Its well know that keyboard shortcuts are a great time and energy saver when working with an application like Pro Tools but the shortcuts included with Pro Tools can be fairly limiting due to the shortage of modifier keys and lack of ability to even create your own, not to mention the memory skills required to remember what combo does what. A lot of this comes with repeated use and muscle memory just like learning to type faster on a qwerty keyboard or learning to play an instrument but some casual users do get the exposure time to build up this muscle memory or maybe like me just have a terrible short term memory in the first place!
There are dedicated shortcut keyboards available on the market which can help jog our memories for those inbuilt Pro Tools preset shortcuts but what about when we want to make our own or we need to automate a repetitive process that is perhaps 3 sets of shortcuts one after the other?
A Macro is a group of key commands pulled together to perform an automated process in one hit for example: select clip > normalize > fade in 0.5 milliseconds > fade out 0.5 milliseconds is several processes, and multiple key presses, now what if you had 100 clips to process in exactly the same way? Well you could create a macro and assign it to one key or button and you will have massively slimmed down that repetitive task to one "press" per process, Ok it could be further simplified with batch processing but it was a simple example to demonstrate my point.
Currently the only way Avid provide for a user to create and use their own Macros is via one of their Eucon control surfaces, whether it be with an S6 or Artist Control with their touch screen centre sections, or the free (but limited by how many macros it can display as one time) iPad Control App.
There are a multitude of 3rd party applications out there that allow you to create your own operating system level macros such as AutoHotKey for very complex and detailed programming which can be somewhat overwhelming to anyone with a fear of any kind of coding or there are some far simpler apps that bring along the integration of an iPad or other tablet/touchscreen device as the human input interface - ie you use its touchscreen to execute commands rather than a proprietary controller or computer keyboard.
One such app that I have been using with the iPad for what must now be (on and off) a couple of years is "actions" its a perfect little app for the job and allows you to create process shortcuts for the application of your choice and talks to the target computer over a Wifi network connection to your LAN (so the ipad and target computer need to be on the same network), sadly actions was discontinued a little while ago but current users were informed that they would be allowed to continue using it but support would cease from there on in.
What has now been released as its replacement is "Quadro" a beefed up version of actions with in app purchases available to allow you to create lovely working pages of commands to a variety of applications and switch between them at will.
Check out this video intro for the concept of what its all about.
- Automatic - Connects to your computer automatically, recalling palettes and keyboard when needed.
- Modular - Connect multiple devices to a single computer and create your futuristic command center.
- Favorites - Set most used interfaces as favorites and reach them quickly from any context.
- Smart Keyboard - Type, move and select text from your device and try the ultimate emoji experience.
- Macros - Sequence any application command or action, mix them up to create your personal automations.
- Web apps - Recall and control web-apps just as native software and forget about digging a thousand tabs to find them.
- Share - Personal doesn’t mean exclusive. After perfecting your palettes, share your creations and receive some love.
- Function notes - Missing label? Complex action? Hold the action to show a contextual help.
- Gestures - Swipe to copy, paste, undo, redo and manipulate windows.
Quadro is installed to you iPad via the Apple App store and connect to your computer by installing "Quadro Sync" which is the management side of the application extensions are in development to broaden its operability but right now to start with there are extensions for popular web browsers, OK not really all that interesting for Pro Tools users but the potential is good and whats more you can add multiple ipads to the app to create a modular controller which is rather exciting!
So right now you can get started creating your own Pro Tools or other application macros and speed up your workflow, maybe even try it on an iphone too and see how you can make it work for you.
If you want to know more, read the incredibly detailed documentation or see some very useful tutorial guides check out the Quadro support pages here.