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 tricks (108)
Russ shows how to track both clean and effected tracks at the same time in Pro Tools, giving the best of both worlds.
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.
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;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
A request by a community member, Russ shows how to create the ubiquitous Wub Wub bass sound in Pro Tools.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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