Pro Tools 11 Review For Post Users

07-01-2013 05:51 PM

This is the look at Pro Tools 11 from a Post perspective that Russ promised in his excellent Pro Tools 11 review. I am not going to cover the same ground here so please take it as read that Pro Tools 11 is brilliant, puts much less load on the computer. The new split buffers will make doing a VO record on a large session much easier on a non HDX system. So here are my thoughts and observations after a couple of days with Pro Tools 11.
I chose to update my 10.3.5 system to 10.3.6 and then install 11 and it all went fine. I ran all the plug-in installers that came with Pro Tools 11 as well as all the 3rd party installers that were available to me and it all just worked. The only annoying thing is that every time I run Pro Tools 11 it wants to put some of my AAX plug-ins into the Plug-In Unused folder because they are not AAX 64 bit plug-ins but I don’t want to because then they won’t be available to me when I run Pro Tools 10.
New Tracks
I already have started to use the new shortcuts and clicking in the Edit window to create new tracks.
Time Compression & Expansion
This is a huge miss for me. Not to have this option is a real shame. Take a look at the video I have put up where I show the different algorithms and how they work and sound. Thanks to Dave Tremblay for responding to our comments and Avid please do give us this one back very soon. I see that the petition on the DUC is growing.
Video performance
One of the many really excellent new features in Pro Tools 11 is the support of the Avid Video Engine. This means that any video that Avid can play can be played in Pro Tools without having to be transcoded which will save so much time. However in these early days of us being able to play with Pro Tools we are getting reports that all is not rosy in the video garden for Pro Tools 11. There are reports that the video display quality is not as good, although the good news is that it is purely a display issue. Users have reported that when they bounce the audio back to the video file that when they play the video outside of Pro Tools the quality is fine. There have also been some issues with OMF imports from Final Cut Pro but no one as yet has been able to nail down what the issue is so this may not be a Pro Tools 11 issue, we shall see.
Off Line Bounce
This is going to be a brilliant feature for speeding up the outputting of ‘deliverables’. No one should consider undertaking an offline bounce of the main mix. I certainly won’t. I find the ‘bounce’ (and I use bounce to track) a key part of the audition and approval process and so I wouldn’t use offline bounce to replace it. As I often go to the ‘bounce’ earlier in my workflow, because I am bouncing to track I know I can easily correct any issues that weren’t quite right and so overall can save time and my client money. However when it comes to outputting all the stems like dialog, music, FXs, Foley and so on, off line bounce will save loads of time. I know that for some folk the deliverables can be 4 days work and so the off line bounce could even take this down to half a day.
Sample accurate Automation
For post users this is so helpful. Before I could never trust Pro Tools to manage automation changes at exactly the right point, but now that even automation point is time stamped just like the audio files we can be confident that it will do the right thing at the right time.
Satellite Link
This has been rolled into Pro Tools 11 so no need to buy a Satellite Link license, however there are some issues with Satellite Link. Pro Tools 10 or 11 won’t link with Media Composer 7, and reports say that it is shaky or doesn’t work with Media Composer 6.5 an PT11. Apparently the Satellite Link protocol has changed, which means it is easy to link 2 PT11 systems together but you can’t link PT10 & PT11 systems together either.
OMF Imports
We have seen reports that Pro Tools 11 is unable to import some OMFs. The error is “Could not complete the Import Tracks command because OMFI_ERR: Bento container error;In omfsOpenFile” However the same OMF imports fine into Pro Tools 10.3.6 so some more work to do there.
Meter Ballistics
It is great to have the choice of meter ballistics as as a UK Broadcast user to eventually have the PPC PPM scale is like coming home. Previously I never put much store by the Pro Tools meters other than some basic indication that there was audio on the track and a sense of the level. Now I can display all the track metering in my beloved BBC PPM ballistic. Its just a shame that we will be using the BBC PPM meter less and less as the new loudness standards come into normal usage. And talking of loudness it is a shame that the loudness standards haven’t been included but when I interviewed Chris Gahagan who is Senior Vice President of Products and Services at Avid after the Pro Tools 11 announcement at NAB back in April 2013 he assured me that the loudness metering would be added in a future update. He pointed out that when they started Pro Tools 11 the loudness standards were only just being considered.
For Post users this is slightly less of an issue than for music users. Only because we tend to use less plug-ins in Post and there are a lot of Post friendly plug-ins already available in AAX 64 bit format, including all the Avid Pro series, so we have a good broadcast limiter plug-in. Unlike the Pro Tools 10 and HDX launch where it was a very long time before I had a broadcast limiter plug-in in AAX DSP format, with the Pro Tools 11 launch its a bit like busses, 3 come along at once, Avid’s Pro Limiter, Flux’s Elixir and Nugen Audio’s ISL are all available to use with Pro Tools 11. On the loudness front, Nugen Audio has already released my personal favourite, their Vis-LM, but also you have loudness metering in the Avid Pro Limiter and TC Electronic, uncharacteristically have already realised their LM2 & LM6, so we already have loudness covered too. For EQ there is the Epure v3 plug-in from Flux as well as the factory plug-ins. However one plug-in developer favoured by a lot of people in the post work is Sonnox, and I do hope they can get their plug-ins out in AAX 64 bit format very soon. As to reverb, again Avid’s Reverb One and now Revibe II which was released with Pro Tools 11.0.1 and then there are Exponential Audio’s Phoenixverb and R2 all mean we have good coverage in this area too. Other key Post related plug-ins that we need asap are denoising and restoration like my beloved RX2 as well as the Waves WNS and Cedar One, which means we cannot clean up in Pro Tools 11. Also there are no unwrap plug-ins to unwrap stereo audio into 5.1, TC Electronic may have got their loudness plug-ins sorted but we need their Unwrap plug-in or Soundfield’s UPM1 ported to AAX 64 bit please.
Eucon 3
I had high hopes for Eucon 3 but it seems to not have down very much, certainly on the surface where the user can see. For a lot of plug-ins, the mapping is still all over the place however it does seem to be a fixable problem. I was very pleased to see that the controller mapping for Exponential Audio’s reverbs is excellent with the controls sensibly grouped together, so it can be done, but other plug-ins frankly are so bad they are unusable on my Artist Control. Also we have reports that Banking is a mess too, so much more to be done here Avid.
Inserts and Shortcuts
The ability to be able to bypass groups of plug-ins in one go is brilliant and will be so helpful in a Post environment. I have seen an excellent use for this. Shift+1 bypasses Inserts A to E and likewise Shift+2 bypasses F through J. What you can do is put an alternative processing chain on F through J and then use these shortcuts to easily compare two complex processing chains. Much respect from the Keyboard Nyanja to Brent Heber and his friend for this one.
The New Workspace
This could be really useful but I haven’t been able to out it through its paces much yet as Pro Tools 11 won’t read my Catalog files created by Pro Tools 10. I use Workspace Catalogs to catalogue my 50,000 plus sound effects collection. When I opened the new Workspace I was very disappointed to find the cupboard was bare. I switched back to Pro Tools 10.3.6 and they were all there fine, but in 11 nothing, empty. I searched the Pro Tools 11 manual and all the Read Me files and nothing. So I put out a shout on the DUC and our Facebook page and it seems this is by design. The catalog file format has changed yet again and so I will have to redo all my catalogs which is a pain, but Avid it would have been very helpful if this was at least in the documentation or even better had included a convertor app.
Post Hits

  • Off Line Bounce for Deliverables
  • More Post Friendly Plug-ins than expected
  • Loads of Workflow improvements like the new track shortcuts
  • Loads more meters

Post Misses

  • Key post plug-ins not ready like denoising and surround processing
  • Video quality issues
  • OMF import issues
  • Eucon 3
  • No legacy support for Catalog files