It goes without saying that Avid and audio education go hand in hand. The creators of the industry defining Pro Tools software (and long time supporters of audio education both in Australia and internationally) have over the course of the last 20 years, singlehandedly revolutionised the audio landscape, in the process rewriting the curriculum for what should be taught in schools.
Mixdown Magazine: Walk into any studio in the world – be it music, post-production, sound design or other – and nine out of ten times you will find an Avid Pro Tools system of some description. What do you think it is about the software that resonates so much with the working professional?
Drew Parsons: I think that as well as helping establish the very beginnings of DAW solutions Pro Tools has been continuously innovating while still providing a familiar interface for several decades. It is the language of the digital studio in many ways. In critical situations, Pro Tools provides a unique DSP powered extremely low latency solution but also can be used in completely host based applications to cover an extremely wider user base. All in all I think versatility, processing power and familiarity are the three main reasons it resonates so much.
Avid was one of the first developers to offer educational pricing for their software and the company continues to be a big supporter of audio education, both in Australia and abroad. Can you tell our readers a bit about the student/teacher versions of Pro Tools? What are they? Who is eligible? Do they offer the same features as PT standard?
The feature set is exactly the same as a non educational copy of Avid software. If you are a student, teacher, or faculty member at a qualified academic institution, you can purchase Pro Tools, Media Composer, and Sibelius at significantly discounted education pricing, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements and can provide proof of eligibility.
A lecturer once told me that having a solid Pro Tools skillset was, “akin to having a manual licence. It just opens up so many more doors in our industry.” Do you think this statement still holds true and what advice would you give young students who are just starting to learn the language of Pro Tools?
Absolutely it still holds true. Pro Tools is still the mainstay in many of the largest post, broadcast and music studios around the world. The media industry is a fast paced and high performance industry, any advantage you have puts you in a strong position when wanting to work at any of these facilities.
With the emergence of on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Stan, and with the gaming industry continuing to grow, there has never been more demand for score composers and music for film. How can notation tools like Avid Sibelius help workflow for budding composers? Can the same be said for Pro Tools and the Sound Design/Foley industry?
Sibelius is a great creative tool for all music composers, weather you’re composing in a DAW like Pro Tools and exporting to Sibelius or working in the program it self. Sibelius meets the needs for any composer needing to share a composition with an ensemble or orchestra to perform. Pro Tools also meets the needs for sound design and foley artist alike. Not only does pro tools have a strong set tools but has seamless compatibility with a huge range of third party plugins and tools to help creatives in the design space.
Avid has always been at the forefront of many advancements in the post-production space and in many ways helped usher in the new era of Dolby Atmos and immersive mixing as we know it. Can you tell our readers a bit about Dolby Atmos, the kind of effects that are possible and how installations like an Avid/Dolby Atmos Production Suite are being integrated into the broader audio curriculum?
Dolby Atmos is a popular surround sound format that can be found in everything from iPhones, home theatre systems or large cinemas. The biggest change from previous formats is the addition of height channels. One of the benefits to mixing in Atmos is you can playback your mix in different environments and your mix will translate every time.
Avid and Dolby have been working together for time to make the workflow between both platforms as integrated and seamless as possible. With the most recent updates to Pro Tools we have extended this functionality even further which makes it even easier for our users to work with this format For an educational institution demonstrating new immersive formats attracts new students with this exciting technology but also a good basis going into an industry where these formats are becoming the norm.
On top of their ground-breaking software, Avid is also known for making some of the most intuitive DAW controllers on the market. Do you think there is something to be said for hands on navigation, especially for someone learning their craft?
Absolutely, not only does it give you the ability to control multiple parameters at once. It really does bring the software to life. You can focus on being creative instead of navigating through pages and drop down menus to find what you are looking for. We have actually just released the new Avid S1 which is a small eight fader control surface which is perfect for schools with small audio suites.
The 2010’s will be known as a period of rapid evolution in the world of digital audio. Processing became faster, sample rates increased and controllers became infinitely more solid and reliable. What do you think was the most significant advancement in the 2010’s both for Avid and for digital audio as a whole?
Sample accurate faster than real time bouncing of multiple stems into a single file has to be one of the significant advancements to Pro Tools in the last 10 years. A lot of underlining technology had to be updated to achieve this but that the end result is well worth it.
The industry as a whole has really embraced immersive audio, which has to be one of the largest changes to audio mixing. It is becoming increasing available on many TV show and Movies, and this continues to grow with the addition of Dolby Atmos Music being introduced to multiple streaming services.
What does Avid have in store for us for 2020 and beyond?
As much as I would love to tell you everything we have in store, all I can say is we have been listening to our user base and will be looking to answer some of those request throughout 2020. Our goal would be to provide software and hardware to fulfil the needs of the industry on all levels.
Avid is distributed in Australia via Innovative Music.