Audio Production

Quick Tip: 4 Pro Tools Functions You Need to Know


Plugin 'Automation enable' shortcut, 'Tab to transient', 'Quick Punch record' and 'inserts are post Master fader' are four fundamental functions within Pro Tools. For experienced users these four things will probably be old news, but the amount of new users I come across who aren't aware of them astounds me.

Plugin Automation Enable

Automating Plugin parameters is a really simple task within Pro Tools. Most users go through the plugin automation window.

This isn't a very quick way to do it as (in the case of this example) you have to search through heaps of different parameters to find the one you wish to use. There is an easier way...

Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Command and directly select the parameter on the plugin GUI with a left mouse click. A window will pop open as shown in the screen shot below.

Select 'enable Automation for "xxx"' and the little green light will glow underneath the selected parameter. Now put your track into write, latch or touch mode, press play and start automating.

Tab to Transient

Probably one of the most under-utilised features in Pro Tools! It delivers what it promises, when you place the cursor in a track and press the 'tab' key, the cursor will jump to the next transient. This is a fundamental function in drum editing. First of all activate the 'tab to transient' function.

Then place your cursor, and tab away!

Quick Punch Record

Quick punch record is yet another priceless function. I know that just about every DAW has this function, but I am surprised by the amount of new users who aren't aware of its existance. Either choose it from the options menu:

Right click on the record arm button and choose it from the drop down menu:

Or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Command+P. Once engaged you will see a little P on the record arm button, this means you are good to go. Place your cursor a few bars before where you want to record and press play. When you get to the spot that you want to punch in, press 3 on the numerical pad. You can also press 3 on the numerical pad to punch out.

Are Your Inserts Pre or Post Fader?

This is a question I get a lot. The answer is, inserts are pre fader on audio, aux, and instrument tracks, but post fader on a Master track. This is very important when considering using your master volume fader to fade out a song. If you have a compressor on the Master fader, as the fader 'fades' out it will be reducing the level of signal going into the compressor, thereby reducing the amount of compression on the stereo bus signal. Keep that in mind next time you fade out your song! One way around this is to place a 'Trim' plugin on the master fader after your other plugins.

Then automate the level on the trim to fade out. Disaster averted!

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