Song Path: Using Playlists When Mixing
Written by Andy Patterson
So, in an earlier edition of The Song Path, we touched on how Playlists are helpful when recording in ProTools. They can also be very useful during editing and mixing.
Say you want to dramatically alter your song by editing out the middle 8 or taking out the second chorus. Ideally you want to make sure that you can return to the original edit at some point in the future – just in case you change your mind!
One way to do this would be to just save a version of your session file and append the name with EDIT. This is all fine and well, but if you have made a load of other mix adjustments in the meantime, returning to your session will mean that all of these are lost.
So one way to do this is to select the ALL group and then click on the DUPLICATE PLAYLIST command. This will duplicate the current playlist into a new one, meaning you can edit the audio to your heart’s content, and then switch back easily by switching the playlist – and all your other mix choices will be intact.
(By the way – its always a good idea to name your sessions as you change things anyway… so do this as well… there’ll be another Song Path article on Naming Sessions soon)
So playlists can be very useful when recording and editing, but how when mixing? Well, there’s a little technique that you can try when mixing to make multiple mix stemming a little more bearable…
Sometimes an artist will want to take away 5 or 6 different mixes, and in most cases it is always a good idea to produce an instrumental of the track as well as the full version – just in case it is ever needed in the future. So, one way to produce these would be to just Bounce each one out in turn – using Bounce to Disk. However another way to try this would be to set all of your tracks to output to an unused BUS – eg. BUS 23-24. Then create a master fader which is also assigned to that BUS (and hence controlling the output of the BUS). Then create a Stereo Audio Track, and set the input to the BUS. Once you put your track into RECORD, you will be able to monitor your mix though the track and record the mix live to that track. That way you can make any mix adjustments on the fly if you want to.
How do playlists come into this? Well, you can name your track DATE_Trackname_Mix and then when you have finished that mix, you can mute the vocal, create a new playlist on your mix record track and name it DATE_Trackname_m7instrumental and hit record straight away. This ensures a few things –
1) your naming remains constant
2) the mixes stay alongside the audio that generated them
3) if you switch the track to PLAYLIST view, then it will show you all of your mixes together – easy, quick and reference-able, when you can’t find your mix notes!
And again, it is a good idea to save a version of your session before your mix print – so if it is Mix 8, then append your session name with MIX8 PRINT.