If you've ever wanted to get into film scoring and mixing, now might be the most opportune time to get your feet wet with the new free (but limited) version of Avid's powerful audio workstation Pro Tools.
Free is always the best price for anything, but how useful could the free version of something so powerful be? Well, that depends on how you define "helpful". If it means being able to compose music for films, mix a bunch of tracks, and export professional work you're going to be very disappointed. There's a comparison table on Avid's website that shows you what you will and won't find in the free version of Pro Tools, but The Verge sums up the big stuff:
The free price tag gets you a considerably more limited set of features than you'd get in Express, including a maximum of four track inputs instead of eight, and support for just three projects. It's got the same limit of 16 MIDI tracks that Express has, as opposed to the full version's 512 tracks. You also can't export your projects as an MP3, or to iTunes and Soundcloud.
However, if "helpful" means learning how to navigate Pro Tools and getting familiar with its capabilities, albeit on a much smaller scale, then, yes, the free version certainly is.
Clearly Avid's intention for Pro Tools First wasn't to give professionals free access to their software. Rather, it gives those who are interested in potentially getting into mixing and composing a chance to play in the sandbox a little. Really, Pro Tools First is really for giving newcomers their first opportunity to get acquainted with a piece of software that is usually $899.
Head on over to Avid's website to learn more. Pro Tools First isn't available to download quite yet, but click here to sign up to be notified when it is.