So now we have our system chosen and set up, let’s look at creating a new session.
When creating a new session it is so easy to just give the session a name and click the Save or Create button and miss out the Session Parameters and where on the system you have just saved your new session to, leading to the cry “I can’t find my session”! Add to that the fact that the default settings will, more often than not, be correct makes it even easier not to check them.
Worse still, you won’t be aware that these settings weren’t correct until much further down the road when fixing it could take quite a while. So take my advice and spend a little time here. Let's take a look at the various options here. As you can see in the image above the layout of this window has changed over the years but the information, principles and settings options remain the same.
Not unsurprisingly the first thing to do with the more recent New Session window is to name your session. Give it a sensible name that will not only make sense to you but anyone you are collaborating with. One piece of advice is never you the word 'final' in a session name, as it never will be the final version.
Audio File Type
The Audio File Type determines the file type for all audio files created by Pro Tools for this session. These days I can see little if any justification for any file type other than BWF (.WAV).
Moving on to the Sample Rate drop-down menu, the hardware you have will determine what options you are offered here. The image above shows what you get on an HDX rig with an HD Omni and 8x8x8 interfaces attached. Pro Tools standard systems will offer up a range of sample rates from 44.1 kHz to 96kHz or only offer 44.1kHz or 48kHz depending on what interface and hardware you are using.
As to what sample rate you should use largely depends on what you will be doing and where it will end up. Remember that the higher the sample rate the better the quality will be, but you will get larger audio files and the more load on the computer, A 44.1 KHz 16bit audio file will be 5MB per mono track minute and an 88.2kHz sample rate file will be twice that. If you are working on a music or a radio project then you are best to select 44.1 KHz or one of its multiples, if you want the better quality and are prepared to take the performance hit. If you are working on a TV project, then choose 48 KHz or one of its multiples.
Bit Depth like sample rate is a quality v performance trade-off. The higher the bit depth, the better the quality and there will be less need to record close ‘to the red’ but 24bit files will be 1.5 times larger than their 16bit equivalents. That said, these days this is much less on an issue so unless you have good reason not to, then use 24 bit. But at the end of the day, you pays your money and takes your choice.
Pro Tools will offer a range of default I/O settings and you can create your own from the I/O Setup window by selecting I/O… from the Setup menu. You can create your own I/O settings, which will enable you to give your inputs & outputs names that relate to your specific studio set up. However, Pro Tools defaults to ‘Last Used’ and this can cause problems when you don’t know what Last Used was. If you only work in your own studio and don’t work on sessions that have come from other studios then this won’t be so much of a problem. However, if the previous session was started in another studio it will have the I/O settings for that studio. So when you create a new session, if you leave the I/O settings as Last Used then your new session will inherit the I/O Settings from that other studio and your session won’t have the right labels etc. So I always advise not to leave it on Last Used but to set it to one of your own settings or if you don’t have any set it to one of the default settings, usually Stereo Mix unless you are working in Surround.
With the more recent Dashboard window, there are several options that weren't in the old New Session window. Avid has brought together all the options into this one window.
Session, Project Or Template
At the top of the Dashboard, you now have 3 options. Local Storage (Session) will save the session onto one of the drives attached to your computer. Sessions are what Pro Tools saves locally.
Collaboration and Cloud Backup (Project) is an option to save a Pro Tools session in the cloud. Pro Tools calls sessions saved in the cloud like this Projects.
Create From Template enables you to create a new session from a template session that has already been set up. There are a lot of template sessions that come with Pro Tools, but much more usefully you can create your own session templates and I keep mine in a folder called 'Mine'. Templates can contain all kinds of tracks and can also include media too. Examples, where templates are really helpful, are when starting an album, building a template session with tracks for all the instruments that are likely to be in most of the tracks on the album and plug-ins that you would normally use for those tracks. Adding media in templates is great in post workflows where you are working on a series where each episode has common content like into and out of music as well as stabs into and out of the ad breaks.
Choose Your Location
At the bottom of the window, there are options to determine where on your system the new session will be saved. If you select the lower Location option and then click on the Location button you can choose where on your system Pro Tools will save any new session by default. In my example, I have set it to my main Pro Tools session drive called 'Work Drive'. Now when you press the Create button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Dashboard window, the new session will be saved to that default location and will use the name you gave it from the top of the Dashboard window.
If you choose the Prompt for Location option then when you click on the Create button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Dashboard window, you will be offered the opportunity to choose the location on your system where this session will be saved to. In the image below, note how the session name I gave in the box at the top of the Dashboard window has been transferred to the Save window. Once you are happy then Press the Save button.
Remember although you can save Pro Tools sessions on your C drive or Macintosh HD drive, it isn’t recommended. So select your external audio drive as the best location to put your session.
Now you have created a new session you will get 2 pretty blank windows, which are the Edit and Mix windows. If you created a new session from a template then these two windows will have the tracks from the template.
In the next part we will take a look at filling these windows starting with creating new tracks and what the different parts of the Toolbar do.