Tech Tip:An Introduction to Hard Disk Recording, Part 3
What is Pointer Based Editing?
Pointer based editing is the key difference between any tape based system (either analog or digital) and Hard Disk Recorders.
Once you have recorded something onto your hard disk, you never "touch" that material again. It stays there, ready for a command from the HDR to play part or all of it.
For example, if you record a vocal on tape and then decide to erase part, you are erasing your original recorded material. It is gone forever! If you record a vocal on a pointer based hard disk recorder and erase part of it, you aren't erasing the original material, you are just telling the HDR to play only part of the original recording. You never actually erase the original material! You can use an UNDO to get back to the original recording if you decide that you like the original better.
Likewise, if you want to copy a drum part you recorded, you don't need to record that part again as you would have to on a tape based system. All you are doing is instructing the HDR to play the same material over and over at different points in your song, using "pointers" to the original material. This is commonly referred to as "pointer based editing."
WARNING - make sure your HDR is pointer based or these advantages do not apply!
What are the advantages of "pointer based editing?"
First of all, in most HDRs, you can Undo any erase, cut, or copy anytime. Remember, the original is still there! You never lose your ability to go back and change something if you decide you need to.
Secondly, copying is instantaneous because you aren't actually copying the original material, you are just adding a "pointer" to tell the HDR to play it again. You can use copy to make different arrangements of your song, and it doesn't use any room on your hard disk!
Let's say you record a guitar part on a track. Then you punch in a new section and you realize you made the punch too early. With an HDR, you can always go back to the original recording. Try that with tape!
You can erase, cut, or move anything anywhere without destroying your valuable recordings. If you don't like it, just 'Undo' it.
This all means that you can try any old idea that you like, and compare it with the original to decide which you like best. This is a huge advantage for your creativity.
This is what hard disk recording is all about!
Pointer based editing allows you to quickly try your ideas without the fear of making a mistake.
Some hard disk recorders can even edit for you. This function is called Song Arrange. It steps you through the process of re-arranging your song, automatically making a copy with the new sections for you.
You could specify a shorter intro, two choruses after the first verse, a repeat of the intro before the bridge, then a doubled ending. You can even add other parts to this new version and compare it to the original. Song Arrange does the edits automatically, instantly, without taking up any disk space!
Pointer Based Editing lets you experiment quickly and easily without worry!
Summary of Pointer Based Editing
Pointer Based Editing has many advantages. It allows you to Undo an edit such as an Erase or punch-in. Looping a drum part or copying a vocal is virtually instant on most pointer based HDRs. Pointer based editing even allows you to experiment with different versions of a song, all virtually instant and without taking up any additional disk space.
To help clarify the difference between HDRs, MiniDisk recorders, and digital tape recorders let's examine what you would need to do to loop a drum part on each of these types of recorders.
Looping a Drum Part on Digital Tape: You would need two tape recorders, one for the source and one for the copies. You would also have to synchronize them and figure out exactly where to punch in each copy. This process is destructive re-writing of the original, and would be very time consuming.
Looping a Drum Part on a MiniDisk: Most MiniDisk 4 tracks don't allow track level editing, so the process would be the same as described in the digital tape example. Otherwise, it would require destructive re-writing of each copy to disk, taking time and disk space.
Check out the First Installment of this Tech Tip Series presented to you by Roland.