Skip to content

Tag: pt11

Pro Tools 11 gems part two

In this second part I praise another great new feature, which is offline bounce. It was one of the most awaited features for years and in Pro Tools 11 it seems that Avid decided to give us the possibility. Of course I know that most of the DAWs already had it for years, but now Pro Tools has it too. And in the case of HD it is not only a simple offline bounce, but you can bounce multiple sources, that can be different stems for example.

Speed and efficiency

It is great that even on a smaller computer you can bounce offline with amazing speed. Meaning that for example on a simple dual-core i5 laptop a really heavy loaded session would bounce 3x faster than real time, which is a real time saver.

If you’re into sound design, bouncing layers of sounds together takes only seconds, even if you use many cpu hog plugins. After editing certain music or dialogue cues, we don’t have to bounce or re-record them to track real time. These are all great examples where this function can help us a lot.

There are caveats though. With certain plugins, offline bounce can end up giving you different results. Right now the suspects are some Waves plugins and some noise reduction ones from Izotope for example.

Although you can read about this on various online forums, the solutions has not been sorted out yet. We still don’t know for sure if this is a Pro Tools or a plugin issue or both. Still, be aware of this issue to avoid nasty surprises along the way. With all that said, offline bounce is still a very valuable tool, even for me, who is not a big fan of this process (I’ll tell you why later).

Right now I use offline bounce for the following things:

  • quickly render preview versions for director/actor/musician/band, etc.
  • to print out test versions of a mix to check it at multiple locations
  • to make deliverables (the mix is ready, just need that myriad of different formats)
  • to bounce multiple layers into one stereo/mono/surround file

In this way it is almost impossible to encounter with the above mentioned problems, while I still have a great timesaver function.

btd window

Old school vs. offline bounce

To be honest though, my basic workflow hasn’t changed a bit. I still use the “old” and trusty re-record to track method for multiple reasons:

  • destructive record to track realtime means a last QC pass
  • if I need to do some revisions, destructive punch in is much more efficient and much faster than any offline method as you only need to punch in that few seconds, and as you hit the stop button, you’re already finished
  • while you’re listening to the final pass, you still have the option to change things

It’s only a few, but I think worth the consideration. At first it might seem slower, but eventually it is actually faster, more safe and more future proof.

All in all, both methods are good, the trick is to know which to use in a particular situation.

Comments closed

First two real tv shows made with Pro Tools 11

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.

The challenge

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.

Offline bounce

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.

offline bounce

Still missing

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.

Comments closed

Pro Tools 11 first thoughts

First of all, let me state that I won’t mention any iLok related issue here as I already stated my opinion about that. Now let’s move on to the more important part, Pro Tools 11 has been released.

I immediately felt the urge to upgrade, but right now I use the 30 days Pro Tools 11 HD demo. Partly because it’s not a cheap upgrade, and partly because I want to experience the new features before spending the money. On a side note, I have nothing against Avid, in fact I’m a serious Pro Tools addict or fan if you like, but with PT11 there are many huge promises, and I really wanted to know that they are not merely promises, but rather facts.

Installation

First I updated the Pro Tools 10 install to 10.3.6 so it can co-exist with PT11. The first surprise is the much smaller size of the installer, the second is the convenient drag and drop installation. All the download and install process went smooth. Let’s rock it and see what we have.

After a few minutes of playing a bit and checking out the new features, I headed on with my usual test sessions. Amongst those there are some surround stuff, high track and high plugin count concert DVDs, etc. The very first thing I noticed is how extremely snappy PT11 is. It simply does things faster it seems. I have no scientific evidence but even after a few days of testing, I still feel the same.

Under pressure

I substituted all the missing plugins with something already compatible with the new release. If there is a big difference between the original and the substitute, I instantiated 3 or 4 plugs to emulate the real load of the original session. Even with some older machines, the difference is stunning! The whole operation is smoother not to mention that where I previously hit the processing power limit of the system, now I have serious headroom left. I could insert additional plugins into the session without any sign of system break up. At the end it turned out that in a huge session which gave me occasional DAE errors before, now I could use 20–30 more plugins and the session is still stable, no errors, no other hiccups. And all this with the new video engine switched to on, even when the session did not contain any video track.

It’s really very easy to get used to the configurable metering, and honestly I’m in love with the gain reduction meter on the channels, as well as the metering on the sends. My initial thought was it is nice but not a real big deal, but now as I started to use it, I say this is a big feature which I would rely on.

The new track creation methods, the offline bounce and really everything I tried so far is working as it should. I wait for some plugin developer to release the AAX versions of their plug and after that I try to convert all my activity to be in PT11HD.

The great thing about Pro Tools and particularly Pro Tools 11 now is that Avid takes proper implementation seriously. It’s not just packed with new features, but as you work and discover the new things, they are already in the right order at the right place just as you would expect from PT.

Well done Avid, it’s a really, really great release. Upgrade is going to happen very soon for me. And if you need some more info and tests, head over to Pro Tools Expert blog, they just posted a extensive review there.

Comments closed

Some thoughts on the upcoming Pro Tools 11

Anger, frustration, trolling, baseless bashing, rare real critic, hype, amusement, excitement. If I want to summarise the last few weeks about Pro Tools 11 in one sentence. Of course we better get used to the fact that we unlikely to see any new products which wouldn’t generate the same diverse response. This post reflects my own opinions.

First of all, it never cease to amaze me that many already bashing a software which is basically not exist yet. Yes, we saw the announcement, know that it will come, but let’s be honest for a moment, the vast majority of us have no idea how good or bad it’ll be. The only thing we know that it is supposed to be a amazing upgrade. Let’s see some of the new features.

Features

  • Offline bounce: the long awaited feature, which honestly doesn’t make a big difference at all (at least for me). Don’t get me wrong, it is a very useful thing and I can see that I would use here or there, but honestly I am not that brave to hand out a final mix without listen to it from start to end realtime! And honestly with all due respect I don’t know any serious professional who would… So while I agree it’s a nice feature which can help us to make certain things much faster, it’s far from being the most important thing. For many of us, the good destructive record to track still has many advantages over offline bounce.
  • 64bit architecture. Now this is a much more important thing in my opinion. Hopefully gone are the days when we get memory related error messages, not to mention occasional crashes with huge sessions.
  • New video engine. Oh I prayed for this one. Cannot really comment on this until I try it, but I’m very glad they reworked it, or imported it (from Mediacomposer).
  • Metering, gain reduction meter, etc. Although it’s not breakthrough I consider these as highly supportive features. I’m sure I’ll like these
  • New audio engine. Glad they ditched DAE forever. It was high time to do it and make some serious effort to build one from scratch.
  • Only AAX. Honestly I don’t really want to say/write anything about this. We know till Pro Tools 10 has been released. No argument here as I take this as inevitable.

Avidaae

Efficiency, speed and power

For me the biggest promise is that compared to Pro Tools 10, on the very same machine we’ll get much more power with Pro Tools 11. Of course we don’t have any tangible proof of this, but if it’s true, I’ll upgrade. I know that the supported or recommended computer list is somewhat narrower than before, but remember that at Avid if something is not on the list, it does not mean it won’t work. They cannot possibly test every configuration.

For a short example, I daily use Pro Tools HD 10 on a dual i5 MacBook Pro which is not supported, still working rock solid even with big sessions. I don’t encourage anyone to use computers which are not in the Avid list, though you should know that there are laptops and desktops that works flawlessly with PT10, without any Avid qualification. For the record, the main rigs are all supported machines, but frankly many times I use not supported machines at different places, and they’re perfectly working. My experience based on mainly Apple computers regarding this.

I wonder how much more power we’ll get, as a few weeks ago I had to finish a mix on my laptop (i5 dual-core MBP) and the whole session ran smoothly. The session comprised of 134 tracks, 8 effects (reverbs, delays, etc.), 42 buses, about 160+ plugins, including eq, comp., tape saturation, etc. This was not a small mix session but the little laptop handled it. I don’t say that with ease, but without errors, about 60 % cpu load. At the end I recorded the stems into the same session with destructive record.

Upgrade path

Recently Tim Prebble wrote an excellent summary about the possibilities/needs of our future computer rigs and I couldn’t agree more with him. Take the example above. That is only a small laptop, nothing really special about it, yet it handles a mix large enough to “kill” even a few years old tower. And this is only a dual-core i5. Now you can buy for example a Mac mini server with quad-core i7, 16GB of ram, etc. It’s already powerful enough to handle a really large super-session with loads of tracks, plugins and stems in the very same session. So the question is very valid: do we need the huge workstation towers?

I agree there’s a market for those too, but I’m not really convinced that audio, even audio post production would need them. I very well know the advantages come with a dedicated tower, but if you just think it over and calculate a bit, you might end up with multiple Mac minis (just for the sake of a example), some Sonnet expansion, and you spent half the money, yet has more than enough power at your disposal. All this with the probability that PT11 will be much more efficient than PT10 could ever be.

One thing where the big towers has enormous advantage is serviceability and expandability. I’d been building computers for many years and know that how easy and painless a memory or hdd upgrade/change can be with a proper tower. These things are much more complicated in a laptop or in Mac minis, not to mention the the iMacs. But if we consider the price difference, we may face a quite easy decision as from the price of a Macpro, you can buy 4 Mac minis, or two with the Sonnet expansion box. With this you also has some backup if something goes wrong. I’m not completely against the huge towers, but honestly at this point I cannot see why I would choose that upgrade path. Of course anything can happen.

Summary

So, what is my plan? I am certain that I will upgrade to Pro Tools 11, probably as soon as it will come out, as it can co-exist with PT10 on the same machine. On the computer side though, I’m not sure I am interested in a new MacPro anymore. And I’m very determined, because these minis/laptops and other little machines are not only “good for the money” or “good enough for my needs”, but they are already powerful enough for serious work. In the long term (like with the Sonnet box) it’s makes more sense to replace the Mac mini than to buy huge and pricey towers again and again.

2 Comments