Ten Myths About Pro Tools for Voiceover: Why They’re Myths.

By C. Steve | May 26, 2009

It’s my belief that a lot of voice actors actually fear Digidesign’s Pro Tools for recording and editing voiceovers. Often, VO artists have taken one look over some engineer’s shoulder and muttered “Nope, that’s not for me, it’s too (fill in the blank).”ProTools8

No wonder — the engineer is probably focused on how many whizzy-cool features s/he can invoke per second, and this can be give the talent a false impression. So here are the top ten objections to Pro Tools and my response to each.

1. It’s too complicated.

The trick is to identify exactly what you need to use to get your job done, and nothing more. Open a new session, create one mono audio track, arm the track, and hit record. That’s not complicated, is it? ‘Cause that’s about it.

2. Pro Tools is hard to learn.

Once you’ve mastered about twelve commands in Pro Tools, you’ll have all the tools you need to perform useful VO work. The default values for most functions are appropriate for VO, and you can just leave the rest alone. I’ve taught folks from 14 to 70 how to use Pro Tools… you can do this.

3. Pro Tools is overkill for voiceover work.

After twenty years of development, Digi has streamlined the basic workflow to be fast and easy, and isn’t that what you want? How many other companies have even been around for that long?

3. It’s expensive to buy.

That was true at one time, but it’s not today. How does under $300 sound, ready to go, including a good mic pre plus the software, plug-ins, and a USB audio interface? Price the alternatives, and get back to me on that one.

4. It’s expensive to upgrade.ProToolsEditWindow

The major upgrades cost $75 each for the LE software (upgrade to v8 is $150), and they occur about once a year. Minor updates are free. Meanwhile every upgrade includes at least one time-saver, and makes the software work better. By the way, an upgrade for Sound Forge from Sony is $135. Pro Tools doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

5. It has features I’ll never need.

That’s correct, and you don’t have to use those features. But they won’t slow you down, either. Just move along folks, nothing to see here.

6. I can’t figure it out by myself.

You don’t have to. There’s an enormous online community to help you, and one of the best places is in the Digidesign User Conference, or DUC. The company publishes its own DVDs and textbooks — visit the Store and look for Training and Materials. They also have the best of third party books and DVDs.

7. It won’t run on my computer.

Yes, there are some minimum requirements for your computer. You can find them on the company’s website, under Support & Downloads. But the fact is that if you computer won’t run some recent version of Pro Tools, then it’s likely it won’t run other current audio software well, either. And we are talking about your tools-of-the-trade here… if you’re making money with your tools, don’t you want the best tools you can afford?

8. I have a PC, not a Mac.

Pro Tools runs on both. In fact, Digidesign is owned by Avid, which in turn is about 40% owned by Intel. Much of the development of PT software is done on Intel machines running Windows (but don’t spread that around too much… makes Gates muy nervioso).

9. I don’t know where to get help when I have a problem.

Talk to an audio engineer… just about any audio engineer. Because there are some 200,000 working PT systems out there, in nearly every country on earth, and each comes with somebody who knows how to run PT. Besides, I’m not the only guy out there who is available to help you… Google is your friend.

10. Pro Tools is for big recording studios, run by audio geeks, and the company is the spawn of Satan.

You haven’t read the first nine myths, have you? Sorry, can’t help you with the last one, but I’ve yet to meet a Digi employee with horns. Anyway, don’t hate them because they’re successful… you want to be successful, don’t you?


PS: I don’t work for Digidesign. Once in a great while I too think they actually may be the spawn of Satan. But I do use their software several times a week, and more than any other. Fact is, I rather like Pro Tools 8.

PPS: If you’re happy with your AudacityAuditionCoolEditForgeVegasWhatever, clap your hands. Feel free to continue to use them, and please don’t construe any my comments as an invitation to flame. Homie don’t play dat.

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Seagate publishes fixes for “bricked” drives — updated

By C. Steve | January 30, 2009

Seagate has now published firmware updates that will repair any of their drives that have failed. You can find out how to deal through Seagate support on their forum here. Or you can download the firmware as well as check the serial number of your drive to see if it’s affected right here.

For those of you on Mac computers, the folks at xlr8yourmac.com have published a helpful guide for dealing with 7200.11 Seagates on Macintoshes (since the Seagate fixes assume you’re using a PeeCee). You can find that information here.

Meanwhile, Seagate is now selling 7200.12 series hard drives. Hopefully these have firmware that doesn’t contain a time-bomb. We can go back to trusting them above all others, amen.

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Seagate stumbles

By C. Steve | January 15, 2009

Over the years, Seagate has produced some of the most reliable hard drives available. I have used nothing else for the past decade and a half.

However, gremlins have recently appeared in the firmware of some of the company’s high-capacity 7200.11 series SATA drives that turn them into bricks. Owners have posted their troubled experiences on Seagate’s forum and elsewhere on the web.seagate

To its credit, Seagate has acknowledged the problem, and has thusfar been quite willing to replace the bricked drives. Unfortunately some replacements contain the same firmware and suffer the same fate. While one assumes they can and will fix the problem, they are not proactively replacing them in the field. I’m reminded of IBM’s troubles with the Deskstar series (or, as we liked to call it, the Deathstar series). Those difficulties helped ultimately to drive IBM out of the hard drive business.

Until Seagate’s firmware issue is completely sorted and fixed drives arrive in the field in numbers, consumers would do well to avoid the larger-capacity Seagate SATA drives, and to stick with the 500 GB and smaller units. This has the added benefit of making backup easier – about the only thing that will backup a 1 TB drive is another 1 TB drive (or larger). Meanwhile Seagate still has a far better reputation for reliability than any other drive manufacturer, but this is troubling.

More at MacNN/Electronista here.

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Manage your Mac OSX system software updates

By C. Steve | July 3, 2008

The following is considered reckless heresy in some circles, but I believe this to be one of the absolute truths about using computers whether they be Macs or PeeCees:

If you use your computer to make money, and particularly if that involves recording audio or video, turn off all automatic software updates. Make sure YOU decide when to update your Operating System software, and what parts of it should be updated or upgraded.

There, I’ve said it, and I firmly believe it. Several of my close friends are IT managers in medium-to-large companies, and they’re believe otherwise. They’re responsible for large numbers of computers including lots of mobile laptops, and as far as they’re concerned the majority of their computer users are bumbling noobs who need to be protected against Bad Stuff on the Internet. Hence their desire to make sure that every patch, update, and fix that becomes available gets applied to their users’ computers. I understand their thinking, but I disagree.

See, I believe that if you’re reading this then you probably use your computer to make money with audio or video. Furthermore, you need your computer to be above all reliable, because you never know when you’ll need to submit that demo or audition that will pay this month’s rent. A reliable computer is a computer whose software collection stays the same from day to day. Once it works, the only sure way to keep it working is to avoid changing it, especially on the say-so of developers who don’t test their patches, updates, and fixes on the software you and I use on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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PT 7.4.2 for Leopard Released

By C. Steve | June 23, 2008

In case you missed it, Digidesign last week released fully-approved Leopard versions of Pro Tools in all three flavors: TDM, LE, and M-Powered. This is not the pre-release version mentioned a few weeks ago, but a full-on, no-excuses update.

Please note that this update requires that the recent Mac OS 10.5.3 (or 10.5.4) update be installed before installing PT 7.4.2. Also note that this is a free upgrade — you don’t have to pay for it.

There are no new features in this update. In fact, it’s likely that some of your plug-ins won’t work under Leopard just now. This update will only be important to those who must run Leopard, either because they like to live dangerously, or (more likely) because they bought a new Mac that only came with Leopard and refused be downgraded to Tiger (10.4). Those folks were well and truly stuck.

In any case, here’s the official announcement: Pro Tools 7.4.2 Download for Mac OS X 10.5.3 Leopard.

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Pro Tools Pre-release Available for Leopard

By C. Steve | May 30, 2008

PT 7.4 logoWell now, that was quick. No sooner had I posted about Digidesign’s progress with OS X 10.5 (Leopard) than the company released Leopard-compatible versions of all three flavors of Pro Tools version 7.4.2pr for download. The pr stands for pre-release, and that tells me it’s not a good idea to put this software on a “money machine” that needs to be completely reliable, all of the time. Of course the same could be said for Leopard, but now that it’s in its fourth iteration I might be ready to install it. Maybe.

But if you’re running Leopard then there’s no longer any reason not to try out Pro Tools in a non-mission critical environment. Just don’t load it on a machine and try to record an audition that has to reach your agent today. You’ll probably be sorry, and I don’t want to hear about it. Here’s the link:

Pro Tools Pre-release Available for Mac OS X Leopard Users

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Pro Tools is okay for OSX 10.5.3 — well, almost

By C. Steve | May 28, 2008

[Updated 8-30-08] There are now pre-release versions of HD, LE, and M-Powered for Leopard on Digi’s website.

In what has to be one of the more cryptic technical documents to ever emerge from a tech company, Digidesign today stated that Pro Tools is in its final testing stages running on Mac OSX 10.5.3. The missive goes on to say that so-called pre-release versions of Pro Tools 7.4 are right around the corner. “As a convenience for our customers who may wish to begin their transition to Apple’s latest Leopard release as soon as possible, pre-release versions of Pro Tools 7.4.2 will be made available in the next few days.”

What Digi doesn’t say is whether all three versions of Pro Tools — HD, LE, and M-Powered — will actually work on 10.5.3. Given the fact that only the HD version has worked on Leopard (aka 10.5.x) over the past few months, one might be forgiven some skepticism. Guess we’ll see.

Read it for yourself.

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The Option key in iTunes

By C. Steve | May 27, 2008

Many of you already know how to convert audio files from one format to another using Apple’s free iTunes software. What you may not know is how the Option key can free you from the tyranny of the iTunes Library folder.
The Advanced Tab in iTunes preferences.

For example, to convert a .WAV audition file for email, you have to copy the file to your iTunes Library, select it, then hit the Advanced menu to select “Convert Selection to xx,” where xx is the compressed format you chose in Preferences. iTunes stores the converted file in your iTunes Music folder, where you then have to go to fetch it. That’s a drag.

The Option key can eliminate that copying and fetching. You can pick any audio file on your hard drive, and choose any location to store the converted file. The process will still leave the file listed in your iTunes Library, but that’s simple enough to delete, and your iTunes Music folder will remain uncluttered. Read the rest of this entry »

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Half a Leopard for Pro Tools

By C. Steve | April 26, 2008

Those who cut audio in Pro Tools and are waiting for Digidesign to qualify Mac OSX 10.5 so they can upgrade their computers got half a green light today. Digidesign announced that Pro Tools HD version 7.4.1 runs okey-dokey under 10.5.1 (but not 10.5.2).

However, their LE and M-Powered products are still not kosher for 10.5, and there’s no estimate on when they will be parve. For those of us who manage multiple systems, that means we’ll wait… one OS version I can manage across several machines, but two is more trouble than it’s worth.

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From the DUC: Access violation. What is it and why do i get it?

By C. Steve | December 13, 2007

More than once since I upgraded to Pro Tools LE version 7.4, I find I am unable to save and quit due to something called an Access Violation. The only remedy is to perform a Save As, saving the session file with a different name. Occasionally even that doesn’t work, and I have to quit without saving. Distressing, to be sure.

I don’t understand why this happens, and Digidesign isn’t certain either. The most likely cause is an out-of-date plug-in or part of the PT application trying to access some memory location that is not available or just flat doesn’t exist.

The good news is that Digidesign feels our pain. Seems that instead of just quitting when this happens (as pre-7.4 versions did), PT now logs the error state, and you’re supposed to send the finished log to Digi. Meanwhile, look for outdated plugs, corrupted fonts, and other system errors.

The entire post can be found on the DUC here.

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