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Tamas Dragon Posts

S6 software 2.2 new things #3

From the inception of the S6 I thought this was going to be the smartest surface on the planet, and frankly, it nearly already is. Here’s another addition which makes it even more valuable.

Virtual strips

As early adopters, for more than a year we had the simple layouts. Those are simply custom layers, a kind of build your own custom fader bank and save it type feature. From the start, it was huge. Having multiple layouts, able to easily create and recall them is a huge time saver during a mix.

The only limitation was we could only build layouts the size of our real surface. For example we have 24 faders, so I could build layouts that has 24 slots, that’s it. I think this was a feature request by many of us to have so called virtual layouts that go beyond the real hardware.

With version 2.2 we have the ability to build bigger layouts. To have them, first we need to change a setting on the S6. Go to the track view, then tap the local option (gear) icon. There you can see the option slider Number of strips in Layout. Here you can define your desired number.

virtual layout settings

My method. We have 24-fader units, so I choose to have 48 strips in one layout. Why? Because this way the layout is still small enough to see through while big enough to handle many things at once, and as an added bonus, with one button I can navigate from 1-24 to 25-48 and back. It’s simple and efficient.

Quick tip

As a goodie now we can also bank from the surface with the User buttons, no need to reach for the buttons on the Master module. This way it’s even quicker to fly through my 48 strip layouts.

This new User button banking also works in normal mode, without any layout defined. As you can find these on every fader module, it really doesn’t matter where you sit.

Modifying layouts

Also some very nice improvements here. The first and probably most valuable for me is that they hidden the Clear All command. It was there all the time and honestly I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally deleted my whole layout. It’s available if you need it, you have to use the Master Module’s shift and it appears on the screen.

layout editing 1

Some other truly great add-ons are the Insert, Delete and Clear Strip commands. Now we can modify our precious layouts with much more freedom than before. On complicated live broadcast mixes and score mixes I deliberately planned the layouts ahead because modifying them was somewhat inconvenient. It was possible, but not as easy as now. Forgot something? Insert it and the rest will adjust automatically. The same goes if you have more than you need. Just one command and the extra channel disappears from your layout, the rest, of course, readjusts. Stay tuned for even more!

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Slate VMR lack of mapping

Early on I liked the sound of Slate plugins, although we had many issues with them, it really seemed that they care and will make things right. After a certain amount of time it wasn’t really encouraging that their support always answered every question or request with one not really informative sentence.

For example I reported to them the fact that their VMR is practically unusable because the mapping is not telling you anything about the inserted processor. So instead of displaying Neve Low-Gain, it only shows A01. And it still A01 if you change the process order.

When I reported this to them, the answer was simple: “yes, it’s a known issue, please read knownissues.pdf”

And the rest is silence…

I commented on forums how bad this mapping is, but it seems they really ignore this issue. Even got messages telling me that according to some insider info, they are working on this.

Well, few days ago Slate released a new update and guess what, they didn’t do anything with the Eucon mapping. This is their idea of mapping in 2016:

slate eucon mapping

I think it’s sad. I know there won’t be a billions of control surfaces, but these issues certainly alter the decision process about what to buy and what to leave alone.

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S6 software 2.2 new things #2

The next thing that I think many active users love or going to love is some new Soft keys. Some of it could be done already but only if you took the time to look them up and then program them to a custom page. Now, some very important ones are already there to use them.

Monitoring

More and more manufacturers adopt the S6 as a monitor controller option. This means that now not only Xmon users enjoy the benefit of the monitor section, but many more, like DAD, Trinnov system (based on Xmon), Cranesong working on it, Colinbroad.

Now we have a custom page just for the monitoring options.

soft key monitoring

We could only do this from the dedicated monitoring section of the S6, which is fine but I’ve found it a bit more distracting and more importantly it was slower. Now, on the Soft keys, we can easily choose the sources (can’t rename them yet) and the speakers (custom names can be added).

soft key monitoring 2

During a score mix it’s a great help when I focus on different speakers for checking certain things. It’s right in front of me so no distraction during the mix process.

New features

Some new features added to the Soft key set like freeze, commit and bounce for example. In my opinion it’s really important that the developers constantly improve the workflow with the S6 and Pro Tools, not just adding random new things to the feature list.

Some other factory app set changes include the new Wheel behaviour. These are the new mapped functions:

s6 wheel mapping

Now this is a very convenient and simplified version, prior to this update we had to use the shift key on the surface to access some of these functions. Now we only have to use the purple shift key next to the wheel.

Other very nice add-on is if you build your custom sets, Eucon command now auto-named, which is great as it really speeds up the process.

If you made a really good custom Soft key set, then it’s a good idea to save it. You can find it here: C:\ProgramData\Avid\App sets

This way you can save and reload your own Soft key set anytime you need it. Stay tuned for more!

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S6 software 2.2 new things #1

A few weeks ago I promised I’ll tell and show what has changed in the new version of the controller software. Lots of things happened since, but here’s the first part of the mini series to let you know what have been improved in this new version.

Colours

We all know that different colour coding is good for us because our brain learn the coding system and uses it to quickly, almost unconsciously guide us to reach for the good knob or button.

Although it’s not a ground breaking new feature, but on the Master module of the S6, the headers of the different pages as well as many button backgrounds received more vivid colouring.

mmodul single

It was used to be more moderate, only to give you an idea, now it’s proudly shinny, very contrasty so even without paying full attention to that area you can quickly realise if something is on or off, or which page you’re at.

mmodule 4 screen

This might seem unimportant, but as the whole S6 concept is built around the cleverly thought out colour coding, it is a nice step in the right direction. We already familiar if we touch EQ or DYN or Sends because of the different colours, now it was time to match this part of the surface with the knob and process module part. Stay tuned for the next bit!

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Mixed experience with the Avid web store

I think it’s very common these days that we use web shops to purchase a variety of things. From home devices through tickets to software. This is a very easy and convenient way of shopping. Well, most of the time.

My colleague’s studio bought a new MacBook Pro for some utility work and they decided to buy a brand new Pro Tools 12 to do some easy editing, organising and recording on the field. As he did not have any experience with the Avid web store, he asked me for help. At that time I thought it’s going to take at least 5-10 minutes to buy a Pro Tools 12 perpetual license with annual upgrade plan.

And frankly, it shouldn’t take any longer than that.

The reality

However, things are seems to be more complicated than that. First shock was that we couldn’t choose a download only option, although they don’t need another iLok as they have some spare. Avid must ship the box it seems, of course with FedEx. So no low cost option here. Good morning, it’s 2016, we don’t need another box shipped to us. Even the web store claims that we need internet connection in order to be able to download the purchased software. Go figure, still need to pay them for the box they want to send you.

But the insurmountable problem was not that. We successfully finished to fill all the data, double-checked everything. At the final stage though, simply nothing happened. No confirmation, no email, no proof in the Avid master account, nothing. We thought nothing, but something actually happened. They charged the credit card.

So at this point we were sitting there without any proof of the purchase, without the money. Tried to stay positive, I thought it might take a minute or two to process everything. After an hour I thought that something is not right.

Fortunately they have multiple licenses so we could contact the customer support. As it turned out, something went wrong within their system, so even they couldn’t see any proof of the purchase.

We had to send our bank’s proof of the money transfer so the customer service can trace back what happened. I almost forgot to mention that this short story actually happened over two days. After that, silence. The third day Avid’s customer service acknowledged that they can see the money transfer, found the exact date, the credit card’s data, everything, but don’t know the reason why we didn’t get the license. We were politely asked them to give us the license we payed for. Well, it’s not that easy it seems. As for some reason the system completely lost all the data except the money, they cannot give us the license that easily.

The solution

So now the process is, they send back the money which would take 3-6 days. And after that we can retry, and hope for the best. And this is not a startup in a garage. This is Avid.

To be fair, the customer support was always very helpful, they tried everything and kept us in the loop.

The reason I decided to post this is not to have a rant online. It is because problems with the Avid web shop seems to be ubiquitous. From 10 of my fellow engineers 7 experienced some problem during their online shopping with Avid. I know probably most of the transactions are going fine, and personally I never had a problem until now. Still, for me it feels odd they need 4 or more days to figure out what happened, and even than they cannot simply make it right. I’m a big fan on online shopping but frankly this experience has been one the worst happened to me.

Compare this to my recent experiences with other companies. Since this case I bought 6 things online. Some download only stuff, software, e-books, and some stuff needs to be posted. All went without a hiccup, the items that has been sent to me are trackable, I know exactly when they will arrive (some of it already arrived).

Last update: Avid’s customer support really try to make this right, now they help the studio to go through a verified purchase so everything is going to be alright. Because of this I changed the post’s title, it was a much more caustic one, wouldn’t be fair after their efforts.

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