Audio editing is done with the ear, not the eye. Learn how to define a nudge increment in Pro Tools that facilitates this subtle editing.
- [Instructor] As you're editing audio or MIDI data in Pro Tools, you're likely to run into situations where it's difficult to place audio precisely using the mouse. Zooming in, using techniques we've covered earlier such as zoom toggle, can help, and the transparent overlay that appears when dragging clips in Pro Tools 12.3 and later, is also a key improvement in this area, helping you visually preview clip placement relative to underlying material or grid lines. Nonetheless, we want to edit using our ears, not our eyes, and sometimes, we just need to move a clip forward or backward in small increments, until the timing sounds and feels right.
So this is where nudging comes into play. Pro Tools lets you specify a nudge increment of your choosing for fine-tuning the placement of your clips. Using the toolbar at the top of the Edit window, you can select your desired nudge increment with the nudge value popup selector, right here to the right of the counter display and directly underneath the grid value selector. Now, you'll probably need to configure this on your own system, or really on any system you might use, because the defaults never seem to be set to useful values, at least, for my tastes.
So the nudge value is usually set to follow the main time base, but my preference is to set it to minutes and seconds. After selecting minutes and seconds, you can refine your setting by selecting a value of your choice. I prefer a 10 millisecond setting, as it's small enough to allow me to fine-tune my audio and big enough that I can hear the changes. So let me demonstrate how this works. I've brought a clip into my session to emphasize the build at the very end. Let's take a listen to how that sounds.
(♫ easygoing rock music) Unfortunately, when I drop this clip in in grid mode, it ended up out of time. Let's just solo that against the drums and you'll see what I mean. (♫ same clip featuring drums) So, it ends earlier than I'd like it to, I really want it to end with the last drum beat. Now, I can use the grabber tool and drag it until I think it's in the right location.
Of course, to do this, I'd need to be in slip mode, so let's change from grid mode into slip mode first, and then drag our clip. This is the transparent overlay I was mentioning in the intro, and you can visually align the clip with the underlying grid lines to help, but that may or may not be what you want. In this case, what I really want to do is to make sure that the hit sounds right. (♫ previous drum clip) If it's not quite exactly where I want it, I can use the nudge function to move the clip forward or backward on the timeline using the + and - keys on the numeric keypad.
Now, this function does require that you're using an extended keyboard. On a regular keyboard, such as on a laptop, you have two options. You can purchase a numeric keypad extension, or you can hold Ctrl on the Mac or Start on Windows and use the , and . keys instead. So once again, pressing the + key will move later and the - key will move earlier if you're using a numeric keypad. So, that's a basic use of the nudge function. Set the nudge increment using the nudge value selector in the Edit window toolbar, then use the + and - keys on the numeric keypad to move selected clips into position.
Be sure to audition your changes to verify the results. Nudging can be used in many different ways in Pro Tools, so get started with the basics now and you'll be able to build on those techniques in the future as your skills advance.
- Getting started with Pro Tools menus, windows, and edit tools
- Creating a session
- Creating a click track
- Recording audio
- Importing audio and video
- Recording, viewing, and editing MIDI data
- Selecting and navigating within tracks
- Adding markers
- Editing clips
- Creating fade effects
- Mixing tracks and adding automation
- Backing up a session
- Bouncing a mix to disk
Skill Level Beginner
Q. This course was updated on 03/23/2017. What changed?
A. Challenges and solutions were added to chapters 3–10 and three videos were updated in the first couple chapters.