# Non obvious ProTools tricks?

What ProTools techniques have you discovered that are non-obvious? ie using a tool or technique in an unusual way?

An example: I use volume graphs for envelope shaping a lot, but an extreme & useful way can be to use the pencil tool in square wave mode to draw rhythmic volume graph based on the grid setting eg I needed to make the sound of a machine with tracks, driving across snow. I got a recording of a kayak being dragged on snow, switched the grid to 1 frame and drew a continuous square wave volume graph across the continuous snow sound = a rhythmic (one frame up, one frame down repeatedly) snow movement sound. Can then scale the volume graph, and/or use volume trim automation to control the overall volume of the rhythmic automation. If the 1 frame or 6 frame grid doesn't provide enough rate options, switch the grid popup to Bars/Beats....

• Awesome! It's fun to play with, volume graphing different waves (Square, Triangle, Random, etc.) and seeing what variables come about... Thanks Tim! Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 19:29
• @Tim, I love this idea and have fallen on it before. It's also nice on pan, plugin and send automation. But when you say "scale the volume graph" it leads me to think that you are somehow changing the proportion of max to min values after you've written the initial automation graph. ie max = 0.0 / min = -3.0 becomes max = -1.0 / min = -2.0 Are you achieving that by using the same grid/square wave pencil tool just on the vol trim graph, or is there some beautiful shortcut/tool combo that I have been missing all these years? Perhaps am I just misinterpreting what you're saying? Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 2:43
• see the yellow line - thats the volume trim automation, so it is scaling/shaping the black volume automation, so you end up with the blue automation (which I used for proximity) - so by scale, it is changing the relationship between loudest to quietest
– user49
Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 18:37
• Thanks @Tim, I understand what the trim automation is doing in your example. I was thinking that you might've known a way to accomplish something like the scaling tools available in Cubase 6. Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 20:25
• I have never used Cubase - I know you can scale volume graph moves down/reduce their dynamic by simply using the trimmer tool across a selection and crushing it to the bottom of the region. When you bring it back up the range is as compressed as when you released the mouse at/near the bottom.... I dont know of a way to do the opposite ie expand the range...
– user49
Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 0:26

It may or may not be a well known secret, but if you hold down all 3 modifier keys (cnrl, option,command), then click file > bounce to QuickTime movie - you get a hidden menu that allows you to compress and bounce to many different formats!!!!! Why would they hide this? NO IDEA....

Creating Track Presets in Protools 10

1) Go to Applications > Avid > Pro Tools. Here, create a folder titled "Track Presets". you can also create folders within "Track Presets" for different categories (ex: Reverb, Master bus, Virtual instruments and so on)

2) Create a new track in a blank project and configure the track to your tastes (inputs, outputs, names, sends, volume, pan, plug-ins, etc)

3) From the File menu, choose Save As Template.

4) Choose "Select Location for template"

5) Save it into your Track Presets folder/s

Once your saved to the "Track Presets" folder they will appear as an options in the New Track dialog box!

** Notice these template files will appear as .ptxt files. Its worth noting you can also just rename a normal project .ptx extension to .ptxt. Nice! There is a way to do this in PT9/8 also but requires allot more effort. Have fun :p

• Huh! that one is extreme time saver! thanks! Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 9:40
• I use that one all the time for setting up monitor matrixes (multichannel SM inputs via ReWire) as well as other things. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 6:38

shift scroll side to side woohoo!

• This may be the one that lets me give up my Mighty Mouse. Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 23:37

if i have a long sound file with a lot of little transients that I want to isolate and use all at once I do the following:

1) spot the long file to a track in protools

2) use strip silence to isolate the transients and remove all of the whitespace. I usually set the minimum strip duration to zero and use very small start and end pads. Then set the threshold all the way and back it down until I feel i have the right amount of stuff retained.

3) set my timeline drop order in the bins to "left to right"

4) drag all of the regions back into the same timeline, now the spaces are completely removed and what I have is a steady stream of the larger transients in the recording.

• I use beat detective in a similar manner. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 9:01
• @Steve Urban, I have huge respect for you successfully using Beat Detective. It is my kryptonite. On day you must give me a lesson. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 6:43
• @Jay It's certainly not perfect. There's some trial and error with each file, and there's no guarantees that you'll get every transient you're hoping for so it can require a little post-cleanup. But it works well enough that I go for it vs strip silence almost every time. Happy to show you one day soon. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 20:31

Thought of a couple to add to the mix:

Empty Region Groups > Markers

Since we're not blessed with multiple types of markers, I use empty region groups to spot foley, adr, make general notes, etc. and markers are left for working with sync or "Pick Up here".

They're particularly useful to block out scenes. I create an audio track, switch the voice from "dyn" to "off", select from the first to last frame of the scene (overlapping for dissolves) and create blank Region Groups. I try and stay consistent with the naming ie. "INT Main Character's BR DAY" "EXT Street Med Traffic Night" so that they all group together in the clip bin. As I go through the show and create my BGs, by the time I get to reel3 80% of the rest of the scenes are at least 75% complete. I come to a scene I know we've heard already, click through my bin, select my bgs, copy/paste, tweak, add/subtract as needed, move on. This works much better in super-sessions with all the reels splayed out, than each reel to it's own session.

Quicker Clip Gain Trims

If you are mousing through your clip gain, stop. Or at least, don't do it so much. In Preferences > Editing > Clips there is a box that reads Clip Gain Nudge Value. This can be as little as 0.1 dB, I have mine set to 0.5. But how do you nudge?

Highlight the region (or portion of a region) that you want to nudge and hold CNTRL + SHIFT + up/down arrow. That was the first way I found. It's good, it's accurate, and it gets you pretty damn close. Then I discovered that the scroll wheel on my mouse worked in place of the arrow keys. Oooooooh, sexy.

But this all assumes that you have no fader at your finger. Want to get super detailed in your clip gain? Use the fader to write volume automation, select the region, go to Edit > Automation > Coalesce Volume Automation to Clip Gain. Voilá. Notice also that you can go back and forth with the opposite: Coalesce Clip Gain to Volume Automation. I have both of these as soft keys on my Artist Mix. So nudge your clip gain, convert, trim with fader, convert, up, down, go to town. :)

• the other nice thing about the keystroke is that you can change the clip gain of multiple files at once. just highlight them all, cntrl shift up or down, and all of them change at once.
– Rene
Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 0:22

I'm not sure of the PC versions of these, but a couple of quick tricks on a mac for the automation lanes:

• If you want to automate a parameter in a plugin, hold down Command + Option + Control and click the parameter
• To quickly bring up the automation data for any automatable parameter, hold down Command + Control and click the fader, knob, or button in question.
• The minus ("-") key is a quick-key to bring up volume automation for the selected track. It works with modifier keys too, so if you press Option + "-" it will bring up volume automation for all of the tracks in your session

Cheers,
~Matt

• oooooh, those are good!
– Rene
Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 17:27
• Similarly, you can use Control+Shift+"-" to show/hide the clip gain line in PT10. I have the top two buttons on my trackball set to this and show/hide all volume automation. Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 2:25
• @Sam Ejnes - Your little tip just changed my life! I've been complaining about not having a quick key for this (though I just found out how to make my own quickkeys for Pro Tools yesterday). And assigning it to my trackball is INSANE. For this, I'd like to give you one that you hopefully don't already have : Shift + s = Solo Selected Tracks Shift + m = mute Shift + r = record enable When I'm working, I like to have the "link track and edit selection" turned on (Pro Tools). This way, any sound(s) that I"m editing or working on, if I just hit shift + s, I can solo it out.
– Jake
Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 6:15

Clip grouping! (command + option + G)... I use it all the time to move around sound design events. Also to make edits while pro tools is running! for example, group two mono tracks (you'll only be recording on one of them) - if you have a voice talent running a :60 script, you can follow along with them & make edit marks (command+option+G) for pickups or busted takes. once you hit stop & the file is "on the line", you just put it in shuffle & erase all your marked groups. all your regions will come together & boom, edit already done. client amazed!!! I use this one every day.

(I tried to post a picture for you guys, but failed. sorry)

another easy little trick - control+option+command+click on pt meters will double their width!

• wonder where you got that one, eh? :)
– Rene
Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 2:59
• I've always used markers to this, i've tried grouping two tracks together, recording on one, creating clip groups between the two and the group isn't marked on the record track. How are you doing this? Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 17:02
• It doesn't have to be marked on the record track. The 'clip group' (or region group in PT7-9) is marked on the guide track & that should be in an 'edit group' with your record track. After you hit stop, use shuffle mode, select the first 'clip group' on the guide track; it will highlight your edit on the record track. then delete it. I even created quick keys to jump groups (using tab, shift+tab, delete, etc.) I know its confusing, but once you see it work, it'll change your workflow. Also, someone I know spotted Rene (see above) utilizing this in a session. That's how the secret got out... :) Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 2:53
• I got it, thanks, that's super handy :) I wonder if there's any way of selecting all the groups on the dummy track at once and deleting them without the need for individual clicking and deleting or a quick key.. When work is slow, i will no doubt see if i can find a way Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:29

A bit simlar to Tim's example: using extreme and fast EQ-automation with a brutal compressor and/ or distortion inserted after it on sounds with a broad spectrum (fire, rivers, whatever) to create sounds for all kinds of apocalyptic destruction... you can really draw and control the 'gesture' of explosions, eruptions and all kinds of "big-mass-movements" very directly, creating intense articlations from even very simple sounds. Just fool around with when and how fast to boost an cut certain frequencies. It's real fun!

I've been using playlists to keep a processing history when using audiosuite plugins and rendering loops during plugin tweaking jams

• ive just never figured out an easy way to incorporate playlists into any workflow. maybe just because i haven't learned the relevant keystrokes?
– Rene
Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 14:35
• the main problem with playlists is they dont get conformed... & I cant think of a project in the last ten years that hasn't had picture changes
– user49
Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 19:34
• ^ that is definitely a point against playlists. You could get around it by creating enough new tracks to assigning all the duplicate playlists to the new tracks, then conform. But what a pain that would be. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 20:24
• Ah, most of my design work is for games, I haven't tested this thoroughly on a tracklay yet but I could see where this would run into problems. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 21:13