A-Z Of Pro Tools - P Is For Pencil Tool, Pitch, Playlist, Plug-in And Pre/Post Roll

03-14-2015 11:00 AM

Pencil tool

In a round-up of legacy content relating to the letter P, the first on the list is the pencil tool. While not the most glamorous feature of Pro Tools, or the newest, its easy to overlook just how useful it is. I recall talking to a producer friend several years ago. He was a Cubase user trying out Pro Tools. He had a click in some audio and wanted to remove it. He asked where the sample editor was. I simply zoomed in, drew out the click with the pencil tool and zoomed out. He was impressed. For all our berating Avid for the things which are wrong with Pro Tools, its easy to overlook the things which are right. Find more on the pencil tool here.
Pitch II

The Pitch II plug-in is a recent addition to the stock plug-ins in Pro Tools. The usefulness of detuning for thickening sounds can’t be overstated. The swoosy-wooshy side effects of cyclic modulation effects limits their usefulness and the old TDM Pitch plug-in, apart from being TDM only, was also really nasty. For those who missed out on Soundtoys’ free giveaway of Little Microshift, Pitch II offered a free plug-in for detuning effects and much, much more. To see this plug-in in action and get some ideas on how best to use it watch these videos on using Pitch II on Keys, Pitch II on Vocals, and Pitch II on Guitars.
Of course there are other ways to manipulate pitch in Pro Tools. Although Pro Tools doesn’t ship with any pitch correction tools similar to Melodyne or Autotune, it does offer real time pitch manipulation in the form of elastic pitch. Check out how to use it here.

One of the most powerful features of Pro Tools, the significance of which is, in my experience, mostly lost on novice users is the playlist. Offering “fresh tape” for another take on a track-by-track basis, the usefulness of these is almost limitless, from loop recording to new playlists, to duplicating playlists before trying an experimental edit, playlists offer control of your sessions and the space to experiment. Learn more here: First Steps, Copy and Build Songs Fast, Test Out Hardware Synth Sounds

We couldn’t visit the letter P without mentioning plug-ins. The Pro Tools world has undergone the biggest and most painful shake-up of its plug-in ecosystem imaginable and although there were lots of difficult moments along the way, Pro Tools has finally shaken off its TDM hardware legacy and while plenty of people have things to grumble about, there aren’t that many things you can’t do using AAX. Pro Tools Expert were the de facto resource during this transition. Although its not somewhere I go often, the AAX Database is one of those resources which really helped during the RTAS/TDM - AAX transition. Just nobody mention Waves AAX DSP - OK?
Pre/Post Roll

An indispensable feature when tracking. Toggling pre/post roll was the first shortcut I can remember really needing and actively seeking out. Using pre roll when dropping into record is an essential feature but maddening when playing back. Its CMD+K (Ctrl+K on PC). A really useful extra when setting pre/post roll is option-clicking in the waveform itself. This sets the position of the pre roll flag in the timebase ruler. Try it!