All of us, certainly the male of the species, have a favourite sweater, jumper, tea shirt or pants. What ever type of clothing it is, it will have seen better days and despite the protestations of our partners we will not get rid of it. We feel comfortable wearing it even though it may no longer look it’s best and certainly cannot be considered fashionable anymore.
Thinking about all the recent debate about Pro Tools and whether it is fit for purpose got me thinking. For me Pro Tools is like a favourite sweater, or in my case, a favourite tea shirt that I still wear it even though it is thread bare and even has holes in places.
When I am using Pro Tools I am in a very deep comfort zone. I know how it works and what I can do with it. That security enables me to be creative and deliver what my clients need without having to try and work out how to do it.
This might come across as a glib statement but every job I do, every challenge a client presents me with, I can deliver the goods with the help of Pro Tools. It was interesting at the recent Penteo Surround event how many people are still using their Pro Tools 10 jumpers because for them and their clients it is that stable and reliable platform that enables them to deliver the project to the client. For me, whether it’s radio documentary or drama for BBC radio where I can build the narrative with the tools and techniques that I have developed over the years. Recently I had a new client in the studio to record some narrative elements for a project which was very personal to them and they were apprehensive about the whole process but I was able to put them at their ease very quickly because I was in my comfort zone using my workflows and skill. Now not all of those are Pro Tools specific of course but it would have been much harder to have put my nervous client at ease if I was trying to use another application.
I would not swap my HDX system for any other system and for a number of reasons.
I know that I can record strings and full orchestral sessions with musicians working off headphone mixes from from the Pro Tools mixer with plug-ins on record tracks without having to worry about latency. Also have the security to handle drop-ins across many tracks knowing that the musicians will always be able to hear what they need to hear and I am not having to use two mixers to manage monitor mixes and trying to run the session on a minimal buffer size. I can get on and do what I need to do and concentrate on the music, and getting the best performance possible from those who I am recording.
That said, it doesn’t mean that I stay buried in my safe little world, definitely not. I continue to learn and develop new techniques. For example, I was working on documentary recently for BBC Radio 4 that had no narration at all. It was made up of reflections and first person stories from a doctor suffering from dementia. The core of the programme was made up of recordings made by 2 different people on different days with different recorders and microphones and so sounded different. The challenge was that in order to tell the story the way we wanted to, we needed to cross cut between these different recordings and of course they sounded different. Not only because of the different recordings but also the locations were different and so the amazement of my producer, using my newly found skills with iZotope’s RX4 Advanced, I was able to take sections of the program out through RX Connect into RX4 Advanced and use Ambience Match to extract ambient sound and EQ Match to match the tone of the different recordings so that we could cross cut whenever it was appropriate.
Result! One very happy producer and the program was much better for being able to tell the story the way we wanted to without the constraints of the way the content had been acquired.
Are there other applications than do things differently and with different strengths? Yes there are, but I suppose I find myself in a comfort zone with my favourite sweater and I will continue to use Pro Tools as long as I am able to be creative and can support my clients.