Pro Tools 10 Essentials: How to Work with Clip Groups
Working with clip groups
One of the features of Pro Tools that makes large-scale editing and song form arrangements so easy is clip groups. A clip group is a combination of several audio and/or MIDI clips that act like a single clip. Creating a clip group is really easy. You can simply highlight a bunch of different clips, and I'm going to go ahead and do that right now. I'm just going to double-click on this clip and Shift+Click on these, and now I can simply go to Clip > Group, and it creates this clip group right here.
Now, it doesn't really matter if the clip underneath the highlighted area is actually separated or not; the clip group will actually include whatever you highlight. So if I undo this and actually add in some more clip area, go back up to Clip > Group, even some of the stuff that wasn't separated is now included in this clip group. Now, let's say that this new clip group comprises one whole verse of a song. So I'm going to use clip groups as an arrangement tool.
If I go up to Shuffle mode and then go to Edit > Duplicate, it makes a copy of that clip group and pushes all the rest of these clips over to the right. So doing this, I can check to see what this would sound like with two verses in a row, as opposed to just one. It's a great technique to test out different song arrangement ideas. So I'm going to undo that and then go to GRID mode. Now, this particular clip group contains both audio and MIDI clips, and that's indicated by this little icon right down here at the bottom.
If I make a clip group with just audio files, like I'll do here, Clip > Group, now we have a different icon. And this icon shows that the clip group is split, so that means that there are tracks in between the parts of this clip group. If I move this track, now they're together and we have this new icon that shows that this is purely an audio clip group. The same goes for MIDI clip groups. I'm going to go and move these two tracks closer to each other and highlight these two, create a clip group, and now we have this icon to indicate a MIDI clip group.
Now, of course there are key commands for clip groups. To make a clip 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 if I use that command here, you'll see that the group gets ungrouped. If you need to edit one clip within the clip group, you should ungroup the clip group, edit the clip, and then choose Regroup.
So let me do that here. I'm going to edit this particular clip, just shorten it, and now I'm going to remake this group. We'll highlight that, Shift+Click here, and Regroup. Command+Option+R on a Mac or Ctrl+Alt+R in Windows. Once you make a clip group, it shows up in the Clips list over here on the right. Here they are. You can see in this particular group, group-01, we have 8 audio channels and 4 MIDI channels as part of that clip group.
You can also see the type of clip group by the icon here. And this is a mixed group, this is a purely Audio group, and this is a MIDI group. With the clip group you can do all the same things that you can do with any other type of clip, 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 can trim this whole clip group like this. There's one last thing about clip groups that I want to speak about here: Pro Tools can import and export clip group files, and the file format is CGRP.
If I go over to the clips List over here, into the menu, it says we can export clip groups. We can also import clip groups if we go to File > Import > Clip Groups. These are great features for bringing multi-track loops into a session. So as you can see here in this session, clip 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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