When I'm tracking I like to work quickly, in fact I'm aware that I sometimes work too quickly and I have to make sure that not wasting time dosen't turn into hurrying the performer. I like to get a handful of complete takes by whatever means necessary. A complete take is definitely a psychological milestone in the tracking process and in spite of the non-linear workflows we all embrace, I'm yet to be in a traditional band format session where we didn't start at the beginning and work through to the end.
Complete takes usually involve at least a couple of drop-ins though, and after that comes the selective dropping in and out over specific sections to address any issues. At these times pre-roll becomes essential, so essential that I remember the shortcut for toggling pre and post roll being the first one I ever specifically went looking for in Pro Tools (it's CMD+K if you were wondering). It wasn't until many years later that I discovered the audition features which make pre-roll and the whole process of dropping in and out so much friendlier to the artist when tracking.
With Command Focus enabled in the edit window (Cmd+Shift+1), pressing 6 will audition from the pre-roll flag to the start of the edit selection (i.e. the section that will be played before the transport drops in to record). This is the one I use 90% of the time, usually preceded with "this is where you'll be dropped in - OK?".
The function of the other audition shortcuts are listed below:
- 6 - plays from pre roll flag to start of edit selection/insertion point - i.e plays the pre-roll.
- 7 - plays from start of edit selection/insertion point by the pre-roll amount - i.e. plays the beginning of the drop in.
- 8 - plays from before the end of edit selection/insertion point by the post-roll amount - i.e. plays the end of the drop in.
- 9 - plays from the end of edit selection/insertion point to the post-roll flag - i.e. plays the post roll.
Using these shortcuts can speed up tracking by reducing the amount of verbal communication which needs to happen. I have been in too many sessions where the engineer has asked the performer to look at the screen to understand where a drop in occurs. Don't describe the audio to them, play it to them using audition mode.