Enter Pro Tools
by Barrett Golding
“I am going to miss the tape going by. I will miss the razor blades. The mechanism, the sound coming from the spinning disks. I’m afraid that I won’t like it anymore.”
Explore the heart and soul of ProTools5-FREE, as Producer Extraordinaire, Scott Carrier leaves behind his noble reel-to-reel tape recorders, and leaps the Digital Divide. I, Transom Advisor Barrett Golding, will attempt to guide his steps…
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2000
Subject: the new way
From: scott carrier
I will always miss the spinning reels. And I love quarter-inch tape (you
can’t deny that it has a certain magnetism) running on to the floor, then
pulling it back up on to the reel, audio prints of things people said,
cutting it up and throwing it away — putting it in the trash and seeing
it there with crumpled up papers and banana peels, cigarette butts, and so
on. Keeping the best parts on a reel that sits on your table. A history of
leader tape that becomes increasingly simple to read. I will miss this
stuff. But enough said. This project is to learn to produce a radio
program on a computer.
I see Barrett as my own personal user’s manual. And he probably sees me
as a guinea pig.
The first step is to get some tape, which I’ve already done. Last summer
The Savvy Traveler hired me to drive across the country on Highway 50. I
drove from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland, and back, and now I have
about 20 hours of tape that needs to be edited and produced into 60 minut
es of stories–either as a series or as one long piece or, hop efully, as
a series that also works as one long piece. That was the deal. With money
from the deal I bought a new iMac.
I’m ready to produce my first story on a computer.
Barrett, send me the Pro Tools program and let’s get going.
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000
Subject: starting over
From: scott carrier
I installed the CD you sent, and then my computer started doing odd
things. So I tried to fix it, which only made things worse. I have since
wiped my hard disk and started over. Let’s go through the installation,
and also I’d appreciate some help configuring the memory and so on.
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
The first thing to know about computers: they are flawed from birth. But they have so much damn utility, we accept their weaknesses.
You did the right thing. ‘Puters are temperamental beasts. When they begin acting strangely, start anew: reboot, rebuild the desktop (more on that later). If they remain obstinate, re-install.
Your computer has crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001
Subject: organizing sound files
From: scott carrier
I have loaded the protools on my computer and have copied some pieces of
ambience into the machine. My first question is where are they really? I
want them to be in a place called “tape one sound effects”. I want them to
be linked-stereo. I want one name for both stereo tracks. I want to put
them somewhere and not look at them again until I am done copying my other
tape into the machine.
Someone asked a similar question on the AIRlist, (the Association of Independents in Radio listserv); here’s the response:
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000
From: Gregg McVicar
To: Air Daily
Organization: Pacific Multimedia / RadioCamp
Subject: [AIR] Lost Protools Files
Congratulations on making the leap across the digital divide! As anyone
with a DAW will tell you, keeping track of files is a big issue — so
you’ll want to establish some housekeeping routines for yourself early on.
It’s really much like managing documents: keep them in logical folders,
clearly marked by version number.
Any new session will create an “Audio Files” folder and PT will always
look there first for files, but here’s the key thing: resist the
temptation to move files around by just dragging them around in the Finder
“behind the back” of Protools. The Finder/MacOS knows where they are but
that action causes PT to lose track of the file locations it needs to know
to assemble a session. You can always rebuild the path when PT asks you
where the file went — but only if you know the answer.
This is similar to the problem you’ll encounter in web design if you
arbitrarily move files out of their folders — it breaks the links. And
much like a browser, PT is just presenting in one “virtual workspace” a
bunch of files stored in different folders.
Personally, I like to double-click on a region (inside Protools) and give
it a name that makes sense to me. Again, I do this from within Protools so
that it is fully aware of the file name change. I can work faster with
labels like “narr.1,” “narr.2,” “credits,” etc. instead of
machine-generated tags. Also, that way, if things get complicated and I
lose track of something, I can just do a “Find File” search of the whole
machine and pull it up in a flash.
This BTW is one of the great advantages of the Mac — it can search all
your drives in an instant with the help of a master index. Windows
searches files one-at-a-time (nope, not that one — nope, not that one –
nope, not that one…).
Once you develop a labeling routine that makes sense to you, work will
flow more quickly. Good luck and have fun!
> I want [files] to be linked-stereo.
- Stereo files come in two formats:
- “joint stereo” has both left and right channels “interleaved”, kinda like “woven” into a single file.
- “split stereo” is two separate files; one the left track, one the right — usually named with a “.L” and “.R” suffix; e.g, “stereoclip1.L” and “stereoclip1.R”.
- PT5 uses only split stereo, not joint. But it can “group” two audio Tracks together, for intance, two split stereo pairs (.L & .R), so they edit and mix as one:
- using the Grabber tool (hand icon) in PT’s Edit Window,
- select the two tracks you want grouped by double-clicking Track Name in Edit or Mix Window..
- use the “Group Selected Tracks…” command from the File menu.
- you can chose to group files for editing, mixing or both.
- BTW, PT5 can import, and split, joint stereo files (and other soundfiles) into a PT edit/mix session. Use the “Import Audio/Track…” command in the File menu. The PT import process will:
- convert the file into the format PT5 uses: SoundDesigner2
(if the file is not already in sd2 format).
- split joint stereo files into separate left and right tracks, and names tracks with a “.L” and “.R” suffix (e.g., “stereoclip1″ into “stereoclip1.L” and “stereoclip1.R”).
- place the name of the imported track(s) in PT5′s “Tracks List” on the upper-right of the PT5 “Edit Window”.
- place a “waveform” view of the imported track(s) in a new Track on the Edit Window.
In the next episode:
I’m afraid that the sub-files are going to become a pain in the ass…