A-Z Of Pro Tools - E Is For Elastic Audio, Edit Mode And Export

12-11-2014 01:04 PM

Elastic Audio

Elastic Audio is Pro Tools’ real time timestretch, very like Logic’s flextime, Cubase’s audio warp and the similar features found in Ableton and Studio One. In Pro Tools elastic audio has to be enabled on a per track basis. Five algorithms are available suitable for different types of material:

  • Polyphonic - suitable for general use and the only algorithm which offers independent pitch manipulation known as elastic pitch
  • Rhythmic - preserves timing and transients and as such is suitable for rhythmic material
  • Monophonic - analyses frequency content as well as amplitude miking it particularly suitable for vocals and other monophonic material
  • Varispeed - links playback speed to pitch in the same way as varispeeding a tape machine or vinyl would
  • X-Form - high quality processing available offline only, often used instead of one of the real time modes after all the tweaks are complete for the best possible quality.

Its worth knowing that the analysis elastic audio has to complete before any manipulation is possible is performed on a per file basis not per clip, so if you are trying to timestretch a 10 second subclip from a 2 hour file the analysis will take a long time as the whole parent file will be analysed. In this situation a good workaround would be to consolidate the clip to a new file first. For more on using elastic audio check Russ’ video here.

Edit Modes

Pro Tools Edit modes have been covered before in a Pro Tools Fundamentals post earlier this year. For musicians slip and grid mode are the Pro Tools equivalent of switching snapping on and off and for post, spot mode and shuffle are invaluable. If you are a musician check out spot and shuffle, they are useful to us too and if you are working in post you probably already use grid but set to frames instead of bars and beats. Find out more here.


Sometimes its necessary to bring something out of Pro Tools in a form other than a bounce of your track. For these occasions Pro Tools has a few exporting options, some of which I can’t say I use often but like so many things they are invaluable on those occasions when you need them.
Pro Tools can export the following:

  • Selected Tracks as New AAF/OMF
  • Selected Tracks as New Session
  • MIDI
  • Sibelius
  • Session Info as Text
  • Export Clip Definitions
  • Export Clips as Files
  • Export Clip Groups

Selected Tracks as New AAF/OMF
AAF and OMF are well known to in the post community but less so in music, The idea of both is to provide a platform independent file format for moving projects between different platforms. AAF is a more recent version building on the basic OMF format. Both offer a way of exporting media from a project maintaining their track and timeline information.
Selected Tracks as New Session
This feature offers the option of saving a copy of a session using only the tracks you have selected. This option, found under export in the file menu is identical to saving a session copy and checking the “selected tracks only” box.
Exporting MIDI files is strangely nostalgic for me, Its something I haven’t done much in a long time but if you need to export MIDI from your session as either a type 1 or type 0 file the option is right there under the export options.
For the readers amongst us (sounds like a line from a Bill Hicks routine), the option to export MIDI to Sibelius is here.

Session Info as Text
From a comprehensive list of files used, to a list of plug-ins used in the session through to a full EDL, this feature can provide it. Far more useful in post than it is in music but to quickly check compatibility between systems when sharing a session this is a useful feature for musicians too.
Export Clip Definitions
This is slightly obscure and I can’t say I’ve ever used it but as Pro Tools stores subclips as in and out points in a referenced audio file, if you want to export the subclip rather than the whole file then exporting clip definitions allows this. When exported rather than just whole audio files being available in the import audio dialogue, any exported subclips are available for import too. It is useful if you want to export an audio file to another application that supports subclip data or clip definitions.
Export Clips As Files
Exporting clips as files creates whole files from subclips, this is similar to exporting clip definitions but creates copies of subclips which can be used by any platform, the downside is the potential to needlessly duplicate audio, unlike importing clip definitions which reference the parent file.
Export Clip Groups
As an extension of exporting clip definitions, it is possible to import clip groups, making it straightforward to prepare material across several tracks for re-use and to import the grouped clips maintaining the possibility to ungroup and edit the content unlike an bounce.