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Old 02-03-2023, 07:05 AM
Gregor B. Gregor B. is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Deutschland
Posts: 100
Default The Punch Paradox & The Need for Punch Time

For a number of years I have been thinking:
Why isn’t there a 'soft punch' for the IN of an automation pass, as a counterpart to 'auto match' for the OUT of an automation pass?
But then I thought further: Shouldn’t there be only that?
Because when would anyone ever actually want to use a hard punch, that introduces 2 breakpoints on the very same sample?
This is the punch paradox: Yes, I want to punch, but then not so hard please.

And so finally my third, least radical thought: Shouldn’t the classic auto punch commands (punch preview, punch capture) simply remain, but a corresponding punch time be added in preferences? This could very well be set to 0 samples by default, so that nothing really changes for anyone. For anyone else it can make a huge difference.

I will say though, that 0 really only makes sense for those who punch in absolute silence and even then, would it be limiting for them to set a few samples or a ms for safety, just to avoid clicks whenever audio is present? Or is it for those who want to throw an EQ on a Bass track so hard that it clicks whenever it's punched? Anyone?

Let me elaborate further:

Punches are essential to mixing.
And while the rec punch is well equipped for mixing within Pro Tools, the automation punch is a weak link.

Why is that?
The difference between the two is that rec punches are done whenever the material is the same at in and out and it's been done like that ever since tape*

The auto punch on the other hand happens whenever automation is introduced that is different to the read state, which means it needs more care. Since this punch happens from one sample to the next, with no way to make this change gradual, the only way to avoid clicks is to search for a moment with silence or no audio present on the track in question or to punch first and then fixing it by hand (eg select range over breakpoints, cut special all auto). That’s the handbook approach and it’s also extremely limiting, because the further you move up in the signal chain the less silence you will find!

This is true for film mixing work in particular: When working scene by scene, it is helpful to find a mood in preview mode first, while playing around with a large number of tracks, potentially all over the session, creating automation anywhere you touch. But a scene is not a song with silence separating it to the next one; a scene connects to the rest of the story before and after. So once that mood is found, one can start playback before that scene, execute a 'punch preview' command, than dynamically keep automating throughout that scene while playing and eventually finish the pass with an 'auto match' command (smooth) or an abrupt punch out by pressing ‘stop’. Yes, ambiences will be cut A/B in a scene by scene fashion, so the punch should not cause clicks there, but sooner or later you will punch over all kinds of audio, many of them inaudible and others, well… “pop”.

I do understand that working by the handbook is advisable, but if Pro Tools enables us to mix a bit more rock n roll, it will be extremely enabling and let us focus more on creativity. A simple ‘punch time’ preference would get us far ways in that regard.

BTW, auto punches can be:
- 'Punch Preview' (from Preview buffer)
- 'Punch Capture' (from Capture buffer)
- Exotic Punches like grabbing a joystick that is not in pickup mode

So now imagine just grabbing the joystick without actually having to collect those dang balls first, but just start spinning that stuff around and no clicks happening because it transitions to that first position of the pass in a split second. Yes please!

I will say that 'Steep Breakpoint Smoothing Time' can sort of fix the issue by, well, keeping the breakpoints steep and making only the playback smooth in the same fashion as the preference of auto crossfades pseudo-fixes bad editing. But that would also cause all other steep breakpoints to playback smoothly when they shouldn't: Think of all the clips that come from editors where automation starts and ends exactly at the clip boundaries (It is to be avoided but also extremely common especially when material is copy/pasted). Every Clip would now start with a chirp of the EQ...


(*rec punches: If I wish to record a different drum fill, then my rec punch will start before the fill and finish after, when both mix and record are identical. The only causes for clicks or pops here would be reverb issues (poorly chosen in and outs) or if rec and mix are out of sync. Arguably in this case the sync should be fixed, but even if it cannot be fixed, one could resort to quick punch mode and have Pro Tools create punch crossfades via preferences, so plenty of thought has gone into that)

Last edited by Gregor B.; 02-03-2023 at 08:57 AM. Reason: -
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Old 02-03-2023, 07:15 AM
its2loud its2loud is offline
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,394
Default Re: The Punch Paradox & The Need for Punch Time

This already exists. It’s called Glide Automation and the parameters can bet set in the preferences.
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Old 02-03-2023, 08:32 AM
Gregor B. Gregor B. is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Deutschland
Posts: 100
Default Re: The Punch Paradox & The Need for Punch Time

Thanks for the input!
That's not what I'm talking about though. 'Glide to automation' has existed for a long time and it basically let's me edit (note that it's in the edit menu) a smooth auto transition ending in a hard auto jump.
So if I want to smoothly get in and out of an automation, eg an EQ setting, I would need 3 steps to get there with glide to automation:
1. Glide into the EQ setting
2. write that setting for a duration on the timeline with 'write to selection'
3. glide into the neutral EQ setting
In that case it's even faster to just write EQ setting over a selection via 'write to selection' and fix its boundaries with 'cut special all auto'.

But more importantly, I'm not talking about editing!

I'm talking about mixing in realtime from a console. And one can already do the above scenario in 2 steps, problem is the click in the beginning which is why punches should be improved:
1. hit 'punch' (from preview or capture buffer)
2. hit 'auto match'
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