Repetition is a fundamental feature of all music. The ability of the DAW to repeat material by copying and pasting is one way to achieve this. Quickly creating successive copies of a clip however, with no gaps, makes this even easier. In Pro Tools this is referred to as ‘looping’. For clarification, the copies created using this method are really ‘aliases’ or references to the original clip. They are not distinct clips in their own right, and cannot be edited independently of the original (or source) clip from which they stem.
Pro Tools offers several ways to loop. Let's look at some of the methods…
The Menu Way
- Select a clip. This can be MIDI, audio or video, or a clip group (you can even loop a clip group that contains MIDI, audio and video)
- Choose ‘Loop’ from the Clip menu (Command–Option–L)
In the clip looping dialog you are offered 3 choices:
- Specify the number of loops — this is the total number, including the source clip
- Specify the total length of the looped clips — this will be expressed in units as determined by the main timescale
- Loop the clip up to the end of the session or the start of the next clip on that track
If the clip is audio then you will also be able to decide whether cross fades should be applied, and adjust settings accordingly.
The Clip Looping dialog
To remove the loop(s) select the looped clip (or clip group) and choose ‘Unloop’ from the Clip menu.
Using a Tool
Click and hold on the Trim tool in the toolbar, then choose the Loop Trim tool from the pop-up that appears. Alternatively use the keyboard shortcut Command–2 (press it four times to cycle through the Trim tools). Positioning this tool in the upper half of a clip will allow you to create iterations of the source clip by dragging with the mouse. And if you hold down the Control key while you are doing this, it will force Pro Tools to create only whole clip iterations.
Choosing the Loop Trim tool
Editing Looped Clips
Once a clip has been looped you can edit the loop settings in a number of ways:
- Double-click on the loop icon on a clip with the Selector tool (Command–3)
- Right click on a looped clip with the Selector, Grabber or Trim tool and choose Loop... from the pop-up menu
- Select the looped clip and choose Loop Clip from the Clip menu (Option-Command-L)
Right-clicking to choose ‘Loop...’ from the pop-up menu
You can also edit looped clips with the standard Trim or Loop Trim tools as follows:
- If positioned anywhere over the looped clip but the Loop icon, either tool will allow you to trim the entire looped clip; holding Control will force only whole clip iterations to be created
Trimming the entire looped clip
- Positioned over the loop icon, either tool will trim the length of the loop iterations themselves, but the length of the whole looped clip will stay the same
Trimming the length of the loop iteration