Working as a ProTools Operator (Studio Roles)

AUD210 Week 7 Studio Roles

During the drum session for our Soundalike project, I have worked as the ProTools operator who is basically responsible for the software operation, but also session and file management. This studio role is established when ProTools came into the market and when digital audio starts to integrate and take over analog audio in studios.

(Engineer used to work on consoles and ProTools Operator used to work on the computer.)

Back then, the software operation technique is not very commonly acquired by workers in the music business and the expertise for the software is valued just like a sound engineer. In the past, this role is separated with the engineer as the engineer is responsible in operator the console and capturing the sound while the Pro Tools operator will handle only the software operation. Back then, ProTools operator is a distinct role in the studio and people like Jan 'Stan' Kybert, who are the vanguards of the ProTools generation, are even credited on albums as “ProTools Operator” (Tingen, 2012). Nowadays, being an engineer essentially means that person is also a ProTools Operator. Quoting from sound engineer Jimmy Douglass, “"Half of the engineers today aren't engineers at all…They’re either Pro Tools operators, or they're vibe kings!” (Buskin, 2012), explaining how sound engineers has taken a more back seat approach of capturing the sound in the digital era, and how it is a norm now for engineers to be operating Protools as well.

I have always been confident with my ProTools operation even before studying at SAE since I have spent time watching how engineers operate the software in real-life commercial music production, as well as a long time tracking with my bandmates, meeting lots of problems and solving them by trying out every method I can find online. Working as the ProTools operator for the session would naturally be my most comfortable position, which is also exactly why we chose to distribute the studio roles as a group for our first session.

Reflecting on my role in the session, I am confident to say that I have ensured the session to run smoothly and also saved our precious studio time. I have managed to set up new tracks or playlists with little to no delay while monitoring signal levels and waveforms. After the session, I made sure I have named the session properly, tidied up the folders for further tracking sessions, and backed them up with different means. I believe that saving unnecessary time in sessions is crucial to a good production since the time wasted could be allocated to more productive stages of a production. The importance of time saving grows with the scale of production. As producer Jake Jackson quotes from his own experience of recording 201 national anthems for the London Olympics, "….if you add 10 seconds every time, then 201 times 10 seconds is quite a long time!”. (Inglis, 2012)

However, there are brief moments which I panicked and had my brain frozen when the signals come in red hot and clips are showing all over the tracks. I managed to regain control of the software quick enough and went smoothly thereafter since I warmed up, but I think the situation could have been avoided. To be fair, my last recording session was already months ago and this was the first time I actually tracked in that studio. Last but not least, gaining from responses from my fellow group mates and teacher, I could have been more patient to wait for communication or instruction from the producer since I was skipping steps too much and made other personnels in the session hard to catch up with the flow which in turn wasting more time.


Buskin, R. (2002). Jimmy Douglass |. Retrieved 26 March 2018, from https://

Inglis, S. (2012). Jake Jackson: Recording The 2012 Olympic Anthems |.

Retrieved 26 March 2018, from

Tingen, P. (2012). Jan 'Stan' Kybert: Producing Paul Weller's Sonik Kicks |.

Retrieved 26 March 2018, from


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