Flo Tools 2.2

Isn’t it about time for a Flo Tools update? We sure think so. We’ve added a few shortcuts to help report things like edit modes and playback status. Dragging clips to the timeline used to be tedious or even impossible. Guess what? Not anymore.

Perhaps most exciting is the new facility for MIDI editing. We think you’ll love it.

Wait, 2.2? What happened to 2.1? What about 2.0.2? While we’re at it, was there a 2.0.1b? Well, let’s not get too hung up on the numbers and instead take a look at what’s new in the version formerly known as 2.whatever.

• Speak / Toggle Tab to Transients: Command+Option+Tab

Blind Pro Tools users are quite familiar with navigating through tracks by using the Tab key with modifiers to jump to clip boundaries. One of the really helpful modes when editing with keyboard shortcuts is the Tab to Transients feature. If you’ve ever done a lot of drum editing, you’ll know how useful and time-saving a feature it is.

However, there often comes a point where the line between what’s a transient and what’s a clip boundary becomes confusing, especially when you begin to cycle back and forth between Tab to Transients being on or off. You might find yourself pressing Tab , thinking you’re moving by transient and you’re suddenly editing a clip that you didn’t intend to change.

Since we often gather information by tabbing and playing to verify certain things upon playback rather than navigating to a control to check its status, it can potentially get a bit tedious when doing a lot of editing with many clips and many transients.

The “Speak / Toggle Tab to Transients” macro reports the status of the Tab to Transients button. Double-tapping the shortcut toggles the state.

This macro makes it easy to quickly verify the current mode and switch back and forth swiftly and reliably.

• Speak / Toggle Insertion Follows Playback: Control+N

If you had to guess what this macro does… you’d probably be correct. Need we say more?

• Speak / Select Shuffle Mode: f1

• Speak / Select Slip Mode: f2

• Speak / Select Spot Mode: f3

• Speak/Select Grid Mode: f4

Naturally, these macros are virtually self-explanatory. All you need to know is that a single tap reports the state of the edit mode and double-tapping the shortcut toggles the state, just like the aforementioned macros.

Note that Grid Mode has two states: Absolute and Relative. Once Grid Mode has been selected, further double-tapping will toggle between Absolute and Relative Grid Mode.

• Speak / Toggle QuickPunch: Command+Shift+p

• Speak / Toggle Loop Playback: Command+Shift+l

• speak / Toggle Loop Record: Option+l

• Speak/Toggle Pre/Post Roll: Command+k

Most users will remember that these record and playback mode shortcuts are found under the Options menu. You’ve probably gotten used to the shortcuts and maybe even have them memorized. The thing is, most of these modes cannot be changed while the transport is engaged.

Now, imagine you’ve hit the play button and are getting ready to punch in a vocalist’s performance but you’re unaware or at least forgot that you turned off QuickPunch earlier in the session. That singer might very well the about to give the performance of their lives while you’re about to sit there listening to the previous take, unaware that pressing the Record button won’t work because QuickPunch is not enabled.

Well, now you can verify whether QuickPunch is on while the transport is rolling. While it is true that if QuickPunch is not enabled, you won’t be able to turn it on before the punch-in point but at least you can instantly stop the transport and double-tap the same shortcut to quickly toggle it on. What’s more, if QuickPunch was on to begin with, you will have saved yourself the trouble of stopping in the first place.

The same idea holds true for Loop Record and Loop Playback although the stakes might not be as high as when it comes to the pressure of a punch-in. Still, it’s nice to be able to verify before engaging the transport rather than having everything stop at the end of a selection when you thought you were in loop mode all along.

While it’s possible to toggle Pre/Post-Roll during playback, having the ability to report the state before toggling it, if necessary, Helps avoid having to toggle and playing to verify the Pre/Post-Roll status.

• Increase / Decrease Instrument Volume: Command+Option+up/down arrows

The Flo Tools Inspector offers shortcuts for just about everything in a track’s channel strip. Everything, that is, except for something we forgot: MIDI volume.

Now with version 2.2 you can adjust the MIDI volume of an instrument track with the Inspector.

•Flo Tools Selected Tabs: Command+1, Command+2, Command+3, etc.

Pro Tools uses the Command modifier plus the numbers row as shortcuts for selecting tabs in dialogs. While the shortcuts have always worked, there was no feedback to indicate which tab was selected.

Also, how many of us actually remember what the ninth tab in the Preferences dialog is? well, now you don’t have to. Now when you press Command plus the numbers row while in a tabbed dialog, Flo Tools will speak and select the corresponding tabs.

Now that you don’t have to navigate to a tab to select or verify what the tab is, you no longer need to navigate back or further across the tab bar to reach the first item in the dialog. You can now simply use the shortcut to select the desired tab as soon as you’re in the dialog and just navigate straight down into the first item or cluster of elements.

Oh, and by the way, the ninth tab of the Preferences dialog is Synchronization… or is it Collaboration?… Hmm… well, you’ll figure it out. It’s easy!

• Speak / Copy Mouse Coordinates Relative to Screen: Command+Option+Shift+a

When we introduced the Mouse macro group in version 2.0, Flo Tools offered the ability to speak and copy mouse pointer coordinates as well as move the mouse to a specific location relative to the front window’s top left corner. While that covers most needs, it might sometimes be useful to speak and/or copy those coordinates relative to the screen rather than the window.

• Resize Track List Table: Command+Control+Shift+t

• Resize Clips Table: Command+Control+Shift+c

Resize” is such a big word. Well, to be more accurate, what these macros do is position the mouse pointer right where it would need to be in order to click and drag to resize either table to make it wider or narrower.

So, while the macros themselves don’t actually resize the tables, per se, because how would we know how wide or narrow you prefer your tables? Hey, some like ‘em big, some like ‘em small—it’s all good.

if you do wish to resize the tables, you’ll have to remember that, when you’re dragging the edge of the Track List Table on the left side of the Mix or Edit window, the mouse pointer is on the right edge of the table so you need to drag to the right to widen it or to the left to narrow it. The opposite is true for the Clip List Table which is on the right side of the Edit window.

When resizing the Clips Table, flo Tools places the mouse along the left edge of the table so you need to drag the mouse pointer to the left to widen or to the right to narrow the table.

But, wait, how do you drag the mouse to the left or right? Well, Apple took care of half of the equation and the Flo Tools team took care of the other half.

Press VO+Command+Shift+Space Bar to issue a mouse down and then use the Flo Tools mouse movement shortcuts (Command+Option+Shift+left/right arrows) to drag the mouse sideways and mouse up when your done.

Note that the minimum width (and seemingly the default) for the Track List Table is 85 points while the minimum for the Clips List Table is 86 points. Why the one point difference? It’s one of the great mysteries… and speaking of mysteries, there’s somewhat of a mystery with these next two macros:

• Mark for Drag: Command+Option+Shift+, (comma)

• Drag clip: Command+Option+shift+. (period)

What’s the mystery? we’ll get to that in a bit. First let’s talk about what’s supposed to happen when you issue these commands.

Let’s back up a second and appreciate the fact that importing audio to new tracks in Pro Tools has always been super easy. However, dragging clips from the Clips List has not been easy—at least not until now.

The problem for VoiceOver users is that, while navigating the Clips List Table with the mouse pointer following the VoiceOver cursor, the mouse pointer will often end up centered within the VoiceOver cursor, technically putting it outside the table, especially when the table is only 86 points wide. Widening the table without sighted assistance has never been possible.

Of course, the macros mentioned earlier solve that problem but, still, one would have to hide all other tracks and make sure the track to which a clip was to be dragged was set to a large height, not to mention trying to minimize the rulers, etc.—again, not for the faint of heart.

You may be wondering, “Why not use the built-in VoiceOver commands for marking items for dragging?” That’s an excellent question and one worth answering! The short answer is that, while you can mark a clip for dragging, you can only drag to an item which voiceOver can see. Since the timeline itself has nothing for VoiceOver to see, those commands don’t work.

OK, back to these two macros. As you navigate the Clips List Table, the “Mark for Drag” shortcut makes a note of the coordinates for that clip. The nice thing is that, regardless of how narrow the table might be, flo Tools will compensate. Press Command+Option+Shift+, (comma) to mark the clip.

Here’s a bonus: if you issue the shortcut but continue to hold down the modifiers, you’ll be able to audition the clip for as long as you hold down the modifiers. This is the equivalent of the Pro Tools Option+click and Hold command to audition a clip in the clips List. You can audition any number of clips. Whichever is the last clip that you audition will be the one marked for dragging.

So now we need to navigate to the track to which we’d like to drag the clip. Stop interacting with the Clips List Table and navigate to an audio track without interacting. Press Command+Option+Shift+. (period) to have Flo Tools drag the marked clip to the focused track. Flo Tools will say, “Finished dragging.” Well, that is, if the drag is successful… and that’s where the mystery comes in…

Occasionally, perhaps half the time, the macro works the first time. If the drag fails, Flo Tools says, “Failed dragging” and nothing bad happens unless you somehow feel let down and that makes the Flo Tools team sad.

The good news is that you can simply issue the shortcut again and Flo Tools will make another attempt. In fact, you can issue the command until it’s successful and it’s only a matter of time before it’ll work. Honestly, we’ve seen it work successfully five or six times in a row but we’ve seen it fail a few times in a row as well.

Our theory is that the macro might actually be working too fast for Pro Tools. We’re looking into potential ways of solving this problem. Frankly, we even entertained the thought of automating a loop to keep trying the sequence until it worked and reporting success at the end. It might have taken a few seconds longer and nobody would ever know;

but we would never try to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes… not even blind users because, honestly, what good would that do? So, in full disclosure, the “Drag Clip” macro is currently considered beta until we can make it absolutely consistent.

•A few more quick tips before we move on:

  1. If your Clips List Table has a large number of clips in it, there’s a chance that you might browse beyond the table’s bottom edge and marking an item below the visible part of the table won’t work. Try using the Pro Tools Find function in the Clips List (Command+Shift+f) to narrow down the clips being displayed in the list. The more specific the name, the better the chances that the list will be shorter and the clip you’re looking to drag will be among those in the visible part of the table.
  2. When using the Mark Clip macro, if you hold down the modifiers to audition the clip and it doesn’t play, simply press the shortcut again. We’ve seen some systems respond instantly while others respond only on the second attempt. Yet another mystery…
  3. If you need to drag a number of clips to the same track in the timeline, make sure you’ve set the Timeline Drop Order in the Clips List pop-up menu to “Left to Right” and select the clips you wish to drag. When you’ve selected them, move to the first selected clip and mark it for dragging. Once you’ve navigated to the audio track to which you want to drag, issuing the “Drag clip” command will drag the marked clip along with all selected clips.

OK, this subject is getting to be a real drag so let’s move on to perhaps the biggest news,

and that’s the new Flo Tools MIDI Event List macro group.

We all know how it can sometimes be frustrating to work in the MIDI Event List. Things go well until they don’t and you’re stuck because you don’t know why double-clicking an item doesn’t seem to work and you can’t edit things, etc. Well, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: an easy and reliable way to navigate and edit items in the MIDI Event List table.

Open the MIDI Event List window with Option+= and navigate to the table and interact with it. Move to a note and press VO+Space Bar on it.

If your virtual instrument is loaded or MIDI device connected, you should hear a note play. Pressing the down arrow will move to and select the next note while deselecting the previous note. This is standard behavior for the MIDI Event List.

While notes are selected, however, unless you have perfect pitch, you might wonder which note is currently selected or, even if you do have perfect pitch, you wouldn’t necessarily know what the attack or release value is for the selected note.

Flo Tools now offers a way to selectively monitor these parameters while arrowing through the MIDI Event List.

Use Control+left/right arrows to choose which category of feedback (or column) you wish to hear while arrowing through the events in the MIDI Event List.

For example, if you press Control+right arrow twice to get to the pitch column, whenever you arrow up or down to a new note, Flo Tools will announce the pitch of the currently selected note. If you want to hear the velocity (or attack) value, press Control+right arrow again to move to the attack column and Flo Tools will announce attack values as you navigate the table.

While navigating within the MIDI Event List and monitoring a given column, you can edit the value in that column for the currently selected note by pressing Control+Command+Return, typing a value and pressing either Return or Enter. Note that the shorcut for editing an event with Control+Command specifically uses the Return key and not the Enter key on the numeric keypad.

If you’d rather not have any feedback while listening to notes as you arrow down the list, press Control+left arrow until Flo Tools says, “No report.” With “No Report” selected, no feedback will be given while navigating through the event list with the up and down arrows.

Even when you choose to have nothing reported, it’s possible to have Flo Tools report several parameters for selected notes whether you’re in the MIDI Event List or not. The following shortcuts are your friends:

• Speak/Edit Pitch for Selected Note: Option+p

• Speak/Edit attack Velocity for Selected Note: Option+a

• Speak/Edit Release Velocity for selected Note: Option+r

Note that double-tapping the shortcuts will prompt you to type in a new value.

There are three more macros that you already know but we bet you never knew you could use to edit MIDI notes:

these are the Speak/Edit Start, End and Length macros, Command+f1, f2 and f3. Who knew?

When you’ve selected a note, you can press Command+f1 to find out where it appears in the timeline.

Let’s say you press Command+f3 to see how long the note is. If you want to change the length of the note, just use the familiar double-tap, type a value and press Enter.

Want to move a note to a specific bar/beat location? Easy peasy: select the note and double-tap Command+f1, type in the new location and press Enter and boom! The note has been placed in the new location.

It’s important to note that, if you were to delete a note in the MIDI Event List, you’d have to select a new note in order to continue arrowing through and selecting notes, with or without the reporting of column info.

To select a note, you could either navigate to a note with VoiceOver and click or move the mouse pointer to the center of the MIDI Event List window with Command+Option+Shift+m and click the mouse. Either way, however, you won’t be in exactly the same place as you were before the deletion of the previously selected note. Well, Flo Tools can now help in this regard.

For the following process to work correctly, you’ll need to do a few things or at least make sure a few things are set up.

  1. Make sure you have a selected MIDI or instrument track.
  2. Make sure you have Clips selected in the track’s Track View Selector. If the track height is at least medium, you can double-tap the w key while focused on the track while the Inspector is on.
  3. Slect everything in the track by pressing Return then Option+Shift+Return.
  4. Consolidate all of the clips in the track by pressing Option+Shift+3 on the numbers row.
  5. Switch the Track view to Notes.

So, all of that wasn’t too hard, was it? It’ll be worth it, you’ll see.

Now, this is gonna sound crazy but… close the MIDI Event List window. That’s right, close it. Trust us.

Now press the tab key just like you would to move the insertion point to a clip boundary. You should hear the first note in the track. Notice that it is selected.

How do we know that? Well, press Command+f3 and you’ll see that the value is greater than zero. As you tab through the notes, they will be selected. Depending on what you last set the report to be in the MIDI Event List, you might hear feedback as you tab through the notes.

just as in the MIDI Event List, use Control+left/right arrow to select which column (or category) of information you’d like to hear as you tab through the notes. If you choose “no report,” you can use the other shortcuts for querying the selected note’s parameters.

Press Option+p to hear the pitch, Option+a for the attack and Option+r for release just like in the MIDI Event List.

Move to a note and now delete it. Now simply press the tab key and you’ll hear the next note and it’s now selected. That’s right, no need to click on a note in the MIDI Event List. You can just pick up right from where you left off.

You can even move the insertion point to wherever you want in the session and press the Tab key to select the next note—Crazy stuff.

You know what’s pretty cool? As a fringe benefit of this new MIDI functionality, Flo Tools can now automatically report information like start, end and length for audio clips. Use the same Control+left/right arrows to choose what you want to hear and give it a try.

Note that things like pitch, attack and release don’t apply for audio clips when selecting what to report.

OK, one more quick one: Speak Selected Clips: Option+Shift+p. It’ll list the clips too.

For this macro to be most effective, you’ll want to check the “Clip Selection Follows Edit Selection” option under the Editing tab in the Preferences dialog

Wow, that was a lot of ReadMe, eh? Let’s stop here and save some innovation for the next version of Flo Tools, okay?

We’re so excited to bring you these latest macros to help increase efficiency and streamline your workflow in Pro Tools.

The Flo Tools Team is already working on new stuff for the next release which we may very well call version 2.9 or maybe Flo Tools X or maybe we should name it after a wild cat or a national park. How about something from the Periodic Table of elements? Flo Tools Cobalt?

Enjoy the new macros and we hope they help.

The flo Tools Team

Written on June 16, 2017