Locking Audio Regions

Locking regions in Pro Tools is an excellent way to protect them from accidentally being moved or edited as you work on your session. Find out more about using both the Edit and Time Lock features in Pro Tools 8.

Overview

Pro Tools 8 offers two different region locking modes; Time Lock and Edit Lock. In this tutorial you will explore the basics of both modes.

Time Locking Regions

Locking the position of a region in time has many practical uses. If you’re spotting sound effects to picture it’s valuable to be able to permanently lock them to a specific timecode location.

Or if you’re creating music, region edits that have been nudged carefully into place to achieve just the right feel on a track are not the kind of thing you want to do twice and locking them helps you avoid that.

Shuffle Mode Accidents

One of the common ways regions are moved accidentally occurs when deleting or trimming regions in Shuffle Mode (see Figures 1-4).

For example, when trimming one-half second from a region at Bar 2, every other region after Bar 2 on the same playlist will also be shifted earlier in time by one-half second.

If you’ve ever been listening back and found yourself wondering why the snare hits are all-of-a-sudden on one and three or why there’s a guitar solo during the second chorus, you know what I’m talking about.

How Accidents Happen

Here’s a quick look at how these Shuffle Mode accidents might happen. This is here to help show you why and when you might Time Lock your regions.

Figure 1: You want to Trim a bit off of the end of Region A.  Notice the start time of Region B.

Figure 1: You want to Trim a bit off of the end of Region A. Notice the start time of Region B.

Figure 2: You happen to forget that you're in Shuffle Mode.

Figure 2: You happen to forget that you're in Shuffle Mode.

Figure 3: You Trim the tail of Region A.

Figure 3: You Trim the tail of Region A.

Figure 4: Notice that Region B has now moved earlier by the amount of the Trim. Every region later on the playlist will have been moved earlier too!

Figure 4: Notice that Region B has now moved earlier by the amount of the Trim. Every region later on the playlist will have been moved earlier too!

Of course, if you’re aware of pitfalls like that you’re probably already taking measures to avoid those mistakes. But another way to protect regions from inadvertently moving is to Time Lock them

Using Time Lock/Unlock

  1. Select the region(s) that you want to Time Lock by clicking on them with the Grabber Tool.
  2. Select Region → Time Lock/Unlock
  3. An outlined Lock icon appears on your Time Locked region(s).
Figure 5: Select the Region(s) that you want to Time Lock by clicking on them with the Grabber Tool.

Fig 5: Step 1 ~ Select the Region(s) that you want to Time Lock by clicking on them with the Grabber Tool.

Figure 6: Select <span class="pt_menu">Region → Time Lock/Unlock</span>

Fig 6: Step 2 ~ Select Region → Time Lock/Unlock

Figure 7: An outlined Lock icon appears on your Time Locked region(s).

Fig 7: Step 3 ~ An outlined Lock icon appears on your Time Locked region(s).

Working with Time Locked Regions

When a region is Time Locked you won’t be able to move it and you won’t encounter those Shuffle Mode accidents I mentioned above.(see Figures 8-9)

Figure 8: Trimming a neighboring region in Shuffle Mode with Region B Time Locked. Notice Region B timeline location.

Figure 8: Trimming a neighboring region in Shuffle Mode with Region B Time Locked. Notice Region B timeline location.

Figure 9: Because Region B is locked it did not move when Trimming Region A in Shuffle Mode.

Figure 9: Because Region B is locked it did not move when Trimming Region A in Shuffle Mode.

Time Locked Regions can still be edited in any way that doesn’t affect their position on the timeline. Cutting, copying, separating, trimming, etc. will all work as usual.

Edit Locking Regions

Edit Locking regions is a more complete level of protection. Instead of just locking a region position in time like Time Locking, Edit Locking protects the locked region from being inadvertently moved or edited.

Edit Locked regions will not allow you to Separate, Trim, Fade, Delete, or Cut the region

Be aware that Edit Locked regions can still be process by AudioSuite processing.

Using Edit Lock/Unlock

  1. Select the Region(s) that you want to Edit Lock.
  2. Select Region -> Edit Lock/Unlock
  3. A solid Lock icon appears on your Edit Locked region(s).
Figure 10: Select the Region(s) that you want to Edit Lock.

Fig 10: Step 1 ~ Select the Region(s) that you want to Edit Lock.

Figure 11: Select Region → Edit Lock/Unlock

Fig 11: Step 2 ~ Select Region → Edit Lock/Unlock

Figure 12: A solid Lock icon appears on your Edit Locked region(s).

Fig 12: Step 3 ~ A solid Lock icon appears on your Edit Locked region(s).

Allow or Cancel Edit

When you try to perform an edit on a Edit Locked region you’ll be presented with an alert box that gives you the option of allowing the edit despite the fact that the region is Edit Locked. If you allow the edit will be performed once and the resulting region will remain Edit Locked.

Figure 14: Alert prompt asks you to Allow of Cancel the Edit.

Figure 13: Attempting to Trim an Edit Locked region.

Figure 14: Alert prompt asks you to Allow of Cancel the Edit.

Figure 14: Alert prompt asks you to Allow of Cancel the Edit.

Figure 15: In this case the Edit was Allowed. The resulting region is still Edit Locked.

Figure 15: In this case the Edit was Allowed. The resulting region is still Edit Locked.

Unlocking Locked Regions

To unlock a Locked region just repeat the steps you used to Lock it.

Comments

  1. Cool tips! I rarely lock my regions…and sometimes I really should.

    Quick question, though. Wouldn’t it be easier to just edit in Slip mode rather than staying in Shuffle and locking regions? I’m curious why you’d edit in Shuffle mode unless you really need the adjacent regions to move, too.

    • Joe ~ Thanks. Yes, you’re right. Slip Mode is easier for all kinds of edits.

      The tutorial scenario describes being in Shuffle Mode by mistake (see caption below Figure 2). It’s merely one example of why you might lock regions. The scenario being that when toggling through Edit Modes and Tools quickly it’s easy to make edits in shuffle mode that inadvertently affect audio later in the session. If you miss it when it happens, it can be a mess.

      That said, any time you don’t want regions to move inadvertently, Time Lock is useful.

      Why would I use Shuffle Mode to edit nonadjacent audio? Sometimes I’ll use Shuffle Mode to perform certain edits on nonadjacent regions, usually when making timing related edits.

  2. This is really cool. Yeah different modes help about in different purposes. I was wondering if you do have any videos more to sound editing along with video for reference? Such as tutorials to guide because I’m a beginner. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Winston ~ Thanks. I do have other training materials on the way. If you’re signed up to the newsletter you’ll be among the first to know. Feel free to email me via the contact page if you have any special requests.

  3. Very good tutorial. I learned it very easily. Thanks very much.

  4. How do you lock a region yet move it around? Like let’s say you have a vocal track you like but you wanna leave it on the track its already at but copy and paste it to another track to double up your vocals. But here’s the thing, I want the track I copy to stay in the same time of the track I paste it to so it doesn’t sound off.

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Tony ~ I’m not in front of PT at the moment. But you can achieve this by using a combination of keyboard shortcuts. Only thing is – I’m only 90% sure about the keys at the moment.

      I believe it’s Shift+Option+Click+Drag the region from Track A to Track B (Shift+Alt+Click+Drag on Windows). The option/alt modifier copies the region, the shift modifier constrains the movement to vertical-only.

      I’ll test it myself in the morning and update this if I’m remembering it incorrectly.

      As a side note: If you’re attempting to create a doubled vocal track sound, without actually doubling the vocal, you may find you get a better result if there
      IS some variation in the timing (and even subtle pitch variation) between the two tracks. If they are exactly the same region – in the exact same time, having two of them will only make it louder. It’s the differences in timing and pitch that give it the “doubled” sound.

      You might also want to try using a short delay (ie:30-50ms) and some sort of chorus effect on the main vocal, too. This is a decent quick way to at least get pseudo doubled vocal sound.