Avid has now released Pro Tools 12.8HD with Dolby Atmos integration that they announced at Avid Connect on the run up to NAB 2017 in Las Vegas. Everything in this story is for Pro Tools 12HD users owners unless otherwise stated.
Pro Tools 12.8HD Feature Summary
- Native Dolby Atmos™ Support - Pro Tools HD Only
- 7.1.2 and 7.0.2 Track, Plug-in, and Bus Support
- 3D Panner with Height Controls for adjusting signal height manually as well as automatically with shaped pan guides. A New “Theater” view for the pan window provides a dimensional, rotating theatre perspective panner.
- Atmos Renderer Communication and Object panning - connect up to 128 inputs with a total of 118 Objects from Pro Tools directly to a Dolby RMU or to the Dolby Atmos Renderer software
- New “Atmos” tab in Setup > Peripherals to manage Renderer connections
- Object mapping for busses via I/O Setup - any mono path or stereo pair of mono subpaths can be mapped to Objects found declared on the renderer
- Automated Bussing between a track's Object output and Main output
- Object Fold-down Bus
- Prepare, repurpose, edit, and rough-mix using all of the Object based workflows in Pro Tools but without needing to be actively connected to a renderer - Object routes are automatically folded down to an output of your choice for monitoring until a render is connected
- Enhanced Re-recording Workflows
- Link and unlink punching of audio and pan automation on recorder systems receiving mastered object audio and metadata
- Input monitoring controls on the recorder toggle between sending source metadata or re-recorded metadata to the renderer to achieve true PEC/DIR film mixing workflows with object audio and metadata
- Import ADM BWAV files generated from Dolby Atmos Printmaster files using Import Session Data to repurpose archived printmaster content. A complete session including object assignments, track names, and pan metadata can be generated from a single supported WAV file.
- Automatically duplicate automation from the Dolby Atmos Panner Plug-in to Track automation in Pro Tools. Also send track automation from Pro Tools back to the Dolby panner plug-in with simple Edit Menu > Automation commands.
Pro Tools 12.8 Adds New Track Formats For Dolby Atmos
The highlights of the Pro Tools 12.8 release is support for 7.0.2 and 7.1.2 track and stem formats, one universal panner module for both stem and Dolby metadata panning, automated routing between stem and objects, support for the ADM BWAV file format making re-purposing of immersive content much easier and support for Pro Tools sessions on the Avid NEXIS storage systems.
Pro Tools 12.8HD Is Now 3D With The Addition Of Height Channels
The big development with 12.8 HD is the new panner which now handles height. This means a brand new bus structure, new I/O management and new send & return plug-ins to be able to route audio in-the-box between Pro Tools and the Dolby Atmos Production Suite. In order to make this work with Pro Tools HD Standalone systems, Dolby and Avid worked together to find ways to internally route 128 channels of audio bi-directionally between Pro Tools and the Production Suite software.
Automated Routing Between Busses And Objects
There is also a new automated routing system that allows you to dynamically assign an audio path to either a bus (known in Dolby terms as a "bed") or as an object, This is a very welcome new feature - a variant of the dynamically automated routing available on DSP consoles such as the AMS-Neve DFC.
Backwards Compatibility Limitation
Based on the pre-release demonstrations it is our understanding that there is no backwards compatibility for these new features When you open a 12.8 session in a 12.7, or earlier, system, the X-Y panning (up to 7.1) will be readable, but the Z (height) information will not come across. It will be a bit like opening a session that uses Clip FX on Pro Tools earlier than 12.6.
Integration Between Pro Tools And Dolby Renderer
There is a new tab in the Peripherals Setup menu, exclusively for controlling the connection between the Dolby Renderer (hardware or software) and Pro Tools and because of the complete integration, there is no longer any need for a third party monitor application to manage the data and audio connections between the two systems.
Pro Tools can now import Dolby panner information into the native Pro Tools panners, so there is no need to copy and paste the automation from the Dolby panners to the native should you wish to work without them and no need for two panners, one for Pro Tools and one for Dolby Atmos metadata.
Dolby Atmos Metadata And Re-recorder Integration
As we have seen in the pre-release demos, to further integrate the Dolby workflow into Pro Tools HD, Avid has added re-recorder dubbing for the Dolby Atmos metadata, whether that is for automation or object metadata into the Dolby RMU. Prior to this, you had to run a pass from top to bottom to get the audio and metadata out of Pro Tools into the RMU.
With the new Dolby Atmos integration feature set, you will be able to drop in and patch a section and the metadata will go with it. This will eliminate the need to have extra dubbers in the way as work rounds, everything will work in the box. You will no longer need to do an automation pass at the end of your mix because now the automation and metadata are being updated on the fly just like Pro Tools has done for ages with conventional automation with Touch etc, the Dolby Atmos metadata workflow is now built into the workflow within Pro Tools HD. For example, you could have a system with 3 playback Pro Tools systems feeding one record system and the RMU and all the Dolby automation and metadata can come from the playback systems across to the record system and the Dolby RMU.
Dolby Atmos Workflow Integration With Avid Control Surfaces
A new panner and Dolby Atmos integration obviously mean new software for control surfaces with special integration for XYZ (front-rear-height) panning. With Pro Tools 12.8 and the latest Avid S6 software you can assign both joysticks to control X-Y and Z separately but simultaneously, or use a single joystick and control the height using a knob beside the panner. The individual controls also spill out onto the channel strips, and the touchscreen really comes into its own for this type of work.
Avid presenting all these workflows built into the S6 control surface as the “most affordable way to do a Dolby Atmos theatrical mix", as they have designed this to bypass the need for a dedicated console to handle everything. Avid's plan is to enable users to produce a full Dolby Atmos theatrical mix completely in the box, no console required.
Pro Tools HD To Support The ADM (Audio Definition Model) BWAV File Format
Pro Tools 12.8HD provides support for the ADM BWAV file format. This is an archivable, repurposable file format that Pro Tools is able to read and open out to Dolby Atmos object tracks with all the object metadata.
To achieve this, in the Import Menu, there is now an option to import a BWAV ADM file. This allows you to import a Dolby Atmos master that's been saved as an ADM file, and bring in panning, track labelling and grouping. In this way, a Dolby Atmos Master file that's been created using a system other than Pro Tools can also be file imported into your Pro Tools session.
New Collaboration Features
Along with Pro Tools First and Pro Tools users, Pro Tools HD users can now work with up to 10 collaborators in the cloud on a single project. You can also choose to save projects locally or in the cloud using Selective Project Sync, which Avid has designed to give you easy access to all of your cloud-based work from any Pro Tools-equipped computer—from anywhere you can log into your account. And if you need more storage, you can now expand your cloud space for as little as $4.99 a month for 10 GB.
Other Features Added In Pro Tools 12.8
- Keep Window On Top option to determine whether or not Workspace browsers remain in the foreground while interacting with other windows
- Editable ISRC metadata column
- Set column metadata values for multiple selected files
- Improved Show/Hide Column Shortcuts
- Change to key modifier for sorting by multiple columns
- Add Column Data as Search Criteria Shortcut
- Loop indicator in Tags pop-up window lets you designate loop files when assigning tags
- Updated Play and Stop icons in the Waveform column
- Updated Advanced Search button
Updated session and project creation settings in the Create tab in the Dashboard
Backup to Cloud option lets you pull projects offline or put them online
Track Cloud Synchronization indicator in Tracks List
- Keep Window On Top option for the MIDI Event List, MIDI Editor, and Score Editor windows to determine whether or not each designated win- dow remains in the foreground when interacting with other windows
- Keyboard shortcut for showing and hiding the Universe display
- Pro Tools support for SMPTE ID for audio files (AIFF and WAV only)
- Local Waveform Cache Versions preference to determine the number of most recent versions of the waveform cache to be stored locally (if at all) for online projects that are not cached locally and sessions on network storage systems (such as Avid NEXIS)
- Smart Tool Fade preference
- Parallel Task Optimisation preference for optimising parallel processing tasks