Try to do something by the book and it bites you in the arse.
Here’s the deal. I used to do audio production for commercial radio. It was hands down the best job I’ve ever had (including the one where I listened to almost 10 hours of podcasts per day and could go weeks without a single email). A great combination of problem solving, exploration of creativity, sleuth skills, archival know how and time management against constant deadlines. It took a lot of effort to get it right and I rarely regretted giving it all I could. A massive part of the job was working my way around Pro Tools, the industry standard Avid DAW. In short, it was an audio editing software used around the world. A program so impossibly deep that courses are taught on it. I latched on immediately. I dug in and learned all the hot keys I could to increase efficiency. It got to the level where I’d no longer be thinking about the physical action of producing. It became instinctive, as if my body was a conduit to my thoughts. I made a shit ton of ads, imaging and short segments. I got to a decent level of proficiency and got better at bringing out the best in my work. I loved Pro Tools because it felt like an extension of my potential.
I left that job behind, but always wanted to get back into the program. Thing is, Avid has caught Pro Tools users in the grip of proprietary hardware. Pro Tools is a massive financial investment, especially since there are anti-piracy safeguards making alternate routes to the software difficult. You pay or you don’t play. With the company no longer bankrolling my upkeep, I didn’t feel it was worth buying in without steady projects to work on. Never could I justify it and so I dwelled in memories instead. Occasionally I’d drop into my old studio and play around, making some stuff in my spare time to stave my skills dropping off. Never was I consistent enough to keep things going, so my knowledge dwindled.
With the Air Bud Pawdcast starting up, I’ve got reason to dig back into Pro Tools. It’d be nice to work on jingles, audio stings and any kind of fun fuckery I could think of. I jumped on Kijiji to find something second hand. I saw an entry level M-Audio Fast Track interface with Pro Tools M-Powered Essential thrown in. I’m sure this means nothing to you, but it’s basically a simpler version of the software I know. It’s not a mindblowing product, but the full powered software does so much more than I need. I’m just looking for a simple program and this should be ample. With a $40 price tag ($130 or so new) I figured I’d have nothing to lose. I got in touch. The guy said it was unused. His girlfriend bought it for him a few years back, but he gave up guitar and didn’t need it. It’d been kicking around collecting dust and he thought it better to go into eager hands. He met me on the way to his brother’s wedding and we did the exchange. Beaming from ear to ear all the way home, I couldn’t wait to get it installed and start messing with all manner of soundbites.
First problem: My computer has no DVD drive. Ruh roh! How was I supposed to install the software? We tried using my girlfriend’s DVD drive through the network, but it wasn’t doing the job. We tried again and again, but to no avail. ZOUNDS. Turns out the DVD was busted. I looked online and this was a common enough problem. Easy, I thought, I’ll just grab the software online. Turns out it’s not easy to find. There are all manner of versions, but the specific software I sought was elusive. I found a torrent, but wanted to go straight to the source. Here I was being good, I was using legit gear. Mais non. This was 2010 software and had been phased out. I dug around on Reddit and found a later, official, comparable version. Several gigs and hours later, the software needed authorisation hardware. ZOUNDS AGAIN. Back I went to the torrent and grabbed the right software. I have a legit version, I’m just using it in place of my faulty DVD, I reasoned. Hours later I sit here ready to see if it’ll work. It’s all installed, I just need to see if it’ll run safely without the authorisation hardware (which this version apparently doesn’t need). I hope you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats as I am to see how things will shake out. WILL THINGS TURN AROUND FOR OUR HERO?
Well, it works. Holy crap is it ever limited though. No smart tool? I need to pay for keyboard shortcuts? Oy vey, guess that’s what being bitten in the arse feels like.