Today I downloaded and installed the new version of the Avid Pro Tools Control app for iPad and I am going to share my first look at it.
Now the first thing I want to say is that I have an older iPad 2 which isn't officially supported on the new version. The Pro Tools Control app requires iOS 9.3 or higher and the officially qualified iPads are..
- iPad Pro 9.7" (iPad Pro 12.9" is still being tested and is not currently recommended)
- iPad Air and Air 2
- iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4
Avid say that Pro Tools Control may work with older iPad versions like mine but performance may vary. So with that caveat declared let's get on with the review.
Installation And Setup
When I did a quick test of the the first version of the Pro Tools Control app, I had some setup issues and for me, this version also had some setup issues too, but that may be because I didn't have a full installation of Eucon.
Even after installing Eucon 3.4, I was getting nowhere in getting the iPad app to connect and recognise Pro Tools. After some research and much Restarting Eucon Applications, I decided to put both machines on the same wi-fi network which is a repeater that I have installed in the studio, to make the connection as direct as possible.
I don't have a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter + USB 2 to Ethernet Adapter for connection of Ethernet cable direct to iPad but I do plan to get a USB 2 camera kit for my iPad 2 and try it out in the future, but for now I am on wi-fi but even putting them both on the same wi-fi network, which Avid recommend, it still wasn't working for me. The Eucon Control app could see my iPad and the app...
but there was no work station on the workstation tab and the iPad app stayed unconnected.
As well as restarting the Eucon Control apps, I also toggled the Eucon check box in the Pro Tools Peripherals but still no joy. Then I remembered the Extras folder in the Eucon 3.4 Installer and wondered if there might be something in there that might help to fix my problems. In that folder is a WorkStation Installer and as I was having problems with a lack of workstation recognition I thought I would give it a go. Sure enough after installing that and another computer restart, success. I have Eucon 3.4 working with Pro Tools 12.4HD and the Pro Tools Control app v1.0.6. and I could start to explore the new version of the app.
Although the Mixer page above isn't too different, hiding up near the top are two more options Channel and Soft Keys.
Pro Tools Control - Soft Keys
The soft Keys tab is actually a very small door on to a huge number of pages. It comes across as very similar to the Soft Keys in the Artist Control that I used to have and in fact in reading up on this they are very similar. In fact Pro Tools Control and Artist Control load the same Appset file and apparently this is one of the reasons that you cannot use an Artist Control and Pro Tools Control at the same time.
However, if you have both Pro Tools Control and an Artist Control and would like to have different Soft Key commands for each surface when you switch between them, you must manually swap out the desired Appset for each surface. Avid recommend that you store your unused Appset files in folders with unique names (such as “Artist Control appset” and “PT Control appset”). DO NOT rename the Appset files.
Write Your Own Appsets
Sreejesh Nair has wasted no time and has created and put together a great article on the Avid Blogs entitled Pro Tools Control — Creating Custom Post Macros. After the release of Eucontrol 3.4 and the free Pro Tools Control app for iPad, he fell in love with its Channel view and Soft Keys view. He decided to go ahead and make some macros for the common tasks he does for sound editing and Mixing in Dolby Atmos, along with some cool stuff for Cargo Cult’s incredible plug-in, Spanner. You can Download my user set here, but we strongly advise you to read the rest of his excellent article on the Avid Blog pages.
Some of the macros on his custom Tracklay page Sreejesh has created are...
- Extend & Create 1 Frame Fade
- Copy Fade from Clip Above
- Extend Whole Clip to Match Clip Above with Fade Length
- Extend Clip Head to Match Clip Above with Fade Length
- Extend Clip Tail to Match Clip Above with Fade Length
- Extend Whole Clip to Match Clip Above without Fade Length
- Duplicate Clip Backwards or Forwards
- Export Tracks
Then on his custom Dolby Atmos and Spanner Page above some of the macros he has are...
- Move Clip Down
- Transferring Pan
- Spanner Plugin to Atmos
Hundreds Of Pro Tools Control Soft Keys Pages
Back to my first look at the Pro Tools Control app, there are hundreds of pages in this Soft Keys section of the app. In the image above which is the Meters WorkFlow page, that is page 143 and you can configure your meter view rather than having to dive into the Pro Tools Preferences. Other randomish example of different Soft Key pages in the Pro Tools Control app include the Tools page...
Then there is a page to manage and adjust Clip Gain from rather than having to use the keyboard and mouse...
Pro Tools Control - Channel
The other new section in the Pro Tools Control app is the Channel section. In the top section you can jump around the channels and the bottom half allows you to control plugins. You use the navigation boxes in the middle to select blocks of controls which then are displayed to the left and right hand sides, again not dissimilar to the Artist Control, but I noticed something was missing.
Compare this image above which is from our story on the announcement of the Pro Tools Dock and you see a graphical display of the EQ but that seems to be missing from version 1.0.6 of the Pro Tools Control app. Maybe it didn't make this version, but as someone who appreciates good GUI interfaces I look forward to this development making the release version.
Coming back to the Channels page, in version 1.0.6 of the Pro Tools Control app the labelling in the boxes in the middle is not very clear in some of the third party plug-ins, which again reminded me of the Artist Control. Apparently this is done to the 'tables' in the plugins and this area needs more work to make its use more intuitive.
Well I have to say that this first look shows me that this is a very different app than the earlier versions and the small increase in the version number hides the huge amount of new features that Avid have added to the app.
It seems like they have taken most of the features of an Artist Control and brought them into the Pro Tools Control app which for a free app is an incredibly good offer. I suspect most of my install and setup issues were down to an incomplete install on my part when in the past I have partially removed Eucon from my machine, but it would be nice to have an explanation of the Install Eucon Workstation app in the support and help documentation.
But overall this is a very good app that you would expect to pay for, so for Avid to offer it for free with all these additional features is very good news indeed and I hope it is a sign of a new direction for Avid.