Today I spent several hours teaching a friend Pro Tools 101. It was an unusual experience for me. I have taught people things before. My work study job through college was working in the various computer labs around campus teaching people how to use software they didn’t know, and also doing telephone tech support. I had a lot of training in how to take a problem, break it down, and work through it in a logical progression. Plus I taught a series of classes on Pro Tools at AFI on three different school years. Teaching is something I’m some what familiar with.
This situation seemed different, at least to me. My friend has many more years in the sound business than I do. He works as a mixer. You can use Pro Tools to mix, but it’s primary function, at least in Hollywood, is as an editorial system. My friend has a strong understanding of how post-sound works but we were dealing with the other aspect of it. The part that he doesn’t do himself everyday at work. So most of the teaching was simply about which buttons to click, and which menus to select. He already had a firm grasp on “the why”. He just needed to know “the how”.
It’s also a bit of a delicate situation. The sound industry has changed a lot in the eight years I’ve been doing it. When I first started, there were still companies cutting on 35mm film in a Moviola. Now it’s all computers. Plus you can do a full 5.1 surround mix in Pro Tools itself. There are mixing jobs that people like my friend don’t get anymore because the production company is unwilling to hire a couple of guys to sit in front of a $500,000 mixing console. They just want to pay an editor to work with a $20,000 computer. He and every other mixer in town has complained at some point that they lose work to people like me with our computers.
I can guarantee you that you’ll get a better sounding track if you take it to my friend’s dub stage, than if you hire me to do it in my computer. Unfortunately that’s not always financially possible. So I was glad to help start him down that path to working with both systems.