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Elastic Audio in Pro Tools refers to both Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch. Both are more fully featured than what's available in Time Compression and Expansion plug-ins like Time Shift. Although Elastic Audio has a feature set that's very large, I'll explain many of the concepts in this video, and then lead you through some exercises to experience the power of Elastic Audio. Let's take a look at Elastic Time. Elastic Time analyzes audio regions for transient events like drum hits and guitar chords and enables you to conform these events to session's tempo, a quantization grid or manually using the Edit Tools in Warp view. Let's try it out.
First, I'm going to change the Timebase from Samples to Ticks. Then I'm going to enable Elastic Audio and I'm going to choose Polyphonic as the algorithm. As soon as I choose that, Pro Tools, behind the scenes, analyzes the audio waveform for its transient events. In the drumbeat here, it's pretty easy to pick them out. Now, let's have some fun. I'm going to change the session tempo to a bunch of different tempos, and you're going to notice how the loop conforms to each tempo. I'm just going to double-click here, and if I enter 105, you'll see that the entire session moves and this region remains as a four-bar loop.
Now if I go and change the tempo to something else, try 80. It does the same thing. It expands out, but it remains a four-bar loop. Let's hear what this sounds like at this lower tempo. (Music playing.) Not too bad. All right, let's undo what we've just done, couple of tempo events. Now we're back to the original and let's change this from Polyphonic to Varispeed. Now, Varispeed links the time and pitch change together, like how a tape machine would react, if you speed it up or slow down the tape. So, let me change this tempo up to 105, and we'll hear the pitch change and the tempo change.
(Music playing.) Now, compare the pitch, if I undo that, and we'll listen to the original pitch. (Music playing.) So, use Polyphonic, if you don't want the pitch to change and use Varispeed if you do. Now, let's look a little closer on what's going on with Elastic Time. I'm going to switch the Track view over to Analysis and I'm going to zoom in and you can see that Pro Tools has placed these Analysis markers near all of the transients. And as the tooltip tells you right there, you can click-and-drag and you can reposition the marker if you want to.
Now, if we go over to Warp view, we have those same Analysis markers, but we can change them into Warp markers if we just double-click on them. Now, I'm going to click out of this track so that it's not selected any more, and you'll be able to behold the power of the Warp markers. Check this out. I'm going to click-and-drag, and look at how easy it is to control the audio. So, if I want to actually move pieces of the waveform and align them with the tempo grid or with any other audio event, it's very easy.
I've used Warp markers like this to align all kinds of parts, Bass parts, Drum parts, Vocal parts, you name it. Align it up to the grid, align it up to other events, extremely powerful! Now, let's try out adding a Groove template to this loop using Elastic Time. So, I'm going to zoom out and I'm going to go back to Waveform view. I'm going to select the region and then I'm going to go to Event > Event Operations > Quantize, and notice we have Elastic Audio Events right here.
I'm going to choose a groove. Let's go down to the MPC Style Grooves and I'll try out MPC 70% 16th Swing. I'm going to move this over to the side here, so when I hit the Apply button, you can see what happens with the waveforms; they moved. So, let's press Play and we'll hear what this sounds like. (Music playing.) Some funky stuff going on in there. Now, I have those Warp makers still in here. So, there was some shifting going on in there. But you can tell that this has a little bit more swing than what the original drum loop had.
So, I'm going to undo this real quick and switch it back over to the Warp Analysis and reapply it. Now watch what happens with the Warp markers. They move just slightly and again you could go in here and adjust any of them however you want. Let's hear. (Music playing.) You can make some crazy effects with this stuff and you'll notice that part of the reason that we're getting this pitchiness in here is because we're using the Varispeed Elastic Audio. If we're using the Polyphonic Algorithm, we wouldn't get those pitch variations. Let's take a quick listen and you'll hear. (Music playing.) No pitch variations. One thing we should also notice in this menu is that we're on Real-Time Processing right now. This can be very demanding on your computer, especially if you have a lot of tracks that are Elastic-Audio-enabled. So, if we go to Rendered Processing, Pro Tools will actually render and create a temporary file, so it's not Real- Time anymore. This will save a lot of processing power for your computer and you can always go back to Real-Time when you need to.
Now, let's go and check out the Elastic Properties window. So, I'm going to select this region and then I'm going to right-click and choose Elastic Properties. So, there is a lot of options for things that we can do in here. We could actually make this region half the size that it is by clicking this and let's actually hear what that sounds like. (Music playing.) Interesting! I'm going to undo that. While we're in this window, we can change all kinds of different things, the tempo, the meter, the event sensitivity, the input gain and the pitch shift, or we can reset everything back to the original. So, this is a pretty powerful little window.
One last thing I want to talk to you about with Elastic Properties are in the Preferences. So, we go Setup > Preferences > Processing and the Elastic Audio section here. We can set the default Elastic Audio plug-in. We can choose any of the four; Polyphonic is usually a good one to start with. We can choose to enable Elastic Audio on all new tracks if we check this off. Now, usually I recommend keeping that off because Elastic Audio does take up a lot of processing power, so we don't need it on if you're not using it.
Elastic Time is great for conforming performances to a different tempo or groove from what they're originally recorded at. Use this for time-aligning any type of performances. It is really amazing the power that you have over rhythmic events in Pro Tools with Elastic Time.
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