The glamorous 87th Academy Awards presentation took place on February 22, 2015, and it was a thrilling night for its many film industry honorees. One of the evening’s top winners, however, wasn’t a human being. It was Avid Pro Tools. Technicians utilized this astounding platform to edit and mix the sound for such Oscar favorites as Birdman, Selma, Whiplash and American Sniper. In fact, American Sniper won the award in the sound-editing category.
Despite its name, you don’t need to be a professional to use Avid Pro Tools. To the contrary, you can purchase this program as a total beginner and turn your living room or garage into your own Hollywood studio. Whether you’re trying to break into the music business or simply having fun with your friends, you’ll be able to produce some spectacular recordings with it.
What is Avid Pro Tools?
Avid Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation (DAW). A DAW is comprised of the computer hardware, software, and interfaces that allow users to record and manipulate digital sound.  Operating one is similar to using a multi-track tape mixer, but you can do more with it.
Using a DAW, you can take several audio files, synchronize them and edit them all at once. This technology also makes it easy to find similarities among various audio sources. For example, you could identify the moment or moments when the beats of two pieces of music approximate one another. Further, a DAW will let you add and remove sound effects from your files. With such a workstation, you could devise countless musical and sound combinations; you’d be limited only by your creativity.
While many DAWs exist, Avid Pro Tools is an especially versatile and popular brand, and it works with the operating systems OS X and Microsoft Windows.  You can use this platform to edit QuickTime videos and a range of sound files, including each of the following:
From the start, Pro Tools has been customizable. It permits users to choose from among a range of software programs and interfaces, so that they can develop their own unique styles and methods of working. The Pro Tools Community could tell you that this system makes it possible to work rapidly as well.
The Origins of Avid Pro Tools
The history of Avid Pro Tools is rich in innovation and a true democratic spirit.  In 1984, the sound specialists Peter Gotcher ― who’s now the chairman of Dolby Laboratories ― and Evan Brooks founded a technology company called Digidrums. Gotcher and Brooks were friends in high school, and both of them graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. They were an ideal match, as both had long been fascinated by engineering, programming and music.
With Digidrums, Gotcher and Brooks set out to develop microchips that could store entire libraries of sound samples. They were especially interested in drumming. A major inspiration for their work was the E-mu Drumulator from the California-based company E-mu Systems; that drum machine had been introduced to the public in 1983. However, Gotcher and Brooks would ultimately find the concept of sound databases unsatisfying. What really intrigued them was the notion of releasing libraries of sound that people could edit. That way, those databases would help to unleash their customers’ artistic impulses.
Eventually, Gotcher and Brooks changed the name of their company to Digidesign. The former became the president, and the latter served as the chief engineer. Digidesign soon entered into a partnership with E-mu Systems, and its technicians started to use Macintosh computers to create software with which people could record and edit sound.
This period of experimentation bore exciting fruit in the form of Sound Designer. This software product hit the marketplace for the first time in 1985. It cost $995, a sum that’s equivalent to more than $2,100 in 2015. Despite the hefty cost of this program, it proved to be revolutionary. People now had access to the kind of sound editing technology that had pretty much only been available to major broadcasting and entertainment companies in prior years. Sound Designer’s release was a landmark for garage bands everywhere.
As years passed, Gotcher and Brooks continued their pioneering ways, offering new and more sophisticated versions of their platform from time to time. In 1991, they put out Pro Tools for the first time. It cost almost $6,000, and it combined software and hardware; an outside company had created the software. Before Digidesign released the next incarnation of Pro Tools, though, it assumed all of the software design responsibilities. The Pro Tools application as we know it today was born.
Around this time, Gotcher and Brooks made a fateful decision. They opted to allow other DAW-producing companies to incorporate their hardware. While there was a strong case to be made for keeping that hardware exclusive to Digidesign, the results of that choice turned out to be tremendously beneficial to the company. That’s because a larger pool of consumers got to sample what Digidesign had to offer, and a great many of those people were impressed by what they encountered. Pro Tools quickly established itself as the preeminent DAW brand, a stature it has yet to relinquish.
Avid: An Audio Powerhouse
In 1994, Digidesign merged with Avid, a large audio and video technology company. Founded by entrepreneur Bill Warner in 1983, Avid is headquartered in Burlington, Mass. After the two entities joined forces, engineers kept laboring to improve the Pro Tools software. By 1997, the program would contain 24 different audio tracks. Moreover, Pro Tools began to replace other kinds of sound editing equipment within professional recording studios throughout the late 1990s.
A momentous event occurred in 1999: A song that was created with Pro Tools reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That catchy tune was “Livin’ La Vida Loca”; Ricky Martin performed it, and Desmond Child’s Gentlemen’s Club Studio recorded it. Another significant milestone happened in 1999: A much cheaper version of Pro Tools premiered to great acclaim.
Over the course of the past 15 years, Pro Tools software updates have emerged on a semi-routine basis, and in 2010, the product officially became “Avid Pro Tools.” These days, Pro Tools 10 and 11 are the newest available editions.
Now, to get a sense of just how far Pro Tools has come, let’s look at some of the advantages of the latest version:
→ Pro Tools 11 boasts the Avid Audio Engine (AAE), which has a 64-bit architecture and 64 bits of processing power. It’s very fast and effective.
→ When you’re not utilizing certain plug-ins, they won’t use up any Pro Tools resources. Consequently, you can install a massive number of plug-ins without overburdening your workstation. In fact, with Pro Tools 11, it’s comparatively simple to set up a session that involves a few hundred plug-ins and dozens of audio tracks.
→ While there’s plenty of new code in this installment, if you’re accustomed to earlier versions of Pro Tools, you should have no trouble operating this edition.
New Horizons: Avid Pro Tools 12 Features
Pro Tools breakthroughs keep popping up. Avid Cloud Collaboration is a relatively new paid-subscription program that allows Pro Tools users to conduct recording sessions with other people no matter where those individuals might be located. Thus, with this system, a band could easily record songs together even if its members were thousands of miles apart. No one listening to their music could tell that the musicians weren’t in the same room. Another advantage of this arrangement is that you could record with people you meet over the Internet, but never actually meet in person.
Pro Tools 12 likewise demonstrates that Avid is looking to evolve the relationships that it has with its users. Those interested in starting out in audio production can get their hands on Avid Pro Tools First for free. When Pro Tools 12 is released, people will be able to either buy it or subscribe to it for a monthly fee that starts at $29.99 . Even more exciting, those who purchase or subscribe to Pro Tools 12 will receive Pro Tools software updates through the cloud at no extra costs.
In short, if you’re a Pro Tools user, your recording future will be what you make of it. Indeed, the possibilities seem endless. Just think about all of the artists that you might get in touch with via the cloud. Some of them may accept your invitation to work together on a project. Also, if there’s a particular recording that you’re proud of, you can share it on Avid Marketplace. Perhaps nothing exceeds the joy of creation, and Pro Tools enhances that joy and makes it less challenging to come by.
Author: Philip Rudy, Owner of ProToolsTutorial.org
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