April, 2015

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Avid Pro-Tools Face-Saving Mode

Pro-tools keyboard with the  EditorsKeys stickers set.  Twickenham theatre 1

So here’s something that’s been on my Pro-Tools wish-list for a very long time. I’ve made half-hearted attempts to convince my friends at Avid to at least consider this mod to Pro-Tools, but perhaps I need to come up with a more comprehensive argument.

Consider this scenario. You’re in a dubbing theatre on a final mix. Your director has just asked you to cut a particular sound out of a stem so you’ve asked for “30 Seconds” and you’ve jumped into headphones world whilst the runner takes tea orders from everyone else.

You’ve solo’ed the offending stem and duly chopped it. Sounds great in solo. You quickly un-solo, listen to the change in the context of the entire cue and you decide to make a further small adjustment, so you go back into solo on the stem, finesse it in seconds and then whip off your cans and proclaim to the room that you’re ready.

The mixer rolls forward, all the pro-tools chase, but of course you’ve left the damn solos in on the stem you were working on. Music sounds shit, you look stupid. Only a little bit, but if you keep on doing it you can become annoying.

I’ve conditioned myself to make damn sure I don’t make this rookie error but once in a blue moon I do and it damn near kills me. Call me a sensitive soul but I take it to heart – I’m a creative person, that’s what i do!

So what I’m proposing is a special solo mode, only selectable in Pro-tools’ Preferences and is set to “off” by default. It would only be active when the machine is online and prone to go into play on receipt of timecode. What it would do is immediately cancel all solos when it receives code and goes into play.

Simple. The editor saves face, the dub saves seconds (yes, I know its a second but they do add up) and everyone is just a little bit happier.

It may not seem like a massive deal but I’ve seen it happen countless times to editors of all disciplines. It can also leave mixers scratching their heads as to why the effects for example aren’t playing correctly when all the busses say otherwise.

Solo Face-Saving Mode. There you have it.