The Song Path – Preparing your ProTools Sessions for Mixing Part 1
Written by Andy Patterson
No matter whether you are mixing your own tracks or asking another engineer to mix your tracks, there are a few things you can do to your ProTools sessions to make them a lot easier to work with when mixing.
Some engineers will change this anyway, and at the top end of the scale, will have assistants to prep the sessions for them, but as a starting point – try assembling your tracks in order:
Drums – Kick, Snare, Hats, Toms, OHs, Room
Bass – Amp and DI
There are many longstanding reasons that this was the way that sessions were laid out – some of it goes back to the use of analogue tape where there would be a roll off of response at the edge of the tape – so the Kick was always track 1 (or sometimes the Bass). The Vocal was always towards the latter half of the tape so that the fader would be close to the mix position (and hence easy for the engineer to reach).
Defeat the Mutes
If any tracks are Muted because you don’t want them, then right click on the track and click HIDE and MAKE INACTIVE. Doing this will ensure that the tracks are still there in case the engineer decides to use them, but he can assume with confidence that you didn’t want them to be included. If you have muted regions (or ‘clips’ in PT 10), then decide whether you want them or not. If you’re sure that you don;t want them, then delete them, or remove them. Or copy them to a new track and make it inactive and hide it. Whatever you do – get rid of them.
Again- another engineer may have a different plan for this, but its a good idea to tidy up your groups especially ones created in the heat of the session – and thus called Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3. So, if one is your drums, label it so. If one is the BVs in the first chorus, then label it so.
Try colouring different tracks, or type of tracks differently – so all drum tracks could be RED, and then all electronic percussion ORANGE. This will help the engineer to listen through the track at the start of the session.
Get rid of any markers that aren’t important – so if you have added a marker to cue your singer, then remove it.
We’ll add another of these guides soon.. there are more things you can do to save your mix engineer time, effort and ultimately, your money!