What to do when Pro Tools reports that files have gone missing? Find out in this month's invaluable assortment of tips and tricks.
How many times have you opened a Pro Tools Session to be greeted with the 'Missing Files' window?
Pro Tools will throw this window up if any files have been moved since the Session was last opened, as the Session file remembers the path to each file, so it often appears when you have moved a Session from one drive to another. Sometimes you find that you have audio files spread across more than one drive, and you want to be able to bring them back together.
The most obvious way of sorting out missing files is to use Force Relinking. Providing the files are on your system somewhere, setting the Missing Files window to automatically relink should find all of them, but it doesn't always do so — in which case you need to give it a helping hand. The same applies if you want to repatriate any errant files from another drive into the main Session folder.
In either case, open the Session and, if necessary, skip the 'automatic find' option in the Missing Files window. Once the Session opens, there may be, of course, a number of sky‑blue Regions denoting media that Pro Tools can't find. Go into the Window menu and select Project Browser. In the Project Browser, go into the Session's Audio Files folder and select an audio file you want Pro Tools to relink. Go into the Toolbox menu and select Relink: this will put the file into the Relink window.
Now open the Workspace Browser from the Window menu and find the file you would like Pro Tools to link to. Drag that file into the Candidates section of the Relink window (see the screen grab, right — and notice that, in this case, although the file name has changed, the Unique ID is the same). Click on the Relink button to the left of the file in the Candidates section and then on the Commit button at the top of the Relink window. Confirm that you want to complete the relink, the file will be relinked, and very quickly the blue Regions relating to that audio file will regain their normal look.
If the file you relinked was not inside the Session folder, or you just want to put all the files into your main Audio Files folder, you might want to consider a final step to fix that. In the Project Browser, select the relinked file, and select Copy and Relink from the Toolbox menu. Pro Tools will then ask you where you want to put the copied file and will offer the main Audio Files folder as a default, which will almost certainly be where you want it. Pro Tools will then make a copy of the audio file within the Session's Audio Files folder and link to that copy rather than the original file somewhere else on the system.
It is always safer to have all your audio files inside the Session's Audio Files folder, and the Save Session Copy command in Pro Tools is great for when you want to hoover up all the files associated with a Session, wherever they may be on your system, collect them together and create a fresh Session folder on another drive — perhaps to back it up or pass the Session on to a colleague.
Go into the File menu and select Save Copy In…. The Save Session Copy setup window will open. Here you can set the file format, bit depth and sample rate of the duplicate Session, which normally would be the same as the original Session. The lower section is where you can determine what will be copied into your fresh Session folder: you can specify not only audio files but also plug‑in setting folders and video files, to make transporting a Session as smooth as possible. Once you are happy with the settings, click OK and you will be presented with a normal file navigation window to choose where on your system you want to save your fresh Session folder.
To change the subject more than a little, if you have ever read any of my reviews of Pro Tools plug‑ins, you will know that I have an issue with plug‑ins, knobs and mice. I just don't get having a GUI that uses knobs. Which way do you move the mouse — up and down, side to side, in a circle? It's not clear, and to me, a slider is much more intuitive when using a mouse.
So this got me wondering whether one could use the mouse scroll wheel to adjust plug‑in parameters. So I opened up a Session and tried a few plug‑ins in my plug‑in folder to see what support there was. About half of the plug‑ins on my system work — in other words, when you hover the pointer over the control and roll the scroll wheel, the knob turns. The following manufacturers 'play nice':
- Digidesign (AIR plug‑ins)
These manufacturers, on the other hand, don't:
- Digidesign (Digirack plug‑ins)
- TL Labs
- Sony Oxford
- TC Electronic
I was very surprised at the companies that do and don't provide this feature. Come on Digidesign (sorry, Avid Audio): you have developed the code to put scroll-wheel support in your AIR plug‑ins, so why not all your other ones too?
For those of you just starting out with Pro Tools, here are some basic keyboard shortcuts to get you going.
- Use Command-E (Windows: Ctrl-E) to divide Regions at the cursor position, or separate a selection as a Region in its own right.
- Use Command-T (Windows: Ctrl-T) to delete everything else around a selection as far as the next Region boundaries — great for when you want just one clip from a larger Region.
- Shift-Tab highlights from the cursor position to the next Region boundary to the right.
- Alt-Shift-Tab highlights from the cursor position to the previous Region boundary to the left.
- Return takes the cursor back to the beginning of the Session.
- Shift-Return highlights from the current cursor position back to the beginning of the Session.
- Alt-Return takes the cursor to the end of the Session. This is great for checking the duration of the Session.
- Alt-Shift-Return highlights from the current cursor position to the end of the Session.
For more tips on shortcuts, look at the following previous articles in Sound On Sound:
- Hidden keyboard shortcuts in Pro Tools (September 2005): /sos/sep05/articles/keypoints.htm
- Using the Keyboard Focus shortcuts in Pro Tools (June 2005): /sos/jun05/articles/protoolsworkshop.htm
- Create your own Pro Tools shortcuts and macros (May 2008): /sos/may08/articles/ptworkshop_0508.htm
Soon after I upgraded to Pro Tools 8, I was doing some editing and it was taking longer and longer for Pro Tools to complete the Separate Region command. Eventually, Pro Tools simply hung, leaving me with the spinning wheel of death. The only way out was to Force Quit, but that often left the machine in a fragile state.
So I battled on, trying not to use the Command-E shortcut. It appeared to be the only problem, and it didn't matter whether I used Command-E or pressed 'B' with the Keyboard Focus on. After the client had left, I eventually traced it down to the 'Separate Region Operates On All Related Takes' preference setting in the Editing tab of the Pro Tools Preferences window. With this selected Pro Tools, tries to put an edit in all related Regions, and if you haven't restricted the range of the related takes, this list will probably include most Regions in your Session! Once this option was turned off, sanity returned to my world of Pro Tools.