The History of Pro Tools Part Five – 2012 to 2018

The History of Pro Tools Part Five – 2012 to 2018

  The History of Pro Tools - 2012 to 2018 

This is the last in a five-part series chronicling the history of Pro Tools from the very start of Digidesign all the way up to the present day with the release of Pro Tools 2018..

In this article, we start with the release of Pro Tools 11 which brought 64-bit to the world of Pro Tools through to the release of Pro Tools 2018.3, which is the latest version of Pro Tools at the time of writing.

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2013 – Pro Tools 11 – Pro Tools 11 was the first 64-bit Pro Tools application. As promised when Avid announced Pro Tools 10, RTAS and TDM plug-in support was dropped in favour of the 64-bit AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) format that Avid first released with Pro Tools 10. It has been said that if Pro Tools 10 was a watershed moment in Pro Tools development then Pro Tools 11 was the beginning of a new era, which Avid had been working on for at least 4 years. As well as being the first fully 64-bit version of Pro Tools, version 11 also brought a new Avid Video Engine and Avid Audio Engine so we said goodbye to DAE (Digidesign Audio Engine) errors and hello to AAE (Avid Audio Engine) errors instead. Add to that the latest native and DSP-based hardware and a raft of new features that could only be done with a complete overhaul of the Pro Tools and plug-in code base that all came in this new 64-bit application.

 Avid Pro Tools 11 Edit Window

However, the downside of Pro Tools being  64-bit application is that it could only run 64-bit plug-ins, which was a chicken and egg problem for Avid, did they release Pro Tools without all the AAX plug-ins ported or wait. They chose the former and so once the announcement was made at NAB, Avid was against the clock, with or without the plug-in vendors. A combination of issues with the SDK, PACE and other existing vendor commitments meant that once Pro Tools was available in June 2013, we found some of our beloved plug-ins were not ready. Our AAX Plug-in Database proved very helpful to the community as we were able to keep everyone informed as 64-bit versions of 3rd party plug-ins were released.

Because there were so many changes and new features with the introduction of Pro Tools 11, Russ and I produced a 45-minute video, that is at the top of the story, going through all the new features and explaining what they did and hopefully answering everyone’s multitude of questions.

 Pro Tools 11 Offline Bounce Window

One of the changes introduced in Pro Tools, that was only possible because of the new Avid Audio Engine and the new AAX plug-in format, was the much requested offline bounce. At last, we could bounce sessions in faster than real-time on both HDX and Native systems. Although we had widely different offline bounce speed differences, even from similar sessions that varied from 60x down to 4x and on HDX systems there have been reports of some offline bounces being slower than real-time. But there was a silver lining for Pro Tools HDX users as Avid added the ability for up to 16 multiple sources to be bounced all at the same time. This had a huge positive impact on outputting all the deliverables and stems, especially on post-production workflow.

 Pro tools 11 Dedicated Input Buffer

Pro Tools 11 implemented two new engines for handling video and audio. The new Avid Video Engine was apparently taken from Avid’s video-editing program, Media Composer to try and improve the video workflows in post-production and reduce the amount of transcoding needed. The new Avid Audio Engine had dramatically better support for handling processors with multiple cores. The new AAE also added a feature called Dynamic Plug-in Processing, where native plug-ins could be temporarily deactivated if Pro Tools detected they were not actually processing any signal. This meant when Pro Tools was stopped and no audio was active, the CPU use dropped down to effectively nothing; unlike previous versions of Pro Tools, where plug-ins remained active all the time, processing silence, even when they weren’t required to be doing anything. The new audio engine had two buffers, one for playback tracks which was “set dynamically according to what the session needed for reliable playback”, and a separate input buffer for record-enabled or input-monitored tracks. This could be set to a much lower value, allowing low-latency monitoring of input signals through plug-ins, and immediate response when soft synths were played live.

 Pro tools 11 Advanced Metering Options

Avid made some improvements to the on-screen mixer with the level meters 30% larger than before, which made them easier to see from a distance, and could be configured to show different types of metering ballistics and scales. On Pro Tools Standard there were 4 options – Sample Peak, Pro Tools Classic, Venue Peak and Venue RMS. Pro Tools HD users got 13 extra metering options, including an extended Linear mode, RMS, VU, Digital VU, K-scale meters (K-12, K-14 and K-20), 5 PPM modes covering various broadcast standards: Digital, BBC, DIN, Nordic and EBU. For HD users, Avid also added a gain reduction meter by the side of the channel meters, which showed the amount of gain reduction applied to a given channel by any dynamics processing used on that track.

Other new features included the various browser windows being consolidated into a new Workspace Browser, with the old DigiBase replaced by a new database engine that aimed to improve searching, browsing and relinking. You got twice as many levels of Undo (64) and double the number of Instrument tracks, Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD now offered 128 and 256 Instrument tracks respectively. Last, but not least, automation data was now properly time-stamped, and it was possible to record automation while in Record mode.

 Avid Pro Tools S6 Control Surface

2013 – S6 Control Surface – Avid announce that they have ‘leveraged the best of the ICON and System 5 product families in a revolutionary new modular design’. The new Avid S6 was built around 2 core frames, the S6 M40 allowing for up to 41 modules and the smaller S6 M10 allowing for up to 9 modules. The larger S6 M40 was aimed at high-end professionals and facilities that needed great scalability and customisation with the smaller S6 M10 aimed at smaller- to mid-size facilities, such as producers.

Master modules were the central hubs of the S6 surface design. All surfaces must include a main engine, which provided touchscreen access and control; with a choice between two—S6 M40 or S6 M10. The S6 Automation Module complemented both, providing controls for transport, automation, and more. Both featured a tilting 12.1-inch multipoint touchscreen, eight adjacent rotary encoders, and dedicated knobs and keys for monitoring and global control, enabling users to view, access, and edit different aspects of your mix—such as tracks, processing, and metering—without mousing through menus.

Because the Avid S6 is modular, you can design your own S6 control surface using tools from HHB based in the UK and RSPE Audio Solutions based in Los Angeles.

We have a dedicated Avid S6 page in the Pro Tools Resources section of the site which contains lots of tutorials on how to use the Avid S6 and also plenty of case studies to help you see how others have built the Avid s6 into their workflows.

 Avid Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet Interfaces

2014 – Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet – This was a collaboration with Apogee Electronics and Avid and helped to provide two mid-ranges interfaces to the Avid range without a huge and expensive development process. Both would be Avid-branded versions of Apogee’s Duet and Quartet audio interfaces, paired with Pro Tools 11 software for both Mac and Windows customers, unlike the Apogee units which were Mac only at the time.  The other feature exclusive to the Avid versions was EUCON-enabled Pro Tools I/O Control software so that you could take direct control of your recording and monitoring.

Apogee CEO and co-founder Betty Bennett said at the time…

We are very excited to be working with Avid as the premier I/O Connectivity Partner. Our two paths have been intertwined since the early days of the digital recording revolution. While Pro Tools | Software was first defining an exciting paradigm shift in our industry, we were perfecting AD/DA conversion and hardware technology for digital audio. Our first collaboration was in 1997 and featured Apogee’s AD-8000 as a front end for the Pro Tools | 24 MIX system. Today we are very pleased to join forces once again in offering customers these two outstanding solutions.

However, it has transpired that this partnership was short-lived as Avid added both the Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet interfaces to their end of life list with effect from the end of 2016, making the current products for less than 18 months.

 Avid Everywhere Announcement

2014 – Avid Everywhere – At the Avid Connect event Avid CEO, at the time, Louis Hernandez Jr unveiled Avid Everywhere, their version of the digital media future. Avid Everywhere was essentially a content sharing and distribution platform down to the lowest level of the creation process. In other words, it covered everything from collaboration, during the creation process by connecting users of Pro Tools and Media Composer and the other Avid creation product workflows, right through to the storage, distribution, monetisation and archiving of assets.

The centre of the system was the Avid MediaCentral Platform (previously Avid Interplay Pulse), then there was the Artist Suite – Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, etc. – were all in this application and sat upon the platform.

Avid’s plan was to make Pro Tools part of the Avid Artist Suite of solutions. This was an umbrella term for the products available for audio and video professionals, rather than a box of products. In essence, the Artist Suite would comprise of the Pro Tools family of products currently Pro Tools HD, Pro Tools and the Media Composer Suite of Products, Notation, pro mixing, live sound and graphics creation.

Perhaps the key part of the Avid Everywhere announcement was Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration. Pro Tools users would be able to create groups of collaborators, see who was online and available and send invites for one or more people to contribute to a Pro Tools session. Avid’s aim was to offer the chance to find collaborators through a Pro Tools directory and with track-based collaboration, users would be able to: post sessions to cloud storage and invite others to collaborate, work on the same session at the same time or offline and share updates directly within Pro Tools, Record, edit, and mix tracks that will be pushed to all other collaborators upon completion, automatically keep track of all contributions and changes, as files are automatically tagged with rich metadata, stream mixes to a mobile device for real-time review and approval and communicate with collaborators through text or video chat directly from within Pro Tools.

There were also plans to offer session archiving with a new audio archival service that would enable users to store content and track using encapsulated metadata. This technology was designed so that assets could be accessed and played further down the line, even if technologies changed or became unavailable. The aim was to be able to archive a simple stereo mix, the full session, individual stems, or even flatten all tracks so that the original plug-ins used to create them were no longer required. Another part of the plan was to develop a new cloud storage service that would enable users to house archived sessions and files, plus all of the sessions, stems, and stereo mixes you made available to sell in the marketplace, which brings onto the next part of the plan.

The Avid Everywhere vision for music creation included a marketplace. The marketplace would enable users to publish session files, multichannel stems, and stereo mixdowns directly from Pro Tools for licensing in the public marketplace, gain exposure and opportunities to make money by connecting with media professionals looking to license music and sound assets, quickly find professional quality content in the style and formats you need.  As all files could contain rich, searchable metadata, whether you want a bounced-down stereo mix or a Pro Tools session with discreet tracks, rate and provide comments on media assets in the marketplace to help others in the community make more informed purchasing decisions. You could also now purchase marketplace content and audio plug-ins directly from within Pro Tools, with no application restart required after installation.

The final part of the plan was about organising your assets using metadata. Avid announced that they were working on integrating a new open, universal metadata schema into Pro Tools that would enable users to track every asset and project created in Pro Tools. Their metadata schema would embrace industry standards and be extendible, to ensure that nothing got lost in transition or translation. Features would include being able to track how audio assets and projects are created and who contributed to the creation, facilitate the metadata communication between content creators, distributors, and retailers, including data such as album name, songwriters, release date, sales reporting, and licensing, monetise media assets through multiple distribution channels and by repurposing content, communicate the required data for distribution, usage, and rights management control and customise & automate workflows that would connect content and commerce together. Avid claimed that…

… by integrating a universal metadata schema directly into the DAW most widely used across music, film, and television production, any asset can be easily tracked across the entire production and media value chain—throughout its lifecycle—using a common set of standardized definitions accepted throughout the media industry.

Although Pro Tools Collaboration was announced as part of the Avid Everywhere vision it wasn’t available to ProTools users until Pro Tools 12.5 came out in March 2016.

 Avid S3 Control Surface

2014 – Avid S3 Control Surface – Avid announced the baby brother to their S6 mixing console, the Avid Pro Tools S3 control surface. It packs enormous power and accelerated mixing efficiency for faster turnarounds, making it useful, from project studios to the largest, most demanding facilities. Its small form factor makes it ideal for smaller spaces for those working from home or freelancers working on the road.

The Avid Pro Tools S3 was considered to be aimed at two markets. Firstly towards ex Pro Control, Control 24 users or similar, who enjoyed the tactile aspect of fader control, but didn’t have space or inclination to change their total mix room or perhaps could not justify the S6. Just like the S6 however, the S3 is also designed for other EUCON enabled DAWs such as Logic, Cubase and Nuendo. Secondly, it would appeal to anybody thinking of getting multiple Artist Series Controllers, as whilst the cost of the S3 was slightly more than say 2 Artist MC Mixes, the expanded 32 OLED displays and general feel of the S3 could be a better option, and if 16 faders was felt to be a good number.

The Record and Select keys for each channel were neatly fitted between each fader. Nice and space saving on one hand, but then gone are the days of swiping across to arm multiple tracks or select á la ‘Legacy’ controllers, as you can’t do it with a fader in the way. Instead, there was the option to select faders and use Eucon Software to save these as a command and recall a ‘group record’ and use one button to arm them all.

The Avid S3 wasn’t considered to be like previous Avid controllers. Some felt it wasn’t as immediate as say a C|24 or D-Command where you had a lot of space and everything was laid out, partly because the S3 was a significantly more compact controller and designed for multiple applications. As with other Eucon controllers, there is also a greater ability to customise the S3 for your own requirements with SHIFT, ALT, CONTROL and COMMAND keys towards the bottom left of the controller and there are soft key functions at areas 1-4 which you can program yourself.

Using Eucon Control software became the way forward for Avid, it allowed much better integration and flexibility with Pro Tools than HUI control ever could on other 3rd party controllers. It retained a 4×6 audio interface that from the VENUE | LIVE version, and while many S3 owners had existing interfaces to cover their I/O needs, it could provide additional useful I/O for talkback or even as the primary interface on a portable rig with a laptop. Likewise, there was a monitor control for external speakers, which could fulfil monitoring duties freeing up additional outputs on the audio interface or AD/DA converter for routing to outboard if required. However, the main raison d’etre of the S3 is to provide hands-on control of your Eucon enabled DAW.

The S3 provided a real-world tactile device and was a serious option at a reasonable price point. You could always add an Avid Artist Transport if you needed a Jog-Wheel or the recently announced Pro Tools | Control iPad app which provided touchscreen control of additional track navigation macro and metering option, missing from the S3 and once the Avid Dock came along it was the perfect partner fro the Avid S3.

 Introducing Pro Tools First

2015 – Pro Tools First – After a very long wait Avid finally announced another free version of Pro Tools called Pro Tools First.  It was designed to offer a complete set of audio and MIDI features for easy music creation and because it offered the same core tools as Pro Tools, the aim was for users to be able to start off your musical journey on the right path, and when ready take their music to the next level by moving up to Pro Tools Standard or Pro Tools HD.

Projects for Pro Tools First could only be stored in the cloud, accessed through your Avid Master Account. Avid provided up to three free projects (songs) with Pro Tools First all of which had to be stored in the cloud. Pro Tools First came with over 21 plug-ins which included Xpand!2. Additional plug-ins could be purchased in-app from the Avid Marketplace with 7 new, low cost creative plug-in bundles, specially designed for Pro Tools First users added to the Avid Marketplace. These bundles included the First Distortion Bundle, First Reverb Delay Bundle, First Guitar Bass Bundle, First Modulation Bundle, First EQ Dynamics Bundle, First AIR Effects Bundle, and First Air Instruments Bundle.

The features in Pro Tools First were also limited to a maximum of 16 audio tracks, 16 Aux tracks, 16 Instrument tracks, and 16 MIDI tracks. There were 4 inserts and a maximum of 4 Sends with a maximum number of simultaneous I/O limited to just 4.

Pro Tools First also came with a simplified Audio Engine and I/O settings. If you changed the audio interface Pro Tools would correctly allocate the I/O without you having to think about it.

We found out that you could also use any ReWire enabled application with Pro Tools First, like Reason, Ableton, Plogue Bidule et al. It was ReWire that led us to find out how we could also use any AU and VST synth in Pro Tools First to circumvent the restriction that the only plug-ins you could use in Pro Tools First were ones that you could purchase from the Avid Marketplace, which at the time were pretty sparse.

You still got things like Elastic Pitch and Time as well as the MIDI Realtime options for those wanting to manipulate audio and MIDI in Pro Tools First. You also got the option to use the included Plug-ins in AudioSuite mode. You got the Mix, Edit and MIDI Editor windows but without the score editing features, however, there was a Send To Sibelius feature.

Of course, you also got to record, edit and mix multiple channels of audio. Audio, such as loops could be imported into Pro Tools First as well as MIDI files. Audio could be exported both in real-time and offline, as well as MIDI, however, there was no MP3 export option for sharing songs. One other limitation was that Pro Tools First could not open Pro Tools files and you could not open a Pro Tools First file in Pro Tools either. However, Pro Tools First did allow users to consolidate audio and export it en masse just like a regular Pro Tools session. Furthermore, you could export MIDI from the session and we found that the plug-in presets created in Pro Tools First were stored in the same place as the presets for regular Pro Tools, so could open the same plug-ins and use them with the same set-up. So if you were determined you could get the audio and MIDI both ways (the MIDI can contain the session tempo too), as well as any, presets from a mix.

2015 – Pro Tools 12.0 – At NAMM show at the beginning of 2015, Avid debuted a new licensing model with Pro Tools 12 took the first step towards collaborating and connecting the Pro Tools software to the Internet.

Pro Tools 12 promised new flexible licensing options, which allowed customers to rent Pro Tools from as little as $29.99 per month, or to buy it outright with a perpetual license for $899. With these new options, users could stay current with future software updates and innovations as soon as they were released via the cloud, at no additional charge.  Chris Gahagan, the then senior vice president of Products and Technology at Avid said…

These new innovations demonstrate our commitment to providing audio customers with the choice, power, and flexibility they need to create the highest quality music and audio. With Pro Tools 12, audio professionals can now access the software in more ways than ever. They can find new talent and plugins, and get wide exposure for their work via the Avid Marketplace. And with the upcoming Avid Cloud Collaboration, customers will be able to create, connect, and collaborate in unprecedented new ways.

The key benefits and features of Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools were outlined by Avid to include: Secure and hassle-free setup, with which you could post sessions to your own cloud storage space and invite others to collaborate, fully integrated collaboration, which enabled users to work on the same session at the same time or create offline and share updates directly within Pro Tools, the ability to share audio and MIDI tracks, edits, mix changes, automation, and more, simplified project and media management so that users could keep track of all contributors and version changes with automatic and fully customisable metadata tagging and built-in communication tools so that collaborators could engage through text or video chat directly from within Pro Tools.

At launch in March 2015, both Pro Tools 12 and Pro Tools 12HD saw improved I/O setups and monitoring including auto down-mixing and unlimited busses. Avid also introduced in-app plug-in purchases and rentals. We saw the strategy embedded in Avid Everywhere start to take shape with pro Tools 12, and Pro Tools 12 brought us some of those with the Avid Marketplace.

There were nine new plug-in bundles released in the Avid Marketplace as Pro Tools 12 was released in March 2015 as in-app purchases and included the Eleven Effects Bundle, which was a collection of 17 Avid AAX Native, DSP and AudioSuite 64-bit plug-in effects modeled after circuitry and design of many popular analog “stomp-box” guitar effects, the Avid Pro Series Bundle, which included all five of the popular Avid Pro Series processors in AAX Native, DSP and AudioSuite 64-bit format as a single bundle at over 50% savings.

In this video, Russ blew £20 to show the Avid Plug-in Marketplace In Pro Tools 12 in action real-time.

One specific new feature was a new take on the I/O Setup window. As part of their Jump Start series of video tutorial Avid released this video tutorial covering the Pro Tools 12 I/O Setup window.

Although the I/O Setup window was one small part of the Pro Tools experience it could have consequences way beyond its size in even getting any sound out of a session that had come from another studio with different I/O settings.

Over the years Avid refined this window, including the addition of the option for the session I/O settings not to overwrite the system I/O requirements, but even then it could still cause problems to the unsuspecting Pro Tools user. In Pro Tools 12, Avid made some more refinements that definitely helped to make it easier to move sessions around which included: improved predictability and flexibility of session interchange, playback Engine specific I/O, Unlimited busses, automatic downmixing, software-based AFL/PFL, importing I/O Settings from a session, bussing to multiple hardware outputs, improved error reporting and troubleshooting tools, the ability to prep a larger system from a smaller system, output menu organisation by width and various bug fixes.

Avid’s core design aim for the I/O Setup changes was to offer separation between session (software) and hardware.  Typically the hardware is a static device that often has physical connections to other audio devices.  Whereas sessions can be more transient and have virtual connections.  Busses now lived with the session.  All the other tabs in the I/O Setup window now related to the hardware.  If a new session came along, it brought with it, its own set of busses that would patch into the hardware.

2015 – Pro Tools 12.1 – In June 2015 for Pro Tools Standard owners there was an increased track count to 128 Audio tracks and 512 Instrument tracks. Pro Tools 12.1 Native now had track input monitoring, AFL/PFL Solo Modes and well as Copy to send feature for fast set-up of headphone mixes. All of these features were previously only available to Pro Tools HD owners but with Pro Tools 12.1 were rolled into Pro tools 12 Standard. 12.1 brought Native support for HEAT but only when used with HD licence. With Pro Tools 12.1 Avid also introduced Pro Tools Control App support, support for Pro Tools S3 VCA Spill, and many Pro Tools stability improvements including updates for AudioSuite, Bounce, Delay Compensation, Editing, Audio and Video Engines, I/O Setup, MIDI, and Satellite workflows to further improve stability.

 Pro Tools 12.2 Plug-in Bundles

2015 – Pro Tools 12.2 – In September 2015 more HD only features were rolled into Pro Tools 12.2 Standard including VCAs, Disk Caching, Advanced Metering options and Gain Reduction Metering. Those using Pro Tools HD and Native on an Avid Upgrade Plans also received free Avid Plug-ins.

From Pro Tools 12.2 Avid started to include in all active Pro Tools Annual Upgrade and Support Plans, as well as subscription licenses, the Space convolution reverb and 16 brand-new stompbox effect plugins inspired by Eleven Rack, which enabled users to add grit, space, modulation, and overdrive to their guitar tone and more with this bundle of stompbox-type effects from our Pro Tools Eleven Rack amp/cabinet emulation system. This new collection of 64-bit AAX Native, AAX DSP, and AAX AudioSuite plug-ins were modelled on the circuitry and design of many classic and popular analog guitar stompboxes and effects, from EQ and compressor, to reverb, delay, modulation, and distortion effects.

In addition to the 16 Eleven stompbox effects and Space, Pro Tools HD customers now got all five Avid Pro Series plug-ins (Pro Compressor, Pro Expander, Pro Limiter, Pro Multiband Dynamics and Pro Subharmonic), the Eleven amp/cabinet simulator plug-in, ReVibe II a powerful room-modeling plug-in, and Reverb One plug-in an uncompromising sonic quality reverb plug-in.

Avid also announced a reduction in the price of plans meaning that many Pro Tools Standard users could upgrade from as little as $99 per year.

 Avid Pro Tools Dock Control Surface

2015 – Avid Pro Tools Dock Control Surface – The Pro Tools Dock was a EUCON control surface for integrating the free iPad app, Pro Tools Control, with the aim of making the Dock into the touchscreen found on the Master Touch Module of the Pro Tools S6. The Dock could also be paired with the Pro Tools S3, giving enhanced functionality including – dedicated automation switches, transport controls, weighted aluminium jog wheel and colour-coded Soft Key switches.

When paired with Pro Tools, the Dock became an extension of Pro Tools. You could now access hundreds of key commands, shortcuts, and UI elements without clicking a mouse. Record, edit, mix, and automate tracks right from the surface. Adjust EQ, dynamics, plug-ins, and other parameters. Get dedicated access to advanced automation modes. You could even create custom Soft Keys to perform practically any Pro Tools function, or recall layouts to the surface, with a single button press.

Pair Pro Tools Dock with a Pro Tools S3 control surface and you gained even more time-saving workflows. View and access any track instantly through the touchscreen. Customise and recall layouts to jump right into a track set or workflow quickly. Trigger frequently performed functions and macros with dedicated Soft Keys as you continue mixing on S3.

The Dock provided eight push-top, touch-sensitive Soft Knobs that interacted with whatever knob-set you’ve chosen in the Pro Tools Control app. Select an EQ, plug-in, send, pan, or other item, and all parameters instantly map to the knobs for tweaking. You could now assign the 16 Soft Keys to do the dirty work for you. Trigger menu commands and other software functions and recall layouts at the press of a button. You could also adapt the Dock to your unique workflow by programming macros to perform more complex tasks.

2015 – Pro Tools 12.3 – In November 2015 Pro Tools 12.3 brought Track Commit, fade presets, batch fades, and clip graphic overlay.  There were also welcome improvements to fades with the new Batch Fade option and shortcuts.

Commit Track was effectively Track Freeze by another name, although Avid said at the time that Track Freeze was still coming. Commit Track featured a number of interesting features, you can read about them in more detail here. In this video, Russ Hughes showed the different ways separate audio stems could be created from the separate outputs of an audio virtual instrument (VI) using the Commit feature in Pro Tools 12.3. Russ also explains how it works and why certain results occur.

In this short video tutorial, Russ showed how to commit separate tracks from Transfuser in Pro Tools 12.3.

Drag And Drop MIDI Commit was a nice new feature that converted MIDI to audio simply by dragging and dropping the MIDI from an instrument track to a new audio track.  Watch this video from Russ Huges to learn more about Drag MIDI To Commit…

Track Commit Mix Delivery simplified and sped up the sending of stems to other people and had a number of workflows that made this process as painless as possible and would also help with archiving future proofed sessions.

Another nice addition was the clip transparency feature that allowed the user to see the original position of the clip/s as you dragged them along the timeline.

The Batch Fades window now offered the ability to add different fades across the timeline at the same time, which made it a huge timesaver for audio editors working with lots of audio clips on the timeline and staying with Fades you could now have up to 5 memory locations for your favourite fades. Watch this video in which Mike took a look at how to use the new batch fades and fade presets introduced in Pro Tools 12.3…

We also outlined 5 smaller new features introduced in Pro Tools 12.3 that you might have missed including Invalid Fades Dialog, Default Format In Pro Tools Session I/O, New MIDI Import Options, Pitch Shift Legacy Makes A Comeback, and “Select Unused” Ignores Parent Clip Option.

By time Pro Tools 12.3 came out we had seen a real turnaround in users who planned to or had already upgraded compared to Pro Tools 12.1. You can learn more in our article Pro Tools 12.3 Upgrade Poll – The Results With Comparisons.

2015 – Pro Tools 12.4 – In December 2014 we finally got Track Freeze which was perhaps the most requested feature from Pro Tools users added to both Pro Tools HD and Pro Tools Standard. Track Freeze enabled Pro Tools users to reclaim CPU power by ‘freezing’ instruments and plug-ins on the Pro Tools timeline as audio.

Track Freeze joined Track Commit and Track Bounce as methods for saving CPU power in sessions by rendering plug-ins and virtual instruments to audio files. Track Freeze differed from Commit and Bounce in that it rendered the audio to the same track, which meant the track could not be edited, but you could “unfreeze” it, which returned it to its previous state and allowed full editing, adding fades, etc. However, volume and pan remained active on any frozen tracks. Track Freeze offered several options:

  • Basic audio track freeze — a simple and fast way to render an entire track in place including its plug-in processing and automation.
  • Freezing a track up to a selected insert — if you have a row of plug-ins processing a track, you can choose to freeze with just the plug-ins inserted up to a certain point. The plug-ins inserted after that track will not be frozen and remain active.
  • Freeze Aux Track — Aux Tracks can be frozen in the same fashion as audio tracks. The audio passing through the aux, and any processing, will be rendered to the aux track as audio. This is great for freezing CPU-intensive processors, such as convolution reverbs.
  • Freeze instrument track — Instrument Tracks may be frozen in the same fashion as audio and aux tracks. The output from the instrument and any selected processing will be rendered as audio to the track.
  • Freeze multi-output instrument — if an instrument has multiple outputs that are being routed to aux tracks, these may all be frozen simultaneously. The instrument may be frozen with or without any processing that is being applied to the track.

With Track Freeze, Commit, and Track Bounce, there were now multiple options for managing system resources as well as for preparing sessions and tracks for delivery, collaboration, and archiving. While all three functions could be used in multiple workflow situations, they broke down like this:

  • Freeze — ideal for managing CPU resources with processor-intensive plug-ins and virtual instruments and large sessions, while still allowing for fast access to the original tracks for editing and mix and arrangement changes.
  • Commit — allows flexibility for rendering on a per-track or per-clip basis, with a choice of what happens to the original track.
  • Track Bounce — perfect for final output renders and stems for delivery, collaboration, and archiving.

When Pro Tools 12.4 was released we had a lot of question about Track Freeze so we produced a tutorial that covered Everything You Want To Know About Track Freeze In Pro Tools 12.4 including What Gets Frozen, Editing Restrictions on Frozen Tracks In Pro Tools 12.4, Track Freeze Compatibility With Earlier Versions Of Pro Tools, What About External Hardware and whether you should Freeze Or Commit.

 Pro Tools 12.5 Discover Avid Cloud Collaboration

2016 – Pro Tools 12.5 – Cloud Collaboration, updated Avid Video Engine, send to playback (Interplay). Pro Tools 12.5 brought cloud collaboration which started to make sense of the features that Avid had been adding like Track Freeze and Track Commit. It brought a new kind of Pro Tools session called a Pro Tools Project which is a session shared in the cloud.

At the end of March 2016 Avid announced that the highly anticipated Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools was finally available nearly 2 years after the original Avid Everywhere announcement. Avid Cloud Collaboration was designed to make it easy for artists and audio professionals to compose, record, edit, and mix projects from any location worldwide, a key tenet of Avid Everywhere. In conjunction with the Artist Community, an online community designed to foster creative connections and professional opportunities, Pro Tools with Avid Cloud Collaboration connected artists and media professionals to a community of collaborative music creation and audio production and Pro Tools 12.5 was the fifth software release in less than a year from Avid. Dana Ruzicka, vice president and chief product officer at Avid said…

Pro Tools 12.5 confirms Avid’s commitment to delivering powerful workflows that connect artists, media professionals, and their work in a much more collaborative, efficient way so they can focus on creating their best work. Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools will radically change the way people make music, and open up unprecedented new creative possibilities. We’re excited to give customers the opportunity to experience this groundbreaking innovation. Now, instead of wasting time with tedious manual file management required when using generic cloud storage, Avid Cloud Collaboration synchronizes revisions and files in Pro Tools automatically. Customers can find and invite their connections to collaborate within the application or discover new collaborators through the online Avid Artist Community. They can then compose, record, edit, and mix tracks collaboratively with other Pro Tools users, just like they were working together in the same studio. Furthermore, the Artist Community enables customers to share and promote their work with top artists, musicians, producers, engineers, and other media professionals.

Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools Features

  • Post projects to cloud storage space and invite others to collaborate.
  • Work on projects with others in real time, or create offline and share updates directly.
  • Share audio and MIDI tracks, edits, mix changes, automation, and more.
  • Communicate with collaborators through text chat.

In this video demonstration Pro Tools Expert team members Dan Cooper, James Ivey and Russ Hughes tested the new collaboration feature in Pro Tools 12.5.

There were a number of new terms that came with Pro Tools 12.5 including the difference between a Pro Tools Session and a Pro Tools Project.

  • Avid Master Account connectivity in Pro Tools – Sign on with your existing account details and access cloud features directly in Pro Tools
  • Projects – A new cloud-based document type. Synchronised to the cloud and cached locally, your work is directly accessible anywhere you can use the internet. Most importantly, Projects can be joined by other users for collaboration. Save Copy In from existing Sessions to Projects, or Import Session Data to Projects to share your existing Pro Tools Session documents.
  • Artist Chat – Search for and add your contacts from the directory of Avid users who have started using collaboration. Communicate and review changes in chat rooms associated with each Project that contain automatically generated collaboration transaction logs detailing specific contributions and changes.
  • Track Collaboration Tools – new track tools and features in the mix and edit window to facilitate the sharing of tracks and track data with your collaborators.
    • Shared and Private Tracks – Click the track share button on any Audio, Instrument, Aux, MIDI, or Master track to share it with others for collaborative work.
    • Send and Receive Track Changes – Choose when to post and receive modifications to shared tracks one at a time or for all available changes and optionally set automatic modes to receive or send all changes automatically. Clips and media, plug-ins and plug-in settings, sends, automation, playlists, and nearly all other track data, as well as tempo, meter, key, and chord changes and memory locations, can all be sent back and forth from system to system.
      • Note: At this time the following session data are not shared in collaboration: Groups, VCA Tracks, Video Tracks and media, Windows Configurations, HEAT settings, and Mic PRE settings.
    • Track Ownership – Indicators on each track show what user is actively making modifications so you can avoid conflicts. You can also make a request directly in the Edit window
    • Share as Frozen – When enabled, changes to a track are posted to all collaborators as frozen but remain unfrozen on your system allowing you to easily share a flattened stem to others while your mix stays live, or send important tracks to collaborators who may not have all of the same plug-ins as you.
    • Transfer Management – View all uploads and downloads in the existing Task Manager window

There were also improvements to the Avid Video Engine, as well as a raft of bug fixes.

2016 – Pro Tools 12.6 – In September 2016 Avid added Clip Effects, Layered Editing, and playlist improvements to Pro Tools 12.6, which was the 3rd major release in 9 months and with Pro Tools 12.6 it became possible to buy Pro Tools HD software standalone, without having to buy any hardware. Pro Tools 12.6 was also the change to a new iLok authorisation license, to be called Pro Tools Perpetual for new customers and existing customers on active upgrade plans. For those customers on a rental subscription plan, the license will be called Pro Tools Subscription.

For HD users Avid added a number of new features.  With Clip Effects you could apply and edit dynamics and EQ on a clip by clip basis. In Pro Tools Standard you could only playback, clear or render these clip effects. At last with the introduction of Pro Tools 12.6, HD users could now apply non-destructive, clip-based processing. You could add real-time EQ and dynamics to a single clip or a clip group, which enabled users to have different settings across multiple clips without having to render the clips using AudioSuite plugins.  There was a dedicated ‘plug-in’ for this feature which was based on the Avid Channel Strip and had access to all the Channel Strip presets as well. The real-time effects plug-in popped up in the space occupied by the Universe window. Consequently, this section of the Edit window now had two tabs so when it is open you can switch between Real-time clip effects tab and Universe tab

Multi-Layer Editing was a new editing mode that predictably allowed clips to be overlapped and still maintained the original clip boundaries when the overlap is removed. There was a new key command for switching playlists directly from the track. There was a visual indication when there were multiple playlists on a track and Avid added a new mode that sent fully overlapping clips to a new or existing playlist.  On HDX systems, the new Single-System re-recorder feature improved the in-the-box post-dubbing workflows without latency or the associated glitches when punching in and out or input monitor toggling on cascaded record tracks.

With Real-time Fade Manipulation, you could now adjust the fade in, out and crossfade curves using the Smart Tool with real-time waveform updates. Alternatively, you could now right-click on a fade clip and adjust the fade shape and slope. In the Edit window, there was a new icon that showed activity in the Task Manager as well as an icon that showed if tracks were frozen and also provided the option to be able to globally freeze and unfreeze tracks.

Pro Tools 12.6 also brought changes to the Pro Tools iLok licensing with a brand new iLok authorisation license called Pro Tools Perpetual for new and existing customers on active upgrade plans. For those customers on a rental subscription plan, the license will be called Pro Tools Subscription. These new licenses are linked to your upgrade plans so it will ‘know’ when your support and /or upgrade plans were up for renewal. iLok licenses from 12.6 no longer have the Pro Tools version number in the name, instead, there is a linking system so that the iLok license ‘knows’ what you are entitled to.

2016 – Pro Tools 12.7 – Pro Tools | MTRX support, project revision history, workspace improvements. In December 2016 Pro Tools 12.7 was the latest update of Pro Tools 12 and was the sixth quarterly update in a row that Avid released and was planned to be the first of a number of music creation centric updates and added revision history to Pro Tools projects in the cloud collaboration workflow, tagging in the Workspace browser and 2GBs of audio loops from Loopmasters.

First up in the 12.7 release of Pro Tools, Avid added tagging in the Workspace window with a new feature called SoundBase. It enabled you to tag audio loops and sounds to make finding the one you want much quicker and easier. Effectively SoundBase added tags to the Workspace Browser.  Tags could be added to any audio file, not just loops and samples and then Workspace indexes those tags to speed up searches.

In the Workspace, there was a new entry called Sound Libraries. Anything in the Sound Libraries folder, which is a new folder to Pro Tools 12.7 that is located in the Pro Tools folder in the Documents folder, would be displayed in the Sound Libraries section in the Locations section. Once content was tagged you could click on a tag in the top section and it would appear in the Search bar above and you could select as many tags as you liked to help narrow down the list of files to be only those with all the selected tags.

Users could add tags to multiple files, by selecting all the files you want to tag in the list and use Control+Alt+T as a shortcut to bring up the Tagging window, choose your tags and add them to the selected files. When Simple Search or Advanced Search was used you could incorporate tags into your text, searched to help narrow down the files you are looking for.

Avid added some new columns to the Workspace Browser. Columns like Key could be read from the metadata already in the file. Next, there was a Time Signature column, Avid also added a Favourites column so you could click on the heart to mark the file as one of your favourites. There was a new button at the top of the Workspace browser with a heart icon. Clicking on that will show just your favourites.

Avid added a 2GB library of Loopmasters content that came fully tagged and ready to go.

Avid added Revision History to help keep track of all the different versions of your projects when working in a collaboration workflow in the cloud.

Revision History was designed to bring “Save As…” functionality to Projects. When Cloud Collaboration was added to Pro Tools in Pro Tools 12.5, Avid added Projects as a way of delineating between sessions held in the cloud as part of the collaboration workflow, which were called Projects, and sessions held locally on your drives, which are still called Sessions.

Sessions are held locally and Projects are held in the cloud for collaboration.  Prior to Pro Tools 12.7, you couldn’t do a Save As on a Project. The new Revision History feature in Pro Tools 12.7 combined the automatic session backup and Save As functionality for Pro Tools Sessions and applied it to Projects. Just as Pro Tools managed all the media within a session folder, with Revision History all the Project media is managed and everything stays in one bundle just as Pro Tools keeps everything together in a session folder with Sessions.

Even though everything is kept in one bundle if someone pulls down a version of a project from the cloud, Pro Tools only pulls the media required from that version of a project, it doesn’t pull down anything that is not needed for that project, to save on cloud bandwidth. With Pro Tools 12.7 Revision History is only available for Projects. Currently, Revision History was not available for Pro Tools Sessions.

2017 – Pro Tools 12.8 – Dolby Atmos integration and NEXIS optimization (Pro Tools HD), workspace and project enhancements (Pro Tools), Cloud Collaboration (Pro Tools First).

In June 2017 the big development with 12.8 HD was native support for Dolby Atmos with a new panner which now handled height as well as a brand new bus structure, new I/O management and new send & return plug-ins to be able to route audio in-the-box between Pro Tools and the Dolby Atmos Production Suite. In order to make this work with non-HDX systems, Dolby and Avid had to work together to find a way to internally route 128 channels of audio bi-directionally between Pro Tools and the Production Suite software.

There was also a new automated routing system that allowed you to dynamically assign an audio path to either a bus (known in Dolby terms as a “bed”) or as an object, This was a very welcome new feature – a variant of the dynamically automated routing available on DSP consoles such as the AMS-Neve DFC. Although Pro Tools 12.8 was predominately a post-release for HD users there were a number of enhancements for non HD users including SoundBase and Workspace improvements.

Pro Tools 12.8HD Feature Summary

  • Native Dolby Atmos™ Support – Pro Tools HD Only
  • 7.1.2 and 7.0.2 Track, Plug-in,  and Bus Support
  • 3D Panner with Height Controls for adjusting signal height manually as well as automatically with shaped pan guides. A New “Theater” view for the pan window provides a dimensional, rotating theatre perspective panner.
  • Atmos Renderer Communication and Object panning – connect up to 128 inputs with a total of 118 Objects from Pro Tools directly to a Dolby RMU or to the Dolby Atmos Renderer software
    • New “Atmos” tab in Setup > Peripherals to manage Renderer connections
    • Object mapping for busses via I/O Setup – any mono path or stereo pair of mono subpaths can be mapped to Objects found declared on the renderer
  • Automated Bussing between a track’s Object output and Main output
  • Object Fold-down Bus
    • Prepare, repurpose, edit, and rough-mix using all of the Object based workflows in Pro Tools but without needing to be actively connected to a renderer – Object routes are automatically folded down to an output of your choice for monitoring until a render is connected
  • Enhanced Re-recording Workflows
    • Link and unlink punching of audio and pan automation on recorder systems receiving mastered object audio and metadata
    • Input monitoring controls on the recorder toggle between sending source metadata or re-recorded metadata to the renderer to achieve true PEC/DIR film mixing workflows with object audio and metadata
  • Import ADM BWAV files generated from Dolby Atmos Printmaster files using Import Session Data to repurpose archived printmaster content. A complete session including object assignments, track names, and pan metadata can be generated from a single supported WAV file.
  • Automatically duplicate automation from the Dolby Atmos Panner Plug-in to Track automation in Pro Tools. Also send track automation from Pro Tools back to the Dolby panner plug-in with simple Edit Menu > Automation commands.

Most of the new features in Pro Tools 12.8 relate to Dolby Atmos and post workflows which are only for Pro Tools HD users but there are some new features for Pro Tools Vanilla owners.

Pro Tools 12.8 Standard Feature Summary

New Collaboration Features – Pro Tools First and Pro Tools users, Pro Tools HD users could now work with up to 10 collaborators in the cloud on a single project. You could choose to save projects locally or in the cloud using Selective Project Sync, which Avid designed to give easy access to all of your cloud-based work from any Pro Tools-equipped computer, from anywhere you can log into your account. And if you need more storage, you can now expand your cloud space for as little as $4.99 a month for 10 GB.

  • Soundbase and Workspace Enhancements
    • Advanced Search and Column criteria usability improvements
      • List is now alphabetized
      • When right-clicking on a column the Defaults now appear at top of list
      • Hold Command (Mac) or Control (Win) to select multiple column criteria within that list
      • Hold Option (Mac) or Alt (Win) and click a column name to hide it
      • Hold Shift and click a column name to change the sort priority
    • Ability to set column metadata values for multiple selected files
    • Editable ISRC column
    • Loop indicator in Tags pop-up window lets you designate loop files when assigning tags
    • Updated Play and Stop buttons in Waveform column
    • Updated Advanced Search button
  • The MIDI Event List, MIDI Editor, Score Editor, and Workspace/Soundbase windows let you independently set them to remain in the foreground even when clicking on and focusing another window (such as the Edit or Mix windows).
  • Shared tracks now appear in the Track List and may be downloaded individually
  • Turn on and off the automatic pre-downloading of all track data to help control your bandwidth usage in Setup > Preferences > Collaboration or by right-clicking on the AUTO mode enabler for the “Download All Shared Tracks” button
  • Enable and Disable Cloud Backup of Projects
  • Turn on and off backup of projects to the cloud to help manage your storage and focus your shared projects to active collaborations
  • The functionality of Sessions and Projects has been more clearly differentiated in the Dashboard, and sessions are once again the default document type
  • Added a preference to Setup > Preferences > Editing > Fades section to determine how the smart tool interacts with fade shapes. The new preference allows the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Win) to be used as a clutch while hover over a fade to show the real-time fade adjustment tool
  • Pro Tools now supports working from volumes mounted as UNC Paths, specifically tested for ISIS and NEXIS workspace mounted in such a way.
  • Pro Tools now supports linking to MXF files containing an SMPTE ID.
  • A new column in the workspace displays the ID if found
  • Updated session and project creation settings in the Create tab in the Dashboard
  • Backup to Cloud option lets you pull projects offline or put them online
  • Track Cloud Synchronization indicator in Tracks List
  • Keep Window On Top option for the MIDI Event List, MIDI Editor, and Score Editor windows to determine whether or not each designated window remains in the foreground when interacting with other windows
  • Keyboard shortcut for showing and hiding the Universe display
  • Pro Tools support for SMPTE ID for audio files (AIFF and WAV only)
  • Local Waveform Cache Versions preference to determine the number of most recent versions of the waveform cache to be stored locally (if at all) for online projects that are not cached locally and sessions on network storage systems (such as Avid NEXIS)
  • Smart Tool Fade preference
  • Parallel Task Optimisation preference for optimising parallel processing tasks

2017 – Pro Tools First Update – Also in June 2017 Avid made some changes to their free version – Pro Tools First. With Pro Tools First you now got Track Freeze, the ability to collaborate with any Pro Tools user, and there was a new expanded plan, which included local storage of sessions with Pro Tools First for $4.99 per month.

Pro Tools First Feature Summary

  • Track Collaboration features available in Pro Tools First – with low-cost extra cloud plans or collaborate for free on projects started by Pro Tools Software or HD owners
  • More Sends and Inserts – maximum of 10
  • Track Freeze
  • Layered Editing
  • Soundbase replaces Workspace
  • Restored the Tracks List, removed the Clips List
  • Quick Buttons toolbar pop over for easy access to common windows and features
  • 500MB Loopmasters sample pack included free

With this new release of Pro Tools First, Avid released several corks that severely limited what Pro Tools First users could do. Before this update, Pro Tools First users could not share or collaborate with Pro Tools Vanilla and Pro Tools HD users. With this update, Pro Tools users could collaborate with any Pro Tools user. With the old version of Pro Tools First, users were limited to 3 projects which had to be stored in and accessed from the cloud. In conjunction with this update to Pro Tools First, Avid released a paid-for plan, which enables Pro Tools First users to save sessions locally on their own computer, rather than the cloud.

With this new version of Pro Tools First, Avid extended their Cloud Collaboration to Pro Tools First users so that they could collaborate with Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD users online. This feature is free as long as the Pro Tools or Pro Tools HD user owns the project. This means any Pro Tools or Pro Tools HD user can collaborate with anyone, whether that person owns Pro Tools or not and it won’t cost anything, as Pro Tools First is free to download and use, and inviting a Pro Tools First user to collaborate with a Pro Tools user is free as well.

If, as a Pro Tools First user, you wanted to start your own collaboration project, you could upgrade to an Avid Cloud plan for $4.99 per month and then be able to invite other Pro Tools First, Pro Tools, or Pro Tools HD users to collaborate with you.

Pro Tools First users can still save and sync up to three projects at a time using Avid’s free 1 GB introductory cloud storage. The difference is now for $4.99 per month you can break out of the cloud only limit and get expanded cloud storage, unlimited projects, local session saving, and the ability to invite others to collaborate with our premium cloud plans.

 Pro Tools 12.8.1

2017 – Pro Tools 12.8.1 – In August 2017 Avid released Pro Tools 12.8.1 which included integration of zplane élastiqueAAX, which could now be selected as the default time stretch algorithm in Pro Tools when using the MultiTool for those who own this time stretch plug-in. Pro Tools 12.8.1 also brought Ambisonics VR Track support, Dolby Atmos enhancements, MIDI editing & recording features, as well as Batch renaming features.

Pro Tools 12.8.1 In Short

  • Mainly a stability/maintenance release targeting to fix a number of bugs especially in the area of the Heat plug-in
  • Support for Third Party Time Compression/Expansion Plug-ins
  • Zplane is now available as a possible TC/E option.  If the plug-in is installed, it should be featured in the TC/E drop-down menu within the Pro Tools preferences
  • Destructive Punch Performance Enhancements for NEXIS Workspaces
  • Destructive Punch preparation and recording processes have been further optimized for increased performance on NEXIS workspaces
 Pro Tools 12.8.2

2017 – Pro Tools 12.8.2 – In October 2017 Avid released 12.8.2. Included in this update were a handful of new features for users of Pro Tools First, Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD. Pro Tools 12.8.2, and included new MIDI features, batch track/clip renaming and VR features (HD only).

New Pro Tools MIDI Enhancements

  • Grid size, Nudge size from the keyboard
  • Pencil tool enhancements
  • Record/Solo/Mute enable from MIDI window
  • Lane recall window configurations
  • Constrain MIDI clips to edit selections while using the Smart Tool
  • Using Scroll Wheel to scroll Piano Roll
  • Record Progress Indication on MIDI tracks
  • Arrow key – note selection
  • MIDI Merge of Pedals

Pro Tools 12.8.2 featured some new MIDI enhancements including the ability to quickly change Grid and Nudge sizes and Pencil tool commands using keystrokes. It was now possible to record enable, solo and mute MIDI tracks from within the Pro Tools MIDI Editor. Chord names and notes could also now be viewed in Pro Tools as well.

Edit & Mix VR Audio – Pro Tools HD only

Avid recognised that virtual reality content was on the rise and included new edit and mix VR audio features in Pro Tools 12.8.2. You could now easily edit and mix audio in a 3D space with support for first, second and third order Ambisonics formats across Pro Tools tracks and busses.

Scroll To Track – For All Versions Of Pro Tools 12.8.2

Pro Tools users could now also navigate through large Pro Tools sessions and menus faster with search capabilities available in the Scroll to Track dialog. Scroll To Track enabled users to locate tracks quickly in large Pro Tools sessions. To find a track, search by typing a track name in the Pro Tools Scroll to Track box.

Dolby Atmos Enhancements (Pro Tools HD only)

  • Easier setup based on enhanced Dolby renderer communication
  • Enabling pan data to be repurposed into Atmos eight-enabled panning instantly

Avid explained…

With the new front/rear position knob link, users can easily control both parameters as one when writing panning automation from the Pro Tools interface or a control surface, with all subsequent automation being written following suit. Users can also set up Pro Tools sessions in seconds based on the connected Dolby Atmos Renderer configuration and repurpose existing pan automation data to instantly generate height automation.

Batch Rename Tracks & Clips In Pro Tools

Pro Tools session organisation in either tracking or mixing stages became that little bit easier. We could now batch rename tracks and clips in Pro Tools. This new feature enabled users to rename batches of tracks or clips in a variety of ways, including:

  • Find & Replace
  • Adding prefixes and/or suffixes
  • Applying various numbering conventions.

Convert To Project – Pro Tools First

Got friends or colleagues who use Pro Tools? You could now collaborate and work on sessions created in Pro Tools or Pro Tools HD by first converting them to a project format in Pro Tools First. Simply open a session and use the Convert to Project dialog that pops up to save the file as a project in your cloud space.

 Pro Tools 12.8.3

2017 – Pro Tools 12.8.3 – In December 2017 Avid released 12.8.3 which was the first version of Pro Tools fully qualified for use with macOS High Sierra (10.13.2) as well as adding video engine support for XAVC Long GOP files and 1080p50 project types to help you integrate with more post workflows.

 Pro Tools 12.8.3 performance impriovement with an iMac Pro

The other development with Pro Tools 12.8.3 was it was able to support the new iMac Pro and brought significant playback performance improvements with Apple’s new iMac Pro. Avid is claimed that the new iMac Pro could run up to 36% more plug-ins on an iMac Pro 8-Core model and  62% more plug-ins on an iMac Pro 10-Core model compared to the older 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) with Core i7 processor.

Pro Tools 12.8.3 also added video engine support for XAVC Long GOP files and 1080p50 project types to help you integrate with more post workflows.

 Pro Tools 2018.1

2018 – Pro Tools 2018.1 – iLok Cloud support, Track Presets, target playlist, retrospective MIDI record, MIDI Editing enhancements, EQ Curves in the Mix window, improved Import Session Data all came to Pro Tools as well as a new numbering scheme in January 2018.

Retrospective MIDI Record

Ever jam along to a song and nail the perfect run without being in record? With retrospective MIDI recording, Pro Tools 2018 goes into “listen” mode even when you’re not recording, so you can grab those inspired performances into a track after you have stopped playing. This means you can now capture MIDI performances on MIDI or Instrument tracks even when Pro Tools is not recording as long as the track is in Record Enable and then add them to your session with a simple key command, which is Shift+C, or you will find a new menu item in the Events menu ‘Retrospective Record’ and then Pro Tools will insert the performance onto the appropriate track where you played it. Avid changed the shortcut for retrospective MIDI command to Shift+Option+Z in Pro Tools 2018.3.

MIDI Editing Enhancements

With numerous MIDI improvements and enhancements, you can fix and finesse every note to perfection, from transposing and trimming notes with the arrow keys, to building chords and scores faster than ever before.

  • Arrow keys editing, transpose in-key
  • MIDI tab-to-note
  • Extract chords from MIDI clips

With Pro Tools shortcuts built around the arrow keys you can now easily transpose…

  • Use the Up and Down arrows to transpose a note up or down by a semi-tone
  • Use Shift and the Up and Down arrows to transpose a note up or down by an octave
  • Use Control on a Mac, or Start on Windows, together with the Up and Down arrows to transpose a note up or down in key with Pro Tools using the key information set on the Key Ruler.

You can also use variants of these shortcuts to create chords quickly and easily. If you add Option on a Mac, or Alt on Windows, to the Transpose in Key shortcut, because the Alt/Option key creates a copy as you move the note and so you can build up chords quickly and easily.

Track Presets

At last Avid added Track Presets, which has been a heavily requested feature in the Pro Tools IdeaScale and the Avid Customer Association Surveys. With Track Presets, you can quickly save, catalog, and recall your favourite effects chains, vocal processing, session import criteria, and other track settings all of which are designed to boost your efficiency so you can spend more time creating.

This feature has harnessed the Session Import feature and created micro sessions with just one track giving us Track Presets, which can include media, audio, and MIDI, so not only can you set up track presets with plug-ins, inserts and sends all set up, you can also include audio and MIDI in the track presets as well. All of this is intended so that you can spend less time configuring tracks and remove mundane tasks and spend more time being creative, developing ideas, and finishing projects.

Track Compositing Keyboard Shortcuts

Pro Tools 2018 brought a powerful combination of keyboard shortcuts to help streamline track comping workflows. While not all of the following keyboard shortcuts are new, we have included them all here for the sake of completion.

With Pro Tools 2018 you can now build a Target Playlist of the best performances from multiple playlists whilst in Waveform view. It’s ideal when working with grouped tracks, making playlist management and viewing much easier. You can also now cycle through different takes within a clip using the arrow keys for a quicker review.

Playlist Comping Enhancements

You can now comp from Waveform view and the send clip selections to a target playlist without having to switch into Playlist view. This makes it easier and faster to comp together the best takes while saving valuable screen real estate in Waveform view.  Even better is that this works on grouped tracks. If you have 4 takes of a drum kit recording, with say 8 tracks all grouped together, you can now audition the different takes from the Waveform view and select the best take or section of a take to go into the target playlist. All these new commands have also been ‘euconised’ so you can implement them from a Eucon control surface, like the Avid S6, S3, Artist Mix and the free Pro Tools Control app on the iPad.

Mixing UI Enhancements

With new EQ curve graphs on all Mix window channel strips in Pro Tools 2018, you can see how your settings and automation are impacting each track in real time, even those with multiple EQs including any 3rd party plug-ins that support this new feature. In addition, pre-fader sends and Automation lane view menu entries are now colour-coded, making them easier to distinguish. Pre-Fade sends are now coloured blue in the Edit and Mix windows whereas Automation lanes are coloured orange in the track view menu so you can see which lanes have automation on them without switching views. All of this makes it easier to see what is happening at a glance.

“Start Collaboration” File Menu Item

If you have got a session that you would like to work on with others, then with the new Start Collaboration feature in the File menu, Pro Tools 2018 will automatically save your current session, close it, and reopen it as a project in the cloud, with all tracks converted and ready to be shared. You can now more easily convert session files to project files and then invite collaborators via this new File menu item. You can also convert sessions to project files which will enable you to future-proof, collaborate and take advantage of revision history.

Flexible Licensing And Deployment

Pro Tools 2018 brings iLok Cloud Support to Pro Tools, which can enable you to choose to work iLok-free and reclaim an extra USB port or continue using your iLok as before. Make sure you have updated to the latest version of the iLok License Manager to take advantage of iLok Cloud and Network licenses, coming soon, once that feature is supported in Pro Tools.

You will need to move your Pro Tools license from your iLok into the iLok Cloud using the iLok License Manager, so make sure you have the latest version of the iLok License Manager before updating to Pro Tools 2018 if you want to use the iLok Cloud option.

Network Site Licensing will also be coming soon. With this option, you will be able to administer licenses to your enterprise, teams, or educational facility without needing to manage multiple iLoks or replace stolen ones. If you need Pro Tools for your post facility, broadcast enterprise, or educational institution, Network Licensing is due to be released soon. Then you will be able to purchase a multi-seat Pro Tools or Pro Tools HD Network Site License, which is a long overdue feature request from large organisations including post facilities and educational establishments.

 Pro Tools 12.8.3

2018 – Pro Tools 2018.3 – Avid continue their drive to improve Pro Tools with regular releases. Following their version number change, Pro Tools 2018.3 is a March 2018 release and is a bug fix release to try and pick up on the various bugs that have dogged some of us. there were bug fixes for control surfaces, fixing crashes and errors, Editing, Import, Installer, Key Commands, MIDI, Monitoring and UI/Dialogs.

There we are, that is up to date at the time of writing. I hope you have enjoyed this 5 part series on the History of Pro tools half as much as I did in putting it together.