Following my DIY Upgrade of my Hotkey Matrix Version 2 controller to Version 3, I now have 12 keys in the middle of the 144 key Hotkey Matrix controller that I can customise. In this tutorial, I am going to show you how I set up 4 of these keys to handle a workflow that I use on the Pro Tools Expert podcast.
When editing and mixing the podcast I chose to use Strip Silence to get rid of the audio from each of us when we are not talking. To make the transitions as seamless as possible I wanted long fades on the in and out of each clip and the fades set back from the speech so that they happen whilst someone is speaking.
To save as much mouse work as possible I created a 4 stage workflow in which I needed a button for each stage. The stages are...
- Open Strip Silence - this will need the existing Strip Silence button moving.
- Strip the audio - this would need to trigger a macro I built in Keyboard Maestro to press the Strip button on the Strip Silence window as there isn't a Pro Tools shortcut for this.
- Open Fades window - because I have multiple clips selected, this will actually open the Batch Fades window and will enable me to put fade-ins and outs on the clips created with Strip Silence. This will require the Fade Dialogs button moving to one of the 12 user assignable buttons.
- Press Enter to create the Fades - The Enter key was on my Version 2 Hotkey Matrix but it is one of the keys that was dropped in the rearrangements for version 3. To get this functionality I will need to go into the Cherry Tools Designer app on a Windows computer to program the appropriate key to press the Enter key, or just use the Enter key on my normal keyboard.
1. Open The Strip Silence Window
To assign a new command, or to move an existing shortcut to a new key as in this case, click on the corresponding on-screen key in the HKM Customizer window.
When you click on one of the squares, which represent the 12 user-configurable keys, the appropriate dialog box opens. This identifies which key you are re-programming and offers several options...
- Customize key - This will enable us to change the selected key to trigger one of the existing commands that have a main menu keyboard shortcuts.
- Set key to default command - This is really useful if you want to undo a keyboard assignment and return it to the default shortcut.
- Set key to no command (empty) - This is the way we can trigger a different macro say from an app like Keyboarborad Maestro. More on this later.
- Choose a different key - This closes the dialog box and allows you to choose another key, it is effectively the Cancel option.
On this occasion, I want to reassign the Strip Silence button to E8. So I choose the Customize Key and click OK. This opens a window in which you are asked to select which Pro Tools Menu item the shortcut you want to assign is in, in this case, Strip Silence is in the Edit menu so I select the Edit menu and click OK.
Once you have selected the Menu, then you select the particular action in the menu that you want to happen when you press the button, in this case, down near the bottom is Strip Silence.
Once you have selected the menu item, in this case, Strip Silence, it is very important that you are patient as the HKM Customizer is running a script and secondly, do not try and do anything else whilst the script is running as that will break the script. You must wait until you get the confirmation dialog box to say that it is done.
Click OK on that window and you will see that the button has been relabelled Strip Silence in the HKM Customizer window.
2. Strip The Audio
Next, I want to change the next key (E9) to trigger a macro I have created in Keyboard Maestro. Currently, I have a Keyboard Maestro macro that effectively presses the Strip button in the Strip Silence button, which I have configured to run when I use the keyboard shortcut Command+Alt+Control+s as there is no shortcut in Pro Tools that relates to clicking on the Strip button in the Strip Silence window in Pro Tools. Now I want that macro to be triggered by the E9 key on my Hotkey Matrix controller.
Version 3.1 of the Hotkey Matrix software, which has only just been released, now allows you to set a key to “empty.” This leaves the key unassigned to any Pro Tools command. As the keys have generic key combinations hard programmed on them with through the firmware, by setting a key to Empty, you can then assign it a new shortcut to act as a hotkey trigger for macro software, such as Keyboard Maestro. At last, I will be able to use Macros that I have created in Keyboard Maestro to do things not possible with normal shortcuts, like pressing the Strip button on the Strip Silence window.
Back to the KKM Customizer, click on the key in the app that you want to set to empty and choose the 'Set key to no command (empty) option and click OK. As before, wait for the script to run and you will get a dialog box advising you that the selected key, in this case E9, is set to empty, click OK to confirm and then you will see that the HKM Customizer how shows E9 as empty.
As I created my macro in Keyboard Maestro. I now need to tell the macro software to trigger the macro when E9 is pressed. You will see that currently, it will trigger the macro if I use the keyboard shortcut Command+Alt+Control+s. To change it I need to click on the hot key option and click on the little 'x' to remove the previous trigger and you will get the word Click. Click again until you see the word Type and then press the Key on the Hotkey Matrix. You will then see that my Stip Silence macro will be triggered by the shortcutCommand+Alt+Control+h, which was the pro Tools shortcut for expanding Send H in the Sends view in Pro Tools, but because we have set this to Empty in the HKM Customizer app, this command which is 'wired' into the firmware of the Hotkey Matrix, doesn't get sent to Pro Tools. Insert, Keyboard Maestro now sees that shortcut as the trigger to run my Strip Sielce macro which will press the Strip button in the Strip Silence window in Pro Tools.
3. Open The Fades Window
As this button already exists in a different location I need to apply a similar process to the first stage. On this occasion, I need to select the Fades < Create option. I Selected the E10 key and chose the 'customize key' option and click OK. Select the Edit menu and then near the bottom Fades>Create... option and click OK. Then wait for the script to run and for the confirmation dialog to pop up. Check its all correct and then click OK. Finally, you will see that Create fades has been assigned to the E10 key.
4. Press The Enter Key
Having opened the Batch Fades window because multiple clips were selected, I chose to set up the Batch Fades window to create linear fades in and out of each clip that are 1 second each in duration. Note that I have disabled the crossfades option in the Batch Fades window so that when I click OK on the Batch Fades window all my audio clips will get 1 second fades. But of course, I don't want to be fading in or out on wanted audio. The way I stopped this is to set the Clip Start and End Padding in the Strip Silence window to around 1.5 seconds. This mean that the fade in and out will happen under someone else speaking which should mask the fade nicely.
Under the v2 Hotkey Matrix, there was an Enter key as one of the 144 keys, but since version 3 his is one of the keys that has been dropped, so it is no longer there for me to move and reassign in version 3. To get this functionality back, I have two choices either, go into the Cherry Tools Designer app on a Windows computer to program the appropriate key to press the Enter key, or just use the Enter key on my normal keyboard.
In the short term, I am going to choose the latter because I don't have access to a Windows computer to use with the Cherry Tools Designer app. When I undertook the DIY upgrade, I borrowed a MacBook Pro with Windows 7 installed with Bootcamp. At some point in the future I will borrow it again and make this change and perhaps a couple of others too, but for how I will make do with pressing the Enter key on my normal Pro Tools keyboard to finish this process.
More Work To Do...
Brian tells me that version 3.1 of HKM Customizer also now allows user settings to be saved and recalled as “command sets.” So you can have a set of commands programmed for tracking, editing, mixing or any other special workflows you might have.
I also need to print a proper Strip Audio button using the template that Brian can supply, but in the meantime, as you can see in this image, I am making do with an old-school cut & paste label using 2 old labels. I have also added the old Enter key label
2 jobs for another day...