“Though it’s conceivable to learn the software on one’s own,” Edelstein said, “it’s not likely that people who pick this up on their own will have seen all the things that we do. It appears to be straightforward enough to pick up on one’s own, but in fact, it’s anything but that.”
“The first order of business is just feeling comfortable with general terminology and the workstation and software environment,” he said. “It helps you to understand the way that things are structured and the way that the interface is designed so that you can sit down and use the main features in Pro Tools—the Edit and Mix windows.” The course covers how to record tracks, use the various recording modes, do overdubbing and mixing, and use plug-ins and signal processing—supplemented by a taste of the more advanced things to come, like automation. Most important, Pro Tools 101 gets you comfortable with session structure and the software’s main interface element, so that you’ll have a complete understanding of fundamental functions of the software.
The course will lead you through a series of exercises that culminate in a finished mix. Exercises are assigned on a weekly basis to target specific skills, which you then apply when you complete the final project: a piece of your own, that you record, mix, then submit for feedback from your instructor and classmates.
Though the curriculum was developed by Digidesign, course author Edelstein enhanced it in several ways, based on his experience as a producer/engineer, and as a professor of Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music. Chief among these customized additions is the hands-on project that students submit for feedback.
The course also presents a very complete set of QuickTime movies, demonstrating actions within the software, to supplement the written material. “It is very similar to what the student might learn in the classroom, and provides the direction that cannot be experienced from a workbook,” Edelstein said.
No matter what level of experience you may bring to the course, you’ll find it inspiring to create professional-quality recordings in a community of classmates who can share hints and feedback. “One of the nice things is that there’s such a wide range of background among students. You can pick up a lot just by participating in the chat rooms, and all the online banter that happens,” Edelstein said. “People bring up things that give you more experience and more of a feeling of how to record, how to mix. It has a good, accessible, but very wide range of potential.