Avid Everywhere - Initial thoughts

Launched this morning at Avid's Connect event in Las Vegas, Avid Everywhere is Avid's new vision for how media is generated, transferred and consumed across audio, video and broadcast. The platform is founded around the MediaCentral platform which provides a suite of services and APIs that are ties together the Avid suite of media generators and third party applications and tools.

The foundation tools in particular the Connectivity Tool are to be made freely available to consumers and competitors of avid to tie together their services and solutions into the MediaCentral platform. This in turn will also tie together the existing avid tools and make them more 'thin -client' tools than they previously have been. The existing tools have been fat clients with their own methods to translate and distribute external media sources and products, eg AAF translation into Pro Tools from outside sources. The connectivity tool it seems will split this out and unify the experience to enable tighter integration between Avid's and third party tools.

In addition to the MediaCentral platform and their associated tools, Pro Tools is gaining Cloud functionality. This functionality is similar to the RocketNetworks system that tried to enable remote collaboration with Pro Tools in the 90's and also with the functionality in Nuendo to update tracks offline and promote changes to the timeline in real time.

The more intriguing part of the cloud services for me was the public and private marketplaces that avid have implemented within the ecosystem. To focus on the public marketplace, essentially they are providing the ability for artists to publish either finished products or elements for anyone, video editors, audio editors, composers etc to grab that material and use them in their products. The licensing, payment and distribution functionality and support is provided by Avid's MediaCentral system. It's essentially a combo of soundcloud and iTunes with yousendit or gobbler. From a sound editing point of view you could create a sound effect that you could then make available for others to use, sound libraries could be built or distributed via the public marketplace for example. Similarly the private marketplace is designed for collaboration and distribution between individuals.

This is a developing product concept and certainly there will be a lot of features and concepts that will change dramatically. It is certainly intriguing and I am reserving judgement on it until I've had a chance to play with it further but Avid has taken the initiative to try and change the way that our industries think about content generation and monetization. I'm looking forward to seeing more over this weekend and during NAB next week.

If you have questions feel free to hit me up via twitter (@cerithom) and I'll endeavor to get answers.

​Thoughts about "Gravity"

If there is a better argument for the superiority of Dolby Atmos over other formats including IMAX and Auro, we are yet to see it.

The Atmos mix saves what is actually a fairly mediocre movie and propels it to it another plain.

In spite of the opening title cards which state that (in effect) at that point in space there is no oxygen to transmit sound, the decision was made to fill whatever emptiness there was on wide shots with musical drones. This was the biggest disappointment in the soundtrack. With such a compelling lack of space being created within the disaster scenes and within the helmets, to then have the vastness of space filled with mundane droning was a let down.

If you are going to see this movie then it MUST be in Atmos. If you can't see it that way then don't bother. It's not a great movie but it is rescued from itself by a wondrous and breathtaking design and mix job that fills the vacuous space (and storyline) with complexity and fear. 

http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/gravity

 

 

 

I'm so looking forward to mixing in this format, it offers lots of challenges but that what I love about my job…figuring out challenges. 

Pro Tools 11 released. What does it do for Post?

Video Engine

As we spend so much of our time looking at video, this is huge. The improvements in the video engine open up a massive world of workflow extensions. From the ability to use MXF based video files natively within Desktop Video or output via Blackmagic or AJA video interfaces to the fullscreen mode and native playback of all quicktime formats without transcoding.

Metering!

The new default meters are Digital VU which match the System 5 in ballistics and are a vast improvement over the “Pro Tools Classic” meters (which are included for comfort). You can also have different metering on Master faders than on all other tracks if you so desire. My favorite aspect of the new metering is the Output metering you can have in the Edit window toolbar, put a faux-5.1 bus into your session and send all your tracks to it and you’ll have a Printmaster meter solution. 

Audio Engine

The new Audio Engine is not just a new name, it is smaller and leaner than DAE ever was and with that comes bigger track counts with lower overhead. 

Multiple Expanded Sends

For those TV (generalisation) mixing scenarios where you are using sends to route your tracks rather than outputs the ability to expand all of the sends out is huge. The downside is that you lose the track metering at this point but if you flip the faux 5.1 bus onto the output paths then they come back. It’s a workaround but it does work.

Faster than Real-Time Bounce

Want a backup for those virtual predubs? Knock them out in faster than real time. Try it once, you’ll love it.

More Metering!

Gain reduction Metering on every channel with a dynamics processor inserted. This is awesome and the best part is that it also displays on each track in the edit window too. 

More processing

The new audio engine allows many more intances of your favorite plugins than ever before, the AAX2 format is tuned like one of those car engines you all love designing so much.

Summary

If you are still not sold then the only thing I can advise you to do is to download 10.3.6 and then install the PT11 demo. I’ reasonably certain that your plugins won’t all be available, but that will change over the next few weeks and months but try it for yourself. I’ll be posting some updated templates with PT11 tweaks in the coming weeks. More to follow…

Pro Tools 11 released. What doesn't it do?

By now you have probably: Seen the announcement of PT11 from NAB 2013, read countless blogs and reviews about the new features and maybe even attended a pre-launch public demo with question and answer time.

Not a whole heap to add but here’s the hit points.



  • 64-bit memory space

  • 32-bit float mix engine (yes they are different things)

  • New metering options including Gain Reduction metering

  • More undo’s for all the errors that you can make faster now

  • More VI’s can be used

  • New Audio Engine

  • New Video Engine

  • Faster than Realtime Bounce

  • …and much more


But what doesn’t it do? This is not a bash of Avid in anyway rather a way to quickly answer a lot of questions that begin with “So can you…” and end with “…yet?”


  1. So can you…have multiple video windows…yet?
    No, the new video engine is vastly improved in it’s framework and has great features built into it like Draft and Best Performance video views as wel as Full Quality. It can have MXF based video files directly in the timeline as well as a number of new and developing industry-supported formats such as OP1A. you can mirror your picture to Desktop Video and external hardware but you can’t yet have two different videos displayed in your session windows.

  2. So can you…have multiple sessions open…yet?
    No, and actually in my humble opinion this is a good thing. I know there are captivating reasons to be able to do it but I like the single session operation, I used to use Logic and this is one thing I definitely do not miss.


  3. So can you…have bin/folders in the clip list…yet?
    No. I’d really love to have a compelling reason for this, what exactly does the in paradigm add to your Pro Tools session? Folders I can get on board with to a point but if you can convince me of bins please feel free to comment. The new workspace is a great start at a new database format for the software, it is much faster in searching and indexing drives and the searching is great too…different but great.


  4. So can you…freeze tracks…yet?
    No, not really although if you 1 to 1 your outputs to a desk then you could offline bounce 16 of them at a time and reimport. Not the same I know but 4x16 track width offline bounces will take less time than 1x64 track realtime bounce or rerecord pass.


  5. So can you…have mulitple marker tracks…yet?
    No, if you are importing from an media composer created omf/aaf then you’ll be able to import the different marker colors from that file but you can’t create different color markers or multiple marker tracks yet.


  6. So can you…run VST plugins…yet?
    No. AAX2 is the one and only plugin format in Pro Tools 11.


  7. So can you…have clip based effects or panning…yet?
    No. Clip based gain is the one man show of clip based realtime processing.


  8. So can you…create a folder of tracks…yet?
    No.


  9. So can you…export part of a session…yet?
    No, Save Session Copy will do selected tracks only though. My workaround is to duplicate a set of tracks and then top and tail the media needed. Shift+enter will select to the start of the session from edit point, shift+alt+enter will select to the end of the session from the edit selection point. Ok, it’s a 5 step process but it’s called a ‘work’around…


  10. So can you…Send to Avid after you crash…yet?
    Yes, yes you can. If you crash it, report it. Help them help you people. It’s free to submit a crash report and will help the product get more stable.

So there you have it. 10 quick answers to 10 questions I heard after PT10 release. Now, quit reading and go install PT11. You don’t need to uninstall PT10 ‘cause…they co-install. Can’t run simultaneously but then who would want multiple sessions open at one time, right? Oh…wait.

PACE iLok and the case of the disappearing assets

Let me begin by saying that while I have been affected by the dismal effort that PACE, a company that effectively has the ability to hold the entire (read: anyone that doesn’t use some other form of copy protection) industry captive, has made in testing, communicating and solving the issues they created with their recent ‘upgrade’. I am lucky in that I do not rely on my personal iloks to make my living. I decided therefore to jump into the fire with it and see what happened.

When the announcement was made that ilok.com would be down for system upgrades for a whole weekend (June 8-9, 2013). It was clear to everyone that this was not your typical system maintenance that occurs in about an 8 hour timeframe. Pro Tools Expert had given warning of such a few days prior in one of their exclusives and promised they’d have more information and walk throughs as and when they were allowed to post them. Something big was coming.

Monday 10, ilok.com had been revamped and a new and shiny “ilok License Manager” had appeard for download. I, of course, downloaded and ran the program as soon as I was able to. The next event was perhaps the best case scenario…the process of logging in failed.

The following few days were filled with reports of broken iloks, assets being changed to temporary licenses and generally a sense of foreboding around the internet communities that I am a part of. These were met with continued promises from PACE that everything was fine and that patience and trust was all that was needed. 

By Friday I was finally able to login to the ilok license manager and that was my biggest problem. Upon first login I was told there were 38 licenses on my primary ilok (84 on my account). Honestly I have no idea what the truth of any of those numbers are anymore. The system looked cool, various ways to move licenses, redeem license codes etc everything you could do on ilok.com before but now happening to be locally displayed. 

I then tried launching an ilok authorised application, that I’d just seen listed as on my ilok only to be told that I didn’t have authorisation to run that application. That seemed very strange, I’d just seen it. I opened the iLok License Manager again and waited 30-40 minutes before being able to get back in. Once I was back in, my stomach dropped. 0 activations!

I immediately and without hesitation logged an RMA, because they don’t have phones or email at PACE. 

After a further period of time and trying to access the ilok manager’s sync/repair functionality, I decided to give up and run the uninstaller that they provided in the disk image. Once the process was complete I tried launching the application that I couldn’t authorise before and it installed an older PACE driver that allowed me access to the software and all the plugins I had previously been told by PACE that I no longer had. 

I went home for the weekend…

Over the past few days there has been various service announcements by PACE (on forums) and as their only response to my RMA was a form email pleading with users that essentially they’ve done better this time, they promise, please come back and try again. 

If you’re feeling lucky then go ahead and try their steps outlined on the Known Issues page. 

After two hours of trying and getting to the point where it finally gives up and blames a firewall issue I have been told that I have: 5, 38, 41, 78 and 84 licenses on my ilok. I don’t know what to believe, what I do know is that I can no longer access my izotope plugins, my mcDSP plugins, my Avid Pro licenses. 

As I stated at the beginning, I am lucky in that I do not rely on these authorisations for my living. I would highly recommend to anyone that does…

1 - Do not believe a word that comes from PACE
2 - Do not sync, transfer or otherwise try to do anything to your iloks
3 - Do not install the ilok License Manager

I am currently trying to connect to the license manager via my cell phone connection that definitely has no firewall and on my mac which also definitely has no firewall and still getting firewall error messages from ilok.

I will continue to post updates as I can here, and will let you know as soon as I can consistently get access to ilok Manager and my software. I am also sending a link to this post to the RMA support ticket that I haven’t yet received an answer to. 

Pro Tools and BetterTouchTools - Gesture Based Editing

There are many different methods to speed up and alter workflows in most DAWs. Keyboard Focus, Macro Keyboards and Shortcuts, Control Surfaces and their respective macro keys. One that I utilise a fair amount is BetterTouchTools and the Magic Trackpad (or Laptop Trackpad). What I like about this combination is that it allows for many more controls to be utilised on my laptop than would otherwise be easily accessible. I have included a download of my basic set of commands some of which work really well and others which will require a certain amount of training to get right consistently.  

The thing to understand about this particular tool is that it maps gestures to keybaord commands, so if it can’t be done with a keyboard command then it can’t be mapped (at least not that I’ve found). When used in conjunction with OS based keyboard commands (I like ctrl+opt+command+o for I/O… for example) then you can really customise your workflow and rarely have to move from the modifier keys and the trackpad. 

My basic command set is very basic: Change tools, Fade in/out, Increase/Decrease Waveform Size, Select Next/Previous region etc but give a quick and simple start point for adding your own. 

This workflow is definitely not for everyone, it takes some time to establish what will and what won’t work and you’ll find things that don’t work consistently. One such command was the Single Tap Middle Bottom that I’d set to be the select tool (F7) wasn’t triggering on my laptop trackpad consistently so I duplicated it with Single Tap Middle Top which smooths my interaction.

Download Materials (PDF Cheat Sheet and BTT Preset)

The not so new but still troubling I/O… setup

It’s been so long now that I don’t remember exactly when it happened but at some point (I want to say PT8) Avid then Digidesign changed the I/O Setup that we’d known and loved and replaced it with a new paradigm that many people still struggle with. 
I am in no way claiming to be an expert in this and feel free to refute my information what follows is a walk through of what works for me and hopefully will guide you into your own understanding of this new and wonderful world. 

Where did we come from?

In versions prior to this change the I/O window was simple. You had your inputs, outputs and busses together with inserts and hardware delays. Outputs couldn’t overlap each other, tracks fed busses and everyone was happy. It was a system that worked well and was solid, there were few if any problems.

So what did change and why?

As I said above this was a paradigm shift more about the way in which Pro Tools was being utilised than about any specific issues with the I/O. Large format mixers were being displaced (NOT REPLACED) by mixing ‘in-the-box’ to one extent or another and therefore the output page became less important after all you only had a certain number of monitors no matter what you were doing. At that point even if not physically printing stems within your session you were probably mixing in stems for processing. 

Take for example the FX demo template I posted here. It has a number of sets of audio tracks, feeding busses which feed aux tracks which output to physical outputs. 

For editorial purposes you’ll probably be in a 5.1 cutting room so here you could go one of two ways. Either you could set all of the Aux tracks to output through your Cutting Room output path (do more than one using alt+shift while selecting output), or you could use the new and powerful feature on the bus page of I/O Setup and Map your Aux Outs to your Cutting room 5.1. 

Aren’t they the same thing?

Well yes but now let’s assume that you are sending that session to your (large format) mix room. Your mixer has already established that they will be working in 10 5.1 stems called FX A, B, C etc and so has built their console accordingly. Now instead of doing the Ripple outputs dance (shift+alt+command) they uncheck the box at the bottom of the I/O window that says “Sessions Overwrite I/O Setup” and then remap your outputs from the Cutting Room to their 10, 5.1 outputs. Now instead of PT throwing an error about dropped automation etc the I/O setup Maps to the mix stage outputs flawlessly. 

So I should uncheck Sessions overwrite box?

Yes. Your monitoring is not changing right? That’s the key to this whole thing. Sessions that come to you will add busses as they are required. The Sessions overwrite box relates purely to the hardware inputs and hardware outputs of your system.

If it doesn’t work?

Fix it within the bus page. Pretty much everything that you will need to do is done from the bus page at most (in fact 90% can be done from the Edit/Mix windows)

Greater than and less than 5.1

Good point I’ve used 5.1 as an example not the rule. Mapping is just that though if Editorial has been done in 5.1 you can still map to a 7.1 output. Similarly if you’ve cut in Stereo/ SDDS then the mapping will do the magic in the background. That is not to say you’ll be upmixing/downmixing between formats just that you no longer have to worry about a 5.0 to 5.1 etc. 

What if I don’t want to use aux tracks?

Then don’t. The aux tracks as discussed allow for stem processing, group volume/panning etc  if you don’t need that then you can save yourself some track and bus count i.e. instead of “FXA1” -> “>FX A” -> “FX A>” you’d just have “FXA1” -> “FX A>”.

I have more questions 

Great. Feel free to post comment/drop me an email. 

Miscellany - Some thoughts and tidbits

It’s been 5 months since I last wrote anything on this site. My absence has been multi-faceted. 

 

  1. I’ve been busy and learning an awful lot
  2. I like these thoughts to be my own thoughts and learning doesn’t necessarily rule that out but it also isn’t easy to filter other peoples ideas.
  3. Various NDA’s have made writing tough at times. 

 

On with the Miscellany. 

Virtual Katy - After a reorganisation on the business side VK have released version 4 of their flagship product. VK 4 Premium which now works with Pro Tools 10 and has been tweaked in it’s conforming algorithms to improve speed and accuracy. It’s no secret that I am a big fan and am really pleased to see the product now operating on PT10 and look forward to developments continuing. 

Ediload - Mark at Sounds in Sync has released an incredible update to his utility application which now creates a conform reference track for use with Pro Tools Field Recorder functionality to assemble production sound rolls for editorial. First time I used it it’s accuracy brought tears to my eyes. In my testing I needed to do very little nudging of the assembled material to bring it in line with the AAF material the one caveat is that it does rely on the Pro Tools expansions, which are getting much better but can over-do the expansion when compared with Titan (Tip- Expand tracks before importing AAF materials). Clean up of the Assembled session is fairly quick once you get used to it and should get better as PT improves this aspect of it’s functionality. 
The second impressive feature of this new version is it’s ability to build a change EDL from a conformed session. Why would I need this? The way I’ve taken to using it is in combination with VK. I’ll import the guides and do a conform using VK, fix any problems, heal where appropriate etc and then import that into Ediload. This gives me the best of both worlds a kind of personal change list but with the Project Management of VK.

The descent of Apple - If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know about a growing frustation with Apple over issues such as customer service, disregard for ‘international’ customers, lack of updates to Mac Pro, dumbing down in general. Am I suggesting that they are going to disappear? Absolutely not but if they continue to irritate me they are in danger of losing at least one customer. Then yesterday (June 18th) something truly interesting appeared. 

Microsoft Surface - A few years ago Microsoft first demonstrated a product called Surface it was about the size of one of their ‘phones’ ie coffee table sized. It had some tremendous features: Multi touch was the first, wireless transfer of files between devices that were layed on it amongst other things but it was a coffee table. If you’re in London and want to see it in action make your way to HSBC/Barclays (?) in Piccadilly Circus where they use it for customer information. 
Yesterday they shrunk that to a couple of models of tablet/ultrabook. The RT model doesn’t really interest me as it requires specific apps to be written for it and Apple has that market all but sewn up. The Pro version however will run standard Windows applications in addition to custom designed apps. It also has an full USB port also known as an “oh look I could put my ilok there” port.  Pro Tools on a touch enabled tablet just slightly larger than an ipad? Sounds nice. Let’s see how this progresses. 

Oh yes, then there were Track Presets in Pro Tools which is exciting.

That’s all for now. 

Edicue Group Buy - ADR Cueing Software

I’ve long been a fan of many of Mark Franken’s Programs. Ediload is a go to tool for fixing all manner of issues with EDL’s that make both Titan conforms and VK autoconform’s much smoother. 

Mark has just launched a group buy for his ADR cueing software Edicue. Not being an ADR editor I haven’t had much call to use the program in anger but when I have used it I have been deeply impressed. As of v2 he has added the ability to ingest a PDF of the shooting script and the program then analyses for Scenes, Characters, Lines etc. These can then be used to spot correctly formatted region groups onto the PT timeline. 

Tracking of cues across multiple versions has also been improved from v1. If you already use another ADR tracking program Edicue will probably be able to export to it (ADR Manager, Filemaker etc.)

At time of writing the cost is $540 US but as with all group buys this figure decresases as more people come on board. Current listed discounts go to $300 which would be an absolute steal for this program. 

Cost of entry to group buy is $120 and upon completion (March 23rd) coupons will be sent out for you to complete the purchase by making up the difference. 

Edicue Group Buy

Neyrinck V-Control Pro 1.5 - iPad control of DAW's…and their windows!

I’ve written about V-Control before, it’s a virtual control surface for various DAW applications including Pro Tools, Logic and Cubase. Version 1.5 has added a great new feature called V-Window that allows you to directly control any window (plugin, floating panel, edit etc) directly on your iPad. 

If you have an iPad and are looking for a control surface then at $50 this is a steal. You get a transport control. direct access to mixing controls including a surround panner and now plugin control on a wifi connected device. The control response is instantaneous but be aware that screen redraws on the ipad particularly with V-Window lag behind as with any VNC like device.

 

Demo FX Session template

As requested by Marco on a previous post this is a fairly generic FX template session with 10 5.1 predubs and associated routing. Each predub contains 8 mono tracks and 4 stereo tracks feeding a 5.1 auxillary channel with (in the case of the PTX file) as ChannelStrip instantiated on it (in the PTF this is replaced by a Dyn3 Limiter). I have steered clear of non-built in plugins.

The session contains a routing test section at 00:58:00:00 which runs through the outputs across all predubs in about 30 seconds.

The tracks are labelled using no more than 4 characters which makes them compatible with EuCon displays. 

Any errors or questions please feel free to post in the comments or via email.

 Small zip file download contains PTF, PTX and associated WAV files

Merry Christmas from Avid - Digidelivery client for Lion

Arriving in time for the end of support by Aspera comes a Digidelivery client for Lion. It comes with a lot of disclaimers but from some limited testing seems to work very well and runs without the need for Rosetta. This client was released by Avid rather than the new owners Aspera which just goes to highlight how little they actually planned to ever put into this product but good job to Avid for doing this.

http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=428591

Thanks to Bob Russo for the heads up on this.

Pro Audio Trials abound

2011 is the year of firsts it seems. Earlier this year (August) Steinberg offered a Nuendo 400-hour trial version for the first time ever and now Avid are following their lead and offering 30-day trial of Pro Tools both standard and HD.

A good way to use the upcoming bounty of bank Holidays in the UK?

Both trials require a USB authoriser, the eLicenser ($28) and ilok ($50) respectively. Of course the ilok is much more widely used than elicenser so you may have a spare one kicking around. 

Nuendo Highlights

Multiple layer FX rendering - Like Audiosuite that can be removed out of order; don’t like that EQ you processed? Remove it without starting over on the other processing you have performed.

Clip Gain - Yes Pro Tools now has it too but Nuendo has had this for some time and its a deep implementation.

Network Collaboration - Work on one session across mutliple machines, drop a few tracks offline for updating and then pop them back onlne once done all without stopping the flow of work.

64 bit - Native 64 bit enabled on both Mac and Windows

and if you want to know more about Pro Tools then take a look at these articles

 

Last chance for a year of free backup and transfer - Gobbler

A few months ago I wrote about Gobbler being a possible replacement for the soon to be unsupported (less than  a month at time of writing) Digidelivery boxes. Well the service has gone from strength to strength since, you can now use it to send ANY file type, Backup sessions from most major DAW’s and using a clever hack any file within those folders; You can also send a public link to a recipient meaning they no longer have to sign up for a Gobbler account to download materials. 

Pricing is due to be announced very soon and it seems there will be a 30-50% discount on the data plans for a short time too. 

December 7th is the deadline for receiving a free year and 25GB of storage space after that the storage will drop to 5GB by default. 

The service is fast and efficient and with no filesize limit to speak of (unlike YouSendIt) it is ideal for most if not all of your data transfer and project backup requirements.

Sign Up Today

Avid Pro Tools 10 - Purchasing and Support

A lot has been said about the pricing of the upgrades and how Avid have lost touch with their customers etc. Not alot seems to have been said about the extra purchases that may be relevant. 

Support Plans

Along with the announcement of Pro Tools 10, Avid tweaked their support offerings to add value to what was widely seen as an extravagent purchase. 

First up the new Avid Vantage programme, this provides for unlimited online support from Avid technicians in addition to the forums (although if you’ve spent any time on the DUC lately then you’ll know they are not much help right now). You also get a 50% discount on telephone support. As the value added portion of this package you get a $99 coupon for the avid store for upgrades etc but also a package of 4 Avid Audio plugins to use for the length of your subscription. - Cost? - $149 

Next up is the plan mentioned by Max Gutnik (Senior Director of Audio Product Management), The Standard Support plan. This retails for $599 for the remainder of the year. The biggest benefit of this plan right now comes to HD users. Who can save $400 on the upgrade to HD10 and get phone support, next business day response to issues etc. This does not come with the plugin bundle like the Avid Vantage programme does but is undeniable value for money. 

For more info on larger plans please visit : Avid Support Plans

Value for money

Are the upgrade prices of 9-10 and 9HD-10HD worth it? 

I believe that they are in all honesty. Are they high? Yes, but they do provide incredible value. The audio engine has been completely redesigned to support interleaved files, 32-bit float files; the disk cache feature of 10HD is without a doubt the largest performance enhancement that we’ve seen from Pro Tools in a long time. 
The long awaited 24 hour timeline is great particularly for post. Finally supersessions containing more than 6 reels can be reconformed quickly without shifting of materials to compensate for the 12 hour limitation.

The masses were hoping for 64-bit across the board, this hasn’t happened but Avid have taken steps toward making this possible soon. AAX (64 bit ready), new audio engine (less legacy code), disk cache (64 bit).

As always, if you don’t need the upgrade, nobody is making you upgrade. The only reason that would be the case is if you were buying a new mac which comes with Lion. Then someone is encouraging you 10 is better on Lion than the 9.0.5 beta was. 

Pro Tools 10 - The "Post" release

It’s long been the trend that Digidesign released one version that was primarily music and then one version that was primarily post focussed. Yesterday’s announcement of PT10 was very definitely a Post focussed release. Why do I say that? For a start it wasn’t the 64bit release the music guys were hoping/calling/craving, the RTAS engine didn’t see a massive overhaul and it was clearly defined that it wouldn’t be. 

This version has a feature set that as a Post guy made me incredibly happy. 

1-Clip Gain

I spent yesterday with a group of video editors discussing workflows and such. During the conversations PT10 was announced and I was able to say that for the first time I relaised what on earth that clip gain function was supposed to do on OMF/AAF import. Instead of “converting clip based gain to automation” I can now import both and get a true representation of what they were trying to achieve. For years I’ve had AAF’s come in that clearly had both in and the clip gain has been overwriting the volume automation resulting in messy and confusing AAF’s. Opening an AAF in PT10 I saw that actually the picture team weren’t being sloppy, it was part of the translation process that was. 

Of course the feature is much more powerful than just that but as someone dealing with turnover’s more often than I am being creative.

 

The screenshot to illustrates the difference. The top tracks are imported using the new PT10 feature set where as the bottom set have been imported into the session after opening the AAF itself in PT9.0.3

Don’t know about you but I like the top version better. 

 

2 -  Disk Cache

The disk cache feature is the 64 bit part of PT10. Basically it runs as a seperate process outside of Pro Tools which pulls your audio files into the RAM Cache and then presents itself to Pro Tools as a playback device, all in the background. Your timeline is read a little ahead of the playhead and a little behind whilst in caching mode or when you need to refill the cache (if you only had 3GB of RAM and a 5GB session for example it would dynamically cache the data rather than slow down after the 3GB has been played.)

This is a fairly small session for dialog predub. Using a 2GB Disk Cache you can see that it fills the cache but the timeline is 100% loaded into RAM. I have run a large FX session for testing over a wifi connection with media on a G5 machine and recorded predub stems on my laptop, this is powerful and transparent technology. 

Note: The indicators only appear when you have a fixed Cache Size enabled, otherwise it operates in Normal mode which is a very small cache. 

I have 8GB of RAM in my laptop so I can have a fixed cache of up to 5GB, 3GB is reserved for OS and PT operations3 - Bus interogation.

This feature allows you to: Select all tracks routed to a bus/output, rename those busses without entering the I/O Setup window, Show hide tracks going to each bus etc.

Incrediby powerful and intuitive. This will save a lot of time on the mix stage and allow you to focus on just the particular set of tracks you are hearing, for example.

 

4 - Downmixer

Prior to PT10 there were a number of third party plugins for performing this function. It is now built in to PT10. The presets are taken from the OMNI and the System5 alogrithm for downmixing 7.1, 7.0, 6.1, 6.0, 5.1, 5.0 etc to stereo. There is no Stereo to Mono the lowest track count is an LCR->Stereo.

This sounds great and is pretty low in resource usage. I’ll use this extensively for DME’s after mixes, headphone monitoring feeds etc. 

This is not a Dolby encoder, the stereo it creates is LoRo not LtRt!

That’s a quick summary of my favourite features in PT10, along with the death of Fade Files (Hooray!!).

This is a powerful and feature filled release. I’ll write more about some of the other features soon but just to say if you have been waiting to upgrade to Lion for a stable PT release then go ahead and do it now. 

Taming the Lion - Workflows in Apple's newest OS - Part 1

I am a bleeding edge kind of guy. I like having the latest system and discovering it’s quirks and more than that discovering how to fix or work around the issues that it brings with it. 

Lion (10.7) is the latest OS from Apple and I have been running it in some degree since it was released. There are things that I love and things that I hate, they are mostly covered on other sites and if you are considering it for any of your systems I’d recommend reading around and seeing what of your workflows may or may not work. This article is about things I’ve discovered that hindered my workflows and the resolutions to them. 

1 - File management (part 1)

If you install Lion onto a fresh system or buy a new system running it then you will find that the Finder is vastly changed. Visually it’s greyer but deeper than that scrollbars are gone, the dividers in column view are practically indistinguishable. Most irritating of all is the new organisation of the sidebar. 

“All my Files” is the first addition you will see. I can see the use case for this, it’s for people who are used to storing things on their desktop or just all within a single folder somewhere.
Most people reading this particular post won’t do that, audio professionals are generally quite organised about their filing and if you use Pro Tools then the system itself guides you to maintaining some form of hierarchy by default. Command Click and drag on this to remove it from the sidebar would be my recommendation and replace it with:

2 - Add your Hard Drive back to the sidebar.

Shift-Command-C will bring up the Computer view. From here I’d recommend dragging at least your work drives into the Favorites section of the sidebar otherwise you will spend a lot of time scrolling to the bottom of the sidebar which is where apple has deemed to be the place to store Disks of all varieties. 

3 - File Management (part 2)

With the advent of Versioning in the OS Apple rather irritatingly hid the “Don’t Replace” option from the Copy menu. No idea what I mean? On a preLion system if you were to try to copy the contents of your Audio Files folder to a server copy of the same Audio Files folder in order to update the server copy of the session you would be presented with a dialog box with a few options.

  • Apply to All (a checkbox)
  • Don’t Replace
  • Replace
  • Stop

If you do the same process in Lion you will find no option to “Don’t Replace” and it’s place has been taken by “Keep Both Files”. This might be okay if you are moving Word documents around but start updating mix stems in a similar way and you’ll find yourself with duplicate files, longer copies and rapidly filled storage. 

Thankfully it is not gone, but it is well hidden. I tried every combination of shift, control, option trying to get the “Keep Both Files” to change to no avail. The solution was to not drag the Files but to drag the containing folder at which point the OS recognises that the folder/directory exists and will merge the folders. It does this without any further interaction which is kind of nice but scary the first, second and third time you do it. It does work though. 

4 - Dedicated Desktops

Take some time to set up dedicated desktops, these are much like Spaces in Snow Leopard but can be customised with seperate artwork for each Desktop. To lock an application to a specific desktop you can either:

  • Drag the Applications window to a Desktop whilst in “Mission Control” view then right click on the applications Dock icon to bring up the Options menu. From here select the option to ‘Assign to’ This Desktop
  • Navigate to a new Desktop and then open the application and follow the second half of previous option (right click on the applications Dock icon to bring up the Options menu. From here select the option to ‘Assign to’ This Desktop)

I have a Pro Tools background image on my Pro tools Desktop because unless a session is open then all you get when switching to the Desktop is the Menu bar and I like the reassurance that the switch has occurred.

As with spaces this is not foolproof and occasionally the OS won’t switch to the correct Desktop when you open a new window. The most frequent example of this is double clicking on a Pro tools file in Finder, the file will open but Lion won’t switch to the Pro tools desktop. Either bring up Mission Control and switch manually or click the Pro Tools Dock icon and it normally switches. 

I will write a part two very soon but these are just a few irritations and tips to get you started.

Avid Pro Tools - Preview @ IBC 2011

At IBC2011, a show primarily for the broadcast sector, Avid showed a Technology Preview with some very exciting features. 

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ez-G5jgebw

1- Disk Cache/RAM Disk

In the video (linked above), Tom Graham mentions that you can load the timeline into a “Disk cache or a RAM disk”. This feature could be huge. Particularly if it is capable of dynamically loading media. The forums have been alive with discussion about whether this will mean you can load VI’s into RAM and therefore get more instantiations of Virtual Instruments. As a post user, I don’t have a need for a whole bunch of VI’s, maybe it will be tweaked to enable this but for me the focus was on the playing from ISIS shared storage. 

2- Realtime Fades

To sum this up? Woohoo! For a long time Fades have been the bane of my life. These small little chunks of audio that constantly get corrupted/lost. Looking forward to never having to rerender missing fade files again.

3 - Clip Gain

My only run in with Clip Gain has been in the Import Session Data window where I convert it to Volume Automation. It will be interesting to see how this develops. 36dB of gain outside of volume automation sounds like it could be invaluable.  Not sure I’m a fan of another area that can’t be clicked whilst using the smart tool but maybe they have a way around that. 
The envelope function looks promising I can’t imagine that they’d be implementing this feature at anything less than sample level so should be really useful for fixing production audio issues.

4- Cross fade view

While you’ve always been able to see the result of the crossfade in the timeline, this will show you dynamically the two waveforms much like with the Fade window itself. Together with the Clip Gain it was shown how this updates dynamically great for seeing what is actually on the regions.

5- AudioSuite handles

Huge! Not sure how long these Handles are exactly but anyhing is better than nothing. I wonder if it’s Full file and if it is how they deal with a region being used later that referenced the same file? 

If you want to read more then there are plenty of forum posts on both the DUC and Gearslutz frantically debating what this preview means and when if at all we will see these features in a release. Also plenty of people pointing out that at the start of the video there is a disclaimer about this not being a promise to deliver any of these features etc.

General consensus on the disk cache/RAM Cache is that this is a sign that PT is going 64bit. Not sure if I buy that as evidence, Pro Tools has a history of interesting solutions to technological problems. DAE used to be external to the main program for example, the Disk management was too. Pro tools will be going 64bit if for no other reason than both Apple and Microsoft are moving their platforms into 64bit only operation. 

Whether this sees the light of day will remain to be seen but it certainly shows that Avid are thinking about some pretty radical changes to how things have been before. Read the forums, watch the video and then wait to see what happens. 

Life after Digidelivery - Gobbler?

I have been testing a new service recently that looks like a reasonable replacement for Digidelivery now that Aspera have announced the death-knell. It is called Gobbler and allows you to back up your Pro Tools sessions to an Amazon S3 storage system (cloud based/remote, replicated backup).

It’s incredibly simple to setup and use and allows you to then share backed-up projects with others. It can also keep a offline record of where your sessions reside, scan your home-based drives and it will catalog all of the audio files associated with the project, the geographic location of those files and give you an idea of the size of the session. 

I plan to continue testing this system as it moves out of it’s initial beta period next Monday (June 27th 2011). During this time however if you sign up you get 50GB of free storage to start backing up and sharing your sessions. 

To take advantage of this now click on this link to learn more.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Clicking this link helps me to get more free space for referrals but I do genuinely believe this could be a viable replacement for Digidelivery in small post houses/independent editors.

 

Project File Type support copied from the https://www.gobbler.com/features#organize site:

Compatible with most major DAW software and file types

  • AVID PRO TOOLS
  • APPLE LOGIC
  • ABLETON LIVE
  • STEINBERG NUENDO
  • STEINBERG CUBASE
  • PROPELLERHEAD REASON
  • PROPELLERHEAD RECORD
  • PRESONUS STUDIO ONE
  • COCKOS REAPER
  • APPLE GARAGEBAND

Linear to Non-Linear storytelling

I recently had the opportunity to demonstrate what I feel is the overwhelming power of Virtual Katy on a project very similar to the first show that I used VK on. 

That first show was “Vantage Point” and when it first landed with us it was a linear telling of the story of a presidential assassination. It was a short 5 reel movie and far removed from the final released version. it had however had a lot of sound editorial work done on it already and parts of that was hoped to be saved. The next version we received was a non-linear telling of the story with each reel being from a different characters perspective culminating in a linear ending post-reveal.

Change notes on this type of conform would have been a nightmare and so we decided to give this new program, Virtual Katy a go. After a couple of failed attempts and some marvellous help from Craig Tomlinson with EDL evaluation and guidance we were able to reconform the linear version of the film into a non-linear version. 

Flash-forward to 5 weeks ago when I was approached by the mixer/sound editor on an independent feature to do this exact same process. We took the linear final mix sessions and we were able to reconform the full movie (tracklay, automation etc) into the non-linear directors cut in 40-60 minutes. The look on the directors face as he watched the linear guide QT’s being cut into the new non linear version and matching frame for frame was priceless to see. 

Obviously that wasn’t the end of the story and the sound editor then spent a few days going through and filling in the new scenes and smoothing some automation jumps but it widely accepted that this process would have taken a couple of weeks to have fixed without VK and it’s shot tracking, full project view.

Picture Editorial: Final Cut Pro, 24p project format
Sound Editorial : Avid Pro Tools 8
Conform materials: FCP Video EDLs
Virtual Katy: 3.0.2, 23.976 fps project