Following on from our Ninja post about using the keyboard shortcuts here is a post on how to use the Command Focus keyboard shortcuts.
The Keyboard Focus commands are a real step forward for single-key operations when the [a…z] focus mode in the Edit window is selected by clicking on the a-z button at the top of the Edit window vertical scroll bar.
These are available to use on all Windows and Mac based Pro Tools systems. Good news for those who work with both Windows and Mac based systems that unlike some other shortcuts the Keyboard Focus shortcuts are the same for both Mac and Windows systems.
You may find it helpful to have at least sight of a qwerty keyboard as you read this as the commands are grouped together in areas of the keyboard to make them as intuitive as possible.
Alternatively if you like what you see here you may want to buy a Pro Tools keyboard with the shortcuts on it or alternatively a sticker set to go on your existing keyboard…
There is a ‘pain barrier’ to go through to get the Keyboard Focus shortcuts into your way of working but rest assured it will be worth it. Perhaps go through the learning curve with a project where the deadline isn’t too pressing.
So lets start the series with some Zoom Functions…
Zoom Level 1-5 – alpha keys 1 to 5
By using the numbers 1 to 5 above the letter keys (not the number pad) you can access the 5 preset horizontal zoom settings that are 5 buttons just below the zoom buttons in the Edit window. To set these presets adjust the horizontal zoom to suit and then Command+Click on the Mac, or Control+Click on Windows, the appropriate button to save the preset.
Zoom Toggle – E
This will zoom an edit selection (Highlighted selection on a track not a timeline selection) to the width of the edit window. If you press E again it will take you back to the previous zoom setting.
Centre Edit Selection Start – Q
This will put the start of an edit selection in the centre of the edit window.
Center Timeline End – W
This will put the end of an edit selection in the centre of the edit window.
Zoom Out Horizontally – R
This is the same as going up to the toolbar and clicking on the zoom out button.
Zoom In Horizontally – T
This is the same as going up to the toolbar and clicking on the zoom in button.
Play to, or from, an edit point by the pre, or post, roll settings – alpha keys 6 to 9
When you have a potential edit highlighted this group of commands allow you to
Play up to the selection using the preroll setting – alpha key 6;
Play from the start of the selection by the post roll setting – alpha key 7;
Play up to the end of the selection by the preroll setting – alpha key 8;
Play from the end of the selection by the post roll setting – alpha key 9.
This is very useful for checking whether you have included or excluded a particular element of audio from an edit selection.
Timeline and edit selection commands
These work only when you are working with the timeline and edit selections separated. You can do separate the timeline and edit selections by clicking on the ‘separate’ button that is to the right of the keyboard focus button so it isn’t highlighted.
Copy Edit selection to Timeline selection and vice versa
This is a pair of commands that enable you to copy a selection from an edit on a track up to the timeline – O (letter); and to copy a selection from the timeline onto an edit on a track – alpha key 0 (number).
Play Timeline selection – ]
This will play the selection made on the timeline (The highlighted section in the Time Ruler above Region B) Using the Space Bar will play this option.
Play Edit selection – [
This will play the selection made on the track (The highlighted section in the Region A)
If the Timeline and Edit selections are linked then either command will play the highlighted section.
Move Edit Selection up – P
This will move a selection from one track to the track above irrespective as to whether there is any audio on it at that point.
Move Edit Selection down – ; (semi colon)
This will move a selection from one track to the track below. If no selection has been made this and the command P will move the cursor up or down a track.
Tab back – L
This will move the cursor back (earlier in time) to the previous region boundary or sync point on the same track.
Tab forward – ‘ (apostrophe)
This will move the cursor forward (later in time) to the next region boundary or sync point on the same track.
Modifying starts & ends of regions
Trim Start to Insertion – A
If you place the cursor part way into a region then clicking on A will delete the audio from the cursor back to the beginning of that region. (See figs 3a & 3b)
Trim End to Insertion – S
If you place the cursor part way into a region then clicking on S will delete the audio from the cursor forward to the end of that region.
Fade to Start – D
If you place the cursor part way into a region then clicking on D will create a fade in (using the default fade settings in Preferences) from the cursor position back to the beginning of that region.
Fade – F
If you highlight a selection then clicking on F will create a cross fade (using the default fade settings in Preferences) without giving you the Fades dialog window.
Fade to End – G
If you place the cursor part way into a region then clicking on G will create a fade out (using the default fade settings in Preferences) from the cursor position forward to the end of that region.
Cut and Paste commands
The usual Cut – X; Copy – C; and Paste – V are available to you but without the need of modifier keys (Command for Mac and Control for Windows).
Separate – B
This does the same as Command+E on the Mac and Control+E on Windows. If you have the cursor placed in a region then clicking B will create an Edit at the cursor position. Similarly if you have highlighted a selection and click B then edits will be created at both ends of the selection.
The next 2 commands toggle between 2 states each time you click on them.
Timeline Insertion follows Playback (pref toggle) – N
This allows you to turn on & off ‘Insertion follows Playback. With it on the cursor will stay where it is when you stop playback and will continue on from that point when you hit play. With it off when you stop playback the cursor goes back to the point you started to play from. Before you had to go into Preferences to change this, which was a real pain.
Track View Toggle – Minus Key (alpha section only)
This will toggle the track that the cursor is on from Waveform to Volume Graph and back. You can use this in conjunction with the Option key for Mac (Check the Windows command) or if you have groups selected will work across them too.
The next group of four enable you to nudge selections both by the Nudge value set in the menu bar, Nudge back – <; Nudge forward – >; but also by the next nudge value up from the set one, Nudge back by next nudge value – M; Nudge forward by the next nudge value – /.
And finally in this section perhaps the most useful (again without the need of a modifier key.
Undo – Z
Snap to timecode
Having ‘parked’ your machine at a suitable timecode position these 3 commands allow you to spot the highlighted region to the ‘parked’ timecode position. Protools will obviously need incoming timecode from a slaved machine for this to work.
Snap Start (of selected region) to timecode – Y
Snap sync point (of selected region) to timecode – U
Snap End (of selected region) to timecode – I
Snap to stationary Playhead
This group of commands allows you to snap your selected region to the playhead position.
Snap Start (of selected region) to playhead – H
Snap Sync point (of selected region) to playhead – J
Snap End (of selected region) to playhead – K
Conclusions from the ‘pain barrier’
For me the best parts of using the Keyboard Focus are being able to Zoom in and out both with the Preset zooms and the Zoom Out – R; and the Zoom in – T commands. These alone have made it worthwhile to have the Keyboard Focus on and the Track View toggle, Zoom toggle, Separate, and Nudge keys are serious bonuses. I still use the Smart Tool for the fades and the Trim tool but I am definitely declaring long live Keyboard Focus!