Pro Tools Drum Replacement Techniques Part 2 - ProMedia Pro Tools Training

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Pro Tools Drum Replacement Techniques Part 2

For those who find SoundReplacer’s non realtime processing limiting there are a few other alternatives. TL Drum Rehab is a sample triggering RTAS plug-in designed for the real-time replacement and enhancement of drum tracks, it features multiple velocity sample layers and an integrated sample library and browser. Drum Rehab generates its triggers when placed on a tracks insert slot, the main advantage of Drum Rehab over SoundReplacer is that it allows you to choose and tweak your replacement samples in context whist hearing the other elements of the mix.

Note: TL Drum Rehab is a mono plug-in only

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TL Drum Rehab Library Browser

One of the benefits of TL Drum Rehab is the included drum sample library which is accessed through the Library Browser on the right hand side of the plug-in, you can also browse and load your own samples and save them in Drum Rehab’s native DRP file format. When the ‘Auto-Audition’ button is enabled, clicking on a sample’s name allows you to preview it, the volume slider at the bottom of the Browser adjusts the preview volume. Double clicking a sample loads it into Drum Rehab.

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NOTE: DRP files can include up to a maximum of 4 different samples triggering per velocity layer, for example the hardest hit snare sample would consist of 4 separate samples that can be set to trigger in sequence (cycle mode) or randomly, this avoids the same drum tone repeating during drum rolls at a the same velocity. DRP files could also have up to 16 different velocity layers, thats potentially 16 banks of four samples playing randomly set to trigger at 16 different source file levels. This results in a very realistic drum replacement when compared to SoundReplacer maximum total of 3 samples and 3 velocity layers.

Trigger Panel

Clicking the Trigger Panel button at the top of Drum Rehab updates the interface to show the trigger and detection settings.

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Listen Mode

Listen mode is enabled by pressing the listen button, in this mode Drum Rehab analyses the incoming audio for transients and generates sample triggers to match the performance.

Detector Modes

Drum Rehab includes four different detection algorithms, these are located in the Detector Mode pop-up window (shown below). These algorithms enable Drum Rehab to more successfully detect certain types of material.

Snare 1 - A sensitive detection mode that works best on snare drum recordings  that contain more complex material such as ‘flams' or rolls.
Snare 2 - A general purpose mode that works best on less complex snare patterns and cymbals.
Kick - Designed for use with kick drums or other low frequency content.
Tom - Designed for use with toms and other ‘mid-range’ content.

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Voicing Options

Free - The sample plays for its entire length despite being re-triggered. This is useful for sounds that continue to resonate when hit multiple times such as cymbals.
Choke - The sample does not continue to play to its entire length when being re-triggered. This models the behaviour of snares and kick drums.

Minimum Threshold

The ‘Minimum Threshold’ function allows you to set the lowest amount of original signal that will trigger Drum Rehab, this should be set to above any ‘bleed’ present on the track to avoid creating ‘false’ triggers.

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Velocity Zones & Crossfading

Velocity Zones are represented by the multi coloured horizontal bars, arranged quiet (left) to loud (right), directly below the Waveform display, the zones can be reconfigured by dragging the boundary lines that separate them horizontally. The way the Drum Rehab crossfades from one velocity zone sample to another can be adjusted by dragging the boundary lines vertically. The bars illuminate to show when that particular zone is being triggered.

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Blending and Ducking

The ‘Input’ slider at the bottom of the Trigger panel adjusts the volume of the original audio in Drum Rehab’s output, The ‘Samples’ slider adjusts the sample’s volume, this allows you to blend between the two sounds to get a prefect balance. The ‘Ducking’ slider is a useful feature that lowers the volume (by the amount specified by the Ducking slider) of the original signal when triggering the samples, this can allow the bleed on a track to remain intact despite the original triggering sound being lowered in volume or removed completely.

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Expert Mode

For source audio that has fairly consistent dynamics the standard Drum Rehab settings should be sufficient but Drum Rehab also has an ‘Expert’ mode for more challenging material if necessary. The expert controls are accessed by pressing the ‘Expert Panel’ button (shown below).

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Committing Triggers

Committing the Triggers (indicated by the cursor above) using the ‘Commit’ or ‘Commit All’ buttons along the top of the Expert Panel locks the triggers in place and makes them playback regardless of the threshold level settings or whether or not the Listen mode is enabled. The position of committed triggers can be edited by clicking and dragging on them.

‘Un-Commit’ vs. ‘Ignore’

Uncommitted triggers will only playback if Listen Mode is enabled (as they are re-detected generating a new trigger), Ignored triggers are ignored in all circumstances and will not playback even if Listen Mode is enabled. Listen mode should generally be disabled when committing triggers to avoid the confusion caused by Listen Mode’s automatic regeneration during playback.

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Manual Drum Replacement Techniques

In some cases you may find that the automatic techniques offered by either SoundReplacer or Drum Rehab just don’t give you the amount of accuracy and control over your drum replacement that you are looking for. In these situations you can try manually converting the drum hits to MIDI, this manual method may take a bit longer but the results will potentially prove more successful. It is achieved simply by using ‘Tab to Transient’ and keyboard shortcuts and requires no purchasing of non stock plug-ins.

These are the Keyboard shortcuts you will need to master.
C    Copy
X    Cut
V    Paste
L    Tab Left
‘    Tab Right
P    Move Cursor Up
;    Move Cursor Down

TIP: It may seem complicated but as you can see below, aside from the cut/copy/paste functions (which are well known) the others are fairly logically laid out and easy to remember by location.

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Make sure Keyboard shortcuts are enabled for the Edit Window (shown below).

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Make sure Tab to Transient is enabled (shown below).

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Create a MIDI track below the Audio track you wish to perform replacement on, this could be either an External MIDI or Instrument track. For this example I am replacing a snare drum and will use an Instrument track with the Xpand!2 (preset + 31 Snares Menu).

  1.  Enable Notes View on the Instrument track and draw a short (16th) MIDI note (you may need to trim the note) on the key of the Snare sound you wish to trigger. Notes view allows you to draw MIDI notes directly from the edit Window.
    Notes can be drawn with either the Pencil Tool or by Control (Mac) clicking with the ‘Smart Tool’. A short (16th) note means if you encounter drum rolls the MIDI notes probably won't start to overlap.
  2. Select the note and press X to cut the note (Cut = ‘delete and copy to clipboard’).
  3. Place the cursor before the first transient on the audio track you wish to replace and press ‘ (Tab Right) to move the cursor to meet the first transient.
  4. Press : (move cursor down) to place the cursor on the instrument track at the same location as the audio transient.
  5. Press V (paste) to paste a new MIDI note at that location.
  6. Press P (move cursor up) to move the cursor back to the audio track
  7. Press ‘ (Tab Right) to move the cursor to meet the next transient that you wish to replace.

It probably looks a bit confusing at first but basically once you have ‘cut’ the first instance of the MIDI note (step 2 above) all you are doing is repeating four keyboard shortcuts. The four basic steps that repeat are shown below.

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Tip: Command (Mac) dragging vertically adjusts the MIDI note’s velocity in Notes View. It’s probably best to start with a hit at maximum volume, you can adjust the velocities to mimic the dynamics of the original audio performance as you go through the process if required.



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Jason O'Bryan

Jason O’Bryan has over 20 years of music industry experience, having worked as a record producer, recording artist and sound engineer in London, Jamaica, Barbados, Los Angeles and New York. He was a member of the infamous UK band ‘Dub Pistols’ (voted best U.K live band 2011 by DJ magazine) for over a decade as producer and bassist and also recorded under various artist names including ‘Strange Nature’, ‘Avenue A’ and ‘City Hi-Fi’. 

Throughout his career, Jason has been commissioned to remix many world famous artists including Bono (U2), Lily Allen, Scissor Sisters, Moby, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Rob Zombie, Ian Brown, Bush, Natalie Imbruglia and Robbie Williams and has co-written music with many influential artists’ including Busta Rhymes, The Specials, Massive Attack, Gregory Issacs. Freak Power, Rodney P and Lindy Layton (Beats International). His work and music is also regularly featured in advertising, numerous major Hollywood movies including ‘Zoolander’, ‘Mystery Men’, ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’, TV series and Computer games. 

Jason currently works freelance as a Record Producer, Remixer, DJ and Educator.

 

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