Loop Recording: Managing Takes and Playlists in Pro Tools 10

Following on from the loop recording options article, Mike Watkinson explores how to manage takes and multiple playlists in Pro Tools 10. Read on for a bundle of tips and shortcuts!  

In a previous article on the loop recording options in Pro Tools 10 we discussed how to record multiple takes to the same playlist, and then how to record each successive take to a new playlist. In this article we shall look more closely at the management of takes you have captured on a single playlist, and also how to manage multiple playlists and use them for editing composite takes. 


One Playlist, Multiple Takes

When multiple takes are captured to the same playlist, either by loop recording or recording multiple passes, the most recent take is the one that is displayed and therefore played back. Unlike some other DAWs, in Pro Tools if you move that clip aside the other takes are not ‘underneath’. So how can you access them? 

Command-clicking with the Selector tool reveals the Takes pop up menu and unless any filters have been set up (see below) all takes recorded at this location are listed. Simply choose the one you want to hear or edit, and it will take the place of the current take.

The Takes pop up menu

The Takes pop-up menu.


Right-click the take with the Grabber or Selector tool and choose the take from the Matches sub-menu.

Access alternate takes by right-clicking with the Grabber or Selector tool

Access alternate takes by right-clicking with the Grabber or Selector tool.


Rating takes

You can rate each take by choosing Clip > Rating and selecting ‘none’ or from 1 to 5 (the keyboard commands for these are Control-Option-Command 0 - 5). To see the rating displayed on each clip choose View > Clip > Rating.

A clip rated 3

A clip rated 3.


This enables you to filter which takes are visible in the Takes pop-up menu by using the ‘Match Criteria’ option. Choose ‘Alternates Match Criteria’ from the Takes pop up menu. Here you can tick the clip rating checkbox in addition to a series of criteria shown in the following image.

Alternates Match Criteria dialog

Alternates Match Criteria dialog.


So if, for example, you currently have a clip rated 2 selected, then tick the Clip Rating checkbox, only takes with the same rating will be listed when you go to choose alternate takes from either of the pop-up menus. From the same menu you can also choose ‘Expand Alternates to New Playlists (or Tracks)’, which will only take those alternates that are available according to the filters you have set, and move them accordingly.


Understanding Playlists

Playlists are a long-standing Pro Tools concept whereby each audio track plays back a ‘list’ of clips that are placed on the timeline. A single track can support multiple playlists and these can be accessed in several different ways. The traditional way to view different playlists (with the track in waveform view) is to choose each playlist using the playlist selector pop-up menu (access this by clicking on the arrow to the right track name). 

By default there were only be one playlist, but try choosing ‘New…’ from this menu to create a new playlist. Once you have named it you can record to and play back from this playlist as if it were a new track, and then choose between your playlists from the same menu.

Multiple playlists in the playlists pop up menu

Multiple playlists in the playlists pop up menu.


Keyboard Commands for Creating New Playlists 

  • Control-\  New playlist - selected track
  • Control-Option-\  New playlist - all tracks (auto-names)
  • Control-Command-\ — Duplicate playlist - selected track
  • Control-Option-Command-\  Duplicate playlist - all tracks - auto-names


Playlists View

Selecting ‘playlists’ view from the Track View selector enables you to see all the playlists you are using at once. Hold the Option key to change the track view for all tracks of the same type. You can also use the keyboard command Control-Command-left arrow to go up the track view list (i.e. from Waveform to playlists assuming no elastic audio audio related playlists have been created) for the selected track. 

Control-Option-Command-left arrow will change the view of all tracks. The same keyboard commands using the right arrow will go down the track view list. What playlists view won’t show you is any playlists that you have created that have no content. To remove these from the session choose Delete Unused... from the track playlist selector pop-up menu. The dialog that appears at this point allows you to remove all unused playlists from all tracks simultaneously, or just those from the selected track.

Clicking the track view selector to choose playlists view

Clicking the track view selector to choose playlists view.


Comping with Playlists

Playlists make the task of ‘comping’ a perfect take, by compositing selections from multiple takes into a single playlist, a straightforward task especially if you know your keyboard commands! The process is as follows:

  • The last recorded take will be placed on the main playlist (the one at the top) by default so either move it down to the unused playlist at the bottom, or create a new playlist from the playlist pop-up menu and name it ‘Comp’ or something similarly useful
  • You can solo each take/playlist in order to review its contents by clicking the solo button in the track/playlist header, or pressing Shift-S, which enables the solo function for any track in which a selection has been made. Use the keyboard commands Control-P and control-;  to move the selection from playlist to playlist
  • Select the elements that you wish to copy to your comp playlist, then press the Up Arrow next to the solo button in the playlist lane (or use the keyboard command Control-Option-V)

Clicking the arrow in the playlist lane will copy the selection to the main playlist

Clicking the arrow in the playlist lane will copy the selection to the main playlist.


Finish the comping process by adding fades and crossfades to taste: Select all the clips in the comp playlist, press Command-F, then adjust the Fade/Crossfade parameters in the Fade dialog, and click OK.


Mike has been obsessed with music software since he first saw Fairlight's Page-R, and has tracked its development through his work as a performer, composer and producer. As a writer he has contributed articles to Sound On Sound since 1999, and currently writes their Apple Notes column. As well as being a certified Logic Pro and Pro Too... Read More

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