PT8 Sneak Peak in Durham

Posted by Rick Burnett on December 12th, 2008 filed in General News

So today I got the opportunity to get a sneak-peak of ProTools 8 in Durham, NC at the Pure Sound studios. It was an event put on by both Pure Sound and Digidesign.

I have to say, the guy running it whom I believe was named [B]Gil[/B] was incredibly knowledgeable about the software. Something I am definitely not used to, so it was a big breathe of fresh air.

I am an LE user. Most of my questions and concerns were related to my desires for LE and not HD at this time. Not that I wouldn’t consider HD, but at the moment, it’s more than I need for what I am doing.

First and foremost, PT8 in the GUI department is amazing. I am a very heavy user of Logic, Digital Performer, Sound Track Pro and a bit of Abelton Live. Up until today, Logic had been my favorite interface. From what I saw of the PT8 interface, it was very well thought out and REALLY focuses on allowing the user to have what they want. I like a very dark interface since my studio is dark and PT can do this. (I wish the background of the tracks could be made darker as well, but this feature is not there. Maybe in the future this will be a welcome change as well).

I happen to like the universe window as this is a feature in Sound Track Pro I used when doing post work to quickly move around a very large project. The fact that it is a docked window in LE makes it very easy to use.

In addition, other GUI changes are different ways and options for displaying waveform data. I will definitely be putting the waveform outlines on. Also, you can show rms power instead of just peak power in the display of the waveforms. To go even further, earlier versions of PT would represent the audio data as 8-bit waveforms in the GUI. This has now been increased to 16-bit and allows for better operation with ‘tab to transient’ and other visual issues when looking at waveform data with minute detail in it.

Given I am a recent switch from DP & Logic for post work, I did not notice all the minute changes in button and menu placements, suffice to say, there has been re-arrangements. To me they new locations were just as good as the old locations since I am not used to them yet.

Also, the inserts have been increased to 10 for the LE version. Nice.

Out of the box, you can use 48 mono OR stereo tracks total. If you have the DV Toolkit 2 or the Music Production Toolkit, you can do 64 tracks mono OR stereo. If you have the Total Production Toolkit (which is what I am going to upgrade my DV Toolkit 2) you get still 64-stereo tracks, however, you can have up to 128 mono tracks. Since I do a lot of separate dialog tracks, this is GREAT.

For HD users they showed the satellite capabilities between LE and HD, and talked about HD to HD. With LE and HD, you can sync an LE session running just video for you to an HD system where you are doing the audio. This is to relieve the HD system from having to deal with showing video. I was disappointed they didn’t have an LE to LE version of this as I would definitely set up a second system just to show video. I of course told them I would like to see this in the future since it’s not free even for HD users.

For HD people, you can also satellite connect up to 5 HD systems together to be time synced, or, there were options for syncing to an Avid system. I wasn’t so interested in these, but thought they were important none the less.

They showed a bunch of new instruments for the base PT8 software. The piano sounded nice. The organ sounded noisy to me, but I’d have to play with it myself. The effects were nice. Most of them I felt were not as powerful as the synths/effects you get with DP or Logic. How I WISH I could take my synths out of DP and Logic and use them in PT. I love things like Sculpture, but I digress. The new electronic drum VI was neat, but I didn’t see things like export midi pattern to file like plugins of the microtonic nature have. I use this feature all the time. Some nicer stuff comes with the add on packages, but, they are quite expensive. I felt PT8 still was lacking compared to DP and L8 in these regards.

There was time and pitch warping now available on a per region basis (I believe they had time warping before, but not pitch). Was pretty neat. Someone in the audience asked if Digi would buy Melodyne so they could incorporate it into PT. I couldn’t agree more. I own Melodyne and love it, but I am sick of recording into the plug!

The MIDI editor window was nice. If I was to rate it, I would say it is now nicer than the DP editor but for me still not as nice as Logic. This, I will say, is most definitely a personal opinion as I know many people like DP better than Logic in the midi editing department. Regardless, the midi editor is a HUGE step forward for ProTools. I could see working in it and not getting frustrated. It’s well thought out and Digi should get a big pat on the back for a job well done!

One thing that did disturb me is some of the pop up dialogs are white. Some of the pop ups are dark grey. I think they should ALL be dark gray.

One of the most welcome additions for me is the automation lanes. This is something that both Logic and Sound Track Pro have. When you have five different types of automation, this is just awesome. I am glad it is here because I use a lot of automation in post work.

As a side note, grids are seen through regions when editing. This is very nice as well for alignment type things.

The comping feature was not as nice as Logic to me. In Logic, when you want to test out different combinations of audio from different takes, you can just drag and highlight and it creates this temporary sound file with the different parts. It’s MUCH faster and allows easy simple tweaking or testing without having to remember the four finger command to promote a section of audio to the comp playlist that you created. Given how PT works, this may not be possible, but it IS vastly superior for speed. I also am not sure if you can comp with midi, but given midi is treated as regions, it’s probably possible.

Let me take a moment to say that I am truly impressed with PT8. The next complaints are not going to keep me from using it, but I hope that Digi will address these in the future because I think they are VERY important and other DAWs are already light years ahead on these things:

(1) Automatic Delay Compensation. I think this one goes without saying.

(2) Support for Multiple DIGI hardware. I should be able to buy 2 003 Racks and use them together. Logic, DP and Soundtrack Pro have no problem using my multiple interfaces. Some people absolutely do not need the power of an HD system and it would be sad to not fill this huge hole between LE and HD systems.

(3) Faster Bounce to disk for LE system, not just realtime.

That’s it. My lists for things I think DP, Logic and STP should have in them go on and on. I eagerly await the download link in my email. I’ll agree and say this [B]looks[/B] like the best version of PT ever.

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