Join Scott Hirsch for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the editing modes and tools, part of Learning Pro Tools.
- So, here's our song. As you might have noticed, we added a couple more MIDI parts. We added a glockenspiel part, a horns part, and even a claps instrument to double up on the claps we previously recorded. Since we're going to be working on editing and arranging in the next few movies, we'll familiarize ourselves here with the edit tools and we'll take a look at how our editing mode affects our selections and edits. You've probably noticed up until now, I've been sticking mostly in the grid editing mode and using either the selection tool or the grabber tool.
The reason for this is when we're in grid mode, our edits and selections lock to an underlying grid. We can see that grid value up here is currently set to, if I pull down this menu, to a quarter note grid. And I'm seeing the grid lines because the grid mode is enabled. If I turn this off, all of the blue grids go away from view. And if I turn it back on, I get to see those grid lines again. Now, if I take the selector tool and I move the cursor around, if I zoom in a bit, you can see that the cursor is constrained to this quarter note grid.
And in that same way, all of our regions, if I move them with the grabber tool, are constrained to those gird lines, as well. You'll notice the glockenspiel clip, for example, it doesn't start perfectly on the grid, but as soon as I move it to the left, it'll lock to that grid. And then it'll stay within that grid. Lemme undo that a couple times and get back to where we started. So here, it originates off the grid. The MIDI note inside, actually, starts right at bar three, right on the grid. But if I wanted to keep the clip relative with quarter note increments, I can actually enter a special mode called relative grid.
If I do that, now I can move this clip in quarter note increments, but it keeps its relative position to the underlying grid. So, that's just one option you have with the grid mode is you can move it to a relative grid. But we'll stick to the absolute grid for now. If you need to change your grid value to something else, maybe you wanna work in a grid value of minutes and seconds instead of bars and beats. Well, there's a couple ways you can do that. You can simply change your main time scale to minutes and seconds, and the grid values will update to follow the main time scale automatically.
So right now, our grids just changed to second wide increments. And you can see, I can make a selection only across one second at a time. Of course, you can make this a lot finer. You can make it a lot smaller like 10 milliseconds and then get a whole bunch of little grid lines. If I zoom in super close, I can see that I'm still confined to a grid, they're just very close together. Now, I'm gonna go back to bars and beats. So, you can independently assign, lemme zoom out, a separate grid. So right now, the grid is in bars and beats, but my main time scale is in minutes and seconds.
So, you can make them apart from one another, but it's probably easiest to keep the main time scale aligned with your grid. So, our main time scale is now bars and beats and our grid is now bars and beats, as well. So, we have quarter note grid lines. We can change it, also, higher resolution here to 1/8 notes, 1/16 notes, all the way up to 1/64 notes if we want. So, we'll keep it down to the quarter note. That is grids, and of course, when we're using a session like we're doing now and we're working on music, it is helpful, everything is locked to our tempo of 102 BPM.
So, it's nice to stay on that grid. If you want to have complete freedom of movement for your clips, or for example, like this claps clip right here, maybe you want to edit right up to the point of where the clap occurs, right? So, it's between the grid lines, I can't get any closer if I'm at the quarter note grid. I will now have to move to a different editing mode. So, the four editing modes are up at the top left. We have shuffle, slip, spot, and grid. We talked about grid mode, let's talk about slip mode.
Slip mode offers you complete freedom. So, I can move anywhere between the grid lines and it gives us our finest resolution in Pro Tools which is down to the sample level. So, I now have the freedom to move my cursor right up to the edge of this first clap, I can zoom in, see the wave form really well, and I can move right to the first clap, and I can zoom out, and holding shift, I'll extend the selection all the way to the beginning. I can hit delete to remove that area of the clip right up to the edge of that, and then I can go back to grid mode if I wanted to and work in grid mode from here on out.
So, slip mode offers you that kind of freedom. Now, let's talk about shuffle mode. If I'm in shuffle mode, I also have complete freedom, except it operates in a different way once I start making edits. So, for example, in shuffle mode, if I were to go down to the next track and select that area right before the clap all the way to the beginning, and I hit delete just like I did above, what happens in shuffle mode is that all the regions will move from the right and they'll close the gap. In other words, they'll just try to fill this space.
Shuffle mode makes the regions sort of act like they're magnetized, and they'll lock on and magnetize to whatever is nearest. So, in other words, if I hit delete, the whole rest of the clip is gonna, boom, move down forward towards the beginning of the session. This is useful in some editing scenarios, like for example, if you're editing a voice over that's not in sync with anything else, but you're just trying to close gaps or close spaces where there's breaths or other things, shuffle mode can be useful. In this kind of session, it's a little bit dangerous 'cause things will quickly get out of sync.
Now, while I'm on the modes, I'll just quickly pop over to spot mode. Spot mode simply allows you to do a single click on any clip. So, if I held the grabber tool and I do a single click, it asks me where I wanna put it manually. So, I can actually enter in a place for any clip. So, I want this clip, for example, to start at bar five. Type in five and boom, hit okay, it moves it automatically to bar five. So, spot mode is probably the rarest of the modes, I'm just gonna hit undo.
And it simply allows you to automatically give a specific spot for any clip you want to move to, all you need to do is have spot mode enabled with the grabber tool, single click, and you get the spot dialogue box. Well, let's go back to grid mode, and I wanna talk about these editing tools. Like I said, we've been using mostly the selection tool and the grabber tool. The selection tool does what you've seen me do with it. Basically, it allows you to select over any area. Also, I can select into other tracks.
So, I can make a selection if I drag down, I can select across multiple tracks, and once I have that selection, I can do various things. I can delete that, I can copy and paste it. So, the selection tool is super useful and you'll probably hang out the most in the selection tool, 'cause it also allows you to click around the timeline, and move near a timeline cursor to different areas. The grabber tool, as we've seen, allows me to click on any region and move it. One click selects a region, so that's a quick way to select an entire clip or a region, and move it left to right, or even up and down to multiple tracks, to different tracks.
So, grabber tool allows you to grab on to things and move them. Of course, all the time this is constrained, in this case, to a grid, or whatever mode you're in, it'll follow those rules set up by the four edit modes on the left. Finally, we have the trimmer tool. So, this one we haven't talked about too much. But this allows you to grab hold of either side, the right or left side of a clip, and trim it. So, I can pull it in and make it shorter, and actually carve away any of the information that was before.
And I can also, then, pull it back and get back to where it was. So, that happens and that works both on MIDI clips and on audio clips. So earlier, I deleted the first part of this claps clip. And now with the trimmer tool, I can simply grab hold of it and pull it back, and pull back what was originally there. The trimmer tool orients itself to whatever edge you're closest to. So, if we're closest to the left edge, it'll orient this way. As soon as I move over to the right side of the clip, it turns around and will let me edit from that side. Now, you can override this really simply, really easily by holding the option key down, or that would be the alt key for Windows users, and it will change the orientation of the trimmer tool.
See how it's moving to the opposite side? So now, if I hold option, I can edit from the left side and pull it that way. So, that's how the trimmer tool works. Now, you've probably noticed it's useful to be able to move between all of these tools quickly, and you know, obviously, you can come up here and click each time you want a new tool. You can go up and click, that's not very efficient. We wanna leave our cursor down here in the edit window. So, I wanna show you two ways to quickly move between these three valuable editing tools. And the first way requires just some quick keys.
They're the function keys. And to make this possible on a Mac, you have to go out to the system preferences, so, this is the Mac system preferences, under keyboard, and you wanna make sure that this button is checked, use all F1 or function keys as standard function keys. So, we have to make sure that's checked. Otherwise, when you start typing the function keys, some weird things will start happening, iTunes will open, and other things that are part of the operating system. So, as long as that selection is checked, we can use these three function keys.
F6 gives us our trimmer tool. The one right next to it, F7, gives us our selector tool. And F8 gives us our grabber tool. So, that's the way I work. I kinda have my fingers near those function keys. Whenever I need the selector tool, I type F7 and I get the selector tool. When I'm ready to go trim something, I type F6 and I've got the trimmer tool. Now, some other people like to use this thing called the smart tool. Notice all three of these tools have a bridge around them. If I click on that little bracket or bridge, it activates all of them at once.
And the smart tool will change the tool depending on where you are spatially in the track. So, if I'm towards the top of the track, I get the selector tool, and I can make selections. If I go down towards, cross the middle line to the bottom of the track, automatically, the tool turns into the grabber tool and I can click once to select the whole clip. Now, if I move towards the edge of a clip, it turns into a trimmer tool automatically. I can go make a trim. And same with the other edge.
So, this is the smart tool. A lot of people find it very quick, very easy to use. My only issue with it is if your track is a little bit smaller, it's hard to orient yourself and get it to be what it needs to be. So, I've just gotten into the habit of using those function keys to select my tool. It's really up to you, however you wanna work, but mainly, what we've seen here is all three tools, what they do, and the edit modes, and how they operate between those tools. So, where is all this going? Well, now we wanna use these edit modes and these edit tools, and we're gonna get in to actually editing and arranging our song with them.
Find more tutorials on our Pro Tools page.
- Setting up Pro Tools 12
- Working with templates
- Creating a drumbeat
- Loop recording
- Editing and arranging audio and MIDI
- Adjusting tempo
- Adding EQ and compression to the mix
- Performing real-time automation
- Bussing audio
- Creating reverb and delay
- Finalizing and exporting your mix