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Pro Tools 9 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz demonstrates concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in the industry-standard software for music and post-production. The course covers creating music with virtual instruments and plugins, editing with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing with effects loops. Exercise files accompany the course.
Playing back audio seems like a no-brainer function in Pro Tools. Press the Play button on the Transport controls, and you're good to go. 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. So yes, you can press Play in the Transport controls and Pro Tools will play back. So let's do that that. (Music playing.) Press the Stop button, and that will stop Pro Tools. You can also use the Spacebar... (Music playing.) for stopping and starting, and you can press Play and Stop on a control surface.
Now each time I've been playing so far in this video, we've been starting from the very beginning of the session. But what if we want to go somewhere else in this session? We can do that in a few different ways. First, I am going to select the Selector tool, and then I can place the cursor anywhere in the session, and Pro Tools will start from there. So, now I've put my cursor here and clicked, and now I am going to hit the Spacebar to start playing from that spot. (Music playing.) From this spot, we can also hit the Fast-Forward and Rewind buttons, and they will jump ahead by a measure each time we click.
(Music playing.) I can also bounce backwards with the Rewind. You can go into the Counter and type in the time that you want Pro Tools to start playing, and that will relocate the cursor, and then we can press Play from that spot. (Music playing.) We can select a specific area for playback in a number of ways as well. With the Selector tool still selected, I can click and drag, and that will select this area as the playback area.
(Music playing.) We can adjust the timeline selection start and end markers--these little blue arrows--by clicking and dragging on them, and then play back just that selected area. (Music playing.) I can also choose to Time Grabber tool, and if we click on a region, that will highlight the region, and that will become the playback area. (Music playing.) And we can even go up in here and choose an area that we want to have playback.
So when you enter in the time here, type in the number, and hit Return. And now we have one bar down here that's selected. (Music playing.) Now, let's talk about edit window scrolling. If we go to the Options menu, and look at this list of options for Edit Window Scrolling, we can see No Scrolling, After Playback, Page, and Continuous. Let me tell you what those mean. If you're playing back Pro Tools and the playback cursor reaches the right side of the screen on the Edit window-- that is, right over here--Pro Tools will respond differently depending on what scrolling option you've selected.
With No Scrolling, you'll see what happens right here: (Music playing.) The cursor goes beyond the screen, and you don't see it anymore. However, if we choose After Playback, let's see what happens. (Music playing.) It actually moves the whole view of the Edit window and centers the cursor right in the middle of the Edit window. What happens if we choose Page? (Music playing.) Pro Tools slides the entire page over as soon as the cursor hits the end of the page. And finally, Continuous, let's check this one out.
(Music playing.) The playback cursor is continually centered in the Edit window. I am going to scroll back to the beginning, and you'll see because of the Continuous setting that we have here, the playback cursor is at the very beginning of the session, but it's centered so we have this whole gray area to the left. If I hit the Return button, that's the return to 0 button--same as up here-- which sets the cursor to the very beginning of the session, and I am going to press Play, and you are going to see what happens.
(Music playing.) So the Continuous Edit Window scrolling starts sliding all the material to left. Now, let's talk about the playback modes. If we go over to the Play button and right-click it, you'll see four different playback modes. Let's choose Loop, and I'm actually going to go back to No Scrolling. So we have Loop Playback chosen and what that means is if we select an area, Pro Tools will loop that selected area.
(Music playing.) It loops it back around, and there's a number of ways to get in and out of Loop Playback. As I just showed you, you can right-click the Play button, you can choose it in the Options menu, there is also key commands where if you do Command+Shift+L on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+L on Windows then you can start Loop Playback. Finally, if you Contol+Click the Play button on a Mac or if you Start+Click the Play button in Windows, then you can toggle the Loop Playback.
So, I am hitting Control on the Mac here and toggling between Loop Playback and regular playback. I am going to right-click the Play button again and choose Half-Speed playback. (Music playing.) That's kind of a fun option. What's happens here is the audio is played back at an octave lower, and it's half speed. However, MIDI, as you heard with the beat track, is not slowed down, nor is it pitch-shifted.
What you can do to activate half-speed playback is press the Shift button and then press the Spacebar, or you can actually Shift+Click the Play button. (Music playing.) Do you hear the difference? Now, you can use this Half-Speed playback if you want to learn fast passages of music, so maybe you want to learn a really fast guitar lick. Try this out. Another option for playback is the Prime for Playback.
I am going to select that here. When do you want to use Prime for Playback? Well, when you have a large number of tracks in a session, Pro Tools might take a little bit longer to start playback than usual. To avoid this, you can use the Prime for Playback mode. So you see that the Stop button is lit up, and the Play button is flashing. All you have to do is hit the Spacebar now, and Pro Tools will start playing. (Music playing.) Now, there is not too much difference here in the session, because this is 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 in Windows to enact Prime for Playback. The final play option that we have in Pro Tools is called the Dynamic Transport. We can choose that here again by right-clicking the Play button. When you turn that on, you'll notice that the main timescale here, which happens to be bars and beats, expands to double its size.
That means that we can actually grab this Play Start Marker right here and move that separately from what's selected as the playback area. Conveniently, we don't lose the playback selection. So what's cool about this is that I can start playing back at the end of the loop here and see how it sounds cycling back to the front of it like this. (Music playing.) So I can hear what the transition is from the end of this loop back to the beginning, and it sounds pretty smooth.
Again, there are options for activating this. We can go to Options and hit Dynamic Transport. You can also hit Control+Command+P on a Mac or Start+Ctrl+P in Windows to activate or deactivate the Dynamic Transport. You should note that enabling the Dynamic Transport mode automatically activates Loop Playback mode and deactivates Linked Timeline and Edit Selection. 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.
So, I am going to turn off Dynamic Transport and go to the Insertion Follows Playback button. I am going to activate that and put the cursor right here. (Music playing.) Now, something's different. The cursor actually moved to the end of where we stopped playing. (Music playing.) When insertion follows playback, it actually follows where you ended the last playback.
If we turn this off again, you'll see the opposite is true. (Music playing.) Playback stays where you were initially started it. So just be aware of this button, because it can affect how you play back your tracks. 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 you are familiar with Pro Tools.
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