ProTools Editing Principles for Filmmaking

ProTools Editing Principles for Filmmaking

Pro Tools 12.5

Here I leave you a list of the key principles you will use when editing and mixing sound for film, therefore and without further delay here it is…
Quick Steps when Creating a New Session:
  • Step 2: SET A COLOR (Same color for same types of sounds)
  • Step 3: RECORD AUDIO (Mono = record with 1 mic // Stereo = record with 2 mics)
Types of tracks:
  • Audio tracks: mono/stereo
  • Auxiliary tracks (aux): no audio files here, only effects, pan and fader. You channel several audio tracks to an aux track so change the effect of all and each one of the tracks that are channeled through that specific aux track. When channelling other tracks it has 2 faders if stereo.
  • Midi track: virtual piano. You need to redirect the midi information to another track so you actually hear a piano (virtual). It doesn’t play/you don’t hear midi information.
  • Master fader: you fade or increase volume of all other type of tracks. -6dB is ok for music. -12dB for film?

Also, you can create all of these in Track – New – …

  • Selection tool: Ctrl + { // } = Zoom in // out. Arrow right to go to the right side of selection and vice versa.
  • Grabber tool
  • Trim tool
  • All above: click in grey area above the tools above to activate all three
Modes of editing:
  • Slip mode: move cursor however you want
  • Grid mode: the cursor is inside a grid where you move clips.
  • Shuffle mode: as if you magnetized the right side of the clips (Première Ctrl + trim)
  • Spot mode: for mixing sound. When you click with the grab tool a window will come up where you can type in the specific time from which you want the clip to start playing.
SET Loudness: 


“The average level of a movie should normally be approximately 6 dB below that, in film work, using digital audio, it was generally agreed that dialogue levels were consistently running 30 dB below full scale, giving film audio 30 dB of “emotional” headroom. Dialog is therefore 7 to 9 dB below the reference level. This would be equivalent to app. 76 dBA.

My informal survey already shows a solid trend: no movie is ever played at 7 anymore, 5 is standard.

Commercials and trailers are routinely played back at 3.5, maximum 4. A check of the playlist notes of arthouse Studio K in Amsterdam reveals playback levels for the main movie of between 4.2 and 5.

The operator of arthouse Louis Hartlooper in Utrecht tells me that every Thursday various parts of all movies are viewed in their cinema (this is much easier with DCP than 35mm). Even when movies move to a new cinema room, they are viewed again. The optimum level is set by ear and programmed into the DCP server. Almost always that level is between 4 and 5. Another arthouse in Utrecht, ‘t Hoogt, also previews every movie on Thursday’s. On average they end up at 5.5, with 4.5 being the softest. Once in a while, they come across a movie that can be played at 6.3. Their goal is that soft sounds should be audible, loud scenes not too loud. They want to avoid complaints from the audience.

The level varies, but many movies are projected at 4, the maximum after one year of operation is 5.4.

“I always visit at least ten cinemas when my movie is out. In the past I always mastered at 7. But these days projections have a maximum at 6, more usual 5.5, sometimes even 4.7. This is mainly caused by audience complaints about loud movies. I have surrendered and now work at 5.5 myself.”

In my opinion, it would make sense to limit the short-term (3 secs) exposure to 100 dBA. That would be a max S (short-term) of approximately -6 LUFS.”

ProTools Editing videos:

Edit Audio for film in ProTools:

Link 1:

Link 2: