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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.
To create smooth edits while editing audio regions in Pro Tools, you should utilize Fades and Crossfades at most region beginnings and endings. Fades and Crossfades are used to prevent pops, clicks, and sudden changes in sound at region boundaries, as well as to smooth transitions between regions, and create special audio effects. Let's listen to where we need to apply some Fades and Crossfades. Let me start by playing into this region here and you are going to hear a click right at the very beginning.
(Music playing.) It's a kind of minor, but listen for it again here. (Music playing.) You'll also here the difference from when it goes from having sound here on the track to no sound. It's kind of a stark difference. (Music playing.). We can use a fade-in and a fade-out here to go from zero volume to full volume on the track, and then back here full volume down to zero. Let's look at where we would need a crossfade. Between these two regions, you're going to hear a big click pop.
(Music playing.) Let's listen to that again. (Music playing.) Those little clicks or pops or whatever you want to call them are a no for editing. We want to smooth those out with Fades and Crossfades. So let's zoom in on this first area right here, and create a fade-in. Now the reason why, we need to create a fade-in? You can see it right here.
Click pops happen when the waveform is not at the zero amplitude crossing point at the region boundary. Right here, we can see that it is definitely not on the zero-crossing. Now the zero-crossing is this vertical line that runs right down the center of the track. On that line, there is technically no amplitude to the waveform, so it has no volume, but when it's not on that line, then it does have volume. So if the waveform at the beginning of the region is not on this line, then you most likely hear little click pop when the audio jumps from zero amplitude to a higher amplitude. So let's create a fade-in to avoid that.
With the Selector tool, I'm going to select this area, and then I go to Edit > Fades > Create Fade. We get the Fades dialog box. Now you can also use the Command+F for Mac, or Ctrl+F in Windows to open the Fades dialog box. In the Fades dialog box, we can see the curve that's going to be applied to the fade-in of the region, and you'll see how the actual waveform gets affected here. And we can change this shape, if we go to the S-Curve, or we can set a different curve here. In fact, if we go to Standard and click-and-drag we can make our own curve. I'm going to go with this one and hit OK. And you'll see how the actual waveform is affected by what I just put in here as the fade.
Now let's have a listen. (Music playing.) No more pop at the beginning of the region there. Let's go do the same thing for a fade-out. So I'm going to zoom in, with the Selector tool, I'm going to grab this area and highlight it, Edit > Fades > Create, and we'll take this. Hit OK. Let's have a listen. (Music playing.) A little smoother. Zoom back out. Now let's go make a crossfade. We'll select this area right here for a crossfade. I'm going to go ahead and just hit Command+F on my Mac, or Ctrl+F on the PC and open the Fades window right away.
So while we are in here, let me take a little bit more time to explain some of the buttons here. Aside from the shape which we have now in the In Shape and the Out Shape, so the Fade-out Shape and the Fade-in Shape, we also have this Link parameter. This enables you to choose the fade-out or the fade-in curves used in the crossfade and have them be linked together. Choose Equal Power when creating a crossfade between two completely different types of musical material. So that there is no volume drop, as there might be with an Equal Gain crossfade. Choose Equal Gain, when you have two identical types of musical material, like on a repeated loop, and this is used to avoid clipping that might occur from an Equal Power crossfade.
Now personally, I've found that the opposite works well in certain circumstances too. So you need to experiment. If you choose None, then you can edit the fade-out shape and the fade- in shape separately. In this case, if I press Alt in Windows, or Option on a Mac while dragging, I can edit the fade-in section of the crossfade like this. If I press Ctrl in Windows or Command in Mac while dragging, I can edit the fade -out shape. So you can create your own custom shapes in this way.
Personally, I like the Equal Power Crossfade the best. So I'm going to choose that. Some of the other buttons here we have, we can change the Size of the waveform to better magnify it, if we need to. We can look at what the waveform will look like when it's combined together, or with the colors combined together like this, or the default which is this. I kind of like looking at this version. We can even get rid of the waveforms altogether by clicking this button, and we can look at the waveform separately using these.
Finally, we have the Audition button, and let's take a listen to what our crossfade is going to sound like. (Music playing.) Now that's no good. There was a lot of overlap. You could hear two tracks playing at once, during this part of the crossfade. So what that tells me is that we need to make the crossfade shorter. So let's cancel this and zoom in on the region boundary.
Now I'm going to show you the quickest way to make a crossfade. Let's select the Smart tool and with that we can just mouse down to the bottom part of the track at the region boundary and you'll see the little Crossfade tool. If I click-and-drag I can create a crossfade just like that, and it will use the default crossfade that you've selected in your Preferences. We'll talk about that in a second.
First, let's have a look at this crossfade. So I can just double-click on this crossfade now if I want to actually edit that crossfade, and we can listen to it real quick. (Music playing.) Okay, still a little bit too long. So we can undo that crossfade, and create an even shorter one. Let's have a listen. (Music playing.) That goes by really quick. So I don't know that anybody is going to notice that.
We'll keep that. Now as I mentioned, when you create a Fade or Crossfade with the Smart tool, Pro Tools utilizes your Fade Preferences. You can access that by going to the Setup menu, Preferences, and going to the Editing page, and in this section right here, we can set the Default Fade Settings. So in this case, I'm actually going to change mine to Equal Power. One other thing I should mention while we are in this Preferences page is this right here, Preserve Fades while Editing. Let me show you how that works within Pro Tools. If I decide to trim this region, the fade stays, and that's why we use Preserve Fades when Editing. If we turn this feature off, then that fade would have disappeared. Now let me zoom back out, and talk about one more feature.
Since crossfades are created by fading between two overlapping audio regions, a crossfade can't be performed on regions that do not contain audio material beyond their region boundaries. So what is that really mean? It means that on this side of this region, if there is no more audio beyond this region boundary, then you cannot create a crossfade with this other region. So what happens if we try to create a crossfade in this case? I'm going to draw it, now we get this warning. Now I'm going to hit Adjust Bounds and we'll see if it actually can create a crossfade. And in fact it does, except that it moves it to the left side, so that this region can't be overlapped with this region.
One other thing I should mention is that crossfades and fades are actually written to your hard drive, and stored in a folder named Fade Files. That's within your Session folder. When you playback your track, Pro Tools reads these files, and plays them back from your hard drive. Let's take a look at where they are. Right here, we've got a Fade Files folder, and you can see all the Fade Files here. They are all WAV files.
Now if you end up losing your fade files or cross fade files, Pro Tools can actually recreate those fade files, if they are not present on your hard drive. Fades and Crossfades are essential tools for digital audio editing here in Pro Tools. Use them well and your audio edits will be super smooth.
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