The recent 12.8 update for Pro Tools | First added some new features to this free version of Pro Tools. However, what Avid didn't specifically mention in its release notes is that they also removed some features. Before you update, read through this article in which I show which features (including some very important ones) were removed.
Before You update
In general, it is a good idea to save the current version of an application before installing an update, which usually overwrites the current version of the app. Copy the current application to a different folder (or zip it) first, so you have a fallback in case you have to revert to the previous version for any kind of reasons. Keeping the installer file around is also a good idea.
When a company releases a new update for an application, it usually adds new features and functionality. Not very often are features removed, because it can create compatibility issues with older files or at least irritate the users who get accustomed to or might rely on a specific feature which suddenly isn't available anymore.
Here is a list of the items that were available in the previous version 12.3.1 and now in the update 12.8 are gone.
- Clip List
- Mirrored MIDI Editing
- Dynamic Transport Mode
- Edit Selection Points
- No more multiple Workspace Windows - only one Soundbase Window
- MIDI Editor (still there)
Clip List - Removed
This is the strangest thing. There is no more Clip List ➊ in Pro Tools | First v12.8. The arrow button ➋ in the lower-right corner of the Edit Window is now gone. First I thought this was an oversight or a hidden feature, but the release notes has one line "Restored the Tracks List, removed the Clips List".
How can you work without a Clip List? Who at Avid came up with that idea? If you delete a Clip from a Track, it is still in your Project and you can drag it back onto a Track from the Clip List, but now, not anymore. Also, if you open a Project from v12.3 that has Clips in the Clip List, you can't access them anymore.
There is only one minor workaround. If you open the Workspace Window (now called Soundbase ➌), it lists your Project in the Sidebar ➍ and you can access at least the audio files ➎ ("Whole-file Clips") that are used in that Project. However, no Subset Clips of audio files, no Clip Groups, and no MIDI Clips at all.
Mirrored MIDI Editing - Removed
"Mirrored MIDI Editing" is a mode with the following effect. Any edit to a MIDI Clip will apply to every copy of that MIDI Clip in your Project. You could toggle that mode in v12.3 with the Mirrored MIDI Editing Button ➊ on the Toolbar, which is now gone ➋. The command was also available in the Main Menu "Option" ➌, which is removed from there too.
Again, what was the reason to remove this feature? Save two lines of code? Makes no sense to me.
Dynamic Transport Mode - Removed
When Dynamic Transport Mode is enabled, the Timebase Ruler changes to a double-strip Ruler ➍. Now the Edit Selection ➎ and the Timeline Selection ➏ can be set separately with their own indicators, plus there is a separate Play Start Marker ➐.
This is the only feature I understand why it was removed. It shouldn't have been there in the first place, because it is more of an advanced feature and can be confusing to beginners.
Dynamic Transport Mode could be toggled from the Shortcut Menu ➑ when right+clicking on the Play Button and as a separate menu item ➒ in the Main Menu "Options". Both menu items are now removed.
No More Multiple Workspace Windows
This topic is a mixture of new functionality and removed functionality regarding the Workspace Window.
The command "New Workspace" ➊ has been renamed "Soundbase" ➋ keeping its Key Command (ctr+opt+I). This makes Pro Tools | First compatible with the same changes in the other Pro Tools apps, which involves some changes to the Workspace Window ➌ to access the new 500MB sound library ➍ of audio loops.
However, besides those additions and changes, there is now a restriction in Pro Tools | First that lets you have only one Workspace window open at a time. Before, the command "New Workspace" ➊ opened additional Workspace Windows, but now the command "Soundbase" just opens that one Soundbase Window. Therefore, the original menu command "Workspaces" ➎ with its submenu ➏ is also removed, because those commands are obsolete with the single Soundbase Window, which now is a floating window.
MIDI Editor - Still There
The Main Menu "Window" had a command to open the MIDI Editor ➊, but when you look in v12.8, that menu command is gone ➋. Don't worry, Avid didn't remove the MIDI Editor. The MIDI Editor ➌ is still available at the lower pane of the Edit Window that can be toggled with the arrow "MIDI Editor" ➍. The menu command just moved from the Window Menu to the new View Menu ➎.
Changes In The Main Menu
Beside the changes in the Main Menu that I showed so far, there are a few more additions and changes in the Main Menus.
View Menu: The View Menu ➊ is a new addition to the Main Menu (similar to the other Pro Tools versions). Besides the Mix Menu Views and Edit Window Views submenus ➋ it now lists the MIDI Editor ➌ item that has been removed from the Window Menu. This makes sense, because the MIDI Editor is part of the Edit Window (a so-called window pane) and not a standalone window.
Track: The Track Menu has two more items, representing new features in v12.8. "Make Inactive" ➍ disables the currently selected Track and "Freeze" ➎ will freeze the currently selected Track.
Marketplace: The Marketplace Menu has three additional menu item ➏ to access various Avid related sites.
The Good News
Besides all these removed features, the 12.8 update for Pro Tools | First got some exciting new features that make this free version of Pro Tools even more attractive. Here is a link to the Avid document explaining the new features
Below is a list of some of the new stuff:
- 10 Insert Slots
- 10 Send Slots
- Track List
- Freeze Track
- Cloud Collaboration (with other Pro Tools version)
- A new Quick Button
- A new Mix Window Button
- Task Manager Status Indicator
- A few Editing and Fade Enhancements
- Soundbase with 500MB of Loops
Learn Pro Tools First
This article was kindly written by friend of Pro Tools Expert Edgar Rothermich. If you want to learn Pro Tools | First then check out Edgar's ebook - the only available book for Pro Tools First in his Graphically Enhanced Manuals series (GEM). On 428 pages Edgar covers all the details on how to use Pro Tools | First with in-depth information and unique graphics and diagrams that even some regular Pro Tools users might not familiar with. Because the functionality is almost identical to the paid Pro Tools version, this also makes the book a great resource for all Pro Tools users.
The book is available as a pdf file, as a printed book on Amazon, and as an interactive multi-touch iBook on Apple's iBooks Store. All the links are available on his website