Film Composers Love Avid Pro Tools - Top 5 Reasons why

I'm not a composer or even a musician. But I've got loads of friends who are, and boy they are in love with Avid Pro Tools!

Working with Avid, I was curious what they liked about it and I've compiled the their thoughts into five reasons to help streamline thoughts and help convince those who are thinking about getting Avid Pro Tools. All I can say is... you won't regret it.

1: Independence of the Grid

It's easy to set up grids to a certain value. One could be focused on quarter notes. While the other is different. For those who are constantly needing to make one track after the other in rapid session, this is a MUST! And I've been told constantly that very few other DAWs have this ability.

2: Your Timeline

I work in film. Music for film is important to help tell the story. Thus it's much different than composing something for your band or something personal. And Avid Pro Tools knows this giving your tons of different work spaces best suited for your specific needs.

Timing is key for film composing. Pro Tools has allowed you to sync up the footage with your music so you know what cues are where, which helps people like me along with the composer. It's a win / win.

Setting your “Bar 1/Song Start” in the middle of a video clip in Pro Tools without having to edit/trim the video? Three clicks (maybe two, if you have a macro shortcut). Doing this same task in any other DAW? Welp… the milk I left out on my kitchen counter probably expired by the time I figured it out.

Hal Rosenfeld in Audio Post, Music Creation, Pro Mixing

Changing and modifying is easy too. Things always change in this business. Thus the first draft is rarely what is heard on screen. But Avid Pro Tools can let you get rid of entire bar sections with a simple click. Adding time, cutting it, shortening it... easy peasy.

3: Automation? No problem.

Composers love editing with multiple automation lines. One can even save a custom layout. Avid Pro Tools color matches the MIDI even if in a separate line. Then it plays them back with no glitches and no stutters.

4: Importing and Matching

I've heard some people call this live saving. When composing for a film, time is tight.

Something that media composers do to enhance their hastened workflow is compose suites, themes, and ideas that can be referenced, pulled from, and rearranged as those particular scenes come up in a project (for example: a love theme, or motif for two of our main characters.)

Hal Rosenfeld in Audio Post, Music Creation, Pro Mixing

IMPORT SESSION DATA and MATCH TRACKS is one way to save loads of time for any composer. Bringing in work already done is now super easy. Yet you can still change things and manipulate them as a whole separate track.

5: MIDI & Audio together

MIDI is important. Avid Pro Tools knows this and treats MIDI like audio. The same tools are all in play here. Here are some I've heard brought up many times.

  • Tab to Transient
  • TCE Tool (time stretching)
  • Consolidate
  • Pencil Tool
  • Chopping

BONUS: Keys

I asked a few composers for some keys commands they use a lot and compiled a list for you.

↑/↓ to move a MIDI note up or down by a semi-tone,

shift+↑/↓ to jump up/down octave,

control+↑/↓ to move diatonically in the key to which your session is set to,

option/alt+↑/↓ to duplicate a note up/down a semi-tone, and

control+option/alt+↑/↓ to duplicate a note up/down diatonically.

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