Los Angeles-based producer and musician David Franz wrote the book on Pro Tools—literally. Back in 2001, Franz published the first book on Pro Tools, titled Producing in the Home Studio with Pro Tools. While the program continues to upgrade, Franz has stepped back from writing and now educates students on the newest versions of the program through his two online classes at Berklee’s online school, BerkleeMusic.com. With the new semester about to begin, Pro Sound News spoke with Franz recently about his book, his classes and more.
Q: How did you decide to write a book on Pro Tools?
A: I was working at Berklee Press before the online school existed and I was basically working as a work study making copies and editing scripts, stuff like that. I saw a review of the first home Pro Tools system and went to the head of Berklee Press and said “We need to do a book on this. This will be massive and we need to be on top of this.” They responded and said, “OK, how about you write it?”
I teamed up with Paul Soeckler, the Marketing Manager of Digidesign. He helped me out a lot. I wrote everything, and he would give me feedback. We did three versions (of the book), but then I stopped updating the book and started teaching online courses.
Q: Explain a little about what you teach in your online courses now?
A: There are two courses that I teach—the first is Producing with Pro Tools, which is basically based on my book. The second course is called Advanced Music Production with Pro Tools.
I teach students how to set up their own studio, the basics of recording and how to do a little bit of mixing and editing. I teach Pro Tools production, but the course also teaches a lot about how to be a good producer/engineer. That’s what differentiates it from Pro Tools 101; it goes broader and deeper.
Q: How long have you taught at BerkleeMusic.com?
A: I’ve been teaching online since the beginning of Berklee Online School. They decided they wanted to create an online school and said it would be perfect to have me teach since the book just came out. I totally transformed the written word into an interactive experience and it turned out really well.
Q: What kind of students do you get in your class?
A: It’s an interesting mix. We have really young and up-and-coming guys who are really psyched about recording their first songs, beat makers, hip hop makers, and all the way to other dudes who are retired and have set up a home studio and want to record their guitar or bands. Mixed in the middle of all that, I’ve literally had rock stars sign in and say “I need to know how to use this stuff.” One of my first students was the drummer from Train.
Q: How has the course changed since you started teaching in 2002?
A: Aside from the obvious software updates, there have been a lot of changes since the course first came out. As far as the learning material, it’s become more interactive, I think. People have really accepted the way of online learning and my course actually translates very well. I can share a Pro Tools session so students can see and hear exactly what I’m doing.
The live video chat also makes it easier. Every week I can talk to students all over the world. I’ve taught people from Madagascar, Australia, Ireland and South Africa. It’s just awesome to pull these people together—everybody has different musical tastes and are all learning from each other.
Q: What is one of your favorite tips for students?
A: An easy way to help optimize your Pro Tools power is to increase the CPU Usage assigned to Pro Tools. Go to Setup > Playback Engine and set the CPU Usage Limit to the maximum value for your computer.
Q: Are there any overlooked/underutilized aspects of Pro Tools that users should know about?
A: If I don't take a project to a professional mastering house, I use Pro Tools to master my recordings. Yes, you can master your recordings in Pro Tools if you have good plug-ins for doing so. I mainly use several of the plug-ins in the Waves Mastering bundle for this purpose.
OK, Readers! What's YOUR favorite Pro Tools trick? Share it in the comments below!