danielzapatav

Organizing a protools session for a mix

It would seem like a simple subject and that we would sometimes overlook, but in my experience I have had so many delays just because files are not in the right format or sent in the right way, that keeping these things in mind are very important.

When you are doing a production it is important to know the settings which you are recording your project, if it is at 44.100 Khz or 48.000 Khz, this is very important because all files must be at the same rate before you export the session, if not the mixing engineer will hear things weird and have to spend a lot of time fixing stuff he should not have to.

That is why when you send your stems (which we discussed in a previous article) to a musician, its important to let him know what are your project settings, this way when they send you the recording back, it is on the same page of all the other instruments.

Music has become a very competed world, so the public is used to hearing certain type of standards at the time, once you have recorded an instrument or a vocal it’s very important to go through each track and make sure instruments and vocals are tuned and on time (meaning they all are up to tempo) tools that you can use for this are for example “Elastic time” or “Beat Detective” and these Tools also require knowledge of use available in Protools , specially for Drums or percussion tempo fixing if you hear a little problem, or Celemony Melodyne for voice and instrument tuning.

When everything is tuned and on point with the tempo you will recognize very quickly how all the elements fall into place and even having every instrument in your project at level 0 in volume (that means that no mixing has been done on the song yet) you can already get an idea of how the song is going to be because everything recorded is musically correct and in the right place

With a good quality recording session musicians it is easy to skip this process of tuning and tempo because they are tuned and on time on their own, so you probably wont have to fix anything.

Once all the files and individual tracks are tuned and in harmony with the beat and tempo of the song, then you can export each track.

Naming the tracks is also something that will save time for the mixing engineer. For example, Instead of naming a track “Background Vocals “ name the track BCKD VCL, Lead Vocals LD VCL, SNARE, Kick, HH (HI hat), CYM (Cymbals), PERC (Percussion) AC GTR L (Acoustic Guitar Left) NYLN GTR (Nylon Guitar), TRPT (Trumpet), etc., It is looking for the shortest version possible to name the track, taking away the vocals.

This will help the Mixing engineer a lot because he will quickly be able to differentiate what is what and get to work on the important part which is the mix.

When you export it is also important to make sure you make the bounce (which means exporting the audio files) and begin all tracks at the same point, and end at the same point, even if an instrument comes in later in the song or finishes early (although the finishing is not as important as the beginning) this will also be important to insure that the mixing engineer can place all tracks from the start of the song and everything will come in when its supposed to.

So to make a small recap of the things we’ve discussed so far before a song goes to mix is:

– Try to have al instruments up to tempo, if an instrument falls out of tempo it can be fixed with tools like elastic time.
– Make sure every track is tuned correctly, if not you can use Antares autotune or Melodyne
– Name the tracks in an abbreviated form
– When you do the bounce make sure the starting and ending markers are always at the same spot.

Last is exporting the audio file, this is relatively easy, all you have to do is pick a format you want it to be in, and if you have a Mixing engineer lined up you can also ask them, what format would you like me to send you the audio files? WAV, AIFF, etc.

You can place the exports in a folder or some programs have the option of exporting each individual track separately in just one bounce.

Once all your tracks are ready in a folder you can compress the folder, make it a zip file and send that to the mixing engineer.

I hope you found this article useful and I hope to hear from you soon

All the best !

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