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Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9

From: Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

Video: Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9

One of the biggest changes in Pro Tools 9 is that it now works with any Avid or third-party hardware interface, and what's even cooler: it now works with no interface at all, just the native sound card of your computer. This opens up so much flexibility to aspiring sound designers, audio editors, and video makers who want to enhance and optimize their soundtracks for video. In this video, we will go over the specifics of audio interfaces and also other hardware peripherals that come in handy when you're using Pro Tools 9 for audio for video. As you may already know, the iLok is a crucial item you'll need to have connected to run Pro Tools 9.

Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9

One of the biggest changes in Pro Tools 9 is that it now works with any Avid or third-party hardware interface, and what's even cooler: it now works with no interface at all, just the native sound card of your computer. This opens up so much flexibility to aspiring sound designers, audio editors, and video makers who want to enhance and optimize their soundtracks for video. In this video, we will go over the specifics of audio interfaces and also other hardware peripherals that come in handy when you're using Pro Tools 9 for audio for video. As you may already know, the iLok is a crucial item you'll need to have connected to run Pro Tools 9.

It's got your software authorization on it, as well as authorization of any plug-ins you've purchase for Pro Tools. It's a cool way of taking your belongings with you and without having to take your whole rig, if you want to work in another studio, in a cafe, or even in the subway or an airplane. If you're using your native sound card, you'll be using the one built in on your computer. The audio quality is not great, but it will get you by in a pinch. On a Mac, this is managed by CoreAudio. This can be configured with the Audio MIDI Setup utility application. If you haven't seen where this is, it's located in Applications/Utilities and there it is, Audio MIDI Setup.

It's the little keyboard icon. When we open this, it shows controls with any connected audio devices, including our built-in core card which is represented by anything called Built-in. The physical inputs and outputs are on the side of your laptop or on your CPU tower. Another cool thing you can do in Pro Tools 9 is mix and match interfaces and use more than one connected device. This is called aggregate devices. It's for Mac only and set up also in the Audio MIDI Setup application. If I click on Aggregate I/O, I can see that I could add the Hammerfall DSP device, as well as our built-in inputs and outputs.

When it's time to get serious about your audio, you'll want an external audio interface to input and output sound from microphone and speaker monitors. These come in all shapes and sizes and range from FireWire and USB connections to connecting via installed cards in the tower of your computer. Let's go over a few of the popular interfaces out there. Avid, the company who makes Pro Tools, manufactures some quality interfaces. The Mbox series is portable, and it connects via USB. The 003 series has more inputs and outputs, and it operates over a FireWire cable. Then we have the high end of Pro Tools interfaces.

These interfaces such as the new Omni or HD I/O offer high-end converters, and they're connected via installed cards in the available PC IE slots of your computer tower. Remember, Avid HD interfaces also allow you to run the HD version of Pro Tools 9, but unlike before, one great thing about Pro Tools 9 is you can use any third-party audio interface. It's a free world, finally, for Pro Tools users. RME makes a number of affordable and flexible interfaces. Apogee makes a full range of highly vetted products from the two-channel Duet up to the high-end Symphony system.

Then there are audio file high-quality interfaces out there like Metric Halo and Prism Sound, just to name a few. Which is best for you? It's best to weigh the cost, the inputs and outputs you need, and what your requirements are. For surround sound mixing remember though, you'll need at least outputs. Now, what about other peripherals besides audio interfaces? Control surfaces offer power and flexibility, especially when it comes time to mix your audio for video project. Mixing with the mouse is no match for mixing with real faders, especially when you're trying to get that dialog track to sit just right between the music and sound effects in your mix.

Avid recently acquired Euphonix a company renowned for its control surfaces. Already, Pro Tools 9 utilizes Yukon technology, which provides enhanced control over an Ethernet connection for these types of peripherals. On the high end, we've got the ICON D-Command and D-Control control surfaces. External video is something you might think about when you're working with video. You can always import a video into your Pro Tools session as a QuickTime and preview it on your computer monitor, but you can also free up valuable screen space and view it in full res if you use an external video peripheral. Most audio for video professionals I know use a hardware box made by Canopus.

In Pro Tools, by choosing Options > Video out FireWire, you can attach Canopus box to the FireWire port, and it transcodes the signal to either S-video or a composite signal that you can then attach to any TV or NTSC monitor outside your computer. One note about this though: there is delay offset incurred by sending out via FireWire. The cool thing is you can easily make up for this in the Setup menu. Here we have something called Video Sync Offset. You can compensate for this offset here. For instance, the Canopus box requires 22 quarter frames offset.

One other caveat, if you're working this way, video must be encoded with the DV NTSC codec to do use external video. So you have to specify this with the video editor you're working with, prior to delivery. We'll talk more about codecs in the "Understanding video formats" video. Avid also makes the Mojo. You can use this instead of the Canopus box. It's an external FireWire video manager with even more features to handle many codecs, and it interfaces with the Avid video-editing software very easily. Finally, let's talk about speaker monitors. When you're working in audio for video you're going to need accurate reference monitors to hear what you're doing.

Also, if you're serious about 5.1 surround mixing, then you'll need to budget for more speakers. Many companies, such as Blue Sky and Genelec, offer 5.1 bundles to audio for video professionals. All of this might seem like a lot of gear to budget for, but compared to working on sound for video only a few years ago, you'll find is becoming much cheaper, much lighter, and more importantly, much more accessible for anybody to get in to.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools
Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools

51 video lessons · 8972 viewers

Scott Hirsch
Author

 
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  1. 6m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      40s
    3. Using this course with Pro Tools 10
      1m 57s
    4. Relinking audio files
      2m 33s
  2. 18m 37s
    1. Understanding the new audio for video features in Pro Tools 9
      5m 17s
    2. Exploring the hardware requirements for Pro Tools 9
      5m 19s
    3. Understanding the audio components of a finished video
      5m 22s
    4. Understanding the audio production workflow
      2m 39s
  3. 25m 10s
    1. Understanding video formats, SMPTE timecode rates, NTSC, and PAL
      6m 21s
    2. Understanding video formats, codecs, and pull-up/pull-down
      5m 16s
    3. Setting up your Pro Tools session for video
      8m 44s
    4. Exporting OMF and AAF files
      4m 49s
  4. 32m 14s
    1. Importing OMF and AAF files
      8m 8s
    2. Importing and the DigiBase browser
      4m 0s
    3. Conforming the OMF import to your template
      6m 51s
    4. Setting up groups and windows
      6m 2s
    5. Spotting film and using markers
      7m 13s
  5. 52m 55s
    1. Organizing the dialog tracks
      5m 0s
    2. Optimizing the dialog in the first pass
      4m 30s
    3. Using room tone
      4m 10s
    4. Creating fades to smooth out audio edits
      5m 4s
    5. Understanding sound effects, ambiences, and backgrounds
      7m 12s
    6. Sweetening and hard effects
      6m 52s
    7. Processing tips for sound effects
      8m 46s
    8. Bringing emotion to the mix with music tracks
      5m 33s
    9. Leveraging clip-based gain in Pro Tools 10
      2m 51s
    10. Exploring AudioSuite enhancements in Pro Tools 10
      2m 57s
  6. 15m 29s
    1. Preparing the session for foley and ADR recording
      9m 19s
    2. Recording ADR and editing with VocALign LE
      6m 10s
  7. 45m 5s
    1. Noise-reducing hums, rumbles, and buzzes
      8m 11s
    2. Eliminating crackles and digital clicks
      5m 30s
    3. Taming plosives and sibilance
      6m 10s
    4. Reducing broadband noise
      9m 26s
    5. Conforming to video changes
      8m 36s
    6. Pitch shifting for effect or utility, TC expansion
      7m 12s
  8. 56m 19s
    1. Setting up for stereo mixing
      5m 11s
    2. Calibrating levels using an SPL meter
      7m 2s
    3. Mixing with automation
      11m 4s
    4. Advanced mix automation
      8m 0s
    5. Automating plug-in parameters
      9m 22s
    6. Mixing with reverb
      7m 20s
    7. Ducking techniques
      8m 20s
  9. 42m 4s
    1. Setting up a surround mix template
      11m 14s
    2. Calibrating for 5.1 surround mixing and bass management
      9m 2s
    3. Mixing and spatial techniques for 5.1 surround
      14m 9s
    4. Downmixing, encoding, and using Neyrinck plug-ins
      3m 38s
    5. Automating techniques for 5.1 surround mixes
      4m 1s
  10. 10m 6s
    1. Print mastering and stem mixes
      5m 47s
    2. Mastering delivery levels and dynamics
      4m 19s
  11. 5m 29s
    1. Backing up your final project
      5m 29s
  12. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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