Apply Real-Time Effects To Clips (Pro Tools HD Only)
This is a long awaited feature that has been in the Ideascale top 20 for so very long. At last with the introduction of Pro Tools 12.6, HD users can now apply non-destructive, clip-based processing. You can add real-time EQ and dynamics to a single clip or a clip group, enabling us to have different settings across multiple clips without having to render the clips using AudioSuite plugins.
There is a dedicated ‘plugin’ for this feature which is based on the Avid Channel Strip, and has access to all the Channel Strip presets as well. The real time effects plugin pops up in the space occupied by the Universe window. Consequently this section of the Edit window now has two tabs so when it is open you can switch between Real-time clip effects tab and Universe tab.
This feature is not automatable so you cannot change the settings over time within a clip, it is a static setting for each clip, but that isn't an issue, static settings are what we have been waiting for!
Settings Stay With The Clip
All the settings stay with the clip, so if you move the clip around the timeline all the settings travel with the clip. There are no more messages about not having that plugin on this track and so on!
Layer Up Your Clip Effects
You can also layer real-time clip effects over the top of each other, so you can have some clip specific processing which is different for each clip but then have a different setting that affects a block of clips and they all work together, so you not are limited to one set of settings per clip.
Icons To The Right
There are some new icons that appear in the top right corner of each clip which tell you that there are real-time clip effects applied to that clip and what type of effects have been used.
If you right click on a clip with real-time clips effects you have the option to Bypass, Copy, Clear or Render the real-time effects on that clip.
What Is The Processing Order?
The signal path order now in Pro Tools 12.6 tracks is Elastic Audio, Clip Effects, Clip Gain, Inserts and finally the Fader. This means that all real-time clip effects are pre Clip Gain so adjusting the Clip Gain will not screw up any Dynamics in use in Clip Effects.
No 3rd Party Plugin Support Yet
You cannot use any other plugin yet for this new real-time clips effects feature but we understand that Avid do plan to extend this to 3rd party plugins in the future, but for now it is just the Avid Channel Strip, but this is a major step forward for post work and is one of the features in the Ideascale top 20.
Pro Tools Vanilla Users Are Not Completely Left Out
Although this is an HD only feature, for easy and smooth collaboration and interoperability between any Pro Tools system, Avid have made sure that when you open a session with Real-time Clip Effects in Pro Tools Vanilla, users will be able to playback with those effects, you just won’t be able to edit or modify them. However Vanilla users will be able to choose to Bypass or Render the clip effects. When the session returns to an HD system it will again be possible to edit or modify the clip effects.
Edit Audio Layers And Create Playlists More Easily
How many times have you dragged something out of the clip list or moved clips around the timeline in the Edit window and unwittingly covered over one or more clips without realising it, maybe for some time so using Undo will no longer fix it? Now with Pro Tools 12.6, this doesn’t happen anymore, and Pro Tools can warn you if you are about to obscure clips with a drag operation.
Create New Playlists On The Fly
During a recording session having to stop and create a new playlist between each take could really slow up the creative process. Now in version 12.6, Pro Tools can automatically create new playlists on the fly so that no clip is ever ‘recorded over'.
When you are recording, if a clip is going to be fully obscured then Pro Tools 12.6 automatically pushes it down onto a new playlist, so you can easily retrieve it 'in-place' and use it in any comping process.
This is going to save so much time, because before you would have to dig around the clip list create a new playlist, and then drag the clips out of the clip list using Spot so you can get them back onto the timeline in the correct place. Now with Pro Tools 12.6 it all happens automatically.
Who Is On Top?
So at its simplest, if you have a clip that you place ‘over the top’ of a longer clip, when the layered feature is turned on, we get a graduated shadow on both ends of the clip on top.
Now when you delete the top clip, you don’t get a hole in the underlying clip. Avid have also extended the transparency feature so when we move a clip over the top you can see through it to the clip underneath.
When you move a longer clip over a smaller clip Pro Tools 12.6 displays blue boundaries for the shorter clip that is underneath. However the really clever bit is when you let go, it automatically creates a new playlist, so the clip that was covered up completely is no longer gone, it is simply moved onto another playlist.
The Clip Goes Red
Now in Pro Tools 12.6, if you move a clip around and you aren’t aware that you are going to cover clips that are beyond what you can see in the Edit window, Pro Tools now makes a graduated red border warning you that this move will cover over and remove a clip or clips that you cannot see.
New Key Command To Toggle Through Playlists
Even better, when you hold down Shift and use the Up and Down keys you can toggle through the playlists for that track. There is no need to go over to the Playlist drop down menu in the track title section of the Edit window to change playlists.
You can then use the master playlist to quickly comp up the wanted takes, without having to pause the recording session whilst you create a new playlist to record onto.
New Playlist Indicator
One of the reasons that Post people gave to Avid during the consultations as to why they didn’t use playlists is that other members of the team didn’t know there were any alternative playlists in the session. It was much clearer to tracklay ‘alt’ takes on extra tracks. Now there is a new Playlist Indicator (the blue downwards arrow in the example above to the right of the 'PianoMg' track name) that turns blue to show you that you have more than one playlist on that track maybe post users will use Playlist more.
With Pro Tools 12.6 you can now edit the fade shapes from the Edit window using the Smart Tool by dragging the Fade shape line to change the shape of the fade. There is no need to double click on the Fade to open the Fade window and then edit the Fade from there.
Right Click The Fade
If you right click on a Fade clip, you have the option to adjust the fade shape and slope from the contextual menu that pops up.
Fades Render Correctly When You Drag A Clip Onto Another Track
If you drag a clip that has crossfades onto another track, Pro Tools 12.6 will now render the fades on both tracks correctly, keeping the fade lengths and shapes the same across the two tracks, and so it will sound the same as when everything was still on one track. With Pro Tools 12.5 and earlier you got ‘half-fades’ instead and so the transition didn't sound right and you ended up having to tweak the fades to get it right.
Using Re-Recorder Workflows With A Single Pro Tools System (Pro Tools HDX Only)
Back in the days of Pro Tools 10 when working on big film mixes you could end up needing 3 or 4 Pro Tools systems to play back all the different tracks and then a separate Pro Tools system acting purely as the ‘recorder’ to capture all the stems and mixes. With the changes in the way Pro Tools works under the hood, you can now get so many more tracks on one machine and so for all but the biggest mixes, you can handle the mix in just one system but that means that the Pro Tools system is handling all playback and recording on the same system. However this increased usage has thrown up an issue with latency and timing when recording onto tracks especially when the audio is routed through Aux Tracks and other Audio Tracks, which can happen when you are creating all the different stems and mixes that are part of the deliverables for these large projects.
Now with Pro Tools 12.6, Avid have redesigned things so that when using Pro Tools HDX and Punch mode the system calibrates and time aligns the stems so that there is no latency or audio glitches when punching in and out or switching inputs, in either what you hear in real-time and on the actual recording.
In the graphic above all the source tracks are represented in the left hand column. In the middle we have a range of audio stem tracks and these can now be put into 'Recorder' track mode (Blue Mode) where you can turn on and off the Auto Low Latency mode at the bottom of the faders in the Mix window.
Now all the tracks downstream will be punched in and out correctly and not leave gaps because of latency. The right hand column represents all the monitor sources and it is important that all of these are in sync, and before Pro Tools 12.6 this type of workflow was full of possible pitfalls.
When the Re-recorder mode is enabled (Blue Mode) Pro Tools knows that this track is in its own time domain so that when we punch in, it has to be relative to its source and not relative to the playback tracks.
This feature is HDX Only by necessity rather than by design because Pro Tools needs extremely low latency for the tracks in 'Blue Mode' so that it all works as it should.
All Blue Mode Tracks Have To Use AAX DSP Plugins
All the plugins on tracks in Blue Mode have to be AAX DSP to keep the latency right down. In this example, the surround encoders and decoders would need to be the Neyrinck AAX DSP plug-in. The Minnetonka plugins are only available as AAX Native plugins and so won’t work in this re-recorder workflow.
New Task Manager Status Icon
Up in the toolbar under the Start End and Length and to the right of the Delay icon, in Pro Tools 12.6 there is now a new Task Manager Status icon. If there is any activity in your task manager then this icon will spin, if there is a problem in Task Manager it will go red, and if you click on it, it will open up the Task Manager window. If you have a re-link issue it will automatically open up the Re-link window.
Freeze Status Icon
To the right of the new Task Manager Status icon in Pro Tools 12.6 there is now also a new Freeze Status icon and this will show if any tracks in the session are frozen, and if you right click on it, it will give you the option to freeze all Instruments, or freeze all Auxes.
The Clip Effects means that the editor can use effects to get all the clips in line and sounding as they should and then the mixer can use the normal track-based plugins for the mix.
These are all excellent features and it is great to see one of the key requests from the Ideascale top 20 in clip-based effects has been delivered with this upgrade but what about folders in the Clip List and Marker Improvements to mention just 2 more of that top 20?
I am disappointed that there is no sign of higher multichannel format support for the likes of Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D.