Using Region Grouping in Pro Tools

Pro Tools has come excellent arrangement, editing and composition tricks up its sleeve. One of these, Region Grouping, can be a real timesaver. Mike Watkinson explains the what, why and how.  

As the name suggests, Region Groups in Pro Tools allow you to create ‘macro’ regions from multiple regions. These can be audio, MIDI or video regions in any combination on a single track or across multiple tracks. They have many uses: in composition and arrangement, editing, and groove/tempo manipulation. 

Creating Region Groups 

Select the required regions (use Shift with the Grabber to do this across non-contiguous tracks.) Choose Region > Group (or Option-Command-G)

Five different types of Region Group are possible which are denoted by the following symbols:

Audio region group

Audio region group.

MIDI region group

MIDI region group.

Video region group

Video region group.

Non-contiguous region group

Non-contiguous region group.

Mixed multitrack region group

Mixed multitrack region group.

Note: When creating multitrack Region Groups, the regions are grouped by track first, and these are then combined to create the multitrack Region Group.

In the Region List

When you create a Region Group it will be added to the Region List, at the bottom of the list. If you ungroup the Region Group (see below), it will still be listed in the Region List, and can be dragged into the session from there if required, just like a regular region.

You can audition Region Groups in the usual way by clicking and holding with the Option key held down, on the group name in the Region List.

Region group symbols in the region list; from top to bottom - Video, Audio, non-contiguous Audio, Mixed multitrack, MIDI; NB non-contiguous region groups take the symbol according to their content

Region group icons in the region list

The screen shot above shows the various Region group icons. From top to bottom: Video, Audio, non-contiguous Audio, Mixed multitrack and MIDI. Note that non-contiguous region groups get their icon according to their content.

Ungroup and Regroup

To ungroup, select the Region Group on the track playlist and choose Region > Ungroup (Option-Command-U.)

If you want to perform an edit on individual regions within a group, and then continue to manipulate the group, you should ungroup first, perform the edit, and then choose Region > Regroup (Option-Command-R


Regrouping regions after an edit.

Using Region Groups

Region Groups make the editing of large performances much easier. For example, a multitrack drum recording that has been ‘sliced’ using Beat Detective will consist of maybe hundreds of very small regions, whose timing relative to each other is critical; once grouped you can easily achieve the following without disturbing the position of individual regions within that group:

  1. Move the Region Group with the Grabber tool
  2. Perform Cut, Copy, Paste and all other Edit menu commands
  3. Trim the Region Group with the Trimmer tool
  4. Apply AudioSuite effects: this will render a new audio file that replaces the region group in the track playlist (the Region Group will still be listed in the Region List)

Duplicating groups

Duplicating groups.

Region Groups: Tempo and Groove

A Region Group will change length to follow a change in tempo if its contents are tick-based. A typical example of this would be where a Region Group consisting of multiple drum tracks that have been sliced using Beat Detective (see ‘Fixing drums with Beat Detective in Pro Tools’), and this group is moved to a different section of the session where the tempo is different. This is also useful when working with Groove Templates: 

  • A Groove Template can be extracted from the parts that make up a drum performance that has been recorded onto multiple tracks, if those tracks are grouped first and Beat Detective is set to work on the Region Group.
  •  A Groove Template can be applied to a whole drum performance in one go, if the regions are grouped first.

Extracting a groove template from a region-grouped drum performance

Extracting a groove template from a region-grouped drum performance.

Want to get deeper into Region Grouping and much more? Check out the full range of Pro Tools Video Tutorials here.

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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