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Tag: features

My Pro Tools wish list for 2015

I’m absolutely not that type who make New Year resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a list I would like to do. And, of course, there’s absolutely a list I would like to see in the near future in my favourite software. So, here’s my short list:

  1. Multiple marker tracks. With this so I could really organise them, use different ones for DX or SFX, etc. Even if you’re working in music only production it can be immensely useful to have more option here. For example have one to mark the parts of the song, another category for re-takes or mistakes, another one for mix notes and so on. In post production this would be a great feature.
  2. Clip bins. Almost like in Media Composer. Different bins for SFX, MX, DX. This would be also great for all kinds of audio job. Another great opportunity to keep your session organised.
  3. Remove the remaining silly limitations from HD. I’m an HD owner without HD hardware. I can’t use the full solo capability of Pro Tools for example, only if I use it with Avid HD hardware. This is nonsense in my opinion. Every HD owner should have the ability to use Pro Tools HD software freely, without limitations on any hardware available on the market.
  4. Revibe and other plugins efficiency. I truly love Avid’s Pro series plugins. They are spectacular sounding great and efficient tools. I also love and use Revibe which is still one of the best reverbs available in post production. But it is very far from being efficient. It’s not a big deal when I’m on HDX, but as I freelance, in native, it can literally eat up a quad i7 MacBook Pro in seconds. This is not right. I know it’s always on full throttle (working in 5.1) but still, take Exponential audio as a good example. Revibe should be much more efficient. Please Avid, make it more native friendly, just as your other great plugs.
  5. Bugfix, bugfix, bugfix. Seriously. If Avid won’t add many features, but iron out many bugs, I’d be a happy user who happily pay even the subscription fee.

I know there are many other things that should be added to Pro Tools, but this is my very short list, which would make me absolutely happy. So happy that I would gladly pay the new Avid tax-subscription price.

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Templates part 1

When you start and have to learn many things about a new DAW, let’s say in this case Pro Tools, don’t make templates. When you’re getting good, know Pro Tools much better, then start to make templates to make your life easier and your work faster.

Why not?

First it may seem a good idea to start out with templates. It’s faster, the chance of error is less, you’ve got ready to go things at your hands in the first minute. And that’s a good thing. Well, in my opinion, it may not. If you just start out, it’s better to learn the hard way, to always start from scratch so you really understand the structures, methods and workflows. If you try to skip the hard part, you’ll regret later. Nothing is more dangerous than a building with flimsy foundation. I know it’s tempting, but if you’re really serious about learning Pro Tools or any other DAW, don’t choose the easiest way. You really need to fail multiple times so that the process will be your second nature while you’ll succeed.

When and why?

When you’re getting good, knowing the basics, know some shortcuts and you hardly need to stop when you’re building a bigger session from scratch, then it’s time to delve into and make some templates. Templates makes your progress happen faster as almost everything can be set up when you want to start to edit or mix. If you build a really good mix template, then you only need to import the incoming audio into your session created from your template and start working immediately without the need to set up additional things. This is a huge timesaver.

How to start with it?

I recommend to grab a clean sheet of paper and plan your session template before the first mouse click. It may sound ridiculous, but believe me first you must know what your needs are, and only after this come the real building part. If you start before this learning process then you’ll have a half-baked session template with things that constantly need some tweak here or there. Even if you precisely know what you want, you may encounter a few errors in your own template which need some minor tweak, but after some short test period, you’ll have a very precise, dependable starting point.

Don’t underestimate! The worst thing you can do is to build a small template which always need some addition to it in order to really serve you. This is why I seriously recommend the planning on paper method. Ponder about how many effects you need, buses, VCAs, stereo and mono channels, etc. When you’re sure that you didn’t left anything out, wait a bit and start to investigate the almost perfect plan for possible errors and things you might left out by accident. Remember, it is always better to have few very good templates than to have so many you lose control over it and neither one is perfect for the given job.

So, the workflow may look like this:

  • brainstorm (piece of paper, write down everything you might need)
  • write or draw a kind of flowchart so you can see what is there and why
  • pondering on what could possibly be missing
  • add, subtract, revise after careful consideration
  • pause for a minute to really think it over
  • now you can start Pro Tools and start building your session template
  • test your template for every possible things (routing, effects, stems, layout, etc.)
  • modify if necessary
  • test it again until it’s really ready to serve you

Next, we’ll take a look at the real-world method of how to build a template.

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DAW opinions

Since I wrote a little personal rant about Nuendo, I’ve received a considerable amount of e-mails, fortunately most understood my intentions and didn’t try to start a “DAW war”. Originally I didn’t plan to write a follow up to that article, but because it seems that it is a topic which might need a little more attention, I give it another go here, trying to update and build upon the previous blog post.

As recently Nuendo 6 hit the market, I searched the web for videos, user experiences and downloaded the manual so I can research and understand the changes and new features beyond the usual and seemingly necessary marketing “fog”.

Features that we need (or not)

First I think I need to clarify a few things in order to avoid the misunderstandings and baseless DAW bashing.

I completely understand that many users don’t need those “pro” extra features in any DAW what the professionals want, request and actually use daily. But I ask one thing in return. Please understand that although you may not need the mentioned extras in a workstation, we still need and use them. I really want to avoid any futile and endless rant about this. We have different needs, workflows, but please appreciate that in post production, we really need those extras. I’m dare to state that those extra functions are vital to our daily jobs.

So this whole post is rather a thought provoking mini article and not a de facto list of what feature should be in a DAW.

Also be aware of the fact that I’m a heavy Pro Tools user who (now) daily encounters with Nuendo too, this is why I wanted to research the theme a bit more.

Anything you read here is merely my opinion and with all that said, I personally consider two DAWs to be adequate for serious post production:
* Pro Tools
* Nuendo
* (I didn’t forget Fairlight and other options, but it’s not in this price range)

Nuendo 6

As I saw it was coming I read many posts about it on different forums and I actually totally understood the excitement about the new release. We, Pro Toolers are equally if not more exited when we are about to receive a brand new iteration of our favourite. Of course it’s never so one sided. Around new version launch the tension tends to build up, and not only the cheerful voices emerge but the critic ones also, and I must say with a good reason.

Many time companies spend more time with marketing than with their product, which leads to premature release full of nasty bugs, long-forgotten bugs remained from previous releases, etc. I absolutely understand the frustration but also we have to understand that sadly today, you cannot sell a product with “features” like:

  • fully optimised
  • we made it rock-solid
  • ironed out 6000 bugs
  • spent time to listen to you and tweaked the options
  • tested on a million systems to ensure smooth operation

Let’s be honest, this is not going to happen anytime soon.


n6box

So let’s see the brand new shinny features of Nuendo 6.

  • New UI. Frankly I don’t really like it, but it is a matter of personal preference, so I won’t make any further judgement on this
  • Dedicated full screen mode. That’s right, we need it in Pro Tools too!
  • Voxengo curve eq. Great, but it’s not Steinberg’s own idea or development
  • Anymix Pro. Just as above, I don’t consider this a huge feature. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic tool, but it’s not Steinberg’s, it’s a question of money not vision. Still, I would be very-very happy to see something like this in the next Pro Tools version (hint: Maggot Spanner would be a fantastic candidate)
  • Fully integrated loudness metering. I applause this, very good idea. However still think that in this saturated market we may find better options like Nugen Audio’s one, but I won’t be negative here, it’s great that they included this feature.
  • ADR taker system. Although I’ve never used it and I’m not an ADR guy, this seems simply genius.
  • Channel visibility/zone tabs. Great, although a bit late, but don’t be so negative, at least from now on, it’s there.
  • Channel eq with spectrum analyser. A nice touch. I would say most of the time I don’t need a feature like this, but when we need it, it is very handy to have the option built-in.
  • Sound fx library. Frankly I really don’t understand this. Nuendo is marketed toward serious post production circles. While it could be a nice addition, I have yet to met anyone in this industry who don’t have huge sound libraries. If you’re a freelancer, you may already have it, if you work at any reasonable post facility, then they have it. This is what I feel a needless marketing trick. I’m not bashing the quality of it, I’m sure it’s great. The whole idea bothers me though.
  • Zoom mem/zap. Great feature, long time Pro Toolers surely recognise the equivalent…
  • Channel linking with options. Oh, thank you for it! Seriously! This is what made me crazy so many times, or better said the lack of it. I love and use the equivalent feature in PT daily. If I understand it fully, there’s still room for improvement here though.

So this short list highlights some of the new features in the brand new Nuendo 6. What is my honest opinion? Well, mixed. Some of the new features are great, but I can see many “new” things in there which seems to me only a simple “let’s catch up with the competition” thing.

Just a short reminder what I miss from Nuendo:

  • destructive record
  • automation overlay on waveforms
  • 16bit waveforms
  • VCA groups
  • Import session data function
  • Bus interrogation
  • Clip gain implementation seriously lacks

Couple of days ago I read Pro Tools Expert’s article about the upcoming PT11 that simply catching up is not enough. Now, this how I feel about Nuendo 6. Some nice additions, but mainly long requested features and still many things missing (see my previous rant).

All in all I still think that this is a very nice package, although I don’t feel that Steinberg really put itself into it, and certainly I don’t feel that this release is threatening Pro Tools in any way. Of course as usual, I can be dead wrong about this, but this iteration won’t shake the post world.

I’m very curious though. Interesting times as Avid has new CEO and Pro Tools 11 is hopefully approaching, as we can see Steinberg is trying to catch up and lead, and hopefully we, the users will benefit from this competition. And as always, use the tool which serves you better and don’t forget that these are just tools, you’re the operator.

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OMF problems and some Nuendo experience

Well, not really problems as I managed to decipher the way Nuendo exports a Pro Tools compatible OMF. I don’t know if it’s Steinberg’s fault or Avid’s, but it took me a few export/import cycle to get what I wanted at the first place. My guess is that it is some problem with Nuendo, because I didn’t have these problems with Pro Tools before. Still it can be either’s fault.

The one and only method

I’ve found one, and only one method which proved to be predictable and stable across many sessions. Any modification in the parameters caused different incompatibility issues or completely faulty OMF.

For these projects I didn’t need the audio files, but obviously I needed the information… At first I hoped for smooth sailing after all it is only a simple “file reference” export which would tell the other software where to place which file, etc.

The only compatible working method is pictured below:

omf export

This way you get everything. Audio file positions, edits, names. Any other test caused incompatible things like only one track transferred instead of 96, other times positions were wrong, names lost, etc.

Personal rant

Don’t take this too seriously, the following only a little list that I really miss from Nuendo. There’s a possibility that I miss something and Nuendo actually knows some of my wishes. If you like, this is my really short list why I couldn’t switch from Pro Tools (amongst many other things).

  1. Marker track. It’s a very good thing that I can have many marker tracks, but sadly they cannot be fixed or locked, so as you scroll through your tracks, your markers always disappears as you cannot see them. In Pro Tools, the marker “track” is above the real tracks so it doesn’t matter if I’m at channel 140 or ch1 I can see my markers.
  2. VCA. I really don’t think that this point needs any further explanation.
  3. Destructive record and destructive punch. After so many years… I need it for very good reasons.
  4. Channel/fader grouping. Now this is really annoying for me. I’m quite used to the Pro Tools method where I’m able to create edit/mix or combined edit-mix groups, switch them on/off with shortcuts. I missed this so much.
  5. Group focus and bus interrogation. Enough said. It’s not rocket science, very convenient features.
  6. Clip gain implementation. Maybe it’s exist but I couldn’t find this. If I want to use clip gain in Nuendo, I have to see the middle of the clip in order to grab it with the mouse. In Pro Tools it doesn’t matter where I am, see only the head or tail of the clip I can freely use the clip gain. I couldn’t find a method for this in Nuendo.

This a simple starter list which is missing/or not really well implemented in Nuendo in my opinion. Of course I am extremely biased as I’ve been working with PT for long-long years now and I only used Nuendo many years ago, but now as sometimes I have to use it again, I’m surprised that there are still many things missing. I don’t want a DAW war here, these are my personal things.

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