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Pro Tools: Groups vs Folder Tracks

Avid Pro Tools Tips & Techniques By Julian Rodgers

Screen 1: Folder tracks can be a very useful way of managing your sessions, but since they apply the same height to each track within them, heavily populated Folder tracks can quickly become unnavigable.Screen 1: Folder tracks can be a very useful way of managing your sessions, but since they apply the same height to each track within them, heavily populated Folder tracks can quickly become unnavigable.

Pro Tools' new Folder tracks make a neat alternative to Groups and VCAs.

Mix and Edit Groups have been a mainstay of Pro Tools for many years, but I never really explored the possibility of unlinking them. Instead, I would set up a selection of tracks as a Mix Group, an Edit Group, or a Mix+Edit Group, and simply enable and disable Groups depending on what I was doing. The ability to unlink Mix and Edit Groups would have saved me the trouble, as it meant that Groups could be automatically enabled in the Mix window and disabled in the Edit window, or vice versa. However, in a rare example of Pro Tools losing a feature, the ability to do so has recently been dropped.

It has occurred to me that the introduction of Folder tracks might lead to Groups falling by the wayside for many users. In many respects, Folder tracks duplicate functionality that Groups also offer. However, they still differ in a few important ways, and Groups still have some advantages over Folder tracks, as we'll see when we dive in.

Folder Track Overview

Pro Tools' Edit Groups link all the member tracks in the Group, and only affect a limited number of attributes: specifically, the track height, timebase and, of course, audio, MIDI and automation editing. The editing of the contents of a Folder track, whether audio or MIDI, can be performed from the overview Folder track overview. This overview is the only track view available in a Basic Folder track, and it shows the clips as blocks representing their position in the timeline. The clips display in the correct colours, but unlike in a Group, the contents of the clips aren't represented. (The overview...

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Published July 2020