds to chose from. Even if you don’t intend to upgrade then you can modify the click to trigger any MIDI sound, you can also simply create you own click drag by dragging clips onto the timeline and lining them up on the grid and then looping them.
  3. Get Your Monitor Mix Right
    Spend time making sure you have both the mix and the metronome right in your ears. Too quiet and you won’t play in time, too loud and it will bleed into your recording. If you are working with clicks then make sure you have good quality enclosed headphones, especially around drums as there are multiple mics the click can bleed into.
  4. Practice Makes Perfect
    I’ve worked with human metronomes who seem to be tight as a drum machine, but ask them and they will tell you they spent hours learning to play to a click. The good news is that you can improve your timing with practice, the bad news is you have to put in the work.
  5. Cheat!
    Sometimes you get performances that were played live, without a click or you just have a someone who has sloppy timing. If you can’t get the performance you need then you may have to resort to using the excellent tools for getting stuff in to time such as Beat Detective, Elastic Time or good old fashion cut and nudge - but if you can use these as a last resort, a great performance is always more musical.

So there we are, 5 ways to get tight timing in Pro Tools. If you have any of your own, please comment.

Extra resources;

My Hard Drive Bombed And I'm OK

Now that might seem like a smug thing to say, but believe me I’ve had hard drive crashes on several occasions, the first time I tried spending £450 with a specialist recovery firm, only to get back half the data. They say a fool is not someone who makes a mistake, but one who keeps on making the same mistake. I think I’ve learned from my mistakes, read this and you can learn from my mistakes too.

So my Mac Pro started playing silly buggers about a week ago, it would freeze after about 45 minutes of use and the only thing that would bring it back was a hard restart. Then I went through all the apps and systems that could be causing it, starting with apps, then background processes and still no love.

Then I fired up Disk Warrior and it told me that my SSD had some serious issues that I could only fix by flattening it and starting from scratch. Now for some that would be the worst news in the world. Thankfully for me it wasn’t, here’s why.

  1. I have two system drives on my Mac, one running the latest OS and the other an older trusty version. If one bombs then I have the second one I can boot to run any analytics, such as Disk Warrior.
  2. I keep all my sample libraries, Pro Tools Sessions and the data components of any large products like Komplete Ultimate on other hard drives. So if I do have to reinstall apps I don;t have to reinstall the huge libraries they use. All my sessions are backed up to Gobbler, all my other personal stuff is in Dropbox, all my mail is on IMAP, so none of that is getting lost.
  3. I use Super Duper and Carbon Copy Cloner to make back-ups of my drives so if the worst should happen then the worst hasn’t happened.
  4. I keep all my installers on a spare drive, so should I need to reinstall all the Apps, then I don’t have to wait for huge downloads to complete before I’m up and running.
  5. I use iLok for most of my plug-ins - you might hate iLok but they are my best friends, even if I had to buy a new machine then I could use all my plug-ins.

Now all of that is wisdom acquired from more bags of hurt than I care to recall. It has taken time for me to come to my senses regarding good storage, labelling and back-up policies. Some of the software I have mentioned is not free, but the alternative of me spending hours, if not days, trying to get my computer and data back from the dead makes my investment pay for itself a hundred times over.

Take my advice, learn from my mistakes and never have the worst happen, even when it does!

Everything You Need To Know About Pro Tools 11 - Video & Podcast

Russ and Mike have produced a show as either a YouTube video with slides or audio podcast ‘Everything You Need to Know About Pro Tools 11’.

The 45 minute show is an in depth explanation of the new features found in Pro Tools 11, plus our thoughts on the latest version of our favourite DAW. 

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

5 Unlikely Things That Can Improve Your Creative Output - Really!

Are you fed up of trying to get down to producing some masterpiece only to find that 8 hours later you’ve done bugger all? Here are 5 things that can improve your output, all of which sound plain silly but are completely true.

  1. Stare At A Cute Animal Picture To Improve Your Playing
    You know all those pictures of cats rolling around in heather and puppies looking to camera with ‘please don’t drown me’ eyes, they help improve our motor skills. Two studies, one from the University of Virginia and the other Hiroshima, both found better performance improvements after staring at pictures of “very cute animals.” If you are struggling to nail those guitar licks, keyboard lines or Pro Tools shortcuts it may be time for you to find a cute animal pic.
  2. Surf When The Sun Shines Work When It Rains
    Harvard Business School have published a study that shows when the sun shines we are distracted, but in bad weather our productivity improves. They suggest we should work shorter hours when the sun shines and make them up when it rains. That may explain the prolific musical output from the UK and also Jack Johnson living in Hawaii.
  3. No Song Then No Beer
    When push comes to shove, we are more likely to avoid loss than try for a benefit. In other words, if I told you that if you wrote a song by the end of the day you got $100 you may not meet the challenge. However if I told you that it you didn’t finish the song by the end of the day you would lose $100, then you are more likely to do it. So you should set targets on yourself, I do this all the time, I only reward myself with a coffee, lunch, sleep etc. when I’ve hit a milestone - it’s very good for self employed people to manage their time and output.
  4. Multitasking Is Rubbish
    It has been said that multi-tasking is the best way to get things done; I’m sure you do it all the time, flick between editing a track and reading your emails. Stanford have conducted one of many studies that show multitasking to be a weakness not a strength. Even more interesting is a study from the University of California that shows that when people turned off their email they were less stressed and got more done. Stress is a creativity killer - if you are in the middle of a great song idea and then you read an email that gets you angry or a Facebook comment that is just plain wrong, I can put money on you not finishing that song that day… if ever.
  5. Sleep And Go Look At Squirrels
    Creative types like to work late, party hard and live on Red Bull or other similar substances to improve their senses. However several neurological studies show that the ‘I only need 5 hours sleep’ line isn’t true, lack of sleep suppresses brain activity that control attention, it also affects how you control your emotions. So the next time you find an artist flipping out in a session, it may have more to do with their lack of sleep than them being a genius! Furthermore, not only is sleep good for you but also getting out into nature. The Universities of Utah and Kansas ran a creativity test on two groups, one that went hiking for 4 days and the other before - the group who did the hike scored a 50% higher result than the other group that didn’t go looking at squirrels.

All a little mad you might think, but I’ve done all of these and seen improvements - why not give them a try, if for no one else then do it for the puppies.

You can read all of this and more in detail in the April 2013 edition of Inc.

Get Killer Hip Hop Kicks Without Using Thump 

After the video showing how to use Thump to get killer Hip Hop kicks some of you asked how to do it without. Russ shows you how.

Get Started Fast With Transfuser

Transfuser is often overlooked as a complicated instrument, but watch Russ take you from nothing to an entire song in a few minutes using just Transfuser.

Get Killer Hip Hop Kicks In Pro Tools

Russ shows how to get Killer Hip Hop Kicks In Pro Tools. All this is done using FREE stuff.

Fix The Structure Browser Hang Bug

Ever tried to navigate to your sounds via the browser in any version of Structure to be presented with the Mac beach ball of death? It may also be the same in Windows, but I’m a Mac user so we need to ask Neil.

Anyway, you can spend days trying to fix this - but the best way to fix a problem is to find out why it happens in the first place. 

Click to read more ...

5 More Pro Tools MIDI Features Worth Knowing About

Here are 5 more MIDI features in Pro Tools worth knowing about to follow up on our first 5 we showed last week.

Mirrored MIDI Editing Works Across Tracks

Whilst Mirrored MIDI editing may be cool within a track to ensure loops are consistent, you can also use them across tracks if you want to use 2 synth bass sounds or stack drum sounds. Simply turn on the feature then a track copied to another will continue to mirror any edits made

Export MIDI

Right mouse click on the name of any MIDI track and you will see the “Export MIDI” feature. Now because Pro Tools uses real-time MIDI processing you will then get a dialogue box up asking if you want to export the original MIDI without any quantizing, transposing or other real time processing you may have done, or as you are hearing it - nice!

Show MIDI Editor

If you want to see you MIDI editor all the time rather than when you just open it (double click on the MIDI track for that when in clip mode) then simply hit this down arrow at the bottom of the Pro Tools Edit window.

Enable Note Chasing

Imagine you have a long string pad that starts at bar one and then lasts 8 bars, but you want to hear the sustain of that note if you start playing at bar 5. Enable note chasing and Pro Tools plays the note as if you had started playback from the start. Magic!

Drawing MIDI Date 

If you drop down the arrow on the bottom left of any MIDI channel you’ll see options to chose any MIDI controller, use the little arrow at the end of the grey bar next to the word to choose. Then select the pencil tool and you can draw in things such as the velocity of hi-hats or a snare roll. I use it all the time.

iZotope Nectar Pro Tips From John Perry

This is an excellent series from our own John Perry taking you through how to get great sounding vocals using iZotope’s Nectar or Nectar Elements

Everything from mic placement to reverb settings can make or break the perfect vocal take. Fortunately there are plenty of of great advice and help for getting the most out of your vocals, when you’re tracking and when you’re mixing. John Perry (who has sung with artists like The Beatles, Elton John, and Roger Daltry) guides you through an 8-part Vocal Master Class featuring both Nectar and Nectar Elements.

You can even download the demo song to follow along on your own!

5 Tips On Dealing With Clients And Money

How you deal with clients including agreeing work, the price, cancellations and getting the money can be a tricky business, so here are some thoughts based on my 20 plus years working as a freelance.

  1. Cancellation Charges
    What should you do if a client cancels. My terms & conditions say 50% if a client cancels within 1 week of the job, 100% if cancelled within 24 hours of the job. As to whether to impose these terms, it depends on things like, whether it is a regular client, or if the job is postponed or cancelled.
  2. Money up front
    I will usually ask for a deposit from new clients I have no relationship with and definitely if I have had to buy or rent in stuff for the job.
  3. Pre Job Briefings
    Working with clients over the internet and so have never met means that meeting people isn’t always possible as the flight would be more expensive than the job, but yes as a rule, it is best to meet up with folk before hand so you can get a feel of where they are coming from. You can get a much better feel for where they are creatively meeting face to face. Failing that use services like Skype.
  4. What to do with the ‘tapes’?
    This is a golden rule, especially with new clients. Never hand over the media until you have been paid in full. Also make sure that in your terms & conditions, you specify that you own the content of the recordings and that ownership will only transfer to the client when they have paid you in full, so if they try and use some low grade approval version without paying you then you can take them to court for using your content without permission.
  5. The price
    Be clear about the price, discuss it and then confirm details in an email. In my experience, the people who haggle over the price, cause me the biggest grief because they always want something for nothing.

In conclusion, be clear, explain your terms and conditions up front so the client is aware of the way you do business.

5 Ways To Prepare For Pro Tools 11

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.

Mixing With Waves Manny Marroquin - Extended Video 

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.

5 Ways To Get People Into Your Studio

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.

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

5 Pro Tools MIDI Features Worth Knowing About

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.

MIDI Merge

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.

Real-Time Properties

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.

Step Input

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.