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Book Review: Pro Tools 10: Advanced Music Production Techniques by Robert Campbell and Pro Tools 10: Advanced Post Production Techniques by Joel Krantz

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For those who are unfamiliar with Pro Tools, it is a digital audio workstation for Windows and Mac, which was introduced way back in 1991. It is safe to say that in the past 21 years, the technology has revolutionized the recording industry. One of the main features of the software is the ability to isolate and correct even the tiniest flaws in a recording. Pro Tools has become so prevalent in studios that some artists are rejecting it–based on the idea being that it is “dishonest,” and removes the “human” factor from the recording process. Nevertheless, Pro Tools has become standard equipment, and the tenth version of the software was released in October, 2011 from Avid Technology.

With the advanced capabilities Pro Tools 10 features, it is hardly surprising that books have been published to help the users understand how to best utilize the system. Two of these have just been issued from the Avid Learning Series: Pro Tools 10: Advanced Music Production Techniques by Robert Campbell, and Pro Tools 10: Advanced Post Production Techniques by Joel Krantz. These are textbooks which offer expert certification, and both include a DVD-ROM to further help in the learning process.

Clearly, both books are intended for those who are serious about getting the most out of Pro Tools 10. They are not “light” reading. But for those who use the system, I think they are invaluable. And both authors employ a very user-friendly writing style. By that I mean that each book is laid out in a logical, and easy to follow manner. These books are meant to help the user understand the software better, whether they are professionals, or amateurs like myself.

Robert Campbell’s Advanced Music Production Techniques is divided into nine lessons, nine exercises, and two appendices. The nine lessons are sequenced quite logically, with the first being “Pro Tools HD Hardware Configuration.” This is followed by an exercise, which “tests” your knowledge of what you have just read. Both the lessons and the exercises are timed, offering the student an idea of how long each should take. The lessons range from 45 to 120 minutes, and the exercises range from 20-60 minutes.

The remaining eight lessons and exercises follow the same format. These are (in order), “Troubleshooting a Pro Tools System;” “Tactile Control of Pro Tools;” “Importing and Recording Audio;” “Advanced Editing;” “Synchronization;” “Pro Tools HD/HDX Mixing Concepts;” and “Advanced Mixing Techniques.” Appendix A is “Pro Tools HD-Series Audio Interface Calibration,” and Appendix B quite helpfully offers the self-explanatory “Exercise Answer Keys.”

Joel Krantz’s Advanced Post Production Techniques follows a very similar format, although it features ten lessons and exercises. The first two are identical to those of the Campbell book, which makes sense, as one must have the system properly configured, and know how to troubleshoot potential problems to proceed. “Tactile Control of Pro Tools” is also offered in both books.

The remaining seven lessons and exercises are, “Synchronizing Pro Tools with Linear Video;” “Post Production Recording Techniques;” “Editing Workflows;” “Pro Tools HD/HDX Mixing Concepts;” “Advanced Mixing Techniques;” “Mixing Using Satellite Link;” and “Advanced Layback.” The lessons range in duration from 45 -120 minutes, and the exercises range from 20 to 60 minutes.

There are five appendices in the Krantz book. Two of these are also in the Campbell book, calibrating the system, and the answer key. The other three are, “Synchronization Concepts;” “Avid ISIS and Pro Tools Workflows;” and “Videotape Duplication Instructions.” Both books come with DVD-ROMs which contain media files for the exercises that appear at the end of each lesson.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a professional user of Pro Tools by any stretch of the imagination. My son and I have a small “studio” in our basement, and every now and then we record. Even though Pro Tools 10 does come with a manual, these two books offer some very detailed information, which I have already found to be quite useful.

Whether you are a pro or not, both of these books are excellent resources. As previously mentioned, they are part of the Official Curriculum from Avid, the company that publishes Pro Tools. Depending on where you look, both books are available at very reasonable prices, and for the Pro Tools 10 user, I think each offers invaluable aids in getting the most out of the software.

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