Learn the basic concepts, tools, and functions that you will need to build fully functional projects with the most popular Digital Audio Workstation, Pro Tools.
Build a strong foundation in Pro Tools workflow with this tutorial for beginners.
Our focus is not to reiterate the manual, but a comprehensive course of what you need to know.
Students completing this course will have the "know-how" to use Pro Tools entirely on a music project.
This section focuses on setting up your Preferences and explains the Quick Start window.
There are two main windows in Pro Tools, the Edit window and the Mix window.
Learning your keyboard shortcuts speeds up your workflow in navigating through the software when creating and editing music.
In the early recording days (like The Beatles), engineers would record to reel tape formats which allowed for more headroom in the recording process. This simply meant that when you would record loud levels, it caused saturation or distortion. In the digital domain recording too loud can damage your recording with digital clipping and is very difficult to resolve.
This section covers how to watch your levels when recording an audio instrument.
Most people have a misconception that if you record in mono, you're only going to hear the signal on one speaker. Although this is not completely inaccurate, you should know that in Pro Tools, setting up a Stereo or Mono track is determined by how many inputs you're using on your Audio Interface.
There's nothing more distracting than hearing an echo on your voice if you're recording. This section explains how to adjust your Buffer Size levels to minimize latency when recording. Although you can't completely eliminate latency, a value less than 12 milliseconds of latency is usually acceptable when performing.
Organization and file management is crucial to avoiding the risk of losing project files. We briefly explain the different between a parent file and a slave file as well as non-destructive editing.
There are five excellent virtual instruments included with Pro Tools
At the most basic level, Quantization is used to adjust "imperfections" on a recorded performance (notes and timing). But in a creative way you can also use it to adjust swing and shuffle to a stiff sounding performance.
AIR Music Tech's Xpand! is a multitimbral instrument which can receive information from four different MIDI channels. Other's, like Native Instrument's Kontakt can do even more. With a single instance of these types of virtual instruments you can run many sound patches from a single instance of these plugins.
One of the reasons Pro Tools has become dominant in the Post Production market is for its audio editing capabilities. Skywalker Ranch (Lucasfilm) is known for producing some of the best sound mixes for film, and they all use Pro Tools. Also, one of Disney's studios used for the TV series, LOST, is known for using over a 100 audio tracks to create monstrous sound effects, all managed in multiple Pro Tools machines.
Editing in a Digital Audio Workstation enables for new arrangement possibilities. However there's more than simple copy and paste that comes into play when editing large chunks of your song.
As you start to chug away at audio clips, on a very micro level, digital clipping can occur. Using the power of crossfades between edits helps your files to playback smooth without obtrusive pops and clicks.
Subtractive arrangement is useful in cases when producing music that's repetitive. This method allows you to try different arrangement progressions by using the power of clip mutes. Clip mutes allows you to mute the audio or MIDI clip displayed on the screen without having to delete.
Now is the fun part, Mixing! At the most basic level, mixing is the process of balancing your tracks so that there are the least amount of distractions in the song. A the most complex level, mixing is a self-discovery process of learning how to listen with your mind and then reproduce that sound to the song.
I've also included a video link in "External Resources" where we took on the "10 Minute Mixing Challenge." This is when you use a timer and mix the song as best as possible in 10 minutes. It's a great exercise to make decisions on instinct. You should try it!
There are three plugin formats in Pro Tools 10/11. AAX (which will replace RTAS), RTAS (which has been around since day one, and Audio Suite. We didn't cover Audio Suite, but the key thing to know is that Audio Suite plugins are used to "destructively" change the audio file. A great example of this is if you have a cymbal crash that starts with a strong attack and then decays, and let's say you wanted to reverse the crash so that is slowly crescendos and quickly decays. Using an Audio Suite Reverse plugin will virtually change the shape of the audio waveform.
There are some incredible mastering suite plugins in the market from iZotope, IK Multimedia, Waves, Universal Audio, Blue Cat Audio, and many more...
In this section we briefly touch on some principles of finalizing your mix to make it louder.
However, louder is not always better. There's a term known as "The Loudness War" where if you look at a mastered recording from the 1970's and compare it to one from 2000's the later looks and sounds extremely louder with little to no dynamic range.
The key to mastering, which deserves its own course, is subtlety and deliberate settings from each plugin used in the signal chain.
No matter how much money you spend on CPU or RAM or Disk Storage, there are some inevitable behaviors in Pro Tools and this section unveils them. Not only do we unveil, but provide you with some solutions you can apply when experiencing these problems.
Our thank you and goodbye's don't forget to leave us a review (good one hopefully :) so we can continue to create these types of courses. Till next time!
A veteran in the Industry, Alex has worked for major companies including Avid, Digidesign, M-Audio, Akai Professional, just to name a few. Obtaining a B.A. in Music Technology, Alex has since become an effective product trainer and evangelist.
Alex has gained his popularity in the social network providing cunning videos online. Whether it’s explaining mixing concepts or showing the latest tools in digital audio, his ability to educate the online community is one worth watching.