By Simon Ray
At the IBC show, I have seen three exciting things that work in and alongside Avid Pro Tools.
First, I had a great demo from Dave Tyler and Simon Sherbourne from Avid of a new collaboration technology potentially being built into Pro Tools (“Audio Collaboration in the Cloud”). This is still currently in development and was an early beta version that was shown at NAB, but I was really excited by the possibilities. It reminded me a lot of a fantastic technology from about 2001 called Rocket Network that failed because it needed the Internet connectivity of 2014.
Very simply, the collaboration tool allows Pro Tools users in different locations to share media and metadata (tracks, edits, plug-ins, automation, etc.) from within a common session via ‘The Cloud’ (you mean the Internet?).
This means you could have an FX editor in New York track-laying FX whilst the mixer and VO artist are in the UK. All users would have access to each other’s changes and all session versions could be automatically kept up to date. I can see some exciting possibilities with this if it could be used at a facility level when multiple editors are working on multiple reels on a single film project. Or perhaps for an “in the box” mix it might be a brilliant way of moving editor tracks into the mix session whilst still allowing both editor and mixer creative access to the tracks whilst keeping the versions consistent.
At the moment this is still a “technology showcase” and no timescale or commitment to a release version has been given, but to me this seems like it might be one of the most exciting audio developments coming from Avid in a while.
Next, I saw a really interesting product from NTP Technology. An audio interface/router that can connect directly to Pro Tools with multiple I/O options. The box I saw supported direct connection to Pro Tools HDX cards, MADI, Dante and AES amongst others. It also included a 1024×1024 multiplexer which enabled all I/O to be routed in any combination.
I can see so many possibilities with using this box. Initially, in the monitoring chain in an “in the box” mix room, but perhaps spreading out over a facility in time with the ability to send audio over IP.
The mention of the monitoring chain brings me elegantly to the final product I saw related to Pro Tools. The guys at Tac System who previously have developed the V-Mon plug-in for Pro Tools that allowed film-style stem select monitoring have made a great hardware controller called the VMC-102 that interacts with this plug-in but can also control the audio from a piece of hardware such as the NTP box! It is designed to fit into the S6 console very slickly and it looks the business. I think it could be a really neat addition to an ‘in the box’ mix room to allow film style stem summing and monitoring. Hopefully we can get one to play with soon!
These three things got me more excited about Pro Tools than I have been in a long time — thinking about the things we could potentially do in the facility to help our clients. I think the S6 console is a great product and I hope to install our first one at the beginning of next year, but it’s protracted and repeatedly delayed launch meant that the hype around it was not what it might have been.
I think it is great to see Avid looking at some exciting new features, and features that I can see some real industry changing potential in.
Simon Ray is Head of Operations and Engineering at Goldcrest Post in London.