Introduction to Pro Tools

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What is Pro Tools?

Pro Tools is the industry-standard Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) used commercially for audio editing. Pro Tools is used in many of the Sound industries including Music Production, Television, Film Scoring & Music Notation. The software is owned by Avid & was previously called Sound Tools in 1989 when the software first appeared.

Just like all other DAW software, Pro Tools mimics a multi-track tape recorder & mixer console, with additional plugins and features that allow FX & advanced editing to to be performed digitally. Originally, Pro Tools was used just for recording audio; now days it is used for playback, editing, recording, and finding/editing MIDI information.


Technical Information

  • Avid Pro Tools supports 16, 24, 32 and 64-bit rate & any sample rate up to 192kHz.
  • Can bounce & handle WAV, MP3, WMA, AIFF and SDII audio files & Quicktime Video files.
  • Uses iLok for security copy protection.


Understanding Pro Tools File Structure

Pro Tools is different to Logic Pro in terms of how it saves it’s file. See the diagram below.


Each session created in Pro Tools sets up the structure as labeled above. When moving the file to another computer for use, ensure the entire package is moved – If just the Pro Tools Session is moved all data will not appear when reopened. The whole package must be moved together.

Pro Tools Session File: The Session file is the document created when you save a new project (or Save As). This file contains a map of the Audi Tracks, Audio Clips (Regions created when cut), Video Files, Edits and Settings.

This file is only a map & no audio or video is stored within.

WaveCache.wfm File: Each Pro Tools session creates the .wfm file. This stores Waveform data for the session (allowing the waves to be drawn). These files can also be created on External Memory drives attached to the system file.

These files CAN be deleted without harming the session data; although ProTools will load slower when re-loading due to it re-calculating the waveforms.

Audio Files: Each individual recording or ‘take’ is stored as 1 separate file. These live inside the corresponding sessions Audio Files folder. WAV file storage is compatible as it’s compatible with both Windows PC and Apple MAC.

Audio recorded into ProTools is only saved in the Audio Files folder & not saved in the session file itself.

If the Pro Tools Session file is transferred to another location your audio folder must be taken or the information will not show when opened.

Clip Groups: This is used for clips created that are grouped together in Pro Tools, so they can be exported.

If you do not export any files the folder will remain empty and is deleted when the session is closed.

Session File Back-Ups: Pro Tools has an auto save function – which can be handy! When enabled, session file backups will be created automatically and stored in this folder.

All audio recordings are saved to the disc but the position will not be saved in the session file data – unless you manually save (or Save as)

Audio regions will exist but will need to be placed in the session by hand; meaning timing may be inaccurate when you drop the files back into the project!

Video Files: Here is where all the Video files for your project is saved. They’re digitalised through ProTools via A/V Unit or Mojo (ProTools Plugins).

If a movie is imported and is already in QuickTime or Avid Format, the pro tools session will reference that movies location – and not recreate the file in the Video Files Folder.


Moving Pro Tools Sessions

If you’re wishing to move a Pro Tools session (.ptx file) none of the assets in the folder will be moved if you only take the one .ptx file.

As mentioned above the .ptx file only contains a map of the assets saved & the settings configured.

To successfully transfer you must transfer the session folder that contains all folders & files. All audio files used in the project must be in the Audio folder for them to correctly transfer.

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