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Pro Tools: Edit & Timeline Selections

Avid Pro Tools: Tips & Techniques By Julian Rodgers
Published July 2024

Edit selections will show up as either darker or lighter patches of audio, depending on whether you’re using the Dark or Classic theme. Their in and out points are represented by orange lines in the timeline, whereas the in and points of Timeline selections are shown in blue.Edit selections will show up as either darker or lighter patches of audio, depending on whether you’re using the Dark or Classic theme. Their in and out points are represented by orange lin in the timeline, whereas the in and points of Timeline selections are shown in blue.

Timeline and Edit selections are the key to faster editing in Pro Tools.

This month I’m going to look at selections in Pro Tools. We often take selections for granted, but as they are so fundamental to operating a DAW, they credit a closer look. They do after all define exactly which material we are targeting for any particular action or edit. This is a big area, but I’m going to cover a few fundamentals and then highlight a few less well‑known techniques. Hopefully there will be something new here for most people.

Something I have to cover first — because it is so central to understanding how Pro Tools works and because it’s the source of much confusion for people who don’t understand it — is the two types of selection in Pro Tools: Timeline and Edit selections.

Time & Place

A Timeline selection defines what gets played back when you hit the space bar. It can be any duration, from zero to the whole length of the session. Its length is denoted by a pair of half arrows in the timebase ruler, which are either blue or red depending on the record status of your transport. If the length is zero, you’ll see what looks like a single downward‑facing arrow, but this is actually two markers next to each other. If the playback selection has zero length, Pro Tools will play from that point until you stop it. If the selection has a length, it will play just the timeline selection and stop, unless the transport is set to loop.

An Edit selection is the area of the timeline that will be affected by an edit, which could mean anything from copying, deleting or moving to processing using AudioSuite or Clip Gain. An Edit selection can include partial and whole clips, a group of clips, or an area covering any amount of the timeline across a single track or multiple tracks. Like a Timeline selection, it can also have zero length, in which case it is represented by a flashing line on the timeline called the Insertion Point. If the Edit selection has a duration (ie. the in and out points aren’t in the same place) it will be represented by a box of lighter or darker colour, depending on whether you are using the Dark or Classic UI Theme. The in and out points of Edit selections are represented by orange markers in the timeline ruler. However, in normal use, these are usually obscured by the blue Timeline selection markers, for reasons we’ll discuss next.

The...

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