Here’s some great advice I got…

Last year I was interviewing Jon Tidey (of Audio Geek Zine and The Home Recording Show) for a product I was putting together.

We mostly talked about editing.

Now I had been using Pro Tools for years, but I had never really gotten into the “keyboard focus” stuff. (That’s essentially when you put Pro Tools in a certain mode, and keyboard shortcuts get even shorter.)

In other words, you can press just one key to do a specific task, rather than holding down a modifier AND pressing a key.

The two big ones that Jon shared with me were for zooming in and out and separating a region.

Up to that point, I had always zoomed in and out by using the shortcuts Cmd-[ and Cmd-]. For separating a region, I would use the Cmd-E shortcut.

Jon pointed out that I could simply use T and R for zooming in and out and B for separating regions.

“Ok, big deal,” you might say.

But think about it. Over the course of an editing session, I’ll zoom in and out a bajillion times, and I’ll be separating regions all along the way.

These simple single-key shortcuts end up saving me a LOT of time. For one thing, I can do all of them with my left hand, so my right hand never has to leave the mouse. Secondly, I really don’t have to look down at the keyboard to find the Command key and the other key.

It easily saves a second or two…EVERY TIME I need to zoom in or separate a region. Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of times I do those functions on a given project, and that’s some serious time saved.

And if you’re charging by the project, the time you save is money in your pocket.

Workflow is certainly important. The faster you can perform a task (and still perform it well), the more you can get done, which has its obvious benefits.

Be careful.

You can easily become obsessed with memorizing shortcuts and “maximizing workflow” that you actually don’t get anything done.

Don’t learn every shortcut. Incorporate a few new ones as you go.

And keep working on projects…shortcuts don’t help you if you have no projects to work on.

Almost every time I learn a new shortcut or time-saver, it’s from talking with other engineers.

Speaking of talking with other engineers, if you want to hear Jon’s full interview, and 8 other interviews with other really smart people who can help make you better (and faster), go here:

  • Pingback: A Case Against “Workflow” | Home Studio Corner()

  • Xan

    Keyboard shortcuts are one thing, but there are quite a few other things one can do to improve their workflow. You have actually mentioned them at times, Joe. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have a project in progress now that requires me to master 100 songs for a compilation, yes one HUNDRED songs. That’s 500-1000 minutes ov music..!

    No amounts ov keyboard shortcuts are gonna speed that process up. But what will is the fact I am gonna set up an analogue mastering chain. This will make the process far quicker, because as I xfer through this chain I am checking the files for artifacts, bad encoding etc as I go. Two birds with one stone…now that’s workflow…! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Curious about one thing though. You sell that video ov those engineers for $17 – what cut do each ov them get?

  • Andrew

    I’m pretty bad when it comes to work flow. The most I do is color code the regions and create Icons for each track so I can know which track is which, but I don’t set any markers like which one is the verse, bridge, and chorus (and I know the key commands too…but I just want to get my idea in my DAW as quickly as possible without it hindering my creativity. I get new ideas very quickly LOL. Overall as an engineer even when I mic stuff and record things I somewhat lazy about it). Although I do think my lackadaisical engineering process does creates the “character” of sounds I make in my DAW (hard to defend my point on this), in the end I prefer my process of being a little careless because I make a lot of good mistakes LOL (eventually I’ll study how to be a real engineer then a fake one).

    Ever heard of Good mistakes before? (This question is rhetorical).