In this article, each team member is going to share which of all the article they produced for the community during 2017 was their favourite and why.
The pieces I enjoy writing the most, and I do mean writing, I've always been one of the team who likes to write rather than create videos, are the ones which force me to learn something new. I think I learn something from everything I produce but some pieces necessitate me researching areas I am anywhere from a bit fuzzy, right through to willfully ignorant of and these are definitely the pieces which I hope the community will be as excited about as I am. Inevitably that isn't always the case as these pieces tend to be long-form and text-based and from years of teaching, I know this doesn't suit everyone.
The piece I'm going to nominate is Active Acoustics - What Are They And How Do They Work? This piece was inspired by seeing the PSI AVVA C20 at BVE in 2017. I was impressed by this active approach to an issue usually solved with expensive, site-specific and extremely large bass traps. It made me wonder why people didn't take a similar approach with the equally large, site specific and expensive area of venue acoustics. One thing led to another and I ended up finding an excellent case study from DAD in which a combination of AX32s, TC System 6000s, DPA microphones and d&b Audiotechnik PA speakers to build a multichannel artificial "acoustic" into a relatively dry performance venue.
Like all the best ideas this isn't new but with technology finally being able to support the idea this is an area which looks likely to become more and more significant. And best of all it ticked the most important box for me with any content I produce, its an article I'd like to read.
I like articles that prompt discussion and engage the community. For this reason, I'm nominating Do You Still Use Your Control Surface? Be Honest Now. This article, albeit short and simple, seemed to strike a chord with the community and spawned a huge discussion, both on the blog and on Social Media. I absolutely loved reading all the comments and the huge range of opinions, all of which were as valid as each other. As with most of my articles, it came about through an experience whilst actively at work, using Avid equipment ten hours a day on a fast turnaround TV series. One aspect I really miss working from my own studio on my own, is the social interchange of views among colleagues - the water cooler moments as it were. The Pro Tools Expert blog makes a great water cooler!
When it comes to it I'm really not much of a writer, I'm much happier on video. I guess it's the natural performer in me. So unsurprisingly my favourite article of the year is, in fact, a video.
One of the things we pride ourselves on at Pro Tools Expert and indeed across the Production Expert team is that love to help the little guy. Now that maybe by helping raise awareness of a crowdfunding campaign or helping a member of the community in a spot of bother but this year at Musik Messe in Frankfurt I came across a chap who had developed a piece of software that was so neet I a, wanted it so I could tidy up my studio and b, I wanted to tell the community about it. And that software was PatchCad.
PatchCad is a Windows application that easily allows you to create and print labels for your patch bays. This has to be one of the best pieces of software I have ever reviewed. It's quick, simple and gives a great professional result. I had many an email after the review went live from the creator of PatchCad telling me that his phone had not stopped with orders since the review on the site. Cue that warm fuzzy feeling inside.
You can check out my review of PatchCad below. If you have and use a patch bay for £9.99 it has to be on your Christmas list.
Wow, this is a difficult one. As the editor of the site I post a lot of articles and so finding my favourite article of 2017 is a big ask. So I am going to present a short list...
Help And Support articles
I love being able to create help and support articles for the Pro Tools Expert community. In 2017 there was a series all related to iLoks, how to use them, how to use the iLok License Manager, what to do when it goes wrong and what to do to protect iLoks from being damaged lost or stolen.
Then there were resource articles on Common Pro Tools Error Codes What They Mean And The Fast Way To Fix Them because when one these messages pop up it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on and what to do to fix it.
Following on from these common errors, I put together an article on what to do about Missing Files And Using Force Relinking In Pro Tools. It can be a heart-stopping moment when you open a Pro Tools session and get that dreaded Missing Files window and so I put together this article including step by step instructions on how to force Pro Tools to re-link a file that is on your system but for some reason, Pro Tools cannot see.
We get a lot of emails about video file formats and so I put together an article entitled What Is The Best Video File Format To Use With Pro Tools? to provide help and advice on getting Pro Tools friendly video files for those of us working to picture.
Finally in this section have been my articles on macOS Sierra Pro Audio Compatibility and in 2017, MacOS 10.13 High Sierra Pro Audio Compatibility Guide With Regular Updates. I love being able to provide resources like these to help the community find the information quickly and easily.
One of my passions has been the whole area of loudness and how the new loudness compliant workflows have impacted on the audio post-production workflow. A few years ago, when I was researching this for my own professional development I realised that there wasn't any joined up training to help audio professionals get to grips with this area, so rather than winge and complain, I decided to produce training resource for loudness workflows, and then offer my services to travel, teach and train audio professionals on producing loudness compliant mixes. I also realised that I couldn't reach everyone this way and so I produced a video tutorial series entitled Understanding Loudness that anyone could rent and watch.
Following on from this I have continued to study and analyse loudness and intelligibility and in 2017 I produced a series of articles on loudness related matters, including developments in using loudness in music mastering and looking at the issue of loudness and mixing in the film mixing workflow. Coming back to the broadcast sector, I wrote 2 article with a connected theme, trying to establish why some broadcast mixes had too much dynamic range by asking Are TV Mixes Becoming Too Cinematic? and Are TV Mixes Getting Too Big For The Domestic Living Room? and I am so pleased that these articles generated a lot of interest and discussion.
My Favourite Article of 2017
That's my shortlist but which one of all these articles is my favourite for 2017? It has to be MacOS 10.13 High Sierra Pro Audio Compatibility Guide With Regular Updates. This article is always in the top 10 most visited articles each day on Pro Tools Expert and I continue to try and keep it up to date with the latest information.
The articles I enjoyed producing the most this year for the Pro Tools Expert Community have to be the Mastering Shootout Polls:
I produced these shootouts because I was keen to hear the current machine learning mastering tech against real-world human mastering talents. Before I produced the first shootout I thought the results of the A.I. shootout between LANDR and two audio professionals (I was one of them) would be a landslide win for the mastering engineer... but it wasn't. The mastering engineer won by only 4% over LANDR. To my ears, there wasn't much in it between the delivered masters and the poll results voted by the Pro Tools Expert Community reflected this as well.
"A.I." Machine Learning pro audio applications have captured my attention and imagination this year, I look forward to 2018 where I suspect we'll see even bigger developments in this field.
As for LANDR, which won in the second mastering shootout poll, I was extremely impressed with the results. So much so that I signed up for a year subscription. My wife uses LANDR nearly every day to master her demo recordings and I use it occasionally as a reference tool when I need to compare my masters.