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Tips, Tricks and Help

Tips and Tricks

joshharris1It’s been almost 20 years since digital recording has been a part of the mainstream. Back in the day, tracking sheets and mix notes were a part of everyday recording sessions, and we weren’t using words like file management and session templates. I fondly remember my first Pro Tools rig: a beige G3 with an Audiomedia 3 card, running Pro Tools 4.x. If I remember correctly, I was limited to 8 tracks of audio, but boy was it cool to have 8 tracks! At the time, I was extremely ignorant to the importance of workflow, and I just plodded along, with sessions taking as long as they took. That was back in the mid to late 1990’s, and now that I’ve been working in the business as a full-time producer, engineer, remixer and songwriter for over 10 years, I am constantly looking for ways to streamline my workflow.

Learn more about JOSH HARRIS...

There's a certain feeling I get when I listen to a finished piece of recorded music. A finished production just hits me in a particularly different manner than roughs or 'almost finished' tracks. Yes, part of it is the mixing and mastering, but a bigger part of it is the layering of sounds. As a keyboard player, I spent most of my younger years experimenting with layering synth and drum sounds via MIDI for both live and studio applications. Getting a handle on this part of the production process does not happen overnight, and it requires quite a bit of experimentation to dial in that perfect combination of frequencies.

Digging deeper into Pro Tools keyboard shortcuts

For those of you that read our last article on keyboard shortcuts, I hope that you’ve already started to see an improvement in your workflow. However, there are many, many more shortcuts that will allow you to become even more proficient with your sessions. In fact, there are so many shortcuts, they have been split up into two different sections comprised of the normal shortcut commands and a special feature called Command Focus. We will be taking a look at a combination of these two mentalities to help you gain workflow efficiency.

One of the key things to note about Command Focus is that it’s the same for Mac and PC. First of all, let’s take a look at how the Command Focus shortcuts can do for you. One of the main things you have to remember is that Command Focus is always active, you cannot turn it off, all that you can do is tell your session where you are focusing these commands (hence the name Command Focus). You will find this feature active in one of three areas in the Edit Window and one area in the Mix Window.

It goes without saying that you will want to use effects (fx) in your mix. We all like to hear a little reverb, maybe some delay, or any number of creative fx tools we have available to us in audio land. In fact, many of your favorite songs have an effect that is instantly recognizable such as Peter Frampton’s “Show Me The Way”, or any T-Pain song. It's hard to even imagine what certain songs would sound like without the creative use of fx in the mix. While we have discussed topics such as using reverb and delay in the past, I want to show you some new tools now available in Pro Tools that will really speed up your work flow and help you with complex routing and documentation.

Where do you start when you want to write and record a new song? Sometimes the hardest part is simply knowing where to begin. Let’s be honest, making a song from scratch can be an overwhelming task, especially since you are using creativity alongside technology, it can feel like you’re always hitting a brick wall. In this series of articles, we will be looking at various ways to approach the song making process and how Pro Tools can help you make your creativity come to life. We will be discussing the various phases of song production and the relevant technology you should be aware of.

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