In a recent Pro Tools quick tips article on group properties I was caught out by the different features available to HD and non HD users.
As most of us are aware, last year some of the long standing differences between the HD and non-HD versions of Pro Tools changed. For me the most significant one was VCA masters becoming available to non-HD users but there were others. The one which caught me out was the (previously HD only) group globals tab in the modify group window. When I wrote the piece I checked on the only non-HD version I had access to which was Pro Tools 12.0 but the globals tab has been available to all since 12.3. Once pointed out to me, a quick edit later all was well. This reminded me of a previous occasion when the difference between HD and non-HD Pro Tools had proved difficult to pin down. At that time I considered writing an article about it but with the current direction of development of Pro Tools these differences are more relevant than ever.
As a Certified Pro Tools Instructor I was invited a couple of years ago to attend a meeting of Avid Trainers. The room was filled with certified Avid Trainers and product experts from Avid. I can’t think of many occasions when you would find a greater concentration of Pro Tools knowledge all in one room together than you would at that meeting. During the course of the presentation someone asked a question about whether a particular feature was available to non-HD users. Everyone in the room was a HD user and very few of us came into contact with non-HD versions of Pro Tools regularly. We ended up in the slightly comical position of no-one being able to check because although there were many, many copies of Pro Tools running in the room they were all HD and because of the way Pro Tools works no-one could access a non-HD copy of Pro Tools. [We have a similar problem within the Pro Tools Expert team as we all have Pro Tools HD licenses].
Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD are the same software with the same installer. The HD parts of Pro Tools become available to the users if the relevant iLok asset is found on the system but the installed software is identical in both cases. There is only one installer you can download and if you are a Pro Tools user and someone with a Pro Tools HD iLok asset plugs their iLok into your computer then HD features will be available while that iLok asset is plugged into that machine. This seems a very flexible system but as a result of this method there is no way for someone with an HD iLok asset to access a non-HD version of Pro Tools.
Most people who are concerned with the difference between HD and non-HD versions are usually non-HD users who want access to the HD features but an HD user wanting access to the reduced feature set is something I think will become more of an issue in the future. My background in education and training means that I have had to keep aware of the differences between the versions as if I demonstrate an HD feature to a student without explaining it is HD only I will usually have a disappointed student letting me know my omission at some point! As a blogger it is important to bear in mind that while you might be an HD user, not everyone is. In fact I’m probably perfectly placed to be more aware of the inaccessibility of non-HD Pro Tools to HD users than anyone else!
I do think that this issue will become more widespread with the new collaboration features in Pro Tools 12.5 which were being demonstrated by Avid at BVE recently. The collaboration features look extremely slick. It looks flexible and well thought through but being a preview we have yet to have a play with it ourselves and I’m not yet clear about how Pro Tools handles sharing of HD only features between mixed systems. For example at present uncoalesced Trim automation is dropped when opened on a non-HD system. This, and compatibility issues like it, make the collaboration not entirely like-for-like. I think we’re all going to be more mindful of the differences between systems in the future if we are going to use this collaborative workflow, some users on HD, some not and some users of Pro Tools 12.5 which offers the cloud collaboration.
I have wished there was an option for an HD user to launch non-HD Pro Tools. I can’t see this feature request topping the Ideascale any time soon but I for one think it is overdue.