When Avid introduced Pro Tools 2018 at NAMM in Anaheim, Avid introduced major workflow improvements for comping tracks from playlists. But what if you don’t have the latest version, instead opting for Pro Tools 12 or earlier? The following tutorial will demonstrate best practices for the latest and earlier versions that allow you to quickly make a composite track from multiple playlists.
Make A Comp Playlist
If you're using Pro Tools 12 or earlier, make a new playlist on your vocal track and title it Voc Comp. This empty playlist will become the area where all the separate clips will be compiled. If you're in Pro Tools 2018 or higher, make a duplicate playlist of your topmost playlist and title it Voc Comp (the reason is explained below.)
Organize Your Takes
Open your playlists on your Vocal track by using the Control + Command + Left Arrow shortcut. This will expand the playlists below your new Voc Comp playlist. If they’re not already, drag the playlists into reverse order so the last take is at the top and the first take is at the bottom of the group. Your last takes are usually the strongest because the vocalist is warmed up and comfortable with the song. This makes finding the best clips for each phrase easier because it’s the take (or takes) closest to the Comp playlist.
Audition Then Paste Clips Into The Comp
There are a few essential shortcuts that will allow you to quickly audition clips and paste them up to the comp. In Pro Tools 12 and earlier, be sure that keyboard focus is on in the edit window (Command + Option + 1 – numeric keypad.) Next, open your playlists on the comp track and select the first vocal phrase on the first playlist below the comp playlist at the beginning of the song. Use Shift + S to solo that playlist in the mix and hit the spacebar to audition. Next, move the selection to the next playlist down the list by using the semi-colon key (letter P moves the selection up.) Use Shift + S to solo that playlist and hit the spacebar to audition. Move between all the takes in this fashion until you find one you like. To move a desired clip up to the comp use the Control + Option + V shortcut. Move to the next phrase on the topmost playlist and repeat the process until the comp is done. In Pro Tools 2018 it's even easier. Leave your playlists closed on the Voc Comp track and select the first phrase on the duplicated playlist. Then use Shift + Down/Up to bring the phrase from alternate playlists and audition them. Once you're satisfied with a clip, simply leave it on the Voc Comp playlist and move to the next.
Clean Up Your Comp
Because performances vary there may be irregularities in the comp that need to be edited to smooth them out. For example, if a breath on one take doesn’t transition well into the next word, either eliminate the breath or replace it with a clean breath from the edited take. Also, remove any extraneous noise between words and crossfade any tight edits until the transition is inaudible.
Watch the free video tutorial to see these tips in action