From the myriad of social media posts I'm seeing, I can tell that the Post Production community are really excited by the new features announced in Pro Tools 12.6.
What's not to like? We get Real Time Clip Effects, Single Machine Re-Recorder workflow and a host of other improvements which will really help with large track count sessions - we can often be using 150 tracks on a stereo sitcom, with large edit densities and multiple playlists, so an aid to helping us not wipe out clips by accident is a very welcome feature.
Post Has Collaborated For Decades
The very process of Post Production has revolved around collaboration since its invention. Acquisition, Editing, Mixing and Mastering have always all happened in separate facilities (to help the analogy let's call them "systems"). These separate "systems" have always been based around different technologies, by different manufacturers, of vastly differing ages. What's enabled these systems to be able to collaborate is a set of standards, that have remained a constant for decades.
Real Time Clip Effects
As a post production recordist, editor and mixer I am really excited about the Real Time Clip Effects feature. I love the idea of being able to apply real-time non-rendered effects at a clip level. What I'm really worried about is the effect this feature will have on my collaborative workflow.
What happens if I need to open a 12.6 session with Real Time Clip Effects in Pro Tools 12.5 or less, 11 or even 10? It's all very well to say that you can render or commit them, but the destination system specification is not always known, and while workflow exists for the recipient to be able to effectively undo the render by selecting matching alternates, that's quite an arduous task on a busy session.
When the promised third party Real Time Clip Effects feature arrives, what happens if I use an effect that the recipient of my session doesn't have an authorisation for, or the same version of? This could even also apply to any of the bundled HD plan plugins, such as the Pro Series.
In order to get around backwards compatibility when collaborating, I've been having to send two versions of my session - one with everything real time and a second one with any non-stock effects committed. When collaborating over the internet this more than doubles the size of the package that needs to be sent. It also has a severe time implication, and reduces the "last call" duration - any last minute tweaks or updates are much harder to accommodate.
What Can Avid Do To Help?
Firstly we need Avid to recognise that there are still an awful lot of older Pro Tools systems out there, particularly in large Post Production facilities. These types of facilities are often behind the curve, as they have a large capital investment, require long term stability and with multi-system facilities, upgrade costs are very expensive.
To help us users who have to collaborate with these facilities, and indeed anyone not running the latest version of Pro Tools, we need a proper Backwards Compatibility workflow.
It should be possible for Pro Tools to be told the specification of the destination system. It could then bring up a selection table listing all the plugins you use, in which you can select the plugins you know the recipient to have.
By making this selection, you could then save a session copy, with any plugins or features that the recipient does not have, automatically committed, with pre-definable handles.
When you import session data, you get presented with information about the system that the session originated on. Using this data, Pro Tools could even semi automate the selection process.
In order for this new workflow to actually work on a practical level, Pro Tools would then have to present you with a preview of the session it's about to save, so you can check that there haven't been any undesirable consequences of the automated commit.
So there you go Avid - there's a feature idea that could really help us in Post Production. I'm also of the opinion that by helping us with a Backwards Compatibility workflow, it will slightly counter intuitively encourage more people to upgrade.
Do other people in the Post Production community feel the same way? Please let us know in the comments section.