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Pro Tools 10 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz illuminates the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard software for music and postproduction. The course covers recording live audio and adding effects on the fly, creating music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, editing for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing and mastering a track.
To create smooth edits while editing audio clips in Pro Tools, you should utilize fades at most clip beginnings and endings and crossfades between adjacent clips. Fades and crossfades are used to prevent pops, clicks and sudden changes in sound at clip boundaries, as well as to smooth transitions between clips and create special audio effects. Let's listen to where we need to apply some fades and crossfades in this session. Let me start by playing this clip down here. And what you're going to hear is the sound of it going from empty space right into this sound, and let's hear what happens.
(Music Playing) Did you hear the little click that happens right at the beginning? (Music Playing) That's an unwanted sound and I'll tell you why it's made. Let's zoom in even closer. Ideally the waveform would start at a zero crossing, so somewhere right in here; and this is the zero crossing line right in the middle of the waveform, and this is the left and right sides, so really the line exists on both parts of the file, the left and right side.
And any time that the waveform strays from the center line, then it means it has amplitude or volume, and that's what we are seeing here. So the problem is that we're going from no amplitude whatsoever here, automatically up to this higher amplitude. And when that instantaneous change happens that's when you hear the click sound. And that's why we use a fade in to eliminate that click sound. So with the Selector tool here I am going to the click and drag, and now go to the Edit menu, choose Fades > Create, and the Fades dialog box opens up, and here this is what our fade is going to look like when we apply it.
We can click and drag in here and adjust it ourselves, or we can choose some pre-existing curves that they have here. I will just go back to the standard shape. There is also a slope, equal power and equal gain, and I'll explain those a little bit later in this movie. So I am going to hit OK, and now our fade is created. And you'll note that the waveform starts at zero now and fades in, and let's take a listen to what that sounds like.
(Music Playing) Notice how there's no click sound at the beginning. (Music Playing) Now let's check out a fade out. I'm going to zoom in on the end here. I'm going to play this back and we will hear what it sounds like without a fade. (Music Playing) It's pretty harsh, it just drops right off. (Music Playing) What I want to do instead is create a fade out, so that that's not as harsh of a dropout.
So I'm actually going to use the Smart tool, which we have selected here, go up to the top of the waveform and click and drag. And here we have our waveform that is being faded out automatically; we didn't have to open up the fades dialog box. If we do, we'll see what are settings are, and we'll see that that is the default setting. I am going to talk about how to set the default in a minute. So let's a take a listen to this. (Music Playing) Not too bad.
Now if we wanted to extend this, we can use the Trimmer as part of the Smart tool to extend or shorten this fade out. So I am going to just position it here, and click and drag, and that extends out the fade out, if I want it. Now I can actually shorten that as well, if I need to bring it back down to being very short, and that's pretty handy way to edit the length of our fade out. Now I want to talk about making a crossfade. So I am going to zoom back out, and we are going to take a look at what happens between these two clips.
Since I've already got the Smart tool highlighted, I'm going to go down here between the two clips and click and drag, and I am going to create a crossfade. One thing you will note about this are the colors and how they overlap, and we can either turn on or off by going to the View menu > Waveforms > Overlapped Crossfades. If I turn it off, then that's what we see, not as interesting as showing the overlap crossfades, so let's show those.
And now to access the Fades dialog box, I can mouse down here and with the Grabber tool on the bottom half of the waveform, I can double-click, and that opens up the Fades dialog box. And while we are checking this out, I want to talk more about some of these buttons in here. We have got link parameter, which enables you to choose the fade out and fade in curves used in a crossfade and have them be linked together. That's usually what you'll want to have happen. And then we have some options for that, we have Equal Power, you choose Equal Power when you're creating a crossfade between two completely different types of musical material, so that there's no volume drop, as their might be with an Equal Gain crossfade.
You should choose Equal Gain when creating a crossfade between two identical types of musical material, like repeated drum loops, and this is to avoid clipping that might happen if you use an Equal Power crossfade. Now I have actually found that the opposite works well in certain circumstances too, so you should experiment between these two. You can also choose None when you want to edit the fade out and the fade in separately, meaning, that there is no link. Let's touch on a few more of the buttons in this window.
You can change the size of the waveform to look more at the details by using these buttons. We can show what the two waveforms mixed together looks like, and we can take the waveforms out of it altogether, not really sure why you'd want to do that, but there is the option. Finally, we have the Audition button; you can use this to take a listen to what our crossfade is going to sound like. (Music Playing) Now if you were paying attention to that, you heard that there were two notes that crossed over and were happening at the same time, and that's usually something that you wouldn't want to have happen on your bass track, and what that means is the crossfade is too long.
So I am going to cancel this, and I am going to adjust the length of this crossfade, bring it way down. Now let's take a listen to it. (Music Playing) Still too long, so let's go in here and I'm actually going to select it, hit the Delete key and get rid of it altogether, and now I will go in and create a very short crossfade.
Now let's hear what that sounds like. (Music Playing) That works a little better, so we have no overlap of the notes. When we are using the Smart tool to create crossfades and fades, it relies on the fade preferences that we have set, and we can set those up in the Setup > Preferences > Editing tab, and right here in the fade section, down here we have the Default Fade Settings, and if I click into crossfades, I can say, oh, we want Equal Power, these are the shapes that we want and hit OK.
And then, whenever I create a crossfade with the Smart tool, that is the setting that it's going to use. Another thing that you might want to keep checked is the Preserve Fades when Editing, what that means is if you decide to trim a clip, the fade will stay with the clip, so that you don't have to make a new one. So I am going to hit OK. So as you may know, the reason that we can make a crossfade is because there's audio material that extends beyond the clip's boundaries. So in this particular region, there is audio that extends over what is hidden underneath this red region, the same goes in vice versa this way.
Now if we don't have the audio that's underneath or extends beyond the regions, then we can't make a crossfade and that's what happens over here, let's take a look. With the Trim tool I am going to try to extend this clip, and Pro Tools won't let me. That's because there's no more audio that extends beyond this clip's boundary. So what happens if I try to make a crossfade? I'm going to use this Smart tool here, click and drag, Pro Tools brings up this warning, it says, One or more fade requests are invalid due to insufficient audio data within the fade bounds.
You may skip the invalid fade request(s) or adjust the balance for those fades where possible. So if we skip it, then Pro Tools will pretend like we never asked it to make a crossfade. However, if we adjust the bounds, Pro Tools intelligently tries to create a crossfade if there's audio material available to do so. So let's see what happens when I had Adjust Bounds. So it looks like there was audio material over to the left, so this blue clip had some audio beyond its clip boundary.
And here we have our new crossfade. So as you can tell here fades and crossfades are essential tools for editing digital audio. Use them well, and your audio edits will be super smooth.
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