The Song Path: Recording: Naming Audio Tracks
Written by Andy Patterson
It is important to name your audio tracks carefully in ProTools, BEFORE you start recording. The main reason for naming before you record, is that it names your audio files, based on how you have labeled your tracks.
But why does it matter what your audio files are called?
Well in a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter at all. In a perfect world, all of your audio would stay neatly in its own Audio Files Folder and never be parted from the session folder.
However in the real world, you sometimes need to import files into other sessions, or send them to people, or in the case of a corrupted session, you need to rebuild your session from scratch by importing all of the audio again. In this situation, it is better to have files with names that actually represent what they are, rather than ‘AUDIO 01_54’.
You wouldn’t name the word document of your CV with ‘Word Document_064’ so why your audio files?
Also – its easier to see in the timeline what your audio actually is if you name it properly-especially when you are trying to edit quickly and effectively.
How to Name your tracks
Depending on the situation you may want to name your tracks differently based on the sessions you are working on.
In the Field
So, for our Singing Wells project, we name the tracks with the date, the mic and the take number. The reason for this is that we record a lot of takes in one day, and need to sync the recordings up with video -who are following the same take list. If we increase the take number throughout the day, then we are guaranteed that the Sync between the files remains – even if we have problems with the audio being recorded in the wrong session. We will be able to take the audio files with the correct naming structure and use them in a new session and be confident that we have the right set of files. So in that situation, we have:
DATE_MIC_TakeNo – also we work in reverse date format – so YEAR MONTH DAY eg. 120310 – for the 10th March 2012.
This way the files will always auto sort by name – which can be a problem with some backup software that removes the modification date when it copies the files. (It will arrange them if you do it DAY MONTH YEAR, but this will not work from year to year).
When naming tracks like this, it is a good idea to copy the track names into the Comments section of each track, as in the screenshot – that way even in the narrow mix window mode – you can still see how your tracks are named easily.
In the Studio
If you are working in the studio then this may be overkill, but in this case you might want to chose a naming convention for your own studio that includes the instrument and the name of the player. So for me playing a rhythm guitar part: RGtr_AP. This way another engineer could quickly see what the track is – and again if your session becomes corrupted, you can make sure that you can quickly find your files.
The reason for naming the player of the part, is that sometimes band members will swap instruments – and when it comes to submitting credits for album artwork, or for PPL registrations, then you’ll need to know who played what, and unless you’re keeping good session notes (which you should be anyway!) then you won’t remember who played the guitar solo, on track 3 of 13 on the album..
That’s it for now. If you’re just dealing with the odd session in your own studio, of your own material, then it is not too much of an issue, but as soon as you start dealing with files of multiple clients, of multiple songs/pieces of music, then things become a bit more difficult..so get into the habit before you have to!