Join Skye Lewin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch, part of Pro Tools 11 Essential Training.
Elastic Audio in Pro Tools refers to both elastic time and elastic pitch, although elastic audio has a feature set that's really too large to fully cover here, I'll explain the most important concepts and we'll go through a few exercises that will demonstrate the power of elastic audio. Let's start with elastic time. When enabled, elastic time analyzes audio clips for transient events like a snare drum hit or the attack on a guitar chord. And it enables you to conform these events to the session's tempo, a quantization grid or to manually created warp points in the the warp view.
So let's try it out. On the piano track, I'm going to go over here to the time base selector, and I'm going to change my time base from samples to ticks. Just to the right of the time base selector is the elastic audio plug in selector. Here I'm going to choose the audio analysis mode to use. There's a few options, we want to use polyphonic for content that includes more than one pitch playing at one time, in other words, many sounding. Rhythmic is good for drums, monophonic is good for just one pitch at a time, like a bass track, and vary speed, which we'll talk about in a minute.
For the piano, I'm going to select the polyphonic, since the piano has multiple notes playing at the same time. As soon as I select the elastic audio analysis mode, Pro Tools will analyze the audio waveform for all the transient events behind the scenes. For really long clips, the waveform will appear grayed out until the analysis is complete. Now let's change the session tempo. I'm going to go up here and double-click, and enter a new tempo. If your tempo doesn't change, you just need to disable the conductor track.
Open the Transport window. Make sure that you have MIDI controls enabled and click this button here. I'm going to close the window. You can see that the piano clip conformed to the new tempo, but the other tracks didn't. Now if we want to make all the tracks conform to the tempo changes, we just need to enable elastic audio in all the tracks. So let's go back to the original tempo, I'm just going to Undo, and let's repeat these steps to enable elastic audio on all the other tracks. Now, if I hold the Option key on a Mac, or the Alt key in Windows, we can apply the change from one track to all the tracks.
For the drums, I'm going to choose Rhythmic. For the Rhodes, I'm going to choose polyphonic since it also contains several notes, and the same thing for the guitar. Now let's change our tempo again and have a listen. So now that all the audio tracks have elastic audio enabled, you can see that the tempo change effects all the tracks.
I'm going to undo to set the tempo back to the original. On the piano track, let's now change the analysis type to Varispeed. Varispeed links the time and the pitch change together so that it will act like an analog tape machine. With Varispeed if you speed up the tempo, you'll notice that the pitch goes up as well. Slowing down the tempo will lower the pitch. Let's solo the piano track. I'll use the key command Shift+S. And let's try this.
If I undo, we can hear the original tempo and the original pitch. Now let's take a closer look at how elastic time works and how we can control it. From the Track View chose Analysis. You can see analysis markers on all the transients and we can click and drag to re-position the markers if needed. I'm going to undo that since it was in the right place to begin with. And let's now go back and change the track view to warp. In the warp view we can double-click an analysis marker to make it into a warp marker.
You can also hold the Shift key to additionally select the warp marker on each side of the marker that you're clicking. So for example, if I hold Shift and click here, I can see that this marker and the marker to the left and the right of it become warp markers. This can be useful to prevent a change in one location from affecting other parts of the performance. If you hold Shift and move a warp marker, like this one here in the middle of two other markers, we can move it without effecting the material outside of the surrounding warp markers.
Otherwise, if we just create a marker and don't hold Shift, it's going to effect the audio to the left and to the right of the marker. As you can see, we can even use the grid to align our markers right to the beat. With this flexibility, we can literally change anything about the timing of our performance with complete control. Now let's go down to the drum track and select the second clip. From the Event menu select the Event Operations submenu and let's open Quantize. You can also use the key command Option+0 on a Mac or Alt+0 in Windows.
Here make sure that Elastic Audio Events is selected and make sure that the quantize grid reflects the material that you want to quantize. Or we can select a preset here. Once you've got your settings, click Apply or hit Return. Let's solo this this track and take a listen So we can hear the effect there at the end. I'm going to undo the change.
On the drum track, click the Track View and select Warp Markers. Let's open up our Quantize window again. I'm going to move it so we can see this. And as we apply different settings, watch the markers move. Try 16th note with a heavy swing. We can see this here and undo. And maybe I'll try one of the other presets.
So we can see that as we apply this, the warp markers are being affected. So let's look at the Elastic Properties preferences. I'm going to close the Event Operations quantize window. And from the Setup menu let's open our Preferences and go to the Processing page. Here we have our Elastic Audio settings. We can choose the default plug in type. And we can also enable elastic audio on new tracks. Now let's take a look at transposing the pitch of a clip using elastic pitch. Let's say I realized after recording that this song needs to be a half step higher.
Well what we can do is select our clip, let's say the guitar here. And we can enable polyphonic elastic audio on the track. In this case we already have it enabled. Note that elastic pitch does not work on monophonic elastic audio tracks. Now from the Clip menu chose Elastic Properties. You can also get here by right-clicking on the clip. Here, we want to type in the value into the Pitch Shift section and press Return on a Mac or Enter on a PC to transpose our audio. I'm going to solo this track and un-solo the piano And let's take a listen.
So, if we undo, we can hear it before the change. Try some different pitch shift values to play around with this. Note that you can also use the Transpose window to shift the pitch of elastic audio enabled clips. We can open this from the Event menu and under Event Operations select Transpose. And here we can control how much we want to transpose the pitch. Now that you know how to use elastic pitch, you can transpose audio clips just like you can transpose MIDI clips.
You also know how to use elastic time to conform performances to a new tempo or groove. It's actually really amazing how much flexibility and control elastic audio provides.
- Exploring the Pro Tools interface
- Selecting inputs, outputs, and busses
- Understanding signal paths and gain stages
- Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
- Importing audio from multiple sources
- Recording and editing audio and MIDI
- Adjusting time, tempo, meter, key, and chord in arrangements
- Adding automated delay
- Mixing and mastering a session
- Setting up an effects loop
- Importing and displaying video
- Adding music, Foley, ADR, and FX
- Archiving a session