Today we’re going to combine our Technical Tip of the Day and our Word for the Day into one, and for that you actually get four newly defined terms all for the price of one.
Pro Tools has four major modes for moving audio around in a session: Shuffle, Spot, Grid, and Slip. Understanding the differences between these modes, and the power each one gives you, is crucial to maximizing your efficiency in the program. The modes are selected using the graphic icons in the upper left portion of the edit window.
Shuffle Mode – Shuffle Mode will always cause the audio region you are moving to become butted up against another region, or the beginning of the track. You can’t just drop it anywhere. If you do it will “jump” up against another region. If you move a region to a place earlier in the track than some region that later region will move over to make room for the one you are dropping in, and then butt right up against it. This mode is great for working with loops and grooves as it does the dirty work for you in terms of keeping everything continuous.
Spot Mode – When you move an audio region, or pull an audio file out of the audio regions list (on the right side of the edit window) a dialog box will pop up asking you to enter the location for the region. Once you input that it will drop it precisely there for you. Spot Mode is ideal for working with sound effects and things that are being spotted to picture. Once you have your session synchronized to the time code you can just enter the time code value for the region and it’s right on. If you spot a region over another region the first region will be cut off at the point where the new region starts and/or ends.
Grid Mode – Grid Mode works like a lot of MIDI sequencers. Everything snaps to a user defined grid or quantization value. You can define the grid based on musical values (eighth notes, for example) or time code values. This mode is also handy for loop based work; it allows the added flexibility of being able to drop regions wherever you want, but it keeps them locked in to the musical timing of the piece. A lot of engineers use this mode when editing things like drum parts for timing (a very common use of Pro Tools) because it makes it really fast to drop individual drum hits to specific musical timing values that are related to the song. If you place a region over another region the first region will be cut off at the point where the new region starts and/or ends.
Slip Mode – Slip mode allows you to place an audio region anywhere you wish, independent of any grid or time code values. This mode is handy for all the other stuff you do in Pro Tools, particularly when it comes to working with regions that don’t have any relevance to the musical timing of the piece. Often times vocal and guitar tracks are comped with this mode. If you place a region over another region the first region will be cut off at the point where the new region starts and/or ends.
Most Pro Tools beginners use this mode exclusively, but some never get out of it and explore the power of the other modes. An experienced Pro Tools operator who is being paid by the hour is generally able to quickly switch between them using each one appropriately. They each can dramatically speed up the time it takes to make a lot of edits so long as you set your session up to take advantage of them.