Every time I learn some new software I’m reminded what it is like to be a novice and, in the case of audio software, just how much easier it is to learn your second and third DAWs than it was to learn your first.
I’ve spent much of my career helping new users navigate the intimidating learning curve that is Pro Tools for the novice user. There is nothing inherently good about complexity but it's a real shame to let the first few hours using a DAW influence which DAW you spend your working life using. After all, you’re only a beginner at the beginning…
So if you are new to Pro Tools you could probably do with some advice on what to learn first. My recommendation is to learn things which make learning the rest of Pro Tools easier. Taken from the Pro Tools Fundamentals series from a couple of years ago here are my top 5. Clicking on the title will take you to another story with more information.
Starting at the beginning, this is a very common issue. For many new users, their early experience with a DAW such as Pro Tools is the first time they have had to deal with external audio hardware and application specific sound preferences. There are lots of things to go wrong, and while none of it is complicated, it's much easier with a little advice.
One of the first barriers I have to overcome in a new DAW is how to navigate around my session. Horizontal and vertical zoom, switching windows, that sort of thing. Unless I can quickly zoom in make a fix and zoom back out then it all feels like so much hard work. These are my bare minimum navigation shortcuts.
Anyone who has used Pro Tools for any length of time will know how using modifiers you can quickly do to all, do to selected, do the opposite. It’s a kind of language we all understand. The best place to start is with the Option/Alt key. So useful.
Otherwise known as “why is it being weird?”. If you understand these two key concepts then some of the most mysterious differences in playback behaviour between Pro Tools and other DAWs will make sense. You can ignore these for most of the time but when they are set up differently to how you are expecting unless you know why Pro Tools is behaving like that you’ll have a bad day!
The routing of signals around a mixer is so fundamental a skill to an audio engineer that this one had to be in here. The flexibility of the Pro Tools mixer is one of my favourite things about Pro Tools.