You just purchased Digidesign’s Pro Tools and are ready to dig in for the first time – but where do you begin? Pro Tools is one big program. Starting on page 1 of the manual is an option, but that’s a long trek. While you can hire a consultant if your budget is big enough, a better solution is to pick up a copy of Cool Breeze Systems’ CSi (Cool School Interactus) Volume 5 ($99.95). This interactive audio-training CD-ROM provides comprehensive instructions in the use of Pro Tools 5.
Product PointsApplications: Instructional
Key Features: Movie tutorials; glossary; index; flow charts; text information; graded quizzes
Contact: Cool Breeze Systems at 614-481-4000 Web Site
System requirements to run the CD-ROM are fairly modest (as opposed to the Pro Tools requirements) . Windows users need a minimum of a Pentium II, 180 MHz. Mac users need a Power PC 180 MHz running OS 7.6.1 or better. Both systems require at least 32 MB of RAM, 16 MB of hard disk space, Quicktime 4.0 (included), and a 16X CD-ROM drive.
Installation is quick and simple. Once the program is loaded, the main page offers five menu options. Starting with the Introduction, there are eight topics with corresponding submenus. For example, pick the Basics category and the study topics include Window Definitions, Session Templates, Getting Started, Record, Edit and Mix.
Depending upon the topic, there may be text information, screen shots, flow charts and – best of all – movie tutorials. Other introductory headings cover System Configurations, Applications, DAW Concepts and What’s New in Pro Tools 5.1.
As users know, at the heart of Pro Tools are the Edit, Mix and Transport windows. Each of these areas comprises other parts of the CSi 5 main menu. Click on the Edit section and a pop-up simulation of the Pro Tools Edit window appears, complete with session graphics. Yes, it looks like the real thing.
Cool Breeze Systems uses movie tutorials as one of its main learning tools. To play a movie, choose one of the 10 film icons at the bottom of the screen. The Tutorials provide instructions for the Grabber Tool, Scrubber, Trimmer, Pencil Tool, Key Focus button, Event Edit/Nudge Grid and others.
Each movie has narration along with active on-screen illustrations. For instance, the Pencil Tool demo shows how the different pencil shapes operate in real time within a session. Along the bottom of the screen is a listing of the subjects covered. Play the whole movie or just one subject. Movie lengths vary, but average a couple of minutes each. Likewise, the CSi 5 main menu also has sections on the Mix and Transport window and other Pro Tools Menu commands. All in all, there are 50 different movies on the CD-ROM.
If that is not enough, CSi 5 also has a glossary and an index with search functions. Results may be printed out. In addition, there is a quiz option with multiple-choice questions. Each quiz provides a final grade and incorrect answers may be reviewed. By the way, how is that new intern doing with Pro Tools?
It is possible to run Pro Tools and CSi 5 at the same time. Review a CSi 5 lesson and then try it out in Pro Tools. The ability to bounce back and forth between both programs makes the learning experience much more interactive.
CSi 5 is based on a hierarchical model but the contents are nonlinear. In other words, go where you want, when you want. This provides a great deal of flexibility within a structured learning environment. I have to admit, even though I use Pro Tools every day, I picked up a ton of useful information from this disk. Seasoned veterans as well as newbies will find the lessons valuable in CSi 5.
In addition to other CD-ROM instructional titles, Cool Breeze Systems will be offering online training courses on myriad topics, including microphone placement, MIDI applications, hard-drive storage systems, computer software synths, and more. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?