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Once recording and editing are finished, audio engineers can take advantage of the training in Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools to punch up the final output. Digidesign Certified Expert Brian Lee White covers all the basic mixing tools that every producer and engineer should know, from using EQ to add clarity and focus to using compression and limiting to maximize track levels within a mix. Brian stresses the importance of setting up a solid mixing plan prior to any work in Pro Tools, and gives advice on the best plug-ins for each stage of the process. Exercise files accompany the course.
I like to put all of my commonly used effects tracks, sub-mixes and bus labeling into a blank Pro Tools section, so that I can use it as a mixing template. Helping me get started with the common set of familiar tools when I start my mix. So how I would set this up is to create a new blank session and I'm just going to set the I/O as Stereo Mix because I'm actually going to import a custom I/O setup to this template, click OK and I'm going to save this as mix template.
Okay, so I don't need this Click track, I'm just going to go ahead and get rid of that and in this blank session, what I'm first going to do is go to my I/O setup and I'm going to import a common I/O setup, so that I use a common set of bus pathway, so that all the sessions that I do use the same bus routing. So they are interchangeable. I'm going to show you how to use something called Import Session Data and when you have the same bus pathways from sessions to session, it's really easy just to swap parts out.
So I'm going to import settings here. I have actually saved in the Exercise folder in the Take Me Down session folder, the TMD-io, I'm going to delete any of these unused paths. So now what I have are all the buses that I would commonly use in a mix and I can then use those as I'm routing my effects in. so let me just give you a few examples. What I would do is I would create possibly a reverb track and I would go in and setup my reverb.
I might put an EQ that I would use after it. I would name it of course, set its input and I'll create one more here, AUX track, I'll create a delay, set that up. I'm basically looking to do sort of some basic setup. Now it's more for just the fact that I know that I'm going to use these plug-ins.
I don't necessarily know how I'm going to end up setting all of the settings in the mix side. I'm going to change these for every mix, but it's just saving me the time of having to create the track and do the routing. So I'm going to reuse this over and over again. So I'll set this up as a long delay, call that delay. So I might also create some sub-mix tracks just to have those ready, some common sub-mixes, let's say like drums. So I already have the drumbus. If I haven't already created the I/O setup at this point, I would be labeling my buses as I label these tracks, call this Drum Submix, maybe put a little bit of compression on there and again I'm going to set these up once I get them into this session.
Now I'll save this. Any time I create a new session, so let's say I go to create a new session. Let's call this new session, Save. The first thing I usually do when I'm starting the mix or even starting the new session for a arranging or producing is I'll take and use File > Import > Session Data. What this allows me to do is it allows me to point to another session on my system and take tracks from that session and put them into my currently opened session.
So you are sort of like borrowing tracks from one session and bringing them into another. So this would work with step that you already have done. You don't even need to use templates for this, but I'll just go to my mix template and select that. When I hit Open, I'm going to get the Import Session Data dialog and I'm going to get a list of all the tracks in this session. Now I'm going to be able to say New Track here, and then click OK to bring these in. Because these are just Aux returns, I don't have to worry about any of the time code offsets or track offsets, I don't have to worry about sample rate conversion or audio/media option.
These are just empty blank AUX tracks. So I can just select the track and hit OK. That's going to bring those tracks in along with their names. Now if I wanted to just to be safe, I could go import that same I/O setup again to be consistent, so that as I was routing other things, I would have consistent bus pathways. Now a really cool thing that you can do, if you have the DV toolkit 2 option, your Import Session Data dialog will actually have some additional options.
So down here where it says Track Data to Import, what I can do is I can actually take one track and cast its properties on to another. So if I went down here to my Effects returns, I can say well let's cast the long delay from this session on to the one in this session. Now if I go to Track Data to Import, I'll choose None and I'll say only bring over the plug-in settings and plug-in assignments. Now this is really cool.
If you are doing a mix, and let's say you have five songs and the band is just the basic four piece rock band, you mix one song, you can go into the next session and sort of apply the mix settings of those similar tracks. Let's say the drums, the bass, and the rhythm guitars and maybe even the vocal are going to sound consistent from one mix to the next. You can go cast your mix from one session to another by copying from the source track to the destination track. You can even use the Match Tracks option if you've named your tracks the same in each session.
It's actually a good idea if you plan on doing a few tracks with the same project, name them the same. That way you can use the Match Tracks option and then just overlay just the plug-in assignments and plug-in settings. If you don't have the DV Toolkit, it just going to bring the whole track over including any automation and things like that. So while you still can do that what you would probably want to do is just bring this stuff in as new tracks and copy the audio over to those new tracks and delete the old ones. But this Track Data to Import on Pro Tools HD and with the DV Toolkit 2 is a really cool way to kind of cast and mix on to another song and it's something I actually do quite a bit to maintain consistency across a large project.
So in the end, templates are a great way to get started on a mix quickly providing you a go to power of effects and submixes that have your favorite plug-ins with everything clearly labeled so you can focus on creativity and not session management. So, try building some of your own templates and implementing them into your workflow.
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