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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.
One of the features of Pro Tools that makes large scale editing and song form arrangement so easy is region groups. A region group is a combination of several audio and/or MIDI regions that act like a single region. Creating a region group is really easy. We can simply highlight a bunch of different regions, and I'm just Shift+Clicking these regions. And I can go to Region > Group, and that's what a region group looks like. Now it doesn't matter if the region is underneath the highlighted area are actually separated or not, the region group will include whatever you highlight.
Now let's say that your region group makes up one verse of your song, and I'm going to actually highlight all the way down here, and include everything in this area. Create a new region group. Let's say this comprises our whole verse of a song. Now I want to use this region group as an arrangement tool. So I can go up to Shuffle mode and then go to Edit > Duplicate. That will create a complete copy of this region group, immediately after the first one, and push the rest of the material beyond it.
So I can check to see what this would sound like with say two verses in a row as opposed to just one. This is a great technique just to test out different song arrangement ideas. Now, I am going to undo that, go back to Grid mode. Now this particular region group contains both audio and MIDI regions, and that's indicated by this little icon down here. Now, if we just make a region group with just audio files, like I'll do up here-- Shift+Click these, and then create a region group-- we get a different icon. And if you make a region group out of just MIDI regions, like we'll do right here, you get a different icon for that as well.
Of course, there are key commands for region groups. To make a region group on a Mac, you can press Command+Option+G. On a PC, it's Ctrl+Alt+G. You can also choose to ungroup a group: Command+Option+U on a Mac or Ctrl+Alt+U in Windows. And that just returns us to the status that we had before we made the group. So if I click on this and choose Ungroup, that returns to what we had before we grouped all of those regions.
If you need to edit one region within a region group, you should ungroup the region group, edit the region, and then choose Regroup. There are key commands for that: Command+Option+R on a Mac, and Ctrl+Alt+R in Windows. Once you make a region group, it shows up in the Regions list, over here on the right. You can see in this region group that we've got 10 audio channels, and five MIDI channels. That's what these 10A and 5M stand for.
You can see the type of region group right here with their different icons. Now, with the region group, you can do all the same things that you can do to any other type of region, including selecting, trimming, separating, naming, moving, cutting, copying, pasting, muting, locking, adding fades and crossfades, looping, and using Tab To Transients. So for instance, I could trim this whole region group, just like that, and I'm going to undo that. Now, what happens if you decide to record onto a track within a region group? Let me just solo this one and record-enable it.
When you record audio or MIDI, new regions are created over the top of existing region group data instead of being included in the region group. So if you want to actually record into this current region group, you should first ungroup it, then record, then regroup the region group. Let me show you a quick example. Get the Transport up here, and I am going to record a bit.
Okay, so I recorded this small little region here. Now, if I go back and regroup that, it's part of this region group. However, if I record directly into this region group like this, you'll see that this new region is not part of the region group here. I am going to undo that. Another interesting tidbit about region groups is that they have the same time- based format--that is, samples or ticks--as the tracks that they contain.
Mixed region groups like the one we're looking at here, can have both sample- based and tick-based tracks. If you change the tempo in the session, which I'll do here in a second, when I click OK, you'll see the MIDI regions slide to the left, but the audio regions won't move at all. So watch this. All the tick-based tracks--that is, the MIDI region shown here--will adjust their length by moving all included regions accordingly to the left, but the sample based regions of audio will not move.
You'll also notice that changing the tempo separated the region group between the sample-based and tick-based tracks. You'll see the separated region group icon right over here. Now, if you need to review the differences between samples and ticks, check out the video about that topic earlier in this course. Now there is one last thing about region groups that I want to speak about here. Pro Tools can import and export region group files, and the file format is RGRP.
If I go to the Regions list over here, to the menu, I can choose Export Region Groups; likewise, if I go to File > Import, I can choose Region Groups here. Now, this is a great feature for bringing multitrack loops into a session because they're usually saved as region groups. So as you can see here in this session, region groups are helpful organizational tools for arranging the parts of a song. I make use of them all the time, and I'm sure you will too.
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