Todd Grace a re-recording mixer at Warner Bros. Studios, who has just replaced an 80 fader Neve DFC that was used on the Matrix with an 80 Fader S6, posted this interesting request on the DUC recently. Todd asked, "Why isn't everyone in the post community making noise about the single biggest omission in Pro Tools mixing for the post community?"
Todd continues "Routing and Pre/Post fader switch automation are important parts of everyday post mixing ... I'm aware that there are workarounds, but workarounds do not a complete toolset make. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Does everyone else here just drag audio to other tracks when they need a reassign? Or does everyone just use pre-fader sends and mute between where they want to send material? It is very useful to be able to pop between various reassigns without having to physically move the audio to a different track. (Speed and efficiency). For example, I might want to set up 3 or four different reassigns for various situations .. A/B dialog, Futz, flashback dialog, etc. I also often like to switch between reassigned dialog and panned dialog. Routing automation would solve this easily. While there are already work-arounds that I use, it would be great to not have to use a work-around. Music ... Pre/Post fader automation ... I think it's self-explanatory... especially for source music. Varied Stem routing for M&E's ... PFX ... I could go on ... not to mention Predubbing! Looking forward to your ideas."
This got me thinking, surely the new feature added in Pro Tools 12.8 when Dolby Atmos workflows were made native so that you can automate the routing of a track from a stem to an Object and back, mean that a lot of the development work has already been done?
Pete Gates who is a UK based dubbing mixer and editor and the man between the excellent PT Prefs app and other clever utilities says... "Agree with these requests - particularly a proper routing view window. Also an automation pass filing system, tree type thing, would be great. I'd add that to the list. Some of these things are difficult but they should've been able to do them by now (easy to say!). Some, like a grid type routing window, wouldn't be too difficult I would've thought. I have always wondered whether these ideas, which are obvious to all of us on the frontline, get through to the right person at Avid.
Frank Kruse who is an editor/supervisor added... "Couldn't agree more to the drop-down routing thing. Put this up years ago on Pro Tools Ideascale". So one to vote for if you like this idea and he also posted a thread on the DUC to discuss it. Frank continues... "Dolby Atmos etc. is all great and needed but for me, there are tons of small things that eat away hours and days over the course of a project.... So yes: By all means: You have my vote for routing automation (so much easier to create M&Es with it) but there are a ton of bread-and-butter things I'd prefer first. ;-) But I'm an Editor/Supervisor so my perspective is a bit different".
Team Member and Rerecording Mixer Alan Sallabank adds, "Ever since sitting down in a pub in Burnley with a developer from AMS Neve in the late nineties, to work out (literally on the back of a beer mat) the best way to use automated routing on the AMS Neve DFC, I've known just how important this feature is. The company I was a director of then, hedged their bets with console choice and chose to buy one DFC and one Harrison Series 12. The S12 also had automated routing, but it wasn't quite as clever as the AMS Neve, in that it wasn't aware of the pan designations of the output stems, so couldn't automatically assign the correct panner. In that period of history, what was supremely important was an efficient use of processing, whether it be analogue or digital. It makes no sense to double up on outboard or in-built processing, if it is not being used simultaneously by two different types of stem - music and effects for example. We also had a limited amount of dialogue noise reduction available, so it had to be able to be dynamically assigned to any combination of the dialogue tracks. Even in these days of incredibly powerful processing, now that we have huge speaker counts - the 128 channels that Dolby Atmos uses for example, efficient use of processing has come to the fore again. The only way to achieve this is to implement proper automated routing."
Adam Daniels from Point1Post added... "My first console was a Harrison MPC and I really liked it. It featured automated routing that was used to dynamically commit sounds to various pre-dubs. I transitioned to ICON/Pro Tools and I far prefer virtual mixing. Not having to commit to pre-dubs allows for far more creative mixing time. However, there are still occasions where automated routing would be very handy in Pro Tools. I may be way off the mark but I always assumed that it was not possible because of the dynamic delay compensation that would be required during playback. If it is possible then I think it would be a neat feature."
"FilmMixer" puts a different view. "In Pro Tools, you can have a massive amount of busses and subs.. in reality being able to handle automation to any of those at any time would seem to be a fairly large task to put inside PT. IMO it would require a rethink and re-design of bussing, adding something like types (dialog, music, Fx busses for example.). I think a better solution would be to increase the number of sends available .. 5 more would be enough for most needs
For dialog (and I almost always do dialog and music) and when things get tricky, I just set up a send that doesn’t follow the main pan and use the channel panner. Now I have 7 destinations on a single send. (Worked really well for me on a show I just pre-mixed for a someone that was going to final mix in a traditional workflow and wanted channel printed pre-dubs..) you can still have a FMP send but I don’t like to over complicate things and don’t find the need for more than three dialog chains on most any show I’ve mixed ITB.
Since aux inputs are virtually unlimited I found this solution a handy and more flexible setup than what I have on a console. Not trying to be contrary, but I do grasp why it’s not simple to implement or an easy feature to add. IMO I think a well throughout template can get you as much, if not more, flexibility than what we’ve had in the past."
Simon Chase points to another Pro Tools Ideascale thread on a similar subject.
I have only picked out excerpts from some of the comments in this DUC thread started by Todd Grace. If you want more information then do read the thread in full as well as the two Pro Tools Ideascale posts by Frank Kruse and Simon Chase.
Having read some of the pros and cons would you like to have Routing Automation in Pro Tools? Please vote...