Pro Tools 12.5 lets you collaborate remotely with other users. Here’s how to get started.
One of the most ambitious promises Avid made in the initial launch of Pro Tools 12 was to introduce a set of features that would enable remote collaboration over the Internet. With the recent release of Pro Tools 12.5, those features are now available to all users. So how do they work?
The first thing to be aware of is that you need to have a current Pro Tools upgrade plan to get Pro Tools 12.5, and you need Pro Tools 12.5 to access these new cloud collaboration features. Once you have 12.5 up and running, the next step is to create a user account for cloud collaboration. You will find a new Sign In option at the bottom of the File menu: click on that and you can sign into your Avid account with your email address and password associated with your Avid Master Account.
Before you can start to collaborate, you will need to set up a profile. This will pull some data from your Avid Master Account, so you don’t have to type absolutely everything in. You will need to create a Display Name, so consider what you would like to be known as in the Avid Artist Community and enter that in the Display Name box. If you ever need to update your profile, perhaps because you have moved or you want to add additional information, click on your name in the top right-hand corner of the Artist Chat window and update as appropriate.
The Dashboard was new in Pro Tools 12, and has changed further in Pro Tools 12.5. The first thing you will notice is the addition of a Project tab to the original Create and Recent tabs; and within the Create tab, you can now create either a Project or a Session.
The Session is the format we have been used to in Pro Tools for years. It is stored locally on your system, and you cannot collaborate online from within a Session. A Project is very similar to a Session, and can be created from an existing template if you like; all the same options are available including bit depth, sample rate and so on, but the key difference is that a Project lives in the cloud rather than locally. Avid introduced this format in Pro Tools First, and its inclusion in Pro Tools 12.5 makes cloud collaboration possible.
When you are creating a Project in the Create tab, you will see how many Projects you can have and how many you have already created: 2/10, for instance, means that the Avid Cloud Collaboration plan you are on offers up to 10 Projects, of which 2 have already been created. Check out the ‘How Much Does It Cost?’ box for details of the various pricing plans.
The new Projects tab displays not only your own Projects, but all the Projects that you are associated with. A dark icon with users overlaid shows that you are a collaborator in that Project but you do not ‘own’ it. Projects that you ‘own’ show up purple, and if others have collaborated on them, you’ll see those users overlaid.
If you want to collaborate on an existing Session with other people, you need to turn it into a Project. To do this, go into the File menu and select the familiar Save Session Copy In option. If you go into the Format drop-down menu at the top of the Save Session Copy In window you will see that as well as the Latest Version and options for other versions of Pro Tools, you will now see Project as an option in Pro Tools 12.5.
When you select this option, the Audio Files box will be ticked and greyed out in the Items To Copy section, ensuring that all audio files are copied across from the Session to the new Project. When you click OK, you will get the option to change the name, and when you have done that and clicked OK again, Pro Tools 12.5 will start to gather up all the media associated with the Session, just as Save Session Copy In has done in the past. The difference with a Project is that it puts everything associated with the Project into a local cache. The default location for the local cache is set to your boot drive, but it’s possible to change this in the Pro Tools 12.5 Preferences, in the bottom left-hand corner of the Operation tab. This choice, like most things in Pro Tools Preferences, is system-wide rather than Session- or Project-specific.
An alternative way to derive a Project from a Session is to create a new Project, then use the Import Session Data function to import audio from an existing Session into the new Project.
Once you’ve set up an account and created a Project, you’re all set to start collaborating cloudily. We’ll look at what happens next in next month’s workshop!
Avid offer three different collaboration plans. All Pro Tools users have access to the free plan, which allows you to have up to three Projects, using up to 500MB of storage space. This is more than it sounds: Avid are using the WavPack lossless compression system, which means that your Projects will take up between 30-70 percent less space in the cloud. A 1GB project could therefore take up as little as 300MB cloud storage.
The other two plans are intended for those who need more space or want to create more Projects, and can be purchased through your Avid Account. The first of these lets you create up to five Project files, stored in up to 20GB of cloud space, for $9.99 per month — which, suggest Avid, is enough to collaborate with a band on an EP. For $24.99 per month, however, you can create up to 10 Projects stored in up to 60GB of cloud space, which Avid say is enough to collaborate on a full album or large soundtrack.
Note that these charges are in addition to your Pro Tools 12 upgrade plan. You need to have a current Pro Tools upgrade plan to get Pro Tools 12.5, and you need Pro Tools 12.5 to access these new cloud collaboration features.
The Artist Chat window is at the centre of the cloud collaboration workflow: it’s where you find people to collaborate with and talk to them about what you want to achieve. You can bring up the Artist Chat window from the Window menu, or from the button in the Global Collaboration tool icon in the Edit window toolbar.