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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.
Elastic Audio in Pro Tools refers to both Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch. I'll explain some of the concepts here, and then lead you through some exercises to experience the power of Elastic Audio. I'll start with Elastic Time. Elastic time analyzes audio regions for transient events--like drum hits or guitar chords--and enables you to conform those events to the session's tempo, a quantization grid, or manually use the Edit tools in Warp view. Let's try it out. First, I'm going to zoom in on this drum loop that I've got.
It's a reggae beat that I have imported, and you'll note that it's not exactly four bars. So I want to use the Time Trimmer tool and extend this out, so that it's exactly four bars. Now I'm going to go over to the Time Base and change this from Samples to Ticks, and I'm going to enable Elastic Audio. I am going to come down here and choose Polyphonic. As soon as I chose that, Pro Tools, behind the scenes, analyze the audio waveform for its transient events.
In the drumbeat here, it's pretty easy to pick them out. Okay, let's have some fun. First, I'm going to play this back at the original tempo, and then I'm going to try out a bunch of different tempos, and you're going to notice how the loop conforms to each tempo. (Music playing.) Let's try a different tempo. I am just going to double-click on this Tempo event, and get the Tempo Change dialog open up, and I want to type in 130 as the new BPM.
Now, you notice the grid got a lot closer together, because the tempo is much faster, and the beat automatically conformed to this new tempo. Let's hear what it sounds like. (Music playing.) All right, let's go slower this time. I'm going to go down to 70 BPM. (Music playing.) All right, let's undo these tempo changes back to the original here, and now I'm going to switch over to Varispeed.
Now, Varispeed links the time and pitch change together, like how a tape machine would react if you sped up or slowed down the tape. Let's try these same tempo changes and hear the different sounds, 130. (Music playing.) Notice that the pitch changed, and it went up, because we got faster. We'll undo that, and now put in 70, and we should expect this to be lower in pitch. (Music playing.) And indeed it was.
I am going to undo that. Now, let's look a little closer of what's going on with Elastic Time. Let me go to the Track view and choose Analysis, and I am going to zoom in a little bit more, so we can see what's happening here. The white lines that we see here are analysis markers on all of the transients in this beat. And now I'm going to switch back over to Polyphonic for this application. So we can actually click and drag to reposition these markers if we want.
However, Pro Tools actually does a really good job of analyzing these. We probably don't really need to move them. Let's switch the Track view now to Warp, and we'll see the warp analysis here. We can double-click to make a warp marker, and since we've got this on grid, if we start sliding these things, you'll see that they will conformed to the grid values. So I can literally move these warp markers, and they'll align right with the grid.
And this is a great way to be able to move pieces of the waveform and align them with the tempo grid or with any other audio event. I've used warp markers like this to align all kinds of parts: base parts, drum parts, vocal parts--you name it. Just double-click and create warp markers that lock to the grid, and then you can move around any of these little pieces to totally line up for performances with the grid. Let's go back over this menu here. When we look at this menu, we can see that Pro Tools is processing this track in real-time.
Now can be demanding on your computer, especially if you have a lot of tracks that are Elastic Audio-enabled. If we switch this to Rendered Processing, that creates a temporary file, and it isn't real-time processing anymore. And this will save us a lot of processing power for your computer. You can always go back to real-time if you need to. Just click it like that. Let's look at one more thing related to Elastic Audio. If you go to Setup > Preferences and in the Processing menu, we've got this Elastic Audio section, and we can choose what the default plug-in is from any of the four.
We can choose a default input gain. I wouldn't mess with that. And you can choose to enable elastic audio on all new tracks. Now we would leave that unchecked as well, because it can lead to adding a lot of unnecessary processing power that's taken up by the Elastic Audio processing. Let's move on to the other half of Elastic Audio: Elastic Pitch. So I am going to zoom out all the way, and I'm going to start looking at this track right here, the acoustic_guitar track.
So let's transpose the pitch of this region. I'm going to play it back first so we can hear the original pitch, and then we'll get to the Elastic Pitch. (Music playing.) So let's go over here and choose Polyphonic, so now Elastic Audio is active on this track. And you should note that Elastic Pitch does not work on monophonic Elastic Audio files.
So we can't use Monophonic here. We've got to use Polyphonic. Let's go up to Region > Elastic Properties, and that's going to open up this Elastic Properties window. We can choose which region we want to apply to, and down here is where the Pitch Shift is. Let's click and drag. I'm going to Pitch Shift this up one whole step, or two semitones. Now, I am going to hit Play. (Music playing.) And we've got real-time pitch shifting with Elastic Audio.
Obviously, you can change the Pitch Shift by any value here, and we can use cents too, if you need to tune it. Close that up. And if we want to we can go up into the Region menu again, and choose Remove Pitch Shift, and that will get rid of that pitch shift. So now you know how to use elastic pitch to transpose audio regions, and how to use Elastic Time to conform performances to a new tempo. It's really amazing the power that you have over audio regions in Pro Tools with Elastic Audio.
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