Pro Tools 101
By Jeremy Binckes/ Jake Kassen
To start a new project:
- Get an external hard drive form the top
- Turn on the computer under the desk and on the keyboard (upper right button)
- Log in under “other:” use your BU login and Kerberos password (Note: for your first login, you must click on “create new account” and follow instructions on the computer screen).
- On the hard drive, create a folder using your last name
- Click on Pro Tools icon)
- Go to New -> Session (name it the slug of the story)
- Tell it to save the session onto the external hard drive under your name
- Under “File” create as many new tracks as you need (usually 2-4)
- Put files onto Pro Tools:
- For tracks on a scan disc (eg: from the voice recorder) or audio CD, insert the disc into the card holder to the right of the screen or the CD in the slot on the right of the screen. Click on the disc icon on the desktop, then select the track(s) you want, and drop onto the session. The track will copy in its entirety to the mix window. It will need a few seconds to load.
-For a minidisc, insert the MD into the MD slot. Turn up the minidisc knob on the Mackie mixer, and turn DOWN the Pro Tools knob. Click R (record-enable) on the track you want to record onto).
+Play the MD to adjust levels (look at the green bar. Make sure it doesn’t go into the red box). It should bounce between halfway and 2/3rd of the way up the bar.
+Adjust the levels on the Mackie mixer (err on the side of low, and do not peak into the red.)
+Go to Windows -> Transport if you do not already see one
+click “record” circle on the transport window.
+hit play on the computer (spacebar)
+hit play on the minidisc player (you should start to see a pink wave form on the computer screen)
+ stop recording by hitting the space bar. Stop the minidisc. Get out of record enable mode.
-Name all your tracks
- On the small Mackie mixer, turn up the Pro Tools knob to hear the computer. Listen to what you’ve digitized.
Get all ax, trax, and ambi in order.
Shuffle mode snaps edited material together
Slip mode cuts out material and leaves blank space
Begin mixing—fades, volume, adjustment, etc.
How to Get Sound Out of Pro Tools
STEP 1: MIX YOUR AUDIO
After you mix your audio, it’s important to check your levels. Play back your piece and watch the green bar to the left of your audio track. The green bar should be riding about 2/3rd up the display most of the time. DO NOT go by what you hear in your headphones. Go by the green bar. If your volume is too low, then you need to adjust your levels before you bounce the audio.
To adjust your volume levels for the entire track, go to “Audio Suite”→”other”→ “Gain.” There are green numbers and white numbers. Click on the left white number, and select a value to add. For really low tracks, use 10, but less and more can be changed. Click “process” on the bottom of the gain box. Make sure that the new levels in the waveform are neither too high or too low (you should always have space between the top/bottom of the wave and the top/bottom of the box). Note that this can NOT turn bad audio into good audio. Increasing the gain will also increase the background hiss.
To adjust your volume levels for select parts, click on the “waveform” button underneath the “R” “S” and “M” button to the left of your audio track. Select the volume mode. You can use the trim tool to drag the volume line higher for the entire track. If you’ve already messed up with the volume levels for fades, you should use the volume slide button in what’s called the mix window to increase the volume uniformly across the track. Go to the corresponding volume slide button for the track you want to raise in the mix window (Audio 1, or Audio1 etc) and drag up the image of a slide-button on a sound board. If you can’t see the mix window, go to “window” → “mix.”
*Just because you increased the Pro Tools volume doesn’t mean the green bar will go any higher. Don’t worry: the audio levels in your final project will be higher if you’ve increased the volume.
*Use your judgment: if your audio was almost hitting the 2/3rd area then bring up the volume less. Bring it up more if it was far from the 2/3 area.
STEP 2: BOUNCE YOUR AUDIO
-Highlight the audio you want in your piece starting with the end of the piece and moving towards the beginning (it’s easier this way and you don’t miss a section at the beginning)
-Go to “file” → “bounce”→ “disc”
-A popup window will ask you what type of sound file you’d like to select. These are your options:
-- Most compressed is an MP3 file, but for class purposes choose MP3 because it will upload in an iPod, play in iTunes, and play on the computers.
Best quality is AIFF. Choose this if you are after broadcast quality sound, but remember that it will only play in Pro Tools and Final Cut Pro
- Second best is a WAV file. It will play in more programs, but will NOT always play in an audio CD
-After you’ve selected your file type, you’ll be asked to make a series of choices. Here are the settings you are after:
- Format: mono(summed)- this will make 1 sound file
- Resolution: 16
- Sample rate: 44100
- Convert during or after bounce: either is fine… go with “during” but there may not be a difference. Sometimes you can’t convert during, so convert after.
-Once you’ve set the parameters, click “bounce”
-The computer program will now ask you questions about saving your file. Name your file in the “Slug-Last name- Date of show” format and use the drop-down menu to choose where you’d like to save it. Put it in your external hard drive. (If you are not using your hard drive, save it to “scratch media” but expect it to be erased in short time).
STEP 3: BOUNCE IT!
Now that you know where the file is, retrieve it, and put it on the desktop. This is just temporary; once you log off, the file will be erased from the desktop, so DON’T SAVE IT THERE!
Open the “classes” drive on the desktop, and scroll to your Professors’ last name, and then your class/section. There should be a folder open for the due date of that assignment (ex: 930 show for anything due on Sept. 30). Drop your work in this folder by dragging it from the desktop.
If you are pulling off of AP Prime Cuts, select the cut you wish, and save it to the desktop. Rename the clip your slug name. If you have multiple clips, name the first one “(slug of story) 1” and the second one “(slug of story) 2” (where “slug” is replaced by your story’s slug name from the rundown in APENPS). Place it into the class folder by following the steps above.
STEP 4: PRODUCER/ENGINEER: RETRIEVE
If you are the producer/engineer, go to the class folder for that week (do it the morning of your show).
Above the folder for the week, there should be a “connect to WTBU News” option. Click on it. There should also be a folder for that week’s show. Open that folder, and drop all stories into the folder.
Now that the stories are there, rearrange them for order. Use the rundown to inform the engineer when to play the story (this will also make the playlist load in the correct order so the engineer doesn’t have to search for slugs).
The new format should look like this:
For pre-produced stories (let’s say it’s the fifth story on the rundown), it should read
5-Slug-last name-date of show
For stories pulled off the AP wire, it should read (let’s use the first story this time):
1- slug-date of show
Now the stories should be on the WTBU News folder on the studio computer’s desktop under the semester folder, and then the date folder. Warning: Because you’ve transferred from a MAC to a PC, there will be “phantom files.” These can be detected by being transparent. DO NOT SELECT THESE FILES. They are doubles. The more visible files are your actual files. Go to the first file, click on it once to select, then hold “shift” and click on the rest. Right click and go to “play file” and all will load into winamp. You may or may not be able to computer prompt from the board, however you will need to use the mouse to start, stop, and select next track. Turn the computer switch on the board off, and make adjustments to prepare for the next track.