Topics covered in this article:
- Using the panner for 7.0.2/7.1.2 busses and Objects
- Panner height modes
- Zone selection
- Speaker snaps
- Auto-height override
7.0.2, 7.1.2, and Object Panner
When a mono or stereo track is assigned to a 7.0.2 or 7.1.2 output bus, or to an Object output path, Pro Tools will use the 7.0.2, 7.1.2, or Object panner.
Output windows for a mono track assigned to a 7.1.2 bus (left) and an Object (right)
Pan Controls and Indicators
The following elements of the Pro Tools Output window are specific to the 7.0.2, 7.1.2, and Object panners. The Output window for each provides the same controls, with a few exceptions:
- The Object panner additionally provides the Object Output Path selector and the Object Control Mode button in the top right corner of the panner window. These controls mirror the controls available in Object view in the Edit and Mix windows.
- The 7.0.2 panner excludes the LFE fader.
With the 7.0.2, 7.1.2, and Object panners, the Pro Tools Panning Mode selector provides access to the Theater option. When this mode is selected, the panner displays a 3D/Theater view.
The Panning Mode selector can be used to enable Theater mode
Theater mode provides a 3D room view that can be rotated within the panner display.
To rotate the room view in Theater mode:
- Move the cursor over the room view and use the scroll wheel to rotate the room up or down. Scroll all the way down for top-down view.
Parameter Indication in 3D/Theater Mode
Height, proximity, location, and screen position are all indicated in the Object panner when Theater mode is enabled.
Graphic representations of height, proximity, location, and screen in Theater mode
The display elements in the panner provide a visual indication of the signal in the three-dimensional space:
- Height — The Height plane represents the vertical elevation, as specified by the Height value in the panner.
- Proximity — The size of the pan dot indicates proximity relative to the current view. The pan dot appears smallest when panned furthest away and largest when panned nearest.
- Location — Pan lines appear on the Height plane to indicate Left/Right and Front/Rear location.
- Screen — The Screen image provides a visual reference for the front of the room in all views.
This series of controls in the panner sets the Height mode for the track. From left to right these choices are: FreeForm, Wedge, Sphere, and Ceiling modes.
Height Mode and Height Enable controls in the Object panner
FreeForm mode provides manual height adjustments; the others provide automatic height adjustment following their indicated shapes as the signal is panned front-to-rear or side-to-side. Changes to the Height mode can be automated.
To select the Height mode:
- Click a Height mode icon to activate that mode. The icon for the active mode will be highlighted in bright green.
To toggle the Height parameter on/off:
- Click the Height Enable icon. When lit, Height is enabled (requires FreeForm Height mode).
The Height Enable function can be automated.
The Height knob becomes available when working in FreeForm mode with the Height function enabled/active. The Height parameter can be automated.
Adjusting Height in standard 2D view displays a vertical bar to the right of the pan grid to indicate the relative height of the track. In addition, the size of the pan dot increases as the Height value is increased.
In Theater mode, a green-colored Height plane shows the current Height value. The size of the pan dot indicates proximity.
The Zones selector sets the active speaker Zone (Zone Mask), which determines which speaker outputs are included as you pan a signal around the room. Choices include All speakers, Front and side speakers (F/S), Front and rear speakers (F/R), Front-center and rear speakers (FC/R), Front speakers only, and Rear speakers only (including side speakers).
The speaker icons surrounding the panner grid appear as appropriate for the current Zone. The Zone Mask parameter can be automated, allowing you to automate changes to the current speaker Zone.
The Zones selector
To change the Zone, do one of the following:
- Right-click the Zones selector and select the desired Zone from the menu. Click and hold on the Zones selector until the pop-up appears and select the desired Zone from the menu.
- Click the Zones selector to toggle through the available zones.
The Size knob can be used to increase or decrease the element size. When Size is set to any value above 0/off, a transparent grid (or cube if in 3D/Theater mode) surrounds the pan dot and the Divergence controls become inactive (grayed out).
The grid/cube around the pan dot gets larger as the Size value is increased and smaller as it is decreased. The Size value can be automated.
The Size knob (left) and the Size grid display (right) in the 2D view
To change the element Size:
- Click and drag to adjust the Size knob, or hold down Shift and use the scroll wheel.
The Speaker Snap option in the panner allows you to toggle Dolby Atmos Speaker Snap on or off for tracks assigned to an Object. This option causes Object panning to move between discrete speakers in the Renderer, rather than creating a “phantom source” using a combination of multiple discrete speakers. With Speaker Snap enabled, the Renderer picks the nearest speaker to your panning coordinates and uses that to reproduce the sound object.
This may or may not be desirable, depending on the use case. If a point source sound is desired, this is a very useful control. However, if mixing in a 9.1.6 room configuration with Left and Right Wide speakers, for example, an object panned to the LW/RW speaker position with speaker snap enabled may either snap forward to the L/R screen channels, or back to the Lss/Rss, when rendered in a 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 configuration where the wide speakers are not present. Auditioning speaker snap using various speaker layouts is recomended to ensure the desired result is achieved.
The Speaker Snap setting can be automated.
The Speaker Snap icon (shown enabled)
To enable (or disable) Speaker Snap:
- Click the Speaker Snap icon to toggle it on/off.
The Panner on Stereo Tracks
When the panner is used on stereo tracks, the default behavior is that the two panners are linked with Inverse Pan enabled so the pair are mirrored. A Front/Rear Inverse can be enabled for greater flexibility.
Link and image controls with panner on stereo tracks
Object/Bus Assignment and Automation Mode Indication
The Pan Dot in a track’s Output window, as well as in the graphic panner in I/O view (in both the Edit and Mix windows) changes color to indicate the track status. Various colors are used to indicate whether the track is in Bus or Object mode (as per the Bus/Object toggle), as well as whether the Track Automation mode is set to Read, any of the Write modes, or Off.
Pan Dot Color Indication:
About Object Bypass
The Bypass function can be used to establish a workflow where multiple source tracks are assigned to the same Object, while only one of them is sending pan metadata to control the panning on the Renderer. This is an essential feature in sessions that have more tracks than available Object output paths to the Renderer.
To enable Object Bypass, do one of the following:
- Click the Object Control Mode button in the Object view to cycle the Master Object Control mode to Bypass.
- Click the Object Control Mode button in the Object panner to cycle the Master Object Control mode to Bypass.
The Object Control Mode button will display in gray when Bypass mode is active, as will the panner display area of the Object panner.
Note that this is not an automatable setting. When multiple tracks are allocated to the same object path, the Object Control Mode button becomes inactive on all bypassed tracks and cannot be altered while there is a track set to Master mode. All tracks will pass audio to the Renderer; however, the panner on the Master track must be used in order to provide panning metadata regardless of which track is providing the source audio.
Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation Option
Pro Tools lets you re-purpose existing Front, Rear, and Front/Rear pan automation to automatically generate dynamic Height changes when mixing to Dolby Atmos (7.0.2 or 7.1.2). When this option is enabled, the selected Auto-Height mode overrides any Height automation, generating new height information automatically. This avoids having to write all new automation from scratch when opening existing 5.1 or 7.1 sessions and re-mixing them for Dolby Atmos (7.0.2 or 7.1.2 panning).
The Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation option is on by default if the track already has a main output assignment prior to assigning an Object output (assuming a re-use workflow). This option is off by default when translating automation from the Dolby Atmos Panner plug-in and also when a track has an Object output assigned but no main output assigned.
To commit automatically generated height data as automation, use the Coalesce Pan Guide Automation command. See “Coalesce Pan Guide Automation” below.
To enable (or disable) Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation:
- Open the Output window for the track you want.
- Do one of the following:
- Double-click the Height Mode selector.
- Right-click the Height Mode selector and select (or deselect) Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation.
Right-clicking Height mode to select Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation
When exchanging current Pro Tools sessions that use Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation with older Dolby Atmos-compatible Pro Tools systems (Pro Tools HD 12.8 or 12.8.1), be sure to use Coalesce Pan Guide Automation first so that Height Pan Automation plays back correctly.
Coalesce Pan Guide Automation
When using the Auto-Height Overrides Height Automation option to automatically generate Height information, you can commit the height data as automation using the Coalesce Pan Guide Automation command. Committed Height automation is calculated by interpolating Front, Rear, and Front/Rear pan automation, based on the current Height mode.
To automatically generate Height automation using the selected Auto-Height mode:
- Select the tracks for which you want to generate Height automation.
- Choose Edit > Automation > Coalesce Pan Guide Automation.
Previous: Module 8.3 – Groups and VCAs