In the music production and audio engineering fields, the phrase,” Use your ears.” Gets thrown around a lot. This is not surprising given the auditory nature of our work. Sometimes though audio engineers are required to use their eyes. A good example of where this comes into play is when we need to make a slice on an audio track. As any engineer will tell you, it is advisable to make slices at points where the waveform is at equilibrium or at “0” to avoid having pops and clicks in the audio. Sensitive editing procedures like these necessitate the use of Pro Tools zoom feature.
Pro Tools offers a variety of ways to zoom in and out. The two main ways pro tools allows us to zoom are Horizontal zoom and Vertical zoom.
Horizontal Zoom In and Zoom Out
Zooming horizontally in Pro tools is achieved through the use of the Zoomer tool. This tool can be accessed from the tool bar and its icon is a magnifying glass.
The zoomer tool has two operation modes. These are
- Normal Zoom- In this mode, the zoomer tool changes the pointer to a magnifying glass and zooming in and out can be done as many times as one wants as the zoom mode remains active.
- Single Zoom- In this mode, the pointer changes to a magnifying glass and allows for only one zoom, either in or out, before reverting back to an arrow and thus turning the zoom mode off.
These modes can be accessed by right-clicking the zoomer tool icon.
To Zoom in using the zoomer tool, simply click once.
In the Picture below, my pointer was placed in the circled area with the zoomer tool selected.
The picture above shows tracks before zooming in.
Clicking my mouse zoomed in to produce the results in the screenshot below.
From the above examples, it can be noted that clicking with the zoomer tool selected zoomed into the beginning of my session. This is because horizontal zoom uses the cursor as the focal point to zoom in to. However, It is possible to zoom in on a particular range by clicking and dragging while the zoomer tool is selected.
To zoom out, hold Alt + Left click on PC and Option + Left click. You will notice that holding alt/option changes the magnifying glass icon from a “+” to a “–“ to denote that clicking will zoom out. The screenshot below shows tracks zoomed out .
Horizontal Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts
An easier way to zoom in and out is to use keyboard shortcuts.
Control + square bracket “[“on PC and Command + “[“on macto Zoom out
Control + Square bracket “]” on PC and Command + “]” on macto Zoom In
The square brackets are located to the right of the “P” key on a regular keyboard.
An even easier way would be to use the R and T keys to zoom out and zoom in respectively. In order for these to work, Keyboard focus would need to be enabled in the edit window.
You can also use the number keys 1,2,3 and 4 on the top row of number buttons to recall zoom locations.
Command + control + “[“ To bring the length of the session into view.
To enable Keyboard focus, make sure that the small “az” symbol near the top-right side of the edit window is highlighted. Do this by clicking on the symbol.
Vertical Zoom In and Zoom Out
In Pro Tools, it is possible to zoom vertically. This has the effect of increasing the track height. There are a few ways to do this.
The most easily accessible way to increase track height is by placing the mouse pointer on the bottom edge of a track and Clicking and Dragging.
Placing the mouse pointer in the area indicated by the red circle and clicking and dragging would adjust the height of the track labelled FT1_01.
Dragging down would increase the track height as shown below. This is a vertical zoom in.
Note how the height of this track is significantly higher than that of the other tracks.
Dragging upwards would decrease the track height as shown below. This is a vertical zoom out.
Another way of adjusting track height is by clicking the amplitude ruler.
As shown above, clicking the amplitude ruler opens up a list that gives us options that help determine the height of the track. These range from micro, which makes the track barely visible, to fit to window, which fits the track to the edit window.
Alternatively, this list can be accessed from the dropdown menu by clicking the arrow to the left of the track name.
An easy way to adjust the track height of all the tracks in the session at the same time is to hold alt (option on mac) and click and drag on the bottom edge as stated above. This adjusts the track height of all tracks by the same degree and in such a way that all tracks will be the same height.
Vertical Zoom Using Keyboard Shortcuts
To zoom in and out vertically using keyboard shortcuts one can use the following keys.
Windows Button + Up Arrow to perform a vertical zoom-in, thus increasing the track height of the selected track
Windows Button + Down Arrow to perform a vertical zoom-out, decreasing the track height of the selected track
Alt + Windows Button + Up Arrow to perform a universal vertical zoom-in and increase the track height of All tracks
Alt + Windows Button + Down Arrow to perform a universal vertical zoom-out and decrease the track height of all the tracks.
Control + Up Arrow perform a vertical zoom-in, thus increasing the track height of the selected track
Control + Down Arrow to perform a vertical zoom-out, decreasing the track height of the selected track
Option + Control + Up Arrow to perform a universal vertical zoom-in, increasing the track height of All tracks
Option + Control + Down Arrow to perform a universal vertical zoom-out, decreasing the track height of all the tracks.
Zooming with Narrow Mix
One more zoom option that Pro tools offers is one that affects how channels appear in the mix window.
The screenshot above is of how the mix window appears by default. Notice how not all the channels in my session are visible at the same time. If I wanted to see all the channels in the mix window, I would use Pro Tools Narrow Mix function.
To access narrow mix, click View from the menu bar and then click Narrow Mix.
Doing this will fit all the mixer tracks into the window. As we can see in the screenshot above, the shortcut Ctrl + Alt + M can also be used to trigger Narrow Mix.
The screenshot above is of the mix window after having clicked Narrow Mix.
In conclusion we can see that there are two main zoom modes in Pro Tools; Horizontal zoom and Vertical zoom. It is important to note that in the case of horizontal zoom, the cursor/insertion pointer acts as the focal point of the zoom function. We have also seen that there are several ways of zooming in and out in Pro Tools ranging from the use of the zoomer tool to the use of various keyboard shortcuts. Hopefully, integrating these into your workflow will make the editing and mixing process easier.