Pro Tools Fundamentals - Memory Locations Part 1

05-03-2014 10:00 AM

This week Ciaran Robinson takes on the Pro Tools Fundamentals baton and takes a look at some uses for memory locations.
When I first started in recording studios, one of the responsibilities of the gopher/runner was being the tape op. Your job was to be in charge of the tape machine, and if the engineer or producer asked to hear the second chorus, you knew where it was, and could cue the tape machine up to the right point in seconds. If you couldn’t, then there was no shortage of other people who were ready and willing to take your place.
Although the industry has changed, there is still the need to navigate quickly and efficiently round a Pro Tools session, and the key to this is Memory Locations. You can use the Memory Locations window, as well as the Markers Timeline to set and recall these, but as with most things in Pro Tools, there’s a logical shortcut system we can use instead (to get the most of these, you’ll need a keyboard with numeric keypad):

  • The [.] (Period) key primes Pro Tools to accept (and confirm) a locate number.
  • The Enter key allows you to enter a memory location.

If you press the Enter key, the New Memory Location window will open, allowing you to set a locate at the current time position (with the first available number).

To recall a Memory Location, press [.] [Memory Locate Number] [.]

e.g. to recall Locate 7, press [.][7][.]

We can combine both of these shortcuts to set Memory Locates with specific number values. So to set Memory Locate number 26, press: [.][26][Enter]

As I mentioned in one of my earlier articles, I have a system for Memory Locations:

  • Verses are Locate numbers 11 to 19
  • Choruses are Locate numbers 21 to 29

This way, I always know that the third chorus is at locate number 23. Ideally I’ve set up my locates before the recording session, but otherwise I’ll set them on the fly during the first playback. I’ve done a little experimenting, and the locate is only set when the Enter key is pressed (you’ve got about 4 seconds after typing the locate value before you need to press Enter - this is most easily done in Grid editing mode, as your Memory Location position will also be constrained).
If you’re just setting basic locates, there’s no need to see the New Memory Location window every time - you can dive into the Preferences > Editing tab, and uncheck the Auto-Name Memory Locations when Playing box.

There’s much more you can do with Memory Locations, from showing and hiding tracks, to combining locates with Window Configurations. This will be covered in another article, but this should get you up and running for now.