I’ve been testing Pro Tools 11 for a while and although I’m a very satisfied up-grader from version 10, too much things were missing to really use 11 full time. Now the situation is much better as only a few plugins are not ready yet, but the majority is there in AAX 64 bit format, serving well under the new Pro Tools iteration.
So as I had a pretty tight deadline last week as I needed to mix two episodes in 3 days I decided to give 11 a go, because I really needed the offline bounce. I made some emergency plan if something goes wrong then I can easily switch back to 10 and continue to work without much interruption.
The first few hours went like the “first date”, I tried to pay attention to everything and didn’t tortured the system too much, but gradually push the system further as I delved deeper into the editing and premix phase. I must say that my “first real date” with PT11 was not only enjoyable but definitely a perfect match. The system seemed more snappier than ever it was under PT10 and as I added more and more plugins to the mix, it seemed that the new version is in love with work. I didn’t experienced a single hiccup or anything. Actually after the first 3 hours I even forgot the fact that anything can go wrong with a new release so I have to remember my plan b.
So everything went well and I actually managed to finish the edits and the premix hours before the original schedule so I decided to instantly start the final mix. At this point I was very confident that everything was going to be absolutely fine. I was so sure that I completely forgot my plan b.
What I really enjoyed during the editing and premixing is the fact that this release is seriously on steroids compared to the old ones. No waiting, no slowing down. Some of the new features like the new track creation shortcuts and the different bypass insert options really helped me to work faster with less momentary stops along the road. Also very much in love with the new metering options, and the additional gain reduction meters are my favourites. Many many small things which might seem too small to even mention, but it turned out that in real world work, daily, these tiny things can make real difference.
Video in the session
Obviously I was very curious. I didn’t even created a proper version specifically for Pro Tools, just grabbed the preview copy from the video editor, which is a h264 file and imported right into the timeline. Now this was the point where my jaw dropped. After a short CPU spike I hardly noticed any significant need for more power, Pro Tools just effortlessly played back the video file along the session, happily jumped to any point on the timeline I’ve chosen.
Of course I know that this is a completely new video engine, but frankly I didn’t except such a smooth performance from it, considering that it was a h264 video which is far from the real optimum codec. I’ll do further testing on which codec would be the best, but right now I’m very happy that it seems no matter what video I receive, it ingest the whole file without question and more importantly, this cavalier behaviour won’t cost me enormous CPU power.
On a side note though, scrubbing has some issues not only with h264 files, there’s a thread on the DUC too, which discusses this very issue. Hope we’ll have a fix for this soon.
This is the feature I really wanted to test. I won’t change my primary workflow as I really want to listen to my finished mix realtime, but for certain deliverables and very fast turnaround tasks it can be the perfect tool. Now this was the perfect opportunity as we had some serious issues on the video side of the production so I had to produce multiple files for the editor. Of course I considered this as a great chance to compare the offline bounced files to find out if they are truly the same. I’ve been burnt before by this feature with other DAWs, so I was a bit sceptical. I know Avid marketed as this implementation is perfect, but I still don’t believe the toothpaste ads either, so I started to compare the different bounces.
I’m very happy to state that each and every bounce was perfect. Even created test sessions in different workstations to check the files, and on every occasion the results were perfect. It won’t change my thinking about the necessity of listening through your mix, but it is a good sign that it is a well implemented feature in PT11.
Also the ability to bounce mp3 (preview) version along the wav file is a great add-on.
Obviously there are some minor and more annoying bugs and more importantly, quite a few plugins which still not AAX compatible. I still wait for Massey, AudioEase, Slate and a few Avid plugins to be AAX compatible. Hopefully sooner than later. With all that said, there are already plenty of plugins for Pro Tools 11 so one cannot say that it is impossible to work with the new version.
With the completely new code base I truly hope that bug fixes are going to be a much faster matter than before. All in all I’m very happy with this version and decided to slowly completely upgrade my daily operation to happen in PT11. Of course for safety I have 10 co-installed on the same machine, so whenever I need some special plugin or something which is still better in 10, I can switch back for a few moments.