chapter 8 Selection and Navigation

In this chapter, we’ll take a closer look at timeline and edit selections and navigation of tracks and clips. We’ll also discuss memory locations and their use in navigation and editing within a session.

Types of Selection

When working in Pro Tools, virtually all of the time you’ll have the timeline selection and edit selection linked. This is the recommended mode of operation for all users but it’s especially important for blind users. Sighted users can readily see when the timeline and edit selections are not linked and can quickly identify when either or clips are independently selected. If the timeline and edit selections are unlinked, it’s not easy for a blind user to tell without checking a few things and it can be disorienting when there are unexpected results while working in a session. With timeline and edit selection linked, each type of selection is essentially one and the same. That said, let’s look at each separately.

Timeline Selections

Timeline selections refer to ranges specified across the timeline ruler. A timeline selection might be as short as a millisecond or as long as the entire length of a session file (up to 24 hours). Sighted users can drag across a ruler to make a timeline selection. Blind users use the counters to achieve the same result. By entering values into the Start, End and Length fields, a range can be defined, creating a selection across the timeline.

Edit Selections

Edit selections are usually made by using one of the edit tools and clicking on or dragging across a clip in the timeline. This type of selection can also be done using keyboard shortcuts. Before opening the next session file, make sure the “Audio” archive is decompressed. For the following demonstrations, refer to the “Timeline and Edit Selections.ptx” session file.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Play Edit Selection: Control+Left Bracket
  • Play Timeline Selection: Control+Right Bracket

Working with Selections

Creating Separate Timeline Selections and Edit Selections

As discussed earlier, this tutorial assumes that your timeline selections and edit selections are linked. For illustration purposes, let’s look at how unlinking the timeline and edit selections affects navigation and playback as well as editing.

Just as timeline selections can either be separate or linked, track and edit selections can also be tied together or not. Much in the same way as timeline and edit selections, track and edit selections can be made in different ways and, although they are easily distinguished visually, it’s highly recommended for blind users that the “Link Track and edit Selection” item be checked under the Options menu. For the following demonstrations, refer to the “Link Track and Edit Selection.ptx” session. After opening the session, import all of the audio files from the “WAV stems Chemical Reaction” folder from Chapter 6. Make sure to deselect all tracks and uncheck “Link Track and Edit Selection” from the Options menu.

Making Selections on Multiple Tracks

We’ve seen that selections can span across a range within the timeline. We’ve also seen how that range can apply to a selection within a track itself. Let’s look at how the selection can also span a range of tracks.

Using the Tab Key

Assuming the Tab to Transients mode is off, you can navigate and make selections within the timeline by using the Tab key to move between clip boundaries. This means of navigating requires that there be at least one clip within the selected track. Also, the number and size of the clips determines the potential navigation points. Using a combination of the Tab, Option and Shift keys, it’s possible to make both timeline and edit selections.

For the following demonstration, refer to the “Using the Tab Key.ptx” session.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Move Edit Insertion to Next Clip Boundary: Tab
  • Move Edit Insertion to Previous Clip Boundary: Option+Tab
  • Select from Edit Insertion to Next Clip Boundary:Shift+Tab
  • Select from Edit Insertion to Previous Clip Boundary: Shift+Option+Tab
  • Move to and Select Next Clip: Control+Tab
  • Move to and Select Previous Clip: control+Option+Tab
  • Add Next Clip to Current Selection: Control+Shift+Tab
  • Add Previous Clip to Current Selection: Control+Option+Shift+Tab

Tabbing to Transients

When “Tab to Transients” is enabled, it’s possible to use the same key commands as mentioned just above but, rather than moving the insertion point to a clip boundary, Pro Tools moves the insertion cursor between transients within a clip.

For the following demonstration, refer to the “Transients Example” session.

Key shortcuts:
  • Toggle Tab to Transients Mode: Command+Option+Tab
  • Speak Status of Tab to Transients Mode (with Flo Tools): Command+Option+Tab
  • Toggle Tab to Transients Mode (with Flo Tools): Double-tap Command+Option+Tab
  • Move Edit Insertion to Next Transient: Tab Key
  • Move Edit Insertion to Previous Transient: Option+Tab
  • Select from Edit Insertion to Next Transient: Shift+Tab
  • Select from Edit Insertion to Previous Transient: shift+Option+Tab

Adjusting the Session View

Let’s take a look at adjusting track heights and changing the order of tracks.

Adjusting Track Height

In general, while using keyboard shortcuts to navigate and edit clips, track height (as determined in the Edit window) doesn’t matter. The commands work the same whether a track’s height is set to micro or jumbo. However, track height does affect how many tracks are visible to sighted users (in case that’s a consideration) and it also affects how some track controls are displayed. In smaller views, some controls might be consolidated with other elements or might disappear altogether. Let’s take a look at how to adjust track height. Note: Before opening the next demo session file, make sure you decompress the “Audio” archive within the session file folder. For the following demonstrations, refer to the “Chemical Reaction Stems.ptx” session.

Key shortcuts:
  • Adjust Height of Selected Tracks in the Edit Window: Control+Up/Down Arrow
  • Set Track Height for All Tracks: Option-click Track Options button in the edit window
  • Set Track Height for All Selected Tracks: Option+Shift-click Track Options button in Edit window
  • With Flo Tools Inspector, double-tap the letter H on a focused track to set track height on focused track

Changing the Track Order

The order of tracks may be changed in several ways. For sighted users, it’s a simple matter of clicking and dragging a track or tracks into the desired position. For blind users, it’s essentially the same process. However, in sessions with large track counts, it can get tricky since there’s no easy way to scroll the track list. There are some work-arounds and best practices so let’s take a look at them.

Key shortcuts:
  • Mouse Down/Mouse Up: VO+shift+Command+Space Bar

Adding Markers to Your Session

Markers can be used to define specific locations in the timeline for quick recall. They can be used for navigation or for helping make a selection.

About Memory Locations

The terms “markers” and “memory locations” are often used interchangeably among many Pro Tools users. There’s technically a difference and one worth mentioning. A marker is considered a bookmark to a specific point on the timeline. A memory location can be a marker but can include other aspects like timeline selections, track visibility and Pre/Post Roll among other things. For now, we’ll focus on markers and how they can be helpful in navigating and editing.

Creating a Marker

To create a marker, press the Enter key. The resulting dialog offers a few additional options.

Key shortcuts:
  • Create New Memory Location: Enter on the numeric keypad

The Memory Locations Window

The Memory Locations window displays a list of markers and other memory locations you’ve created. Choose Windows>Memory Locations or press Command+5 on the numeric keypad to open the Memory Locations window.

For the following demonstrations, use the previous session you’ve edited or refer to the “Memory Locations Window.ptx” file within the “Chemical Reaction Stems” folder. Make sure the “Audio” archive has been decompressed before opening the session file.

Key shortcuts:
  • Open Memory Locations Window: Command+5 on the numeric keypad

Recalling a Marker

Markers can be recalled from within the Memory Locations window by clicking on the number or name of the marker. A faster and more immediate way to recall a marker is by using the numeric keypad. Press decimal then the number of the marker then decimal again to recall the memory location number.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Recall Memory Location: Decimal, Number, decimal on the numeric keypad
  • Create/Edit Memory Location: Decimal, Number, enter on the numeric keypad

Deleting a Marker

A marker (or memory location) can be deleted from the Memory Locations window by selecting it and choosing ““Clear (Location Name)” from the Memory Locations menu button.

Creating a Selection Using Markers

You can use markers to make selections in the timeline. This is handy when you want to select areas you’ve defined within the timeline like a verse or chorus or to recall a point to which you’d like to make a timeline selection. Use the numeric kepad to recall a marker then press and hold Shift while calling up another marker.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Select from Edit Insertion to a Memory Location that is a Marker: Press and hold shift while recalling a memory location (Decimal, Number, decimal on the numeric keypad)
Written on January 1, 2022