MARCH 29, 2009

Pro Tools Keeps Up with Russ Landau’s Fast-Paced World


In the time-intensive world of TV and film production, deadlines are everything. For the composers behind the music, it’s a non-stop series of moving targets, with last-minute changes followed by more of the same. Creativity is just the beginning—fresh ideas need to come fast and furious, and your creative tools need to keep pace.

Keeping up with tight deadlines

Emmy-winning composer Russ Landau’s Pro Tools-equipped studio is where he cranks out the weekly music beds for the hit CBS show Survivor, and with 43 minutes of music every week, it’s a compressed schedule even by TV standards.

“With the pace of production on Survivor, I’m always working a few steps ahead of the next deadline,” he says. “You need to be able to crank out so much varied material, to give the editors plenty of stuff to choose from. That’s why I love Pro Tools. It’s got such a tremendous palette of creative tools. I’m able to grab an idea and take it places I’d never even dreamed of.”

Inspiring tools in Pro Tools

Though Landau’s studio isn’t lacking in gear, he’s been finding plenty of inspiration in the newest version of Pro Tools. “I’m used to using pretty much every sample library known to man,” he quips, “but with just the on-board instruments in Pro Tools, I was able to come up with great tracks—cues that are repeated in the show lots of times—just using what came in the box.”

The new Pro Tools is even more intuitive, he says. “They delivered Pro Tools to me about three or four weeks ago, without a manual, and it was like, ‘here you go, plug it in and make it work.’ And it was honestly so intuitive, I was able to get up to speed almost immediately.”

Pro Tools is so intuitive. I can see all my tracks, can expand tracks quickly and always see what’s going on. It’s such fun to use. It feels very musical.


As a heavy MIDI user, Landau is particularly pleased with the improvements in Pro Tools. “I work closely with the Avid editors while they’re cutting the show, and there’s lots of ongoing back-and-forth between us,” he says. “Even a year or two ago, I’d have dreaded a call from the editor asking me to change something, or speed up the audio, or something like that. But now I can say ‘sure, no problem, whatever you want.’ It’s so easy to work with Pro Tools in the MIDI domain, to cut up the audio into slices—I can do things in minutes that, until recently, would have taken hours or even days.”

What composers want

For Landau, Pro Tools allows him to be less of an engineer and more of a composer. “Avid really listened to what composers wanted,” he concludes, "The new Pro Tools is so intuitive. I can see all my tracks, can expand tracks quickly and always see what’s going on. It’s such fun to use. It feels very musical."

“As I’m maturing as a composer, Pro Tools is maturing with me. We’ve both come a long way.”

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