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Pro Tools 8 Essential Training unveils the inner workings of the industry-standard software for music and post-production. Musician, producer, and educator David Franz demonstrates all the concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Pro Tools 8. He teaches how to create music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, edit with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, create a musical score, and mix with effects loops. This course can help any music producer, sound engineer, or hobbyist become proficient in Pro Tools 8. Exercise files accompany the course.
Playing back audio seems like a no- brainer function in Pro Tools. Press the Play button in the Transport controls and you're good to go. (Music playing.) Well, there are some additional playback options to consider that can be very helpful, and that's what I'll be discussing here in this video. Aside from pressing the Play button in the Transport window, you can also use the Spacebar. (Music playing.) Or, you can press Play on a control surface like the 003. But wait, there is more.
If you go to the Setup > Preferences and down here in the Operations page, we have the numeric keypad. We can use the numeric keypad for playback and stopping as well. So if we have the Transport checked off here that means you can press zero on the numeric keypad and you get playback. If we have the Use Separate Play and Stop Keys checked off, then you have to press Enter on the numeric keypad.
With Transport selected, you can also press Stop using the zero on the numeric keypad. There are other ways to stop as well. Pressing the Spacebar, or pressing Stop on the control surface. Each time I've been playing so far in this video, we've been starting from the very beginning of the session. But if we want to go to somewhere else in the session, we can do it in a number of different ways. Use the Selector tool and click anywhere and then press Play. (Music playing.) Or, you can grab the Timeline Selection Start Marker. So now we have the start and the end markers and this creates a selection of where we can play. (Music playing.) You can also use the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons in the Transport controls. (Music playing.) Now, I was just clicking-and-holding on those, but you can also individually click and you'll see here, they're bouncing from measure to measure. (Music playing.) We can also click into the Counters and set the time that we want. So if we want to start at measure 9, press 9, and then Return or Enter and you'll see the cursor move to bar 9. (Music playing.) We can also use the Selector tool to click-and-drag to create a specific area for playback. So, if I click-and-drag, I can select this one bar for playback. (Music playing.) We can also use the Time Grabber tool to select a region. (Music playing.) Now let's talk about Edit Window Scrolling. If I go to the Options menu and look at Edit Window Scrolling, there are three options: No Scrolling, After Playback and Page. First, I'll choose No Scrolling. I'll go back to the Selector tool and if I put the Selector down here and press Play, it's going to play beyond what we see on the page. However, Pro Tools is not going to react.
(Music playing.) That's No Scrolling. If I change it to After Playback, something different is going to happen when we stop it. (Music playing.) The cursor is now placed in the middle of the Edit window and this is where we had originally started playing back. So, I'll go back to the beginning here and then go back to where we started before, and let's change the scrolling again to Page view. Press Play and see what happens. (Music playing.) You'll see that it's scrolled to the next page, our playback was here and as soon as it hit the edge of the page, it scrolled to the beginning and placed the cursor at the beginning of the next page. Now Pro Tools HD and Pro Tools LE with complete production toolkit or the DV toolkit have some additional scrolling options, but I won't cover those here.
Let's move on and talk about the playback modes. If you go up to the Play button and right-click it, you'll see that we have four different options. Half-Speed playback is a really cool option. You can use it to learn how to play really fast passages of music. For instance, if you load up a really ripping guitar solo that has a lot of notes and you can't figure out what they are, you can use Half-Speed playback to play it back slower and learn what the notes are. Now note that audio is actually played back an octave lower with Half-Speed playback, but MIDI is not. (Music playing.) Notice how the bass is an octave lower, but the MIDI stuff stays right in the same octave. Now you can also activate half-speed playback if you Shift-click the Play button or press Shift and hit the Spacebar. Another option is Prime for Playback. When you've got a large number of tracks in a session, Pro Tools might take a little longer to start playback than usual and we can avoid this by using Prime for Playback mode.
If we right-click and choose it here, it will show us that it's primed for playback. It will have the Stop button lit up and the Play button will flash. (Music playing.) So, if you hit the Play button or press the Spacebar, like I did, it will start playback right away. Now we don't really see a difference too much in this session because it's kind of a small session, but if you had a lot of tracks and it was causing Pro Tools to react a little slowly, this would be a great option for you.
You can also Option-click the Play button on a Mac or Alt-click the Play button on a Windows machine to enact Prime for Playback. Let's move onto Loop Playback. If we right-click the Play button again, we can choose it here. That will show you the Loop Playback icon. There are a number of other ways that you can activate Loop Playback. If you go to the Options menu, it's right there. We also have a key command, Command+Shift+L on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+L on a Windows machine.
You can also Ctrl-click on a Mac or Start-click on a Windows machine. So let's hear how this works. Solo the bass track and I'm going to actually double-click with the Selector tool to highlight this region. Now I'm going to hit Play. (Music playing.) It cycles through that loop. The final play option that we have in Pro Tools is called the Dynamic Transport. We can choose that by right-clicking the Play button, turning that on and you'll notice that the main time scale here, which happens to be Bars and Beats, expands to double its size. And that means that we can actually grab this Play Start Marker and move that separately from what's selected as the playback area. And we don't lose this selection.
So what's cool about this is I can start playing back near the end of this loop and see how it sounds, cycling back to the front of it, like this. (Music playing.) See, it starts here at the Play Start Marker and then loops around. So we can see if the loop transition works well. (Music playing.) Which it does, in this case. Now note that enabling the Dynamic Transport mode automatically activates Loop Playback mode if it wasn't already active. It deactivates the Link Timeline and Edit Selection and that's this button right up here. We'll talk more about that in another video. There is one more button in this area that I want to cover regarding playback and that's called Insertion Follows Playback.
First, I'm going to get rid of the Dynamic Transport and Loop Playback to show you this. Right-click, right-click again to get rid of both of those and then we're going to reactivate the Link Timeline and Edit Selection and then activate the Insertion Follows Playback. So when I drop my cursor in to playback now, you're going to see something different. (Music playing.) When I stop it, it stops and keeps the cursor where I stopped it as opposed to returning it to where I first started playing. So check it out again. (Music playing.) The cursor ends up here instead of back here. If I turn this off again-- (Music playing.) --the cursor returns to where I started it originally.
So as you've seen in this video, there are many more options for playback in Pro Tools than it may seem. You'll probably be utilizing most of these options in your normal workflow, the more familiar you get with Pro Tools.
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