Digidesign’s Pro Tools 8 comes with
many helpful tools to help you in the
mixing phase of your work. Whether
trying to save time when planning
your record and mix sessions, to get
more visibility into available options
for mixing, or to make your session
go smoother by using expanded
views, you will find that the more you
know about Pro Tools, the more powerful
it becomes. When getting ready
for your next mix, try these tips and
tricks to help you get more out of
your mixing session.
Use Templates to
When mixing a large session with
dozens of tracks, you may find it
helpful to set up a Pro Tools session
from a pre-established set of recording
and mixing templates. New to Pro
Tools 8 LE is a Quick Start wizard
(Figure 1), and within it, easy access
to a large repository of session templates
organized for easy selection.
Setting up a mix session can be
cumbersome. You can quickly create
a session with the tracks you need,
automatically populated with commonly
used plug-in effects, and sends
and returns mapped to Auxiliary
tracks to keep session size and your
systems hardware resources down to
a minimum when applying the same
effect to multiple tracks. Session templates
(pre-established, or templates
you create and personalize to your
liking) can help save all of the time it
takes to add and configure tracks,
label them, route them correctly, and
add effects, which can be lengthy
depending on what your needs are.
Use Groups to Mix
Multiple Tracks at Once
When mixing a large number of
tracks, it’s helpful to know how to use
Pro Tools Groups. You can expose
and group your tracks together by
selecting the Mix window View selector
(Figure 2) in the bottom left hand
portion of the Mix window. This will
open up the Groups section (Figure
3). Here you can create groups and
select them for use while you mix.
Aside from an option to create a new
group, there are other helpful options
here as well, such as Suspend All
Groups, which will disable all groups
when selected, and Display, which
can help hide editing groups which
are unrelated to your mix session and
could get in the way.
To create a group, select New
Group from the Groups drop down
menu. The Create Group dialog box will
open where you can name your group
as well as add tracks to it (Figure 4).
If using Apple OS X, you can hold
down the Shift key and click on each
track you want to add, and then click
the Add button to add them all at once instead of one at a time. You
can select one at a time by mouse
clicking on the track you want to add,
or you can save even more time by
clicking on a desired track, holding
the mouse button down, and then
moving your mouse to select multiple
tracks at once.
In Figure 4, a drum mix group is
created so that all of the recorded
drum tracks are added to a group
that when selected, can activate all
associated tracks. The drums can be
mixed individually at first until a good
overall mix of the drum kit is established.
Now that your drums are
mixed, you will want to balance the
kit with the rest of the recorded
tracks. To activate the group, click on
the group name (Drum Mix) in the
Groups section of the Mix window.
Click it again to deactivate it.
If you need to raise or lower the
overall volume of the drum kit as one,
activate the group, and then move any
fader of any tracks in the group, and it
moves all of the tracks in the group at
once. This trick is extremely helpful
when trying to fine tune your final mix.
Add Flexibility, Options,
and Control by
Pro Tools 8 comes with many expanded
Mix and Edit window views that can
help you with your mix session.
In the Edit window, automation,
volume, and panning selectors can be
found directly under every track.
Select the Show/hide automation
lanes arrow on the bottom left portion
of a track. (Fig. 5) This action will
add an automation lane directly
under the main track. You can add
more lanes as needed by clicking on
the “+” sign found on the bottom left
portion of the selected automation
lane. Remove lanes by clicking on the
“-” sign. Collapse and expand all
open lanes by clicking on the main
track’s Show/hide automation lanes
arrow. Right click the arrow to
expose a drop down menu with all
selectable sub-lane options.
In both the Edit and the Mix window,
you can expand the amount of available
sends and inserts from five to 10.
If you need to add more sends or
inserts in your Mix window, click on
the Mix Window View selector (Figure
6) to expand each track’s view by
adding Inserts F-J and Sends F-J.
Now, if you need to add more routing
capability or additional effects, you
have the space to add them.
When you have a large amount of
tracks and want to fit them all on your
monitor screen, you can use the Narrow
Mix view option found in the Pro
Tools 8 View menu which will shrink
the size of each track in the Mix window
to half its size (Figure 7).