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How to Get the Most From the Transport Window in Pro Tools

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Introduction

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use the Transport Window and how make the most out of it for a session.

The Transport Window allows you to control the playback, tempo, time signature and many other options that are useful in setting up a session. The Transport Window can determine the tempo of a song, as well.

The Basics

To open the Transport Window either use the shortcut Ctrl-1 or go the Window menu and select Transport. You'll see a number of options on the Transport Window that change the way that you work on the session.

When you open the Transport Window, you choose between the Minimal version, Expanded version or All. The minimal version contains only the basic information that might be useful for you; the expanded version contains all the options that are available in the Transport Window.

The Transport Window In Pro Tools
The Transport Window In Pro Tools

The Online button is an option that you can use to trigger recording and playback through another device or a time-code source. You can use this to connect a MIDI keyboard or other equipment that can support the Transport functions.

The Return to Zero option gets you to the beginning of the session very quickly. Use the Enter key to go to the beginning of the session. Secondary-click on this to access the Automation options Write to Start and Write to All.

The Rewind button rewinds the playback head by a certain value. Click on the Rewind button and you'll rewind by one second if the Main Time Scale is set to Min: Secs. When the Time Scale is Timecode, the playback head moves back by one frame. 

For Bars & Beats, the playback head moves by one bar. For Feet & Frames, it moves by one foot. You can also use the shortcut 1 on the numeric keypad to rewind the playback.

The Fast Forward button works the similar way moving the playback head forward. The range of movement depends on the Main Time Scale. Use the shortcut 2 on the numeric keypad to fast forward.

Go to End takes the playback head to the end of the session. Secondary-click this to access the Automation options that are available for the session. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl-Enter to move towards the end of the session.

Stop & Play starts and stops the playback. Use the Spacebar to control this option. The Play button also has a few options in its secondary-click context menu. Here, choose the playback settings such as Half-Speed, Loop, Prime for Playback and Dynamic Transport.

Half-Speed playback helps in synchronising dub voices to the video very easily. You can easily see the lip movement of the video along with the audio recorded and match accordingly. Use the shortcut Shift-Space to playback the audio in half speed

Loop plays the selection in a loop. Use this for recording a specific part and use the Playlist to choose the best one. The selected area will keep on playing and the recorded audio will be available to you in the playlist of the track. This is especially useful when recording a piece that is difficult for the artist. You can comp the playlist and select the best ones out of it. Use the shortcut Start-Click to select between Loop playback and normal playback.

Record is one of the most important options in Pro Tools. Clicking this button will arm Pro Tools for recording. If you press Spacebar after clicking on the Record button, the tracks that have Record Enable activated start recording.

Secondary-click on the Record button to access options such as Normal, Loop, Destructive, Quick Punch, Track Punch or Destructive Punch. Start-Click cycles through the options that are available for the Record button.

There are many shortcuts available to start recording, such as Ctrl-Space, 3 (on the numeric keypad) or F12.

The Track Record Enable Indicator lights up in red if any of the tracks in the session are Record Enabled. The Track Input Monitor lights up in green if any of the tracks have Input Monitoring enabled. Use the shortcut Alt-K to cycle this option.

Indicators

Pre-Roll plays the audio a little before the playback position. This gives the artist a bit of time to prepare and get ready for the recording. Set the value here by manually typing the length of time that is required for the artist. The recording will start after the Pre-Roll time has elapsed.

Post-Roll plays the track a few more seconds after the recording has stopped. This is very helpful if the sustain of the track that you recorded needs to be adjusted. Adjust the clip length to provide an easier transition.

Start specifies the position of the selection that you made. By default, this value is the place where the playback head rests. Adjust this value by either typing in the value manually or by dragging the playback head.

End shows you the value of the end of the selection that you made. Adjust this value by manually typing in the value or dragging the playback head.

Length specifies the length of the selection. The value here depends on the Main Time Scale that is used. If you are using the Bars & Beats view, you'll see the length in Bars & Beats. If you set the Main Time Scale to Min: Secs, the length of the selection is shown in minutes and seconds.

MIDI Controls

MIDI Controls provide a variety of options that can help you to make your recording and editing very easy. In this area, you can set the tempo of the session, change the time signature, activate the metronome and many more.

Wait for Note will start the recording only after Pro Tools receives a MIDI input. This is very useful when recording MIDI tracks, you can prepare yourself and the recording will start only after you input any MIDI information. The recording will start exactly at the position that you placed the playback head.

Metronome activates the click track in the session if you have made a click track. Configure the metronome settings in the Click/Countoff dialog box. Press 7 on the numeric keypad to activate and deactivate the metronome.

Count Off will give you a specific measure given in the Count Off value. Recording or playback will start only after the Count Off has completed. This gives you time to get prepared to record and give you an idea of the tempo of the session. The shortcut for Count Off is on the numeric keypad.

MIDI Merge allows you to record MIDI data over the data that is already on the MIDI track. Use this option to add extra notes to the track that you have already recorded. If this option disabled the MIDI data that you record on top of the already recorded track will replace the previously recorded MIDI data. The shortcut for MIDI Merge is on the numeric keypad.

Tempo Ruler makes the tempo of the session according to the value specified in the Tempo ruler. If this option is disabled, you can manually type in the tempo of the session and that will be the universal tempo of the session.

Tap in the tempo by clicking on the Tempo value and tap T on the keyboard according to the tempo that you desire. This sets the tempo of the session according to the beat that you typed.

This method is very useful when you're not sure about the tempo of a track. Play the track and tap on the keyboard to find out the tempo. Then adjust the tempo manually to fit the track.

Current Meter shows the time signature that is set for the session. Double-click on this value to change it to another time signature that you desire.

Current Tempo displays the tempo of the session. Change it by manually typing in the BPM (Beats Per Minute) or by tapping T on the keyboard.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I showed you how to set the Transport window for Pro Tools. In this you can control the playback, adjust the session’s tempo and time signature using the Transport window.

The next time you're working on a project, en sure that you use all the functionalities that are provided by the Transport window to work efficiently and effectively.

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