When should you Commit your audio, and when should you Freeze it?
Nowadays, most Pro Tools users have systems that are powerful enough to handle all but the most demanding tasks in real time. We take this for granted until there is a reason why we might want to render the results of our real‑time processing. At this point, we encounter a number of overlapping features in Pro Tools, all of which seem to achieve this. What are they, how do they differ, and when would each option be the most appropriate? In this workshop, we look at Freeze and Commit.
The act of rendering processing choices long pre‑dates digital recording. In the analogue days, tracking through outboard was standard practice, because hardware outboard units could only be on one track or aux at once. To apply the same compressor to multiple sources, you would have to print the results to tape. This restriction was lifted with the introduction of plug‑ins, but in the early days of DAW recording, there were limits on how many plug‑in instances a given system could host. This is the origin of the freeze function in DAWs.
Track Freeze was introduced to Pro Tools at the end of 2015 with Pro Tools 12.4. Like the other features highlighted in this article, it renders tracks in Pro Tools to audio files on disk, but the particular focus of this feature is to quickly ‘flatten’ or print effects and other track parameters, for the purpose of freeing up computer resources for use elsewhere.
When you freeze a track, plug‑ins, virtual instruments, Elastic Audio, clip gain, effects and HEAT are all rendered but mixer parameters such as volume, pan and sends aren’t. There are alternative ways of achieving the same result in Pro Tools, but the strength of Track Freeze is that it is easily reversible: you can simply unfreeze a track, make changes and re‑freeze it.
To freeze a track, simply click the snowflake button in the track header (if your track height is too small you won’t see it, but you can also access it from the right‑click contextual menu). In this menu you’ll also see a Freeze Up To This Insert option, which can be useful if you wish to freeze up to a point in the processing chain but continue to work on some of the plug‑ins. Auxiliary inputs can be frozen, which can free up resources when they are hosting effects, but Master Faders can’t be.
The power of Track Freeze is the convenience with which it can be toggled on or off. If you have frozen a track up to an insert from the contextual menu and are wondering how to un‑freeze, just...
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