What’s new in Pro Tools 10: Audiosuite Plugin Chains.
Audiosuite plugins have some great new features in Pro Tools 10.
First off, a little review! Audiosuite plugins are “offline” plugins in Pro Tools. Meaning, they don’t process audio in real-time like RTAS (Real-time Audiosuite) plugins. Instead of inserting Audiosuite plugins on a track, you highlight an audio region (now called a clip) in the timeline, open up the Audiosuite plugin, and either audition or process the audio region. The bottom portion of an Audiosuite plugin looked like this, with options to preview, bypass, changing preview level, and process:
Up until now, you could open no more than one Audiosuite plugin at a time, and you could not use or save “chains” of Audiosuite plugins for a specific task.
That’s changed with Audiosuite plugins in Pro Tools 10. Now, by holding down the “Shift” key, you can click on and open multiple Audiosuite plugins. The keyboard shortcut also works for opening multiple RTAS plugin windows as well, by the way.
What this allows you to do is use multiple Audiosuite plugins, in series, to process a region. Used to be, you’d have to process the eq, then process with the compressor, without getting to audition them together at the same time as a chain. The old solution (for me at least) was to audition with an RTAS chain and then copy the settings in to Audiosuite plugins…which was a pain!
Ok, so we can have Audiosuite chains. The next new feature of Pro Tools 10 is the ability to save and recall these chains, as well as the settings of the plugins. This is a pretty useful addition, and it is implemented using an already familiar feature of Pro Tools–Window Configurations. A Window Configuration in Pro Tools simply allows you to save the layout (the configuration) of windows in the interface. This could be the size and position of the Mix and Edit windows, the transport, RTAS plugin windows, etc. The new addition is the ability of the Window Configuration to recall Audiosuite plugins and their settings. So, for instance, you could save a configuration for your vocal effects chain for the chorus of a track, and recall it easily. Simply open up the Audiosuite plugins, set them the way you want, and create a new configuration from under the Window menu, or by using the keycommand (on the numeric keypad): period(.) + the configuration number you’d like to use + plus(+).
The keyboard shortcut for recalling configurations is (on the numeric keypad): period(.) + the number of the configuration + asterisk(*).
These configurations can be exported from one session into another, so you can migrate your favorite Audiosuite plugin chains between sessions. You’ve long been able to do this with RTAS chains using Import Session Data. It’s nice to see the functionality extend into the world of offline processing. I’m imagining this feature will get a great deal of use in post production.
The last new feature of Audiosuite plugins in Pro Tools 10 has to do with the way in which they render your audio clips. At the bottom right of each plugin is this dialogue box:
From here, you can choose to render the entire parent file for the clip (include the portions of the clip that you are not looking at), by pressing the “Whole File” button. Perhaps even more useful, is the ability to render “handles” to the clip. Meaning, you can process a defined range of audio on either side of the clip boundary, so if you decide to trim the clip later, you can actually reveal processed audio. In the old Audiosuite process, once you rendered a region with an Audiosuite plugin, you had a new region that’s boundaries were set–you could hide portions of the region, but you could never trim them out to reveal more audio than what you actually processed, if that makes sense. You can set the length of these Audiosuite handles from each individual plugin (the above picture has a 2 second handle), or by setting a default from the preferences in Pro Tools, under the Processing tab.
You may have seen the “handles” feature before, if you have ever used the Compact option in the Regions List.
In closing, keep in mind that this new Audiosuite processing is independent of both clip-based gain settings, and real-time fades. In previous versions of Pro Tools, rendering a region/clip with an Audiosuite plugin would also write your fades into the region. As fades are now real-time in Pro Tools 10, this is no longer an issue. That means no more Fades folder to keep track of!
Stay tuned for more Pro Tools 10 tutorials!