Dynamic transport is the perfect way for me to link this A-Z of Pro Tools post with last week’s Pro Tools Fundamentals post on playback modes. Dynamic transport is the fifth playback mode, the others being normal, loop, prime for playback and half speed playback, though arguably Shuttle could be an additional playback mode too. Much misunderstood (especially by me, for a long time), dynamic transport is very useful once you understand what it is and what it does which can’t be achieved using the other pro tools playback modes. To enable dynamic tramsport hit CMD+Ctrl+P (Cntrl+Start+P on the PC), select it from the options menu or right-click on the play button.
Three things happen automatically when dynamic transport is instantiated:
loop playback is switched on
Timeline and edit selections are unlinked
The primary timeline ruler doubles in depth revealing the playback start marker
What Is It For?
The first use I became aware of for dynamic transport was logic style dragging of a looping timeline selection. if you are looping bars 1-4 and you want to loop bars 5-8 you can simply grab the grey timeline selection between the blue timeline selection arrows. This is a method of working familiar to users of many other DAWs. For me it is particularly reminiscent of Logic but similar features are available in Cubase etc. However this is secondary to the real point of dynamic transport. Dynamic transport allows you to start playback from anywhere on the timeline, breaking the link between the timeline selection and playback. Really useful for auditioning loop points - rather than having to start playback from the beginning of the timeline selection, the playback start marker allows you to start playback from just before the end of the timeline selection saving you having to sit through the entire loop just to check the loop point.
Option/Alt-clicking the timeline selection snaps the edit selection to the timeline selection - Useful to know as switching to dynamic transport unlinks edit and timeline selections. They can be re-linked when in dynamic transport but using this option-click trick is all I ever need.
There are a couple of preferences for dynamic transport in the options tab which are worth investigating. “Play start maker follows timeline selection” is switched on by default. This makes the play start marker update to the in point of the timeline selection when the timeline selection is moved. “Timeline insertion/play start marker follows playback” does the same thing as the insertion follows playback button on the edit window toolbar. In fact newer users of pro tools might not be aware that this used to be the only place you could toggle insertion follows playback apart from pressing the N key. Is it any surprise I got so confused about why the playback behaviour of my system seemed to change randomly from time to time?
Its worth saying that use of pre-roll isn’t compatible with dynamic transport and trying to use both at the same time gets pro tools in a bit of a dither - Hmmm, “Dither” begins with D.