Avid has been a little quiet on releasing the next version of Pro Tools. We have been chatting amongst the Pro Tools Expert team about what features we would like to see in the next release of Pro Tools. But before we share our thoughts, lets take a look at the Pro Tools Ideascale...
Pro Tools Ideascale
Looking at the Pro Tools Ideascale these are the most popular top 10 feature requests from Pro Tools users, together with a summary of the request written by the person who originally posted the feature request...
- Folders in the Region List - For better region management I would like to see folders in the region list. It would be great if you could assign one or multiple tracks to a folder in the region list and all the recordings and edits of the track(s) end up in the designated folder in the region list. This folder could then also be created in the Audio Files folder for even better file management. [Mike - You can see how old this one is, it still refers to regions. Regions became clips with Pro Tools 11!]
- Marker Improvements - I would REALLY love a change in the markers. Please have multiple marker rulers in the edit window. I would also like to be able to set custom colours for certain markers. Also, in the marker list, I would love to be able to re-sort alphabetically and renumber sequentially after re-sorting. Primarily what this would allow me to do is set ADR markers, foley markers, music markers, dialog markers, etc...
- Phase switch on every track in the mix window - Would make life so much easier, especially when recording with multiple mics.
- Bus Soloing Feature - We could use the ability to solo a bus instead of having to select all the individual tracks in order to hear the mix. It's not so bad when there are 2 tracks but with big sessions this gets complicated. There are two blank spots next to "Mute" and "Solo." These could be used for intelligent buttons that solo all the tracks being routed to that specific bus/aux track. This would require very simple programming and would make everyone's workflow a lot more efficient.
- Undo Deleted Tracks - Users have been asking for this for a long time. Other software has it and I don't understand why Pro Tools doesn't have it yet.
- Multiple sessions at the same time - The ability to open 2 sessions at the same time with only one session being active - the other one inactive (active/inactive switch). You then could compare two sessions and copy/paste instantly regions/region groups etc. without having to import/export whole tracks.
- Shortcut for making two mono audio tracks into one stereo - This is kind of the opposite of Split Stereo Track into 2 Mono Tracks.
- Track Folders - Big mixes require good organisation, it would be great to be able to have track folders (for example: for your 32 tracks of drums!)
- VST Support - Pro Tools should have it's own VST capability so us Pro Tools users can have a much wider palette of instruments using only one DAW.
- Sum To Mono Option On Master Fader - To check mixes in mono. It's kind of self-explanatory.
Avid Customer Association Survey Results
Some of these were also in the recent Avid ACA survey results including having multiple sessions open at the same time, which is listed as Enhanced Import Session Data. Then there are Marker Track Improvements, which is number 2 on the Pro tools Ideascale list. Finally from the top of the ACA survey list is Folder Tracks which is number 8 on the Ideascale list but is number 1 on the ACA Survey list.
What About The Pro Tools Expert Team?
There are two features that matter the most to me, one is Folders in the Clip List which is number 1 and is different to track folders. Track Folders would mean content from specific tracks would be organised in dedicated folders. Folders in the Clip List enables you to group different types of content into sub-folders in the Clip List. So when I am doing a dram edit and mix I can have all the dialog together in a folder, the FX,s Foley, music etc all in separate folders in the clip list which would make finding and managing content in the clip list much easier.
The second one is the ability to have more than one session open at the same time which would make moving content from one session to another so much easier.
I've got a feeling this feature will never appear in future versions of Pro Tools... but a man can dream right? I would absolutely love Pro Tools to have ARA support. ARA is a system that deeply integrates plug-ins such as Melodyne, Revoice Pro & Auto Tune in DAW domains making working with such plug-ins simple and effortless. Other DAWs, such as Studio One, has had ARA for several years... why then are Pro Tools users left in the pre ARA dark ages?
Why do I want ARA in Pro Tools? Watch the video below showing how ARA integrates Melodyne in Studio One. Pro Tools users, next time you walk past a wishing well throw a penny in...
One feature I'd really like to see is some kind of software equivalent to the custom fader layer as found on the ICON series of control surfaces. I've never used an S6 so I'm not up to speed with the current terminology but I hope this still exists in EUCON.
A way of being able to prioritise a user-defined group of tracks so that they remain fixed in the same position in the Mix window with other tracks moving behind them would be great. A divider of some sort on screen to show the custom faders and these would be show/hideable and recallable via memory locations. This way you could pin your lead vocal to the right-hand side of your mixer and it would stay pinned there until you decided it was time it went.
And while I'm at it, this should definitely be mirrored in the Edit window too!
As I have said before in articles and on countless Pro Tools Expert Podcasts, these days I use Pro Tools very much like an "old school" tape machine to track bands in real time. If they make a mistake (surely not) we just create a new take or just start again. I love all the New Take options and work-flow enhancements that allow me to do all the fancy editing but these are settled and working as I would hope they would. However, one thing I would love to see is the ability to create multiple sets of markers, which can then link back to their own folder.
Memory Locations could sit in their own folder and Windows Configurations could sit in their own folder without creating of a messy and confusing list where only very tiny icons are the distinguishing factor.
The reason for this comes from a unique use of Pro Tools that I have been doing for many years. I run Pro Tools LIVE! Yes, I am that brave. I have been running Pro Tools for my bands backing tracks for over 7 years and in that time (touching wood) Pro Tools has only fallen over when I have done something stupid. I use Memory Locations to quickly navigate around our massive 4-hour set. The session with spaces is over 5 hours long and each 20 minute or so medley has a Memory Location with a title such as Med2UTF which in my shorthand means Medley 2, UpTown Funk (which is the first track in the medley). Now, what I would love to have is all the medley starts as their own set of Memory Locations and all the songs that make up that medley in their own sub-folder. At the moment I have a vast list containing all the songs in the set with no way (other than by title) to differentiate between them, which at speed can be frightening. I am however getting very good at playing the drums with only one hand.
On a surface level, Clip folders seems a great idea, but, be careful what you wish for. Unless the management and search engines are excellent, it could cause more issues than it solves. I was initially thinking that my most wished for feature might be Batch Rename in the Clip List, but as I thought it through, I realised that too could cause no end of problems further down the line.
Being able to undo deleted tracks is a great idea, but I would propose extending that so that you get the same warning about media being present when you Hide and Deactivate a track, which is what I usually do instead of deleting.
Multiple sessions open simultaneously would also be very handy or at least the ability to have a much better preview on the Import Session Data page. This could also be improved by the ability to automatically deselect inactive or hidden tracks when you import session data.
High on my wishlist would also be a built-in re-conform system. This could be achieved so much more elegantly within Pro Tools and building in a level of AI would make the results of a re-conform far more usable, saving oodles of time. It seems incredible that Avid has still not built-in the ability to use an Avid Media Composer change list within Pro Tools.
My top wish for the next version is the expansion of the Video Engine capabilities. I would like full control over the audio track designation when doing an Offline Bounce to QuickTime and the ability to superimpose timecode (integrating the big counter possibly) and a simple watermark. This would transform my workflow, as at present, if I want to deliver a preview video file in surround, I have to go to a separate NLE to ensure that the track designation is correct and to suitably watermark the video file.
I would also like to be able to run video off-speed but in sync. It could be an offline process (like selecting X-Form in Elastic Audio), but it would make the whole business of frame rate conversion a whole lot easier. In general, the AVE needs a thorough overhaul and I'm surprised to not see it higher on the wish lists.
It would be great to have a polarity button built into the channel just like the panner, Solo, Mute, and Input button.
I’d also like to be able to have more than one channel width available on the mixer at the same time. In other words, channels where I just needed a “skinny” view could reside next to wider channels. This would allow you to optimize the mixer to the width on-screen. Another plus would be able to have the mixer be wide or skinny by groups. This way you could work on the drums in “wide” view, while other channels were skinny, then jump to the next group and so on.
It would be great to be able to have more than one session open at a time making copy and paste of assets much easier than using Import Session Data.
I’d also like to see some improvements of the legacy features. For example, improvements to Strip Silence could include the ability to save presets for easier repetition across a number of sessions. It would also be great to have the ability to click on a number field in the Strip Silence pop-up so you could enter a figure rather than just through the slider.
Having used other DAWs for songwriting with VIs I'd still say Avid has a lot of work to do to get even close the DAWs like Logic Pro X and Studio One. The sheer speed at which you can create tracks and the power of the native engine makes Pro Tools feel like a dinosaur in this area. I could also mention drag and drop of plug-ins, folder tracks and other workflow enhancements are vital for those who want a DAW to stay out of the way when we are working.
What Do Think?
So there we have the thoughts of Pro Tools users from the Pro Tools Ideascale and the thoughts from the Pro Tools Expert team BUT what do you think? Do you agree with ideas laid out here, or do you have your own ideas? Please do share your thought in the comments below, all we ask is that your suggestions are positive, constructive feedback and feature requests. All moaning and negativity will be deleted as that doesn't help anyone.