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Saving Space with Linear Audio in Pro Tools (Part 3)
by George Hufnagl on 08/23/12 12:17:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


This blog was originally posted on Creating Sound. Additional information about the author and website can be found at

In Part 1 of this tutorial, I covered the process for getting started, staying organized, and identifying and removing silent gaps. In Part 2, I went through more space-saving tips by demonstrating how I look for opportunities to reuse the same audio clips in multiple places. In this third and final post, I talk about how to prepare and export the session data for programming.


When exporting session data, the resultant file can be especially cumbersome if exported from the original session in which the data was edited. To perform the final steps efficiently, I find it helps to create a brand new Pro Tools session and import just the files needed for documentation. So, once the new session is created, we perform the following to import the essential data:

Go to FILE -> IMPORT -> SESSION DATA and choose the original .ptf session when prompted. See below:

In the next menu under “Source,” choose the track to import and and then import the data to a “New Track” under the right submenu. Be sure that “COPY FROM MEDIA SOURCE” is also chosen under “AUDIO MEDIA OPTIONS” to prevent file paths from being lost. See below:

For my purposes, I renamed this newly-imported source track “Master Trigger” to account for the order of all audio, Mutes, repetitions and Playlist Dividers.

Because the programmer doesn’t actually need to deal with Mutes and Playlist Divider files directly, I created one more track called “Regions” to distill the files down to just the audio that will be sent to the programmer. This is easily done in "SHUFFLE" mode by selecting all files in the “Master Trigger” track and then dragging and dropping them from the REGIONS list onto the “Regions” track. You can then delete the Mutes and Playlist Dividers which should appear at the very end of the “Regions” track.

If there is a particular way the files are to be named for the project and you haven't yet done that, now is the time to do so. This is easily done by renaming files on the “Regions” track, which will automatically populate the new names throughout the session.

It’s now time to reflect on what my efforts yielded in terms of saving space. See below:

(“Master Trigger” Track: All files including Mutes, Playlist Dividers and reused audio files | “Regions” Track: Includes just the audio to be used for implementation)

By removing space and reusing audio files, I was able to reduce my time from three and a half minutes to just over ninety seconds, resulting in a savings of over 57%! While not every project may not yield as dramatic of results as this, when you are in a space-saving jam and are trying to retain as high-fidelity of audio as possible, it is well worth the effort.


For this final section, we will export the session data and create an easy-to-read spreadsheet for the programmer’s reference. To do so, we perform the following steps:

1. Go to FILE -> EXPORT -> SESSION INFO AS TEXT. See below:

2. You can experiment with how you want the data to read, but for now, I hit “OK” without any changes and named the file “George’s PT Tutorial.txt” See below:

3. Open the file with Excel. See below:

4. We will not remove all extraneous data. Starting from the top of the spreadsheet, delete all info through “CHANNEL” below “TRACK NAME Master Trigger.” See below:

5. Continuing to remove extraneous data, delete all info beneath the “TRACK NAME Master Trigger” section. This includes from “TRACK NAME Regions” and below. See below:

6. To finish this portion, delete all columns except for B and C, the result of which will shift columns B and C to the left. See below:

7. We will now begin reorganizing the remaining data. Select all data -> Go to DATA -> SORT -> Sort by Column B -> Click “OK.” See below:


8. Under Column C, click on the cell to the right of the the Playlist Dividers and type the description and number that recalls each audio file to be triggered. These names will help parse out how the files will be named and separated. In this case, we’ll call the files “Triggers.” See below:
9. For a shortcut to automate the naming process, place your cursor on the bottom right of “Trigger 00’s” cell and, once you see the “+,” click and drag down to last Playlist Divider to populate the remaining list. See below:

10. To continue organizing, select all data -> Go to DATA -> SORT -> Sort by Column A -> Click “OK.” Then, under Column C, select all “Triggers” within the spreadsheet and cut/paste down one cell. Without this step, the change in shading for Step 11 would cover up the “Trigger XX” cells. See below:

11. We will now change the Playlist Dividers to all black for easy-to-read formatting. Select all data -> Go to DATA -> SORT -> Column B -> Click “OK” and scroll down and select all Playlist Dividers. Go to VIEW –> FORMATTING PALETTE -> BORDERS AND SHADING -> SHADING -> Choose the color black. Leaving the FORMATTING PALETTE open, it should now look like this. See below:

12. We can begin to see the fruits of our labor. Select all data -> Go to DATA -> SORT -> Sort by Column A -> Click “OK.” See below:

13. Our last step is to select Column C and cut and paste into Column A. For presentation, Select All -> Go to FORMATTING PALETTE -> BORDERS -> TYPE: All. It should now look like this. See below:

14. Save your project and you’re done!

We can see that each separate audio file (i.e. “Trigger”) has the name to the left with the playlist to the right. Each “Trigger” includes the audio files and the Mutes for each file as they appear horiztonally in the Pro Tools session and is separated by the (now black) Playlist Divider. You should also include any additional information that you deem helpful within the spreadsheet, either in another column or new tab. This will aid in keeping track of the project’s contents, any formatting requirements or additional reference materials.


Every project will have its own places to save space if needed, so it’s important to recognize these opportunities as early as possible and give your input. In other words, make friends with whomever is in charge of design/editing and best friends with the person implementing. We sure love to fight for our audio space, but it’s nice to have a bag of tricks handy.

Should you have any questions, please contact me via the social media links below or feel free to email me directly, Thanks for reading!

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