“To upgrade from Pro Tools 10.3.6 to Pro Tools 12 or not.” That is the question! That’s what I HAD to do because I had no choice in the matter. I wanted to write this blog post for those who are still deciding whether they should be upgrading to the latest version of Pro Tools 12 because for some of you, you still do have a choice. I wrote this in the beginning for myself to help me make sure I know everything I am getting since I am paid for this software out of my own wallet. I hope that this blog entry of mine is just as much of a learning experience for you as it was for myself writing it.
To give you a little background information on myself, I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Jazz Commercial Music and Audio Engineering. I started learning Pro Tools with Pro Tools 8. Since I wanted my own program to work on my own projects at home, I bought version 10 for my laptop. This was back when regions started to be called “clips” and clip gain was a brand new development. After a year or so of using a PC laptop with only 4 GB of RAM, I found myself limited in how many tracks I can use on my projects. I knew it was time to use my savings for a new computer. So I decided to have myself built a brand new iMac with a 32 GB of memory. It cost me a pretty penny but I must say I have no regrets. What I didn’t know was even with all the questions I asked from my colleagues (and the people working in the Pro Audio department at Guitar Center and Sweetwater) that new computers cannot revert to back to old operating systems and my version 10.3.6 of Pro Tools couldn’t be used with OS X Yosemite. I could have bought a used computer for a lower price and an earlier operating system; but there are risks to buying a computer that was already used by someone else. So I contacted Avid and asked what my options were. It was then when they told me their deal with Pro Tools 12. Anyone with a certain version of Pro Tools and above can upgrade to Pro Tools 12 for around $150 (including tax). This package came with a system ID for year’s worth of: updates, tech support, new subscription and service options. It included Avid Application Manager to help manage your software updates and entitlements, and lets you browse, purchase, and install plug-ins from within the application. Much like how the App Store on the iPhone or iPad manages the: updates, software upgrades and app purchases. It sounded good to me so I went for it! I must say it was a lot better deal than constantly having to purchase an Avid Tech Support Code every time there is something I couldn’t get the software to work right.
Pro Tools 11
Before I dive into Pro Tools 12 and all the brand new updates that come with it, I want to back track to Pro Tools 11 because much has changed in the functionality of Pro Tools in the last couple of years. In a nutshell, the most important thing to know about Pro Tools 11 is the 64-bit architecture to access more computer memory. Pro Tools is no longer a 32-bit program. Which is why before I said that my version Pro Tools 10 is not compatible with my operating system because Avid has made it’s way into the world of 64-bit operating systems. With the release of Pro Tools 11 and its 64-bit architecture, all plug-ins are the new AAX format. So if you’re not comfortable giving up the 32-bit: Audio Suite, RTAS and TDM formats for AAX Native and AAX DSP, I would say stay with Pro Tools 10. Unfortunately due to the fact that I had no choice in the matter; I had to give up the luxury of being able to have my Novation Automap software “auto-wrap” around the parameters of my plug-ins; right from my MIDI controller for automation purposes. A small sacrifice but my Automap software can still control the transport functions and the mixer in Pro Tools 11. I can still use the learn function to manually set up each parameter I want to control. Automap is also still able to auto-wrap around the samplers with Reason. Along with new plug-in formats, the 64-bit architecture can do up to 64 “undo’s.” There is also a function to do what it called an “offline bounce.” Usually when one does a Bounce-to-Disk you have to listen to the entire mix before the file is transferred to the designated location on the computer. Now all one has to do it check off “offline bounce” in the dialog box and the mix (or stem) is done in a matter of seconds and not in real time. And if you have Pro Tools HD, you can do multiple off-line bounces simultaneously from different locations of the signal flow at a time; allowing an engineer to generate several different stems in several different formats in minutes! I also like that you can automate while you are tracking as well. These are some of my favorite improvements. I don’t really have to worry about plug-in dynamic processing and a new audio engine because I’ve got a computer with 32 GB of memory. There are also some improvements to the Workspace browser and new mixing window features and enhancements. In Pro Tools HD you can see gain reduction meters for tracks that have dynamic plug-ins on them. An engineer can also see the meters on those plug-ins go up-and-down on the plug ins display. But that doesn’t matter because once you purchase Pro Tools 12 LE you get those anyway. Which brings me to my main topic, Pro Tools 12.
Pro Tools 12
The first release Pro Tools 12.0 introduces a new version of the Quick Start Dialog window called “The Dashboard.” The new Dashboard window lets you create or open sessions with a different design and more options to choose from when deciding to start or open a recent session. The dashboard provides several templates as well as categories of different templates.
Some NEW HOT KEYS TO MEMORIZE!
Dashboard Commands, Options, and Settings
The Dashboard provides several options for creating and opening sessions and projects.
Commands and Settings
Sign In/Out” The Sign in/ out link is present in all tabs. Click “Sign In” to log in to your Avid Master Account. Once Signed in you will also see the percentage of your Avid Cloud Storage that you are using all of the projects you own. Click “Sign out” to Sign out.
“Open from Disk (Sessions Only)” – Command + O
“Cancel” – Click to close the Dashboard window without creating a project
“Create/Open” – Click Create to close the Dashboard and create a new project with the specified project settings.
*** Uncheck “Show on Startup” to disable dashboard. To re-enable go to “Settings > Preferences > Display ”
Create Tab Settings
Hotkeys for showing “Create” Tab
Command +1 (Mac) opens Create Tab. Command “up”
Command “down” to toggle through tabs.
Type – lets you create either a Project (cloud) or a Session (local). **Hotkeys – Command + Left/Right “arrow.”
Name – Type name for your project.
“Check” Create from Template – Enables the options to create a project from a template.
Template Group – Select Template Group you want to review. **Hot Key: Press Option + “up” or “down” arrows to scroll through the available template groups.
File Type – Sets the file type (WAV or AIFF) for the project. **Hot Key: Press Command + F (Mac) to toggle between file types
Sample Rate – **Hot Key: Press Command + R
Bit Depth – **Hot Key: Press Command + B
I/O Settings – **Hot Key: Press Command + I
Interleaved – Enable the interleave option to create interleaved stereo Hot Key: Command + G
Prompt for Location – Enable to be prompted for where you want to save the session. When Prompt for location is enabled, location is automatically disabled. (No Hotkey)
Location - Click the location button to specify the default location for saving the sessions. When Location is enabled, Prompt for Location is automatically disabled. (No Hotkey)
Recent Tab - Lists last 10 most recent sessions Hotkey ** - Press Command + 2 (Mac)
Project Tab - Lists all projects stored in the cloud that you have created or collaborated on. Double-click any project in the list to open it. No projects are shown if you are not logged in. Hot Key ** Press Command + 3 (Mac)
Additional Dashboard Keyboard Shortcuts:
To navigate through the focused Template, or Session or Project list, press the Up/Down arrows
To select the item at the top or bottom of the displayed list press “Home/End”
To scroll up or down through the focused Template, Session or Project List, press Page Up or Down
Showing or Hiding the Dashboard on Start
1. In Dashboard, enable (or disable) the Show on startup option
2. In the Warnings & Dialogs section of the Display Preferences page (Setup > Preferences), select (to show) or deselect (to hide) the “Show Dashboard window when Pro Tools starts option” (Then click “OK”).
Opening a Project with Plug-Ins Deactivated
PT lets the engineer with all plug-ins set to inactive. Since projects (session files online) with a lot of plug-ins can take a long time to load, this lets the engineer open any project for immediate visual inspection and audio playback without having to load the plug-ins. One can also re-open the project with the plug-ins activated.
Open a PT “project with plug-ins set to inactive
1. In PT choose “File” > “Open Project”
2. In the Dashboard Projects list, select the project you want.
3. “Shift-click” open
To re-open the same project with all plug-ins set to active, do one of the following:
· Choose “File” > “Revert to Saved” (for sessions only)
· Choose “File” > “Open Recent” and select the most recent “project” in the submenu.
Hotkey*** Shift + Command + O to open most recent project
**Instead of reverting to the saved version of the “project” to open the project with all plug-ins active you can simply make an individual plug-in active by (Mac) Command + Control + and clicking on it to make it active.
To make an entire row of plug-ins active, Command + Option + Control and click.
MY ADVICE CHECK OUT SOME OF THE TEMPLATES PRO TOOLS GIVES YOU, THEY ARE AWESOME!
There are new I/O preferences. From what most of the Avid desk employees told me at AES this past year at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. Most of the I/O improvements are actually specifically for the set up of the showing off the Avid products at the Avid display desk when going to audio conventions around the world. Although I must say that the ability to import I/O settings from session files is a cool improvement; from what the people at Avid explained and dawned on me is, if you have a studio at home; you are most likely not tampering with the I/O settings that much. Even with interfaces that cost around $4,000 a piece because you like the setup that you have with your mixing console.
Pro Tools 12.1 Update
With Pro Tools Update 12.1, you can now do certain things on a Pro Tools LE that you could only do on an HD session in previous versions. With Pro Tools update 12.1, you can now have up to 128 audio tracks in a session. Tracks that will playback mono or stereo and/or either a sample rate of 44.1kHz and 48 kHz. Obviously sessions with higher sample rates will have a less amount of tracks. Now you can have up to a number of 512 Instrument tracks in a session. Something that I always use is also is the input monitoring for specific individual audio tracks. Especially if I am recording vocals to a track and the singers I wrote for need to hear themselves back from when I don’t have that audio track routed to a return. Other improvements include: AFL and PFL Solo Modes and the Copy to Sends Command. There are some slight changes to the preferences with Operation and Mixing that have been slightly modified but it’s not really worth going into in depth. I really haven’t used the “Export Session Text for Selected Tracks Only” option yet so honestly I can’t share much about it at this time. With Pro Tools 12.1, now LE Pro Tools users have the compatibility with the new coveted VENUE S3L-X mixing board. Which is one of the new mixing boards designed by Avid recently.
Pro Tools 12.2 Update
I think the most important thing to know about the Pro Tools update 12.2 is (for non-HD users) that you can now create VCA Master tracks. VCA tracks simulate real recording console VCA tracks that control groups of tracks simultaneously with one fader.
Pro Tools 12.3 Update
With Pro Tools update 12.3 Pro Tools introduces Track Commit. The best way to explain Track Commit is a function that bounces (or renders to be more politically correct) audio on tracks that are usually not meant for recording audio. This is for the goal of conserving CPU power and making confusing multi-step buss routing obsolete. Instead of constantly bussing audio from an instrument track to record audio to an audio track (coming from a Virtual Instrument plug-in like Native Instruments Komplete 10). And since Instrument tracks are MIDI tracks with Aux sends built in them. One can “render” all the instruments that are playing on that plug-in right to that instrument track and not have to bus them to some other audio track just to record (or render) the audio. All one has to do is just select the track and then click “Commit.” If you want to, you can also right-click on a virtual instrument insert and “Commit Up to this Insert.” All the outputs coming directly out of the Virtual Instrument become audio tracks. This command is located in the track menu or by right clicking on the track. The audio instantly comes up. (This also includes automation and whether to do an offline bounce) If one does a “Commit” for a specific MIDI track, Pro Tools makes a new audio track for the rendered MIDI data coming from the assigned Instrument track. I also love the commit “Drag and Drop MIDI to Audio” feature that one can easily take a MIDI clip and drag it to an empty audio track with the same track width. It then literally becomes audio just by dragging it to the audio track. One does not even need to “Commit” a whole track, just an Edit Selection. These are all huge time savers! Along with Clip Transparency and the new Batch Fade window, there have never been so many options!
Pro Tools 12.4 Update
Pro Tools update 12.4 brings the “Track Freeze.” Track Freeze is a function that allows a track (or tracks) to hear playback without using CPU Power. This is function is for the music creator who knows that there is nothing else that needs to modified on specific track such as: recording new audio, using elastic audio, or recording automation. This Track Freeze allows the program to conserve system usage on a track-by-track basis. There is no need to use up extra CPU power if you’re not messing around with track, right? Pro Tools with each update and new version is more and more trying to cater to the engineer who needs to conserve as much RAM because having a 128 voices going at once requires a TON OF CPU power; while staying more time efficient at the same time.
The only negative side to this is that commercial recording studios may become more rare. Due to the fact that people maybe depending on their computers and virtual instrument software for sounds. Fortunately the music industry still smart enough to know that no matter how advanced technology gets, there is nothing like recording real instruments. That’s my opinion since I am around composers and songwriters on a regular basis. I’ve interned at but I’ve never really been the owner of a real commercial recording studio. I would not be surprised if all owners of commercial recording studios want to get part of this action as soon as possible.
Especially the Pro Tools update 12.5, which takes in-the-box mixing to a whole another level! Pro Tools Update: 12.5, (which is the real reason I am writing this blog) is the latest update from Pro Tools and probably the most exciting of developments; especially if you’re working on a session with someone who maybe hundreds or even thousands miles away!
Pro Tools 12.5 update
New Features and Improvements in Pro Tools update 12.5 includes the capabilities of Pro Tools “Project” files with Cloud Collaboration verses just “Session” files. “Project” files ARE session files but “Projects” are the cloud-enabled “session files” stored with your Avid Account. Which was introduced I reviewed earlier with Pro Tools 12.0. These files let other Pro Tools users to collaborate on a track-by-track basis in your project and will allow other Pro Tools users to make changes on your projects because audio cache is stored on the cloud. THEY LIVE IN THE CLOUD!
Now when you subscribe to Pro Tools, you are entitled to a standard support contract with your subscription and a limited amount of cloud storage associated with your Avid Master account.
Upgrading to 12.5 as well as a perpetual license, you are entitled to use that version of the software indefinitely, but you will only have a limited amount of time with standard support contract and cloud storage. This sounds like a great way to keep people paying for updates right! These are the benefits of being and industry standard!
These “Projects” let you:
· Post sessions to your own cloud storage space
· Work online or offline (but you must be online and signed in when you first create a project)
· Invite others to collaborate on a project
· Communicate with collaborators through text chat directly from within Pro Tools
· Make connections in the Avid Marketplace
Pro Tools and the Avid Application Manager will synchronize your local project with your online account the next time you are online. This process runs in the background and can be monitored in Pro Tools by checking the Task Manager. (Window --> Task Manager – (or hot key “Option” + "Apostrophe symbol") Project data and media are bundled and cached on local storage, but you cannot open a project by navigating through the file system. You can only access projects through the Pro Tools Dashboard. Projects are differentiated from sessions by the Project icon in the Dashboard.
Make a Session into a "Project" File
You can save a session as a project using the “Save Copy In” command. This lets you take an existing session and save it as a project for cloud collaboration.
Vice versa you can save a project as a session. One will want to do this when the project is complete so that you can archive it as a session and free up storage space in your Avid Cloud Account. Unless you are the music producers like Max Martin or Dr. Luke, who obviously can afford the luxury of being able to spend $25 frivolously a month for the luxury of always having 60 GB of cloud storage. I recommend the practical route of sticking with the 500 MB. That’s unless you’ve finally made many connections in the Avid marketplace and that you are working on more than 3 projects with people that you already know who are ready to collaborate. You can purchase additional storage contract options at the Pro Tools website. If you are wondering about whose account storage receives audio. It is whoever creates a project and owns the project. All media posted to the project, whether by the owner or a collaborator, counts against the owner’s cloud storage allocation. Posted media never counts against any people who were invited to work on the project.
If one is the owner of the project, data and media is stored both in your local Avid Cloud account and in a local cache. The local project cache is stored on your system drive by default as well. I contacted Avid about this and it is generally recommended that you do NOT use your System drive for recording audio. This is because this will allow other people to go through your entire computer! Allocate local storage to an external hard drive to be safe!
Signing in and out of your Avid Master Account
To be able to create/open a project, you must first be signed in to your Avid Master Account. You will have already created your Avid Master Account when you registered Pro Tools. Once you are signed in and have created or opened a project, you can choose to work online or offline.
While in Dashboard: You can click on “Sign in” or “Sign out” or the hot key while in Dashboard: Command + S In the Dashboard Window to sign in or to sign out of the Avid Master Account. When creating a “project” as template or a new blank project, you cannot create a “project file" while not signed in like you cannot open a project in “recent” tab while not signed in.
- Importing Session Data- you can import data from other sessions into current Pro Tools “projects,” using “import session data” command or drag or drop.
- Drag the session file whose tracks or attributes you want to import from a Workspace browser (Windows or Mac finder) into an open part of session.
Note!! If the destination Pro Tools system does not support surround mixing, surround tracks are not displayed in the Source Track List. This is for post production engineering
Use the Artist Chat window to find and invite other Pro Tools users to collaborate on projects. Use text chat to communicate during the collaboration process. The Artist Chat window is a floating window.
To open (or close) the Artist Chat window:
The Contacts tab in the Artist Chat window lets you add and delete contacts, as well as initiate text chat with any of your contacts. You can find new contacts through the Avid directory or email people you want to work with directly.
To add a contact:
1. Click Contacts in the left column of the Artist Chat window.
2. Click the “Add Contacts” tab.
3. Type at least the first three letters of the user’s “Display Name” or their complete e-mail address in the search field and press Return.
4. If the user you are looking for has set up their Artist Profile, they should be found in the Avid directory.
5. Click the “+” button to the right of their “Display Name.”
6. Type a message to the person you want to add to your contacts and click “Send.”
7. Once you have sent the contact request, that user will have the opportunity to deny or approve your request.
To add a contact not listed in the Avid directory:
1. Click “Contacts” in the left column of the Artist Chat window.
2. Click the “Add Contacts” tab.
3. If the person you are looking for us not found in the Avid directory, type the complete address for their Avid Master Account.
4. Click the “Send Invite” link.
Honestly it's extremely hard to explain everything about the Artist Chat without showing it in action. See this video!
If Avid's new idea for track collaboration is a success, I do believe that Dropbox and Google Drive are going to have some serious competition. I was a little skeptical when Avid announced that they are going to be able to share tracks and audio to a cloud. But I must say Avid has done an extremely thorough job making sure that everything is done right and fairly. All audio is logged in and organized as a journal of everyone's contributions to a project through the artist chat window so that there is proof of everyone's input to the project. Making sure that there is little room for stealing people's ideas and the wasted energy for lawsuits.
How to Use Track Collaboration!
Pro Tools users who have used the program for a long time. You don't have to take it from me, if you use your intuition you can assume which parameters of the Project can and cannot be shared. Which parameters are established when someone first creates it. Which parameters can be constantly created; and which ones don't make sense to even think that they should be shared at all.
Continually shared items
Tracks and Rulers
- Audio, MIDI, Instrument, and Master Fader Tracks
- Main Playlists
- Alternative Playlists
- Clips Associated with Playlists
- Clip Gain
- Clip Color
- Elastic Audio Properties of the Clip
- Media Associated with the Clips
- Track Color
- Volume Automation
- Pan Automation
- Mute Automation
- Plug-In Assignments
- Plug-In Settings and Automation
- Sidechain Assignments
- HW Insert Assignments
- Track Metadata
- Track I/O assignments
- Tempo Rulers
ITEMS SHARED ONLY WHEN A PROJECT IS FIRST DOWNLOADED
- Bit Depth
- Sample Rate
- File Format
- Interleaved audio files option, enabled or disabled
- Project Start Time
- Project length
- Timecode Rate
- Feet / Frames Rate
- Timecode 2 rate
- Tempo track state
- Pan Depth
- Track level
- Track Input and Output assignments
- Track Voice assignments
What is Not Shared
The following are not shared in a project:
- Mix and Edit groups
- Clip Groups
- VCA tracks
- HEAT settings
**Automation modes are not continuously shared and doesn't prompt an update every time with automation changes due to the fact that this creates problems for the other parties involved in the project.
This information can also be found on the PDF's released by Avid. I must warn you that Avid doesn't proofread all of their documentation they put out so one will find spelling errors and typos. If you plan on reading the PDF's that go into more detail about every single option you have, I highly recommend watching the YouTube videos online as well. Watch them THEN go into the PDF's and/or keep reading this blog I wrote.
Track OwnerShip and Who Calls the Shots
- The owner is the creator therefore only the creator:
- Invite collaborators to come on board
- All audio shared to the project counts against the original creator of the project so it's important that the collaborators realize that they are clogging up the creators projects cloud storage.
- Only the creator/owner can delete the project entirely, when collaborators delete the project it is as if they left the project. Collaborators have the option of leaving the project.
- Track ownership **This is where the Artist Chat not only comes in handy but is actually necessary
- Tracks can be owned by anyone in the project, they don't have to request permission
- Ownership of those can be taken at anytime
- Tracks can be owned by as many people as possible
Track ownership requests are just indicators for communication purposes that's all.
SHARE FILES GLOBALLY BY SHARING THEM ALL AT ONCE
In respect to sharing new data, while someone has their Project file open, he or she has the choice to:
- "Download All New Changes" at once to all existing tracks by all collaborators
- "Upload All New Changes" at once to all existing tracks by all collaborators
- "Download all Creates Tracks" at once created by all collaborators
** You'll also notice that that there is an "Auto" symbol underneath the each option. This is good to keep on if you don't feel like constantly pressing one each of the options I just described above.
SHARE TRACK by TRACK INSTEAD
The picture below is a snap shot of all the parameters I described that can be changed/shared with Cloud Collaboration. You'll notice from tempo all the way down to: Meter, Key, Chords, Markers and to the first track; ownership as well as: downloaded and uploaded changes can be requested.
Each track also has in the very-top-left corner of the "Collab" section has a share symbol. (The symbol with the box and the arrow coming out of it.) Instead of selecting the "Download All Shared Tracks" choice in Global section, click that symbol and that specific track can now be downloaded by the other collaborators because it lives in the cloud. Any changes to that track can be done with the "Up" and "Down" arrows. The "Up" arrow obviously is the upload arrow and the "Down" being the download option; much like the Global setup, again use your intuition!!
Right underneath all 3 of those icons is the track ownership icon. Which is the rectangle icon the little symbol of the head. This indicates which track belongs to who. This is really helpful when you don't want to download or upload every single change that is made by every person collaborating on the project.
**The meter rulers on the very top of the edit window work a little different than the tracks themselves. Also the icons change different colors when you are sharing tracks that are "Frozen" from the Pro Tools 12.4 update Track Freeze.
So If you know someone who plays killer bass lines and they aren't a car ride away, that's not a problem. If they have Pro Tools and you want to write an album, go for it! I'm hoping anyone who is reading this please reach out to me so I can get to know you personally!!
I remember a fact that was brought up at one of Apple's keynotes when they were first releasing the iPad 2nd generation with Apple's Garageband app. The music industry has come a long way from when the Beatles were recording albums that used 4 track analog tape recordings that were the size of washing machines. I'm amazed how far we have come. I'm not going to go into the debate of digital versus analog. It is a subjective discussion. But I now know why Pro Tools is the industry standard. At the end of the day it all comes down to the fact that the music industry is always changing. And as music creators; we have to be just as crazy to go along with it. That not only goes for the music industry but for all mediums of expression. Artists also like: film makers, animators, photographers and even fashion designers have to keep up with the technology of their own industry. I'm not saying that all music creators need to get out out their credit cards and need to go out and purchase this software right away because that's unpractical. There is probably a lot of engineers that aren't really too thrilled with this and don't want to pay to subscribe to a cloud; if they want Pro Tools 12. They are probably working in studios on a daily basis and they have real musicians coming into to record. What I am saying is that 10 years from now, this technology will not be deemed innovative and will actually be considered standard. For me I cannot wait to start using this software to start working on "Projects/Sessions" with other people. I know these new developments are going to be really awesome, especially for the annual Summer NYU film scoring and songwriters workshops which I attended in 2014. When having music that deadlines are a must, sharing audio files has never been so easy! Don't just take it from me, check out Avid's You Tube Channel and check out the other videos about Pro Tools 12.5 and see more specifics about the updates. I am extremely excited for the future of music and to whoever is reading I am extremely excited and would be deeply honored to collaborate on music with anyone who is reading this. This is what you get when you purchase Pro Tools 12.
Musically Inclined to Say What's On Your Mind
Jeremy Brown (ASCAP)